Are Possessive, Controlling, Persons Necessarily “Insecure” Underneath?

Recently, I received a question from a young woman that typifies similar questions I’ve been asked over the years.  I posted my answer on one of the international blogs featuring my work.  Here’s the post, including the question and my answer:

I am a 21-year-old female, and I have a 19-year-old boyfriend. We have been together a little over 7 months. We are also in a long-distance relationship at the moment until he can get his financial situation sorted out and come to be with me. I love my boyfriend, but I have noticed some things about him and the way he acts that are little red flags to me about possible problems. These are things that I want to help him overcome, but I’m not sure how to do that. The biggest problem I see in our relationship is my boyfriend’s extreme jealousy and insecurity. When we first began dating, he wasn’t showing these signs as strongly, but he would tell other guys who tried talking to me that I was his girl, and he felt jealous if they spoke to me.  My boyfriend has told me the reason why he is so protective is because he’s afraid that if other guys talk to me or if I even speak to them just to say “Hello” that he will lose me to the other guy because he thinks they are better than he is. I’ve told him numerous times that I’m not interested in other guys and I only want him, but the same issue repeatedly comes up. I have a close guy friend that I have been the best of friends with for over 6 years, and he and I have absolutely no sexual past or relationship. Yet whenever my friend and I hang out, my boyfriend gets extremely jealous, argumentative, insecure, and picks a fight with me. I don’t think it’s fair that I can’t hang out with one of my close friends without my boyfriend getting as wound up as he does. He hangs out with a lot of his own friends, some of whom are girls, and I have no problem with it because I’m not a jealous or insecure person. When he gets angry and argumentative, I feel he doesn’t necessarily trust me when I want to hang out with my friends. I wish there was something I could do to help him, but I feel like no matter how many times I reassure him that I want him and only him, it will never fully sink in. I love him, but I cannot continue our relationship the way it is because we constantly fight, and there appears no solution to this issue. When I try and speak to him about it, he only shrugs it off and is only worried about apologizing and making things better, rather than figuring out why we were fighting in the first place and how to fix it. I am hoping that I can find something to help with his insecurities and jealousy because with all the fighting I am beginning to be lose my attraction towards him.

My answer:

You say that you have no problem with your boyfriend hanging out with others because you are “not a jealous or insecure person.” So, you would naturally buy into the idea (as expressed by your boyfriend) that insecurity and jealousy must be the underlying reason for his possessiveness. But this does not have to be the case at all, and your gut is telling you there is a “red flag” for something else potentially more destructive in this relationship.  Most of the time, it’s best not to rationalize but to heed your gut instincts. There are many, many reasons for the possessiveness your boyfriend displays, not all of which are rooted in insecurity and low self-esteem. I have posted other articles on this and written about it extensively both in my book In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US] and my soon to be released book Character Disturbance. And even if that were the issue, it’s your boyfriend’s responsibility — not yours — to resolve it.  You want to understand and help. That’s honorable, but such a willingness also makes you vulnerable to someone who wants to play on your sympathies in order to manipulate and control you. You should set some firm limits with your boyfriend before getting any deeper in this relationship.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more articles like this one, featuring questions from people all over the world who have sought out my expertise and some of whom have found new hope and understanding after reading my book and other writings.

4 thoughts on “Are Possessive, Controlling, Persons Necessarily “Insecure” Underneath?

  1. Please, please help me. I am divorcing my husband because he is controlling, manipulative, physically and emotionally abusive.
    This man went to the Naval Academy in Anapolis, played in the NFL and then went on to become a struggling and eventually disabled orthopaedic surgeon. He exhibits many of the traits mentioned In Sheep’s Clothing. This Dr. lies so well that he has convinced everyone involved with this divorce, that I’m crazy and mentally ill. He is doing this to try to gain custody of our two girls. He is extremely angry that I wanted the divorce, however, he presented me with divorce papers first after he put spyware on my computer. I am losing terribly and fear not only will I lose my house, but my children. He controlled the money so tightly and stated I would never be able to win a divorce because I don’t have any money. I am a registered nurse and wanted to go back to work, but he sabotaged my efforts by contacting the employers and stating that I was mentally unstable. I feel like this is a nightmarish movie, something you would see on a woman’s television channel. I feel hopeless and helpless! Please, if you have any suggestions, contact me.

  2. Yes they are deeply insecure about losing what they have, but by being so controlling, possessive and manipulative, they will surely increase their chances of losing it all by a long shot

  3. If you’re much older or much younger than a guy, you’re an easy target for guys close to your age who feel that you should be with them.

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