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Excessive Jealousy & Possessiveness

By Dr. Carol Morgan ; Updated June 13, 2017

Jealousy and possessiveness are often considered the same thing. However, there is a slight difference: Jealousy is a feeling and possessiveness is a behavior. You may feel jealous of your boyfriend's female friend, but he may never know unless you tell him. It's when you become possessive that things can get dangerous. Excessive jealousy or possessiveness are not normal. If you find yourself or your partner exhibiting these behaviors, seek professional help.

Restricting or Controlling Behavior

Even though society has implicit rules for relationships, people should never feel controlled. It is one thing to be worried or suspicious that your partner is cheating on you and another thing to forbid him to see certain people. Restricting other people's behavior is not the sign of a healthy person. Only people with low self-esteem try to control other people's behavior. Try to figure out a way to work on building a positive self-concept so you will have no need to control others.

Verbal Abuse

People who feel insecure or jealous sometimes resort to verbal attacks. It is not OK to use language that is demeaning or degrading to another person. People do this because they think something like name-calling will maintain their power, save face or win an argument. This is merely an attempt to control the situation or the other person by inflicting psychological or emotional pain. This is unacceptable.

Blaming

People who blame others usually have low social and emotional intelligence. Grewal & Salovey (2005) suggest that taking personal responsibility for your actions is one of the signs of emotional intelligence. When someone is jealous or possessive, they do not take personal responsibility for their behavior. They always see themselves as a victim, and thus, powerless to change a situation. That is why they lash out with negative words and actions.

Threatening

A threat is expressing an intention to inflict punishment or negative consequences on another person if you don't get what you want. Threats can be similar to ultimatums. If another person says something like, "If you go out with Sally, I will break up with you!" they are attempting to control the situation by using fear. Fear is never used in a healthy relationship. Fear breeds more negativity, and it further feeds into jealousy and possessiveness.

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