Understanding the Possessive Person

Possessive person

The other day I received a message from someone whom I’ve never talked to. His conversation was pointed and demanding. He wanted to know when I last spoke to his wife, someone I had known long before he knew her. It didn’t take but a couple messages for me to understand his approach to relationships. It’s one of those times where understanding the possessive person helps.

A Message Out of the Blue

I used to get on Facebook every weekday to write a message of encouragement and respond to at least five people. I eventually stopped as the atmosphere just felt too toxic, and, instead of people I cared about being encouraging too, I found too often they also were sharing toxic posts as well. I eventually just stopped opening the app.

So I was surprised to see that I had a message. It’s not completely uncommon, mind you. Over the last few months a few friends have reached out to check on me, but this was different. It was from someone I’ve never talked with – someone who was married to a friend I’ve known for quite some time.

As I saw the indicator showing I had a message, I opened the app. The message was short and to the point and written early in the morning: “I want to ask you something, and I want you to be honest with me.”

Having received a friend invite a few years ago and never having had any interaction with this person before or since, including on posts, this message was just – bizarre. I didn’t know if he was reaching out to someone he knew had been encouraging to others, or if it was something else.

I think it was my understanding of the possessive person mentality that made me know it was the latter. The conversation would prove that to be true.

A Short, Pointed Conversation

To make this simple, I’m going to call this couple Bill and Rachel. When I responded to the message from Bill, it was simple “Sure, Bill! What’s up?” His response was not so friendly.

“I want to know the last time you talked with my wife.” Alarm bells went off.

Now when I say that, I don’t mean that I was worried about the conversation. Rachel and I had only ever been friends. We had met both at a time when we were single and were actually looking for someone, but our conversations had only ever been friendly.

The concern I had was much different. It was a concern for Rachel. That fact that he didn’t refer to her by name, but with a possessive pronoun was a yellow flag. Obviously he was making a point, the only question was how much of this was posturing and how much of it was showing ownership.

Understanding the possessive person sometimes is pretty straightforward. Was this one of those times?

A Redirected Response

It was pretty obvious jealousy was involved, particularly since I hadn’t spoken to Rachel in quite some time. So I responded, “I’m not sure. Let me see.” Then I went into the list of people I had messaged and had to scroll quite some time. Eventually I found Rachel.

“It looks like it was 2019.” Two years prior.

“I don’t think you should contact other people’s wives. I don’t care what happened in the past. I want to know what’s recent.”

There it is again… the possessive pronoun. He only wrote about 5 messages in the entire conversation, but every time he referred to Rachel it wasn’t by name, but by a possessive pronoun.

I didn’t want to agitate him, but I was concerned. I was considerate and kind and tried my best to push back against his possessiveness, while reassuring him. “It sounds like you’re wanting to know if something illicit was going on. I have no problem confirming for you that nothing has. Rachel and I have only ever had a platonic relationship. I think this is a conversation you need to have with Rachel.” 

Using Her Name

Understanding the possessive person means knowing they don’t view people as people. They view them as possessions. Possession is a dangerous emotion masquerading as love. That’s why I did what I did – use Rachel’s name. I wanted to reiterate that Rachel was a person.

The thing is that Rachel had contacted me about 2 years ago. It was obvious that she was lonely and hurting. There were a lot of clues that Bill was overbearing, but nothing concrete. I was worried for her.

To Bill, the fact that he married Rachel seemed to carry a level of possession. It meant that half her friends – anyone who was male – were not able to talk with her. It meant distrust, suspicion and loneliness.

Understanding the possessive person, I could see what was going on, and it was toxic. There’s a better way.

Partnership Over Possession

My girlfriend and I are equals. We talk every day. We talk to whoever we want. If I talk with someone, she knows. If she talks with someone, I know. It’s not because we make each other say it, it’s because we have nothing to hide.

In fact, early in our relationship, my girlfriend told me that she wanted to stop seeing me and to date someone else. I told her that was cool. She was taken aback by that. I told her that if he had more to offer, then she should. Then I followed up with the fact that I didn’t think he did. I thought I had more to offer her and we got along better.

She never followed through. It wasn’t really what she wanted; it was fear of our developing relationship that spooked her, but as she considered it, she realized she wanted to embrace it.

The Meaning of Commitment

Too many people see commitment as a way to “lock that down”.

via Gfycat

Commitment isn’t a way to force someone to stay. It’s a way of saying “I’m committed to do what it takes to make you never want to leave.” It’s not about possession; it’s about making your partner want to be with you so much no other option is more palatable.

Understanding the possessive person means understanding that they don’t want to do the work to make their partner feel loved. It means they simply want to remove all other possibilities so they are the one their partner is stuck with.

Possessive people are focused not on being the best partner, but on removing all other options so they are the only partner in view. They would rather their partner have no friends so that they don’t have any competition not only for partnership, but for attention as well.

Ending the Conversation

That became obvious in my conversation with Bill. Despite the politeness and forthrightness of my words, Bill’s possessive nature was feeding his fears and self-doubts. He was rude and condescending, and the conversation eventually devolved.

He misread everything straightforward I said as an attack and everything encouraging as weakness. To him, this was a pissing contest – two men fighting over who was the alpha. To me it was a concern over two hollow people: Bill who wanted to control over fear of his own inadequacies, and Rachel who was being controlled.

Sadly, I knew there was no way I could make it better and that he would misread everything I said, so I simply ended the conversation with “I think we view the world differently. I hope all the best for you. Blessings.”

Understanding the Possessive Person

The possessive person isn’t about seeing their partner grow as a person. They are about controlling the other person. They don’t see their partner as a full person, but as an extension of themselves.

If you want a happy life, it involves wanting it for others. Be a partner who focuses on your partners needs and wants and not just your own. Don’t wait; take action now. Look for someone who wants to share your joys and successes not stifle them. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Avoid possessive people. Bring people into your life who celebrate all the joys of who you are. Be that person. That’s the best way to enjoy a Wowful life.

David Bishop

David is CEO of Cedowin Productions, dedicated to helping you live your best life through positive habits. He has inspired tens of thousands to improve habits and communication through books, articles, workshops, and apps.

He is the creator of AweVenture, helping families enjoy fantastic, active experiences and Zombie Goals, literally making building healthy habits a game. He’s authored several books including How to Create Amazing Presentations, 7 Steps to Better Relationships, and The Man in the Pit, which helps people who have loved ones struggling with depression.

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