My Friend's Possessive Boyfriend

Just looking for some general opinions and advice on this situation:

I’ve had a very good female friend for many years and over the last year she has become involved in a relationship with a man who appears to be very possessive and jealous of everything that she does.
He made her stop going out, he tries to reduce the amount of time she spends with any of her male friends, deletes mesages from us on her phone and is forcing her to loose weight when she has no need to.

She’s oblivious to any warnings we give her and we’d be worried of physical abuse in the future.

What to do??

If you can get her away from him long enough, have a movie-&-popcorn evening and watch “Sleeping With the Enemy”.

Seriously, there’s not much you can do to help someone who doesn’t regard herself as being in need of help. I agree completely with your assessment, though.

Ah, control freaks, everyone should experience one once.

There’s not really a specific answer to this question, so I’m going to move it over to MPSIMS.

Well, not all possessive men are necessarily abusive. Intense jealousy is a sign of a very unhealthy relationship though. Is he a young man? I ask because young men are more often insecure, so they’re more likely to be possessive.

There isn’t much you can do right now as long as she wants to stay with him. Keep an eye on her for signs of physical abuse and keep your fingers crossed that she’ll grow tired of being kept in a cage and dump the guy.


I think the best thing to do is to point out how her relationship differs from other, healthy, relationships.

Something along the lines of “He makes you do that? My boyfriend Bob would never dream of doing something like that. I’d kick his ass”.

A lot of times women just don’t know what is reasonable in a relationship. They figure they have to stand for everything that is asked of them. If they see other women (especially ones they are close to or admire) taking control of their relationships, they are more likely to take control of their own. If they see how drastically what they do is different from what other people do, they are more likely to snap out of their dream world and do something about it.

Yeah, I lived with her for a while.

I tried tactfully mentioning my concerns about the insanely possessive boyfriend, who had already started the verbal abuse, but she was in luuuuuuuuv.

We aren’t friends any more. I couldn’t see her attaching herself to a guy who was clearly dangerous, and she couldn’t understand why I was worried, and as far as I know they’re married now, but I haven’t seen her in years.

Unfortunately I have to agree, there is really nothing you can do, except be prepared to listen and hold her hand when things get rough. Believe me, I completely understand how hard it is to keep quiet in a situation like this, but I’m not sure you have a lot of other options. I’m sure you know you cannot make her leave him any sooner than she would of her own accord. And, if you keep trying to persuade her, you could end up having the opposite effect you want. If you tell her how wrong he is for her, how much she’s changed to make him happy, you run the risk of feeding into the stories he’s probably telling her about her friends.
“Your friends are trying to take you away from me…”
“Your friends don’t like me, they don’t understand what we have…” blah, blah, blah.
I think the most important thing you can do is to keep in contact with her and let her know you’ll be there when she needs you. Plus, by sticking around you can keep an eye on her for any signs of violence in the relationship. If it escalates to that point, I’m sorry to say you’ll have a whole different set of problems on your hands. Good luck

As for the definition of abuse, this fits it.

I’d get a good handout on abuse, give it to her, and tell you you’ll be there for her when she wants to take steps to do something about it. You’ve given her objective information, not your opinion as a friend. That may have more weight given that he’s constantly talking you guys down with her.

You’ve then done your part; it’s up to her from that point. However, I do like even sven’s pointers

Yes, do get her some kind of information that lists his behaviour as abusive (which it is - controlling behaviour is a form of psychological abuse. Healthy adults don’t control each other.) And make sure it includes a hotline number or something like that. She probably isn’t ready to listen yet, but if she has enough self-esteem, one day she will be pushed as far as she can go and she will look for that pamphlet, call the number, walk out of his life, and never look back. Oh, one more thing - if she does leave him, she is then in more danger from him than she has ever been in, because controlling people don’t like to lose control over somebody. If she has to go back for her stuff or something, make sure somebody goes with her. She might protest that it isn’t necessary, he’s not that bad, etc., but it is. Yes, this is the voice of experience talking.

He sounds like he’s secretly homosexual. Out him.

Do you have a particular reason for posting this seeming non-sequitur?

Inebriation? Beats me. Pay no mind, I’m just venting against a situation I’ve heard about many, many times before.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention that he won’t let her wear make-up or wear clothes that show any sign of a figure.

A big reason for “control freaks” is that they were abused, very possibly sexually, as a child. They feel that they were not in control when that happened, but they will do everything to make sure that nothing within their “sphere” gets out of control now. There are two other paths they can take and that is to abuse others themselves or to continue to be victims. It is only a short step to the controller/abuser.

I have to agree with bibliophile… I have a friend in a very similar situation and I have realized that all I can do is be there when she’ll need me. I have tried telling her that she deserves better, that she is intelligent, beautiful and kind-hearted (all true) and that she should never allow anyone, male or female to treat her with such disrespect. All that these speeches got me was an uncomfortable friend who called less & less. I have now bitten off most of my tongue in an effort to not give advice that hasn’t been asked of me. Stay involved in her life & look out for her from a distance. Be there when it’s over and she’ll need a friend to build her back up. I know it’s hard to see someone you care about headed for disaster but you really have no other choice.

I’ve been in such a situation - your friend could have been me 5 or 6 years ago. To be honest, I wasn’t prepared to listen to my friends if they tried to tell me that I shouldn’t be in the relationship, or that he was abusive. Having said that, one of the things I found most painful when I finally got away from him was the feeling of “you knew what was going on and did nothing” response I had to some of my friends. I realise now that they were in a horribly difficult position - not knowing whether to say anything or not.

For my money, the best bet is to tell your friend your concerns. And when she rejects them, back off (not from your concerns, but just don’t mention them again). Be supportive of her, even when she makes the wrong choices (which she probably will). Tell her how she deserves to be treated (she’ll probably try to tell you that her bf treats her like that already, even if he doesn’t). And be there for her when it all comes crashing in, because sooner or later it will. The hardest part may be that she tries to cut you off (either because she feels threatened by you telling her what she already knows about the guy, or (as in my case) the guy works to isolate her from her support networks of friends), but you need to make sure that she knows that you are there to help her, any time night or day.

Criticizing the guy is probably counterproductive; she won’t want to hear it, and if it gets back to him he’ll just become more determined to cut her off from her friends. Instead, tell her – as often and in as many ways as possible – that she is a pretty, smart, interesting person in her own right, without mentioning the guy at all. Control freaks gain power by making their partners feel lousy about themselves. If your friend understands that this relationship is NOT the only thing that gives her worth as a human being, she’ll be more likely to re-evaluate it on her own.

I asked this a couple years ago too…most of the people just said to be there & eventually she would
come around. She never quite did. She did marry him though & is still asking him for permission
for just about anything, but she does get well provided for.