Being possessive over your partner can only damage a relationship. There are many reasons why people might feel possessive, including having trust issues, being jealous, or having low self-esteem. Here are some tips to keep things in perspective if you feel yourself or your partner spiraling into a possessive state.

1. Forget about the past.

Maybe you’ve been cheated on or lied to before, but this is a new relationship. Don’t let the past ruin what you have going for you now. Your partner is a different person than your ex, and deserves a fresh start. Not to mention, you’ll feel better if you let the past go! You can’t change anything that’s already happened, so release the past hurt and focus on the relationship you’re in now.

2. Don’t be overbearing.

The more you worry your partner doesn’t love you or isn’t being honest with you, the more you will push him or her away. No one wants to be with a needy person, so don’t pile all your fears and worries about love on your partner. Trust that they love you because they’re choosing to be in a relationship with you. Let them go out without you, and don’t give them the third degree when they come home. If you make your partner feel like they’ve done something bad even when they haven’t, they might wonder what it’s worth to be good.

3. Live your own life.

This goes hand in hand with not being overbearing. If you have your own job, your own hobbies, and your own social life, then you’ll be a more interesting person to your partner. It’s important to spend time together, of course, but it’s also fun to spend time apart and have different things to share and talk about when you’re together.

4. Don’t let the green-eyed monster eat you alive.

Jealousy is not only a fast relationship killer, but it will make you feel bitter and hateful in your daily life. That green-eyed monster is quick to cut you down and make you feel worthless. Turn that attitude into something positive by realizing that your partner is with you because you’re a great, quality person all on your own. You don’t need to be jealous about anyone else they may be spending time with. Make sure you know your self-worth and realize that your partner is lucky to be with you.

5. Know each other’s friends.

A great way to keep from being jealous is to be familiar with each other’s social circles. If you know who your partner is spending time with, you’ll know there’s no reason to worry. An added bonus is that you might like their friends and want to spend time with them as well.

6. Don’t try to change your partner.

You knew who your partner was when you got involved in the relationship—why do you want to change him or her now? Telling yourself that the other person needs to change could just be your easy answer to any problem you might be having in the relationship.

7. Try to find the root of the problem.

Why do you feel possessive in your relationship? Whether it’s a fear from a past relationship, or even something that happened in childhood, you need to figure out what is causing you to feel and act this way. It will help you come to terms with your issue and conquer it, which in turn will make you feel better and will help future relationships.

8. Trust your partner (and yourself).

Often people feel insecure about others because they’re projecting something they see in themselves. You might worry that your partner flirts when he or she goes out with friends because you flirt when you go out with friends. If you trust yourself to only flirt and not go beyond that, you should be able to trust your partner to do the same—it’s only fair!

9. Don’t spy.

It’s OK to admit—everyone’s done it! Checking emails of an account that’s been left open, scrolling through sent text messages, perusing the browser history…It might seem normal and harmless, but it’s creating cracks in the relationship. You clearly think there’s something to find, and that hurts the trust you have (or should have) for your partner. Not to mention, it’s really awkward if they catch you! Keep yourself busy. Do something in another room while they’re on the phone so you’re not tempted to eavesdrop. Make sure you each sign out of your email accounts before leaving the computer. Over time, if you don’t have chances to spy, it will slip from your mind and you’ll stop feeling the urge to keep tabs on your partner.

10. Be open about your issues.

Tell your partner how you feel, without making it sound like you’re blaming them. Tell them about the issue from your past that makes it hard for you to trust. Tell them how you feel when they do certain things. Make sure you’re presenting things as an open dialog, not as a fight. If you’re open and honest about things that bother you, your partner is more likely to hear you out. If you’re both on the same page, it will help you to stop being possessive. Once everything is out in the open, you can start working through it—together!

Any relationship that is harmful or destructive to your physical, mental, or emotional well-being is an unhealthy one. Stop! 9 WARNING Signs That You May Be in a Dangerous Relationship

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