We Need To Talk About Possessive Behaviour In Relationships
There's nothing attractive about controlling behaviour in the dating world.
Last season of The Bachelorette, it was Charlie who rang all our relationship alarm bells when he gaslighted (gaslit?) Ali.
This season of Bachelor In Paradise it's Bill who's causing major issues with his web of lies directed at both Alex Nation and Florence.
And then, there's Ivan. He of wanting to be a Step Up! legend and avocado-pip mangling. You see Ivan has become obsessed with Tenille in Paradise.
And it's both uncomfortable TV and worrying relationship behaviour.
From getting jealous over her friendship with other men, to ending up in her room waiting for her while she was in the bathroom, Ivan's increasingly possessive behaviour has now made viewers -- and other Paradise dwellers --uncomfortable.
But Ivan isn't alone. You see, clingy or obsessive behaviour can happen to anyone, not only reality show contestants desperate to stay in the competition and desperately infatuated with a beautiful woman.
Lysn psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada told 10 daily, "The early stages of a relationship or dating can be a tricky time because everyone has different expectations of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Usually, both parties follow their own instincts to gauge what is appropriate. Difficulties can arise when these expectations differ."
"One thing that can be off-putting about a potential partner," she added, "is when their behaviour becomes obsessive or develops into an unhealthy infatuation."
You got that right. So how can Tenille -- or anyone in the same situation -- deal with a new relationship that seems to be getting into this territory?
"The best way to deal with these types of situations is through open and honest communication," said Breanna. "People can find that difficult in the early stages of dating but it's crucial to the development of a healthy attachment. They may not have ill intentions or be delusional; they may just be getting caught up in the whirlwind that can be love and lust. Let the person know what you are and aren’t comfortable with and gauge from their behaviour how receptive they are to this."
It's important to set boundaries early in relationships as these set the tone for future of the relationship and habits in a relationship can be hard to break once established, so set the ground rules early."
What can you do to let someone down gently if they're being a bit possessive and it makes you feel uncomfortable? Say, five days into a reality show or something?
"If someone has developed an obsessive style of love or an infatuation, this is going to be hard for him or her to hear -- that the object of his or her infatuation is not interested," warned Breanna. "While you can be considerate and compassionate to their feelings it is also important that you take your feelings into account. If they have made you uncomfortable or concerned they need to hear that as respectfully as possible."
"It is important to be honest and not let them have false hope about a future if you do not see one with them. It may also be difficult to remain friends if their behaviour continues. It may be best to do this in person if you feel comfortable as texts can be misinterpreted and make things messy. Do so somewhere you feel safe and is private but where you aren’t alone, keep your and their safety at the forefront of your mind. Respect that they may have questions and want clarity and this will require honesty. Listen as much as they need you to while making sure you are heard."
What are the warning signs a man (or woman) may be too infatuated?
"Delusional jealousy is often an early indicator that someone is developing obsession-like infatuation for someone," she said. "They may misunderstand others' behaviours or intentions and fear losing their loved one. Other obvious signs are constant phone calls, texts or communication through other forms such as social media."
And turning up unannounced in your resort bedroom?
"If they turn up unannounced at your house or at social occasions this may be cause for concern," added Breanna.
Are there other signs to look for?
"People who can get obsessive may suffer from low self-esteem and may need excessive reassurance about your feelings for them," said Breanna. "Other signs look similar to that of addiction. They want to spend an excessive amount of time with or talking to the object of their infatuation, they excessively think about their partner and try to engage with them in multiple ways -- often abandoning other social relationships or roles. In extreme cases, they may start to impose other unhealthy manipulative behaviours like trying to exert control over their partner's life."
How can you tell if it could be happening to you -- and it's not just a very full-on relationship?
"Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts," Breanna told 10 daily. "That feeling you get in your stomach that gives you a sense of what’s right and what might feel a little off. Use your instincts as a guide because there is no right or wrong when it comes to how you feel -- it’s what you’re most comfortable with. Also, talk to your family and friends about any behaviours you might be uncomfortable with, you yourself may be caught up in new and exciting feelings and may need some rational outside perspective on the situation."
Feature image: @ivantheaussie/@tenillefavios/ Instagram.