How to get away from a possessive boyfriend or girlfriend

bhian asks: I’m afraid right now. I have a boyfriend who is so possessive. He always gets jealous, and hits me after. How can I break up with him? My kids are afraid with him also.

Hi bhian –


I really have two answers for you.  One is something I sent to someone else, about how to break up as gently and kindly as possible.  But before I get to that, I need to bring up this other issue.


Jealousy is fine.  I get very jealous when I see my human friend Handsome petting other dogs.  There’s actually a compliment in there.


But a man hitting a woman is NOT okay.  And terrifying children isn’t either.  So my first and biggest concern is to get you and them safe.


If you lived where I do, I’d know who you could call.  But I don’t know where you live.  So I want you to find a time you can be by yourself, and to call the police and ask them what services are available for abused mothers and children.


Now your boyfriend might not ever strike you or the kids again.  And if so, that’s great.  But please, as soon as you can, find out what services are out there.  And keep that information.  You never know when you’ll need it.


Okay, so onto the ‘funner’ part of it:


I hate breakups.  I’ve never really had one, but I’ve suffered from them, whenever Handsome’s had any.  And he hates them – whether they’re his idea or hers.  Both feel really bad.  But that’s just one of those things almost all humans go through, and so the best thing to do is to get it over with as kindly and as easily as possible.  Here are some suggestions:

1)    Although you might want to be extra-nice to him before it, that can backfire.  Handsome once did that, so as to make a woman feel how much he truly cared about her, and instead she felt that he’d set her up and boosted her confidence just to hurt her more!  Best to be really honest and straightforward throughout.   Especially because he probably feels your lack of feeling already. (which would explain at least part of his jealousy)

2)    On the other hand, some people try to create conflict, to give themselves a better “excuse” for the breakup.  That’s even worse.  If you’ve just lost feelings for him, he won’t like hearing this, but there’s no reason to make it worse, or to pretend it’s his fault.

3)    Some people try to stay friends after a breakup and some don’t.  I’ve seen it work and fail, so I won’t tell you what to do.  But if one of you wants to stay friends and the other doesn’t, it probably won’t work.  So I’d check to find out what each of you wants.  And if you do both want to stay friends, that’s great.  But even then, I’d suggest agreeing on a little while when you don’t have any contact.  Maybe even just a week or two.  Just enough so that you can both get used to life without each other.

4)    He’ll probably want to know the “reasons” that you’re breaking up.  Boys especially tend to ruminate on what they did right and wrong, and try to figure out what they can do (or could have done) to fix it.  So be very careful with what you tell him.  It can be incredibly kind and loving to tell him things that will help him in future relationships.  And who knows, maybe those are things he’ll improve in himself that could bring you two back together sometime in the future!  But if you give him a list of a hundred of his faults, he’s just going to feel unlovable and lousy; and if you don’t tell him anything, he’s going to feel that you’re wrong to break up with him.  So try to tell him just a very few things that he can actually improve.

5)    And last but not least, Be Kind.  Don’t denigrate your relationship by breaking up with him in a text or an email (unless you feel it would be unsafe in person).  If you can, meet with him.  Tell him what was great about what you two had.  And if he’ll let you, kiss him goodbye.  The message you want to give is completely positive:  We Both Can and Should Have Better Relationships Than This!  Let him walk away proud and glad about what you shared.  He’ll have lots of other time to miss you and regret it not working out!


But all that is secondary to what matters most – making sure you and your kids are safe.  Whether it’s a restraining order or a home for battered families, or just staying with your protective brother, Be Safe.  Then, if you’re able to, my other advice on being kind and friendly is great.  Whereas, if he won’t accept it, then don’t bother.


Thanks, and if you like, feel free to let me know where you live (country and city; I don’t need anything more specific than that), and maybe I can help you find the services you need.


With all my hopes for the very best,


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