My girlfriend is too possessive. She checks my phone all the time and gets very angry if I speak to other women, even if they are just friends. I have started hiding things from her because I don’t want to deal with her tantrums. Is there a way out besides lying?
Ans: Do both of you a favour by setting your own boundaries. Your girlfriend might be jealous but you are boundary-less. Both are not nice emotional places to be in and both often feed into each other. Jealous people end up with people who struggle with boundary setting and vice versa. Remember that boundaries are good. They help us maintain better relationships with people and avoid resentment towards others, and/or ourselves.
While right now it might be easier for you to spell out that you don’t want a possessive girlfriend, the starting point for boundary setting is to really pin down what you do want. Do you want to be free to talk to other women? Do you want to keep the privacy of your phone? Despite what you might have been told, it’s not bad to want these things. It’s ok to say no to your girlfriend and keep your phone private, it’s ok to talk to other women.
The layers of cultural conditioning that tell you these things are wrong are multiple and very thick. Your girlfriend is probably buried under all these layers as much as you are. Remember that you are not responsible for her feelings of jealousy. You are lying to her because you can’t deal with her inability to regulate her emotions. Change that.
She will be possessive no matter what you do or how much you lie. Let her have her feelings and you have yours. When she reacts to your boundaries, stay put and listen with empathy. Say that you understand that it must be hard for her to accept your boundaries but that setting them will improve your relationship. She will get used to the new you.
The writer is an Intimacy and Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual well-being (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)