Why It's Not Always Good To Be Overprotective In A Relationship

When we love someone, it's natural to want to protect them. Whether it's protecting them from physical or emotional pain, negativity, unnecessary drama, or even from themselves, the urge is there. And to feel protected by someone we love is extraordinary (via Psychology Today). To know that someone cares for us so deeply, has our back in any and all situations, and wants the best for us can be a source of comfort and reassurance.

But while being protective of our partner is a good thing, being overprotective is a different story. Sometimes we need to learn things on our own and get tossed around in the waves of life a bit in order to know we took a risk. Although a healthy level of protection in a relationship will allow for that, it's when the protector can be too influential in one's life that it begins to become overprotective. "It's important to note that there is a line between overprotectiveness and it crossing the border to abusive behavior," licensed psychologist David Tzall, Psy.D. tells Bustle. "An overprotective person might simply be hypervigilant about you and the relationship. They also might have the best intentions and are not looking to limit you but keep you safe based on their perceptions of safety."

As much as you may not want to see your partner's overprotective behavior as bordering on abusive, you still want to keep an eye out for patterns that just might spiral out of control.

How to tell if your partner is overprotective

Some of the more obvious signs that your partner is overprotective are the ways they assert their control over you. Have a healthy, normal argument with your sister? Better to stay away from her. Get into a minor tiff with your BFF, like you've been doing since you were 10? Probably should cut that relationship. "Your controlling partner may not like your best friend. [They] may even complain you talk to your family too often," dating and relationship coach Monica Parikh tells Elite Daily. "The goal is to isolate you from your support network, making you an easy target for emotional manipulation and abuse."

Some of the not-so-obvious signs are that they control little things under the guise that they're just being protective. For example, making appointments for you, telling you how and what to eat, making snide remarks about the people in your life they don't like, and forcing on you the idea that you're only safe when you're in their presence (via PsychCentral). "If they make your decisions for you and think they know better than you about your experience, it is definitely coming from their sense of entitlement and overprotective behavior," grief and relationship counselor Pooja Priyamvada tells Bonobology.

No one should feel entitled to how you go about your life, even if they've convinced themselves it's coming from a good place. 

Why you need to remedy it

Because there's a decent chance that your partner might not even be aware that their behavior is too overprotective — they're just looking out for you after all — it's important to bring up how it's affecting you and why they need to take a step back. No one can thrive as a person in this world if someone is constantly holding their hand or, even worse, not giving them the chance to live their life. 

It might not be an easy thing to do but you need to start a conversation about why they do the things they do and how those things are interfering with your life. A good place to start is to inquire about insecurities they might have about the relationship or ask if, perhaps, they had an unfaithful partner in their past that's contributing to their actions (via Marriage.com). Assure your partner that while you appreciate their want to protect you, they're going overboard and it's negatively affecting you.

And although not every overprotective partner will ultimately become physically abusive, it's still something to keep in mind. "While they may view it as a need to protect, their partner may experience it as controlling and suffocating," licensed clinical psychologist Jaci Lopez Witmer, Psy.D. tells Bustle. "As that pattern repeats and deepens, there may be emotional abuse, as well as even physical abuse in some circumstances."