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Possessive Relationships

I know someone who's dating a really possessive boy. She needs to break up with him. How do I get her to realize that?

- 16 year old female

Here’s the biggest problem that you’re up against. You see your friend in a possessive relationship, and you think she needs to break up with her significant other, but does your friend realize they are in a possessive relationship and that being with this person is a bad idea? My guess is that they don’t.

As the outsider to this relationship, it’s like watching two freight trains on a collision course for disaster. A part of you can clearly see what’s coming, and you know the wreckage has the ability to be astronomical. And yet there’s another side of you that just can’t look away. (Or in this case you don’t feel like you can be silent about the approaching catastrophe.)

There’s an old saying that ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force them to drink,’ and unfortunately, I think this is what you are up against. My guess is that your friend sees this “possessive” behavior as thoughtful and caring. They believe that their significant other’s constant checking-in just means they are “looking out for them.” And maybe to some respects that is true, or maybe it is exactly what you think and it’s over the top and completely crosses the line.

Here’s the problem:

Outright telling your friend that her significant other is possessive and they should break up could potentially open you up to the receiving end of scrutiny and misunderstanding. While your intentions are good, your friend might see it as overstepping your boundaries, and depending on how possessive and manipulative this guy is, he could convince your friend that you are jealous, instead of just looking out for her best interest.

Now I say all of this without knowing your relationship with your friend. The scenario above is one of the worst-case outcomes to having a conversation with her. My advice to you would be to test the waters before you dive head first in. See what she thinks about some specific possessive behavior you’ve noticed. If she brushes it off or excuses it, she might not be ready to have that conversation. But if she comes back with something along the lines of, “that’s weird, right?” or “what do you think it means?” This could give you the opening you need to have a thoughtful discussion.


And there is a big BUT here. Proceed with caution. First time romances are not easily navigated, and emotions can jump from zero to a hundred in a very short time. The best thing you can do is to let your friend know you are concerned, and that you are there for her is she needs you, and then take a step back. Bombarding her with, “you need to break up with that jerk,” might do the exact opposite thing that you are trying to accomplish, and just push her closer toward him.

A.M. and her high school friends, then and now

You see, I was this friend of yours in high school and was in a seriously toxic relationship. While I have the foresight now to realize it, back then, I was too close and my emotions too tangled to see what was right in front of me. Every day I am still grateful for my girls who stuck with me and helped me through those times. They are still some of my best friends to this day.

I’ve also been privy over the years to be the outsider in relationships gone wrong, and know what it feels like to be helpless while people you love get their heart broken over and over. Neither is a good place to be.

Stay strong.

Keep loving your friend and do your best to gently guide her in the right direction, and eventually she will find the way. 


A.M. Rose is the author of Road to Eugenica, and Breakout, and is the writer of young adult novels of all genres as long as there’s a hint of romance (and kissing, there has to be kissing). She prefers walking to running, coffee to tea (although she does enjoy a nice Earl Grey with a touch of milk and sugar), and believes cheese should be its own food group.

A.M. graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Communication and a minor in Magical Creature Studies. (If you see a unicorn with purple spots, proceed with caution.) For more shenanigans; visit her online at She's also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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A final note: We are strong believers in the power of therapy. We know that this isn't a realistic option for every teenager, since some of you might not have the parental support or extra income necessary to make this happen. But, if possible, please consider therapy. Many of the adults you respect most have benefited from therapy, and it's likely that you will too. There's no shame in getting support. You deserve it.


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