By Francis Ewherido
They both start with letter “P,” but one is positive while the other is poisonous. I am talking about protectiveness and possessiveness. Protectiveness simply means to keep safe from harm or injury. Synonyms include to: safeguard, shield, preserve, defend, shelter, screen, secure, fortify, guard, etc. When you love, you protect; when you cherish a person or item you protect them. Protection or willingness to protect a spouse/partner is one of the ways to gauge the health of a marriage/relationship.
Possessiveness, on the other hand, is “demanding someone’s total attention and love, overprotective, clinging, controlling, dominating, etc.” A possessive partner is bad news and young people in relationships must learn to distinguish between a protective partner and possessive partner. They might look similar, especially when you are in love or lust, but they are not the same. In fact, one synonym of possessiveness is overprotectiveness, and as we all know too much of everything is bad.
So, young people, when you are in a relationship, or before you take your relationship to the next level, watch out for these red flags.
One, I watched two videos on possessiveness; one was a reality show while the other was a film. They had the same outcome: fatality. Possessive partners have a tendency to kill, maim or destroy. We have seen it over and over and it is a universal tendency. They kill, they give acid bath, they set their partners on fire; they inflict pain and destruction when things do not go their way. One of the universal rules of love is that it protects. You protect what you love. Nobody hurts what he/she loves. Possessive people do not love their partners. At best they are obsessed. Flee from them.
Two, some possessive partners try to drive a wedge between you and your family. All of a sudden, your loving parents and siblings are now evil. They are all stumbling blocks to your progress. All your former school mates and childhood friends are no longer good people. He/she finds faults in all of them. He/she is now your only well-wisher. He/she tries to separate you from everyone and destroy all previous relationships. The only relationship he/she wants is between the two of you. In Africa, we do not just marry our spouses only, we marry into the whole family. It is diabolical for a potential spouse to want to drive a wedge between you and your family members who genuinely love you.
Run away from such partners. They only want to isolate you from your real loved ones so that they can manipulate and destroy you. In the films I watched, the predators isolated their partners from their families and friends and started manipulating and sexually abusing her. In the reality show, when victim finally regained her senses, she moved back to her parents’ house with the baby she had with the partner. She also brought a case of rape and domestic violence case against him.
He wanted her to refrain from testifying against him in court, but she refused. He then stalked her to her work place one morning and stabbed her multiple times before slitting her throat. She died shortly after. Had the police not been a step ahead of him subsequently, he would have killed the baby too. In the second case, her real husband, whom she abandoned for the predator, had to overpower the predator to rescue her. But before then, the predator had infected her with the HIV Virus. How can these acts be love?
Three, possessive partners are usually violent. So, if your partner strikes you once, chances are he/she will do it again. When it comes to violence in such relationships, I do not believe in giving a violent partner a second chance. I have warned my children, especially my daughters. If he/she strikes you once, he/she will do it again. In marriage or romantic relationships, violence is not an option.
You do not deliberately hurt or harm the one you love. If they mistakenly find themselves in such a relationship, they must summon the will power to end it or seek my intervention. I will never give my parental consent or blessing for such a relationship to culminate in marriage. I can understand misunderstanding and quarrels, but not violence. Even verbal threats should be taken seriously.
Four, I tell my children, anyone who habitually tells to keep vital information from your parents or loved ones is evil. In the reality case I mentioned above, when the rape and domestic violence started, she hid it from her parents and friends. If they had known earlier, they could have stepped in and she would probably be alive today.
Five, possessive partners are control-freaks. They want to control the lives of their partners, determine who they interact with and what they do; they also want them to account for their time 24/7. I always advise young people to be in control of their minds. This is because whoever controls your mind controls your life. Every normal adult should be in control of his/her life. Why would anybody want to take over another person’s life? It is an aberration.
Six, possessive people are extremely jealous and as I said earlier, too much of everything is bad. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with jealousy. As I wrote in my book, “hitherto, jealousy was seen as protecting what is yours, while envy was the act of desiring what belonged to another. Jealousy is of God… Jealousy is like any other genuine feeling we have for what belongs to us. Done in moderation, it is okay; but taken to the extreme, it gets you into trouble… Everybody, who cares for his/her spouse, including me, harbours some degree of jealousy” (Life Lessons from Mudipapa). Possessive people take their jealousy to an extreme and deadly level and that is the problem.
Seven, many possessive people are immature and insecure and ordinarily should not go into a relationship that can lead to marriage. As I wrote in Life Lessons from Mudipapa, “before getting to the stage of jointly making a bed (getting married), each party should be physically, psychologically and emotionally mature. Each party should also be secure, self-assured and comfortable with himself/herself.
In other words, there should be self-mastery and victory over self, because as Stephen Covey rightly observed, ‘private victories must precede public victories’ and only independent people should go into marriage because ‘interdependence is a decision only independent people can make.’ The trouble with many marriages today is that dependent people go into the interdependent relationship that marriage essentially is.” Some possessive people are not mature and independent and should ordinarily not be in a serious relationship that can lead to marriage.
So, youngsters in relationships or about to go into a relationship should watch out for these red flags. There are some others not listed here. A protective partner will shield you from harm, not harm you; a protective partner will defend you, especially when you are vulnerable; a protective partner will watch your back; a protective partner will risk his/her life to defend you, not become the source of danger; a protective partner loves you and nobody hurts what he/she loves.