Dating abuse can begin far younger than you may think. It commonly occurs in teen relationships, because many young people view a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s controlling tendencies as proof of affection or love. But such behaviors are often evidence of an abusive relationship.
My own story began when I was in 7th grade and met a boy I’ll call Josh. It was during my relationship with him that I learned how to answer the question, “Is possessiveness proof of love?”
Josh genuinely seemed nice. He charmed everybody with his lighthearted jokes and positive vibes. After knowing each other a little while, Josh and I became a couple.
Early on, our relationship was calm. We always smiled when we were together and had good times. He always acted gentlemanly and often complimented me on my personality. He was on good terms with my closest friends, so all was well from my perspective. But as we grew closer, I started to notice his true colors. The first warning to me was his uncontrollable anger and jealousy.
For many years, one of my male friends always walked home with me, because we picked up our younger siblings at their elementary school. This male friend had absolutely zero romantic interest in me. In fact, he often talked about what a cute couple Josh and I made. But despite this, when Josh found out my friend walked home with me, Josh started calling him vulgar names and even physically assaulted him. I was shocked when I learned of this, I apologized repeatedly to my friend. I became angry with Josh and tried to talk to him about his temper. He said he was sorry and sweet-talked to me until I agreed to stay in the relationship with him. I was infatuated with him, so I chose to forgive him despite the red flags.
Things seemed to be going well, but then another incident occurred. A teacher assigned our class a group project, so I paired up with some female friends. But one of our male friends was left out, so the teacher added him to our group. We worked on the assignment at my best friend’s house. Josh was very angry that the male friend was in our group. He constantly texted me when we worked on the assignment. He called my best friend horrible names. My friend brushed him off, telling me that Josh shouldn’t treat people like that. I agreed, but I stayed in the relationship.
When we started high school, Josh’s jealousy grew worse, so similar situations continued occurring. It eventually reached the point where he got angry if I “liked” a classmate’s or celebrity’s post or photo, or followed another male, on social media. I finally realized that staying in the relationship could only harm me.
With my friends’ help, I ended my relationship with Josh. We’d been together for three years, but in retrospect, I wish I’d ended the relationship before it began. Later, I reflected on things that had been happening since the relationship began. Here are some things I learned:
- When your partner constantly calls and texts to track who you’re with and where you are, he or she is trying to control you and keep the power in the relationship.
- Abusive partners use jealousy and anger to manipulate or guilt-trip the other party and to isolate them from family members and friends.
- Infatuation is not the same as actual care. Genuinely caring for somebody else means that you have respect for the other person’s choices and personal life.
- Aggression, possessive behavior, and emotional fits are NOT signs of love. They’re signs of abuse.
Society, pop culture, and social media tell us that possessiveness is a sign of true love. But it really isn’t. You deserve a relationship that’s filled with affection and respect.