Key Differences: Protective Boyfriend or a Controlling Boyfriend?

protective boyfriend

Some might find a protective boyfriend sweet, but when does it err into controlling territory? Understand the difference so you can make the best decision.

They say there is a very fine line between bravery and stupidity. There are many other aspects which also share the same fine line. A protective boyfriend and controlling boyfriend is one of those lines.

Do you have a protective boyfriend? If so, it’s probably nice in some ways. He looks after you, stands watch over you, makes sure you’re okay, and doesn’t let people talk behind your back without confronting them about their motives.

All in all, it has the hallmarks of a pretty sweet relationship.

However, protective can easily overlap with controlling when pushed ever so slightly in the wrong direction.

[Read: Controlling vs. caring? The thin line people can cross]

Protective boyfriend versus controlling boyfriend

There is a difference between the two, so we need to break this down clearly so you can tell whether or not you have a slight overlap problem or not.

A protective boyfriend is someone who looks after your needs and does his best to make sure nothing bad happens to you. He is kind and considerate and thoughtful, always ready to make sure that you’re safe in the moment.

That’s good, right?

[Read: 11 surefire ways to know if you’re dating a true gentleman]

In comparison, a controlling boyfriend is something altogether different.

A controlling boyfriend might show the signs of a protective boyfriend at first, but you’ll see small signs that things are moving in the wrong direction. For instance, he might start showing signs of jealousy, or convince you not to see certain people, e.g. friends or family members, and he might try and pull you away from doing certain things for no good reason.

For some people, a controlling boyfriend can easily be confused with protective, which is why this is such a key problem.

In the worst case scenarios, this control can turn very negative. This can lead to emotional, physical or sexual abuse, and features domination over one partner by the other. [Read: 15 subtle signs of a controlling boyfriend most girls just don’t notice]

Some people in controlling relationships don’t actually realize it, because the manipulation is so subtle. In some cases, it could be because their partner is actually a narcissist.

However, let’s hope that we’re erring on the side of extreme caution here and your boyfriend is firmly on the protective side of the scale. This means he wants the best for you and considers your feelings. If this is the case, you’re a lucky person!

[Read: The worrying signs of a controlling person you don’t want to miss]

What about possessive?

There is another possibility we must compare here, because I want you to have the right appreciation for the protective man you have in your life. By looking at the alternatives and the negative possibilities that could have been the case, truly nurture the relationship you’re in.

So, a possessive boyfriend. Possessive means that someone doesn’t consider your feelings, they only consider their own.

If you compare protective versus possessive, you could say that a protective boyfriend is someone who shows he trusts you and wants the best for you. A possessive boyfriend is someone who is wracked with self-doubt and worries that you’ll be taken away, so they use manipulation tactics to keep you in what they see as “your place.”

As with control, possessiveness is a form of emotional control and something which isn’t acceptable in any relationship. Yet again, this can often be hard to spot because it can be a subtle buildup of tactics.

[Read: Early warning signs of a possessive man you shouldn’t overlook]

Embracing your protective relationship

Hopefully, you’ve found a guy who strikes the sweet spot. In that case, how can you embrace and nurture that relationship, to show the same level of care to him?

It really comes down to reflecting his behavior back. This means considering his feelings, looking after him in the same way, never letting anyone speak behind his back, and trusting him to do whatever he needs to do, without control or questions.

Of course, there is a line with protection too. Everyone should be able to do what they need to do and live the way they need to live, without someone breathing down their neck on a constant basis.

Protection should be subtle, it should be something which doesn’t constrict or limit. It is there in the background as a gentle reminder that someone is looking out for you. [Read: 25 signs and qualities of an ideal, perfect boyfriend]

When you’re giving your guy the same level of protection back, don’t overcrowd him, as I’m sure that’s what he’s trying not to do for you. We all need to be free in our relationships. One sign of a healthy and happy union is two people who have their own lives, but experience the support of one another too.

Of course, there are some occasions when having a protective boyfriend might be a little infuriating. I know, I’ve bigged it up so far, but it’s not all roses. Sometimes you don’t want someone in the background looking out for you. If that’s the case, carefully tell him to take a step back. Tell him that you’re fine and that if you need anything, you’ll ask him first.

It can be easy to feel suffocated in some ways, but that’s not healthy either. If you feel suffocated, you quietly consider whether you are in a protective relationship or whether there is an element of possessiveness or control going on.

This type of relationship is meant to feel natural and safe, comfortable even. It’s not supposed to show signs which take it towards the uncomfortable side of the scale.

[Read: The 20 qualities in a guy that make him a really good man]

The advantages of a protective boyfriend

Let’s end this chat on a positive note and consider why it’s great to have a protective boyfriend. Provided you feel happy and settled within the relationship.

– An instant protector should you need help

– A man who is your biggest fan and who wants the best for you

– He trusts you and allows you to go after what you want and need, without pulling you back or controlling you

– A protective boyfriend offers a safe haven at the end of a difficult day

– He will give you the best advice, with your own needs in mind

– He puts your needs ahead of his own *however, be sure he doesn’t do this too much*

– Finally, he is protective of you because he adores you

Avoid those horrible issues that arise all too often in negative and difficult relationships. A controlling boyfriend is a bad sign, a possessive boyfriend is a bad sign, but a protective boyfriend, provided he stays on the right side of the line, is a positive thing. In that case, be sure to see what you have and nurture the relationship the way it should be nurtured.

Also, offer him the love and protection that he gives you, in a way he finds easy to accept. This means not expecting to know his every move and questioning him on where he’s been all the time, but simply doing your best to trust him and know that he’s always doing his best for you.

Of course, it doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times. Overall, you can overcome those challenges if you focus on the positives.

[Read: What traits set apart selfless love from selfish love]

A protective boyfriend will always be there for you and always has your back. But remember that there are major differences between protective and possessiveness and control. And there’s a very thin line that separates all three of them.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...

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