Some people think that it is cool to have a jealous partner as jealousy is a sign of love. That is actually incorrect. What is cool is to have a territorial partner. Whether you admit it or not, we all need territorial people in our lives. To have a territorial person in your life is to have someone you can rely to through thick and thin in your corner.

“A man by nature is a social animal…” (Aristotle).

Territoriality is a sociobiological trait in animals which is a manifestation of the instinct to defend, protect and provide for what is theirs.

Animals are not the only ones who can be territorial. Humans are territorial animals, we just do it in more sophisticated ways. We may not urinate on the trees to mark our territory but we do build walls and fence around our property to ward off intruders. The message is clear,”This property is mine, DO NOT TREPASS”.

Surprisingly, when it comes to relationship, people tend to cringe at the word “territorial”. What is territoriality in a relationship anyway? Is it something negative or positive? Let’s take a look.

Territoriality vs. Possessiveness

The word “posses” is usually applied to non living objects. When we like something, we have the urge to buy it so we can own it and make it ours. And then we have the choice to either use it well, put it on a shelf to collect dust or to throw it around. The object has no say whatsoever about how it should be treated as it’s a non living thing.

I personally would rather use the word “belong” which is ” to be a part of you”. When we truly love someone, we want that person to belong to us.

We all need to feel the sense of belonging. People proudly declare that they belong to a certain country, ethnicity, tribe, clan or family. Whether we admit it or not, we all need to feel that we belong to something and somebody. Nobody wants to be alone and as social beings, deep down we know that we have a better chance of survival by being a part of others. So, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I belong to you and you belong to me”. That is not the same as being possessive.

To want to posses someone you love is wrong. To want to belong to someone you love and want him/her to belong to you is not wrong. That’s why people are in committed relationships and then they get married, which is the act of ultimate commitment and public declaration that they are belong to each other. In most cultures, the wife then willingly take the husband’s name. That doesn’t mean that she is now possessed by the husband, but rather, the wife now belongs to the family although they are not related by blood.

Territoriality vs. Jealousy

A lot of people think that being territorial in a relationship is the same as being jealous. That is not true. There are distinct differences between territoriality and jealousy. Jealousy is a negative trait, territoriality is a positive trait. Jealousy stems from fear and insecurity. The focus of jealousy is actually yourself. Territoriality is an instinctive act to provide and protect the one(s) you love. Jealousy focuses on you, territoriality focuses on your partner. You are being territorial because you care for their well being. Jealousy breeds resentment, anxiety and distrust, territoriality breeds a sense of safety, security and trust.

A territorial animal will attack an intruder in order to protect the member of it’s pride. It is not sitting there, seething and thinking, “hmmm….I think my mate is going to leave me. I have to do something to prevent her from leaving”.


You are being jealous you don’t like your partner to go to a bar without you because you are afraid that she will meet other men and end up leaving you.However, if you don’t like your partner to go to a bar without you because you care about her well-being and think that it’s not safe for her to be there without you, then you are being territorial.

If you don’t like your partner to wear revealing clothes because you think she is wearing it to attract other men, then you are being jealous. But if you don’t like your partner to wear revealing clothes because you don’t want some idiots to harass her and think of her as you know what, then you are being territorial.

A mother who marches down to school after hearing that her teenage boy is being bullied by his schoolmates is a territorial person. A father who is working hard to provide for his family is a territorial person. A friend who sticks up for you in the middle of a fight as if to say “back off, he is with me!”, is a territorial person. A boyfriend/husband who stands up for you against his family is being territorial. But a boyfriend who is checking your phone, stalking you and accusing of seeing someone else when you aren’t is just a jealous person, not territorial.

Territoriality vs. Controlling Behavior

Territorial animals don’t confine their members in a den. They are given protection and provision while free to roam around and do about their business within the territory if. Occasionally, a member of a pride or pack leaves and forms it’s own new pack or pride. Once out, it no longer entitle to the provision and protection from the pack.

If you are a citizen of a country, you belong to that country and you have to abide by the country’s laws and rules whether you like it or not. In relationship, we call it boundaries. As much as we like freedom, we also need boundaries because freedom without boundaries creates chaos. A child who was never introduced to a set of boundaries will never know how to differentiate the rights from wrongs. Boundaries create a sense of security. Imagine living in a society without boundaries, will you feel safe there? Having a mutually healthy agreed upon boundaries in a relationship means both parties is being territorial, it’s not controlling.


In the animal kingdom, every members of the pride knows what they should and shouldn’t do to sustain the existence of their pride and ensure that there is protection and provision for everybody. In a relationship. territoriality must go both ways. You can’t expect your partner to be territorial while you muck about and not doing your part to maintain and sustain a healthy and happy relationship. Being territorial is a way to say “we belong to one another, you have my back and I have yours. I’ll always be there for you and so will you or me”. When one party involve in a relationship is non territorial, the other person will feel taken for granted, abandoned, unloved and un-cared for, and that’s how people stray to look for a greener pasture and more territorial partner.

So, don’t be jealous, be territorial”?


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