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0955 Dating a Possessive Person

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 955 – Dating a Possessive Person.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 955. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast today. If you do, you can download a Learning Guide for this episode, an eight- to ten-page guide that contains a complete transcript of everything I say.

This episode is a dialogue between Eliana and Matt about dating a possessive person. Let's get started.

[start of dialogue]

Eliana: You’re here! I didn’t think you’d be able to come.

Matt: Why? I like seeing a movie with my friends as much as the next guy.

Eliana: Yeah, but it’s been weeks since we’ve seen you, ever since you started dating Helen.

Matt: She doesn’t own me. She’s a little possessive, but I put my foot down when she gets too clingy.

Eliana: Doesn’t she get jealous if you so much as look at another woman?

Matt: She’s the jealous type, that’s true, but I reassure her all the time that she’s the only one I want. It’s true that she’s critical of other women, too, but what woman isn’t? She’s fine if she knows where I am and whom I’m with.

Eliana: You mean you have to report in to her on your whereabouts?

Matt: She likes to know what I’m doing. She’s just concerned about me, that’s all.

Eliana: She seems really controlling.

Matt: What did you say?

Eliana: Nothing. I see Xavier and Sophie over there. Ready to get our tickets?

Matt: Hold on one second. I just need to text Helen an update. If she doesn’t hear from me every half hour, she worries. Isn’t that sweet?

[end of dialogue]

This episode is all about “dating” (dating). “To date” means to see someone romantically – to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. This is done before you get married. Once you get married, we don't talk about dating. We don't talk about anything, really, once you get married . . . no, I'm just kidding. “Dating” is seeing someone you are romantically interested in.

Eliana begins by saying to Matt, “You’re here! I didn't think you'd be able to come” – I didn't think you'd be able to come to wherever Eliana is. Matt says, “Why? I like seeing a movie with my friends as much as the next guy.” So, now we learn that Matt and Eliana are apparently outside of or inside of a movie theater, and that they are friends. You see how much we can learn in just a few words.

Matt says he likes seeing a movie as much as the next guy. That expression, “as much as the next guy,” means “just like other people.” It's a phrase we use to emphasize that what you do, or what you like to do, is normal. It's what everyone else does as well. Eliana says, “Yeah, but it's been weeks since we've seen you, ever since you started dating Helen.” Now we learn that Matt is dating a girl by the name of Helen.

Matt says, “She doesn't own me.” When someone says, “She doesn't own me,” he's probably lying, but he means, “That person doesn't control me.” My girlfriend doesn't control me. She doesn't tell me what I have to do. I don't listen to what she says. Again, this is completely imaginary. This would never actually happen in the real world. But Matt is saying that his girlfriend doesn't own him.

He says, “She's a little possessive.” “To be possessive” (possessive) means to want to have something only for yourself. You don't want to share it with anyone else. “To be possessive” means to want to have something and not have anyone else have it. If you are possessive of another person, you may not like that other person talking to friends or family members instead of you.

That is sometimes a problem. In fact, it's usually a problem if a person is very possessive, what we might describe as “overly possessive.” Of course, you have to be possessive at some level – to some extent, a little bit – about a person that you love. You want them to spend time with you more than they spend time with other people.

Matt says, “I put my foot down when she gets too clingy.” The expression “to put your foot (foot) down” means to be very assertive, to clearly indicate what you are willing to do or not willing to do. You might say, for example, “If I see anyone not doing their work, I'm going to put my foot down and tell you to go home and take all your stuff with you. You’re fired.” “I’m going to put my foot down” – I'm going to be very strong and assertive. I’m going to say, “This is the law, this is the rule, and if you don't follow it, you are out.”

Matt is saying that he's putting his foot down. He's being strong and assertive with his girlfriend whenever she gets too clingy. The adjective “clingy” (clingy) comes from the verb “to cling” (cling). “To cling” is to hold on to something tightly. “To be clingy” is to want to be with another person so much that the other person may get annoyed or bothered; the other person may not like you being that close to them or wanting to be close to them all the time.

Eliana says, “Doesn't she get jealous if you so much as look at another woman?” “Jealous” (jealous) is when you have negative feelings of suspicion. You think another person is not being faithful to you or loyal to you. If a woman sees her husband talking to another beautiful woman, she might get upset. She might be jealous. She may want the husband to come back and stop talking to the beautiful woman. The wife may think that her husband is perhaps interested romantically in this other woman, and therefore doesn't want him talking to her. That might be actually true. So, you know, sometimes being jealous is a good thing.

However, here Eliana says that Matt's girlfriend, Helen, gets jealous if Matt so much as looks at another woman. When we use the expression “so much as,” we mean – especially when referring to, usually, referring to something that doesn't seem very important – that it’s a very small action that shouldn't cause the person to get angry. If a mother says to her children, “Don't eat this cake. If you so much as take one piece, I'm going to send you to your rooms without dinner” – you won't get to eat tonight.

Kind of a mean mom, but you understand what she's saying. She doesn't want the children taking the cake. If they eat so much as one piece – even if they only eat one piece – she will punish them. She will send them to their room without their dinner. Probably not a good idea, but it certainly does happen.

Matt says, “She’s the jealous type,” meaning she's the kind of person who gets jealous. Matt continues, “I reassure her all the time that she's the only one I want.” “To reassure” (reassure) means to say something to someone to make them feel more confident or comfortable about a situation that they have doubts about. You’re trying to say to the other person, “Don't worry. Everything 's okay. What I am telling you is true.” Matt tries to reassure Helen that Helen is the only one that Matt wants.

Matt says, “It's true that she's critical of other women, too, but what woman isn't?” “To be critical” (critical) means to say negative things about another person – to find errors, faults, or problems with what another person does or how another person acts or behaves. The verb is “to criticize.” Matt says his girlfriend is critical of other women, “but what woman isn't?” meaning all women are critical of other women. I guess that's what he’s saying. I'm not saying that. Please don't email me and complain. Email Matt.

Matt continues, “She's fine if she knows where I am and whom I'm with.” The girlfriend doesn't get jealous if she knows where Matt is all the time, or at least she doesn't worry as much. Eliana says, “You mean you have to report in to her on your whereabouts?” “To report in” means to contact someone and tell them what you are doing, usually so that person can monitor your progress. It's something you would do if you’re an employee with your boss. You might report in if you are traveling somewhere for your company, to tell your boss what you were doing. The idea of reporting in has with it the notion that the person you are reporting in to somehow has authority or control over you.

“Whereabouts” (whereabouts) is where you are. “Whereabouts” is all one word. It's where you are located right now. The police often use this word in trying to find a person who is missing or who has perhaps committed a crime, has broken the law. “We don't know the whereabouts of this person” – we don't know where this person is. Matt says his girlfriend likes to know what he's doing. “She's just concerned about me, that's all,” Matt says.

Eliana says, “She seems really controlling.” “To be controlling” means to want to make all of the decisions for another person, to want to decide what the other person is going to do – to be in charge of another person. That's to be controlling. It's almost always considered a negative thing. Matt says, “What did you say?” Eliana says, “Nothing.” Matt didn't hear exactly what Eliana was saying, or perhaps he didn't like what she was saying.

Sometimes, if you don't like what someone has said, especially if they are insulting you or saying something critical about you or someone you love, you might pretend as though you didn't hear them: “Excuse me, what did you say?” You’re basically telling the person to repeat what they said because you want to make sure that you heard it correctly, usually because it was something you didn't like.

Eliana, however, doesn't repeat what she says. Instead, she changes the subject. She decides to stop talking about this issue. She says, “I see Xavier and Sophie over there. Ready to get our tickets?” Matt says, “Hold on one second,” meaning wait just a few seconds. “I just need to text Helen an update.” “To text” someone means to send them a message, usually with your phone. An “update” (update) is the most recent information about something, the latest news about something.

Matt says if his girlfriend doesn't hear from him – doesn't receive some sort of message from him – every half hour, every 30 minutes, she worries. “Isn't that sweet?” “Sweet” (sweet) here means kind or caring or considerate. Matt thinks it’s sweet that his girlfriend wants him to give her updates every 30 minutes about what he's doing. He thinks it's a nice thing. It shows that she loves him, which she probably does. But it sounds as though she might be a little possessive.

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Eliana: You’re here! I didn’t think you’d be able to come.

Matt: Why? I like seeing a movie with my friends as much as the next guy.

Eliana: Yeah, but it’s been weeks since we’ve seen you, ever since you started dating Helen.

Matt: She doesn’t own me. She’s a little possessive, but I put my foot down when she gets too clingy.

Eliana: Doesn’t she get jealous if you so much as look at another woman?

Matt: She’s the jealous type, that’s true, but I reassure her all the time that she’s the only one I want. It’s true that she’s critical of other women, too, but what woman isn’t? She’s fine if she knows where I am and whom I’m with.

Eliana: You mean you have to report in to her on your whereabouts?

Matt: She likes to know what I’m doing. She’s just concerned about me, that’s all.

Eliana: She seems really controlling.

Matt: What did you say?

Eliana: Nothing. I see Xavier and Sophie over there. Ready to get our tickets?

Matt: Hold on one second. I just need to text Helen an update. If she doesn’t hear from me every half hour, she worries. Isn’t that sweet?

[end of dialogue]

We’re never critical of our scriptwriter. That's because she's a wonderful scriptwriter and there's nothing to be critical of. I speak, of course, of the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
as much as the next guy – just like other people; a phrase used to emphasize that one’s preferences or behaviors are normal

* I like sports as much as the next guy, but don’t you think it’s crazy for the team to practice that much?

to own (someone) – to be in control of another person, especially controlling what that person does, with whom, and when, so that the other person feels the need to report to that person

* Sure, it would be nice if your adult son did whatever you asked him to, but he’s an individual and you don’t own him.

possessive – wanting to have something only for oneself and not being willing to share it with others

* Don’t touch anything in Brenda’s office! She’s really possessive and she’ll notice if anything gets moved.

to put (one’s) foot down – to be very assertive and strong, clearly indicating the limit of something or clearly stating that something will not be tolerated

* I’ll put my foot down if I ever see any illegal activity at work.

clingy – wanting to be very close to another person, even when it makes the other person annoyed or comfortable; not able to be alone and away from someone

* At first, Mike seemed nice, but as they continued dating, Alexandra began to realize how clingy he was.

jealous – with negative feelings of suspicion that another person will be unfaithful or not loyal

* Some of Amy’s best friends are men, and her new boyfriend becomes jealous when she spends time with them.

so much as – even; in a particular way, especially when referring to a small or inconsequential amount of something

* Emmett is so shy, he won’t so much as look at any of his coworkers when talking to them.

to reassure – to do or say something to help another person feel more comfortable or confident

* Let me reassure you that all the personal health information provided on these forms will be kept confidential.

critical – saying bad things about other people while judging what they do or say or how they appear

* Theodore was really critical of the restaurant, but I thought the food was pretty good.

to report in – to check in with someone periodically; to provide an update to another person so that he or she can monitor progress and be aware of what is happening

* All the field employees are asked to report in to the supervisor at least once a week, so that we can keep track of their progress and address any problems.

whereabouts – where one is; one’s location

* The police are monitoring the suspect’s whereabouts, hoping to find clues related to the recent murder.

controlling – wanting to make decisions about another person’s actions; being in charge of what another person does, as well as when and how

* The new boss is really controlling, and some of the more independent employees are having a hard time adapting to her management style.

update – the most recent information about something; information about the current status

* They have a weekly meeting to provide updates about their work.

sweet – kind, caring, considerate, and attractive, often used to talk about little children and women

* It’s so sweet of you to bring cookies for your coworkers!

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Matt mean when he says, “I put my foot down when she gets too clingy”?
a) He threatens to leave the relationship.
b) He runs out of the room.
c) He tells her to stop what she’s doing.

2. What kind of text message does Matt need to send to Helen?
a) He needs to tell her where he is and what he’s doing.
b) He needs to send her a message to cheer her up.
c) He needs to invite her to join the group.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
controlling

The word “controlling,” in this podcast, means wanting to make decisions about another person’s actions, and being in charge of what another person does: “Gregorio’s parents are really controlling, making all the decisions about what activities he participates in and even what he wears.” A “control freak” is an uptight person who becomes panicked and worried if unexpected things happen: “Purina is a control freak who planned every detail of her wedding.” The phrase “birth control” refers to contraception, or efforts to prevent pregnancy: “At what age do you think teenagers should learn about birth control?” Finally, “cruise control” is a setting on a vehicle that maintains a constant speed without the driver needing to do anything: “Drivers can get better gas mileage if they use cruise control on the freeway.”

sweet

In this podcast, the word “sweet” means kind, caring, considerate, and attractive, often used to talk about little children and women: “Karina is a very sweet woman, but she isn’t a very good decision-maker.” The phrase “a sweet deal” describes a good bargain or a profitable transaction: “I can’t believe we bought that car for just $1,000. What a sweet deal!” The phrase “to have a sweet tooth” means to enjoy sweet, sugary foods: “Lyle has a sweet tooth and would love to eat chocolate all day long.” Finally, the old-fashioned phrase “to be sweet on (someone)” means to have a crush on someone or to be interested in someone romantically: “How will Rebena ever know you’re sweet on her if you don’t ask her out on a date?”

Culture Note
No-Fault Divorces

In the past, Americans who wanted to get a “divorce” (the legal end of a marriage) had to “prove” (demonstrate; show) “wrongdoing” (bad behavior) by one of the two people in the marriage. This created an “adversarial” (as enemies; not friendly) relationship between the two people who wanted to get a divorce and further “soured” (made unpleasant and bad) an already bad situation. For example, a husband or wife might have to prove that the “spouse” (husband or wife) had been “unfaithful” (involved in a sexual relationship with someone else). However, if that spouse replied that the other person had also been unfaithful, the court could “find” (legally conclude) that both parties had engaged in wrongdoing, and therefore not “grant” (allow) the divorce.

Beginning in 1970, U.S. states began to pass laws that “provided for” (allowed) “no-fault divorces” in which there was no requirement to prove wrongdoing. Today, all 50 states “have provisions for” (allow) no-fault divorces. This makes it easier for spouses to get a divorce, because they can state that they no longer want to be married, without “blaming” (being mad at and identifying as the source of a problem) the spouse.

In some cases, spouses can “claim” (state as a reason) “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” are things on which the spouses cannot agree, or differences that make them “incompatible” (not able to continue living with each other as husband and wife). Irreconcilable differences would be things that at least one spouse is unable or unwilling to change in order to “save the marriage” (avoid divorce).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - a