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Does Putting His Arm Around You Show “Ownership”?

Okay ladies, let’s have a little girl talk. Entertain me on this, will you?

Say your boyfriend or crush is talking with you, maybe walking down the hall, and casually places his arm around your shoulder. Besides possibly passing out because your crush is actually talking to you—and touching you (gasp!)—would you feel offended? Honestly, would you feel violated? Maybe you’d think nothing of it besides the simple fact that you’ve built enough of a genuine friendship that reflects how close you’ve become. Or maybe it depends on the character of the guy and the nature of the relationship.

Well, just when you thought the male-female interaction couldn’t get any more awkward or complicated, think about this comment from actress Helen Mirren. Both men and women are buzzing about her recent interview with the Daily Mail’s You magazine, in which she claims a man putting his arm around his girlfriend signifies “ownership,” basically insinuating that it infringes on a woman’s sense of individuality and independence.

Extreme or spot-on? What do you think?

Here’s what I think about the male-female physical interaction in general.

Ladies, any time you feel violated or disrespected verbally or physically in any way, you should most definitely speak up for yourself. I don’t care how cute he is or how popular he is. You are worth being treated with love and respect in the highest regard. We do live in a generation where sexual gestures are being used aggressively and are widely accepted among young women who value attention over respect because they’ve lost sight of their worth. You are the one who shows people how to treat you based on the boundaries you keep and what you allow. That is a fact.

Now back to this whole arm-around-the-shoulder thing. I don’t believe just any guy should be able to hang all over you as he pleases. No way, that’s your personal space! But I do think that some guys mean well and that’s something you can discern about his character—and that includes how respectable his behavior is toward you and others.

Just don’t let Helen Mirren catch his arm around you anytime soon.

Image: Lightstock | Kristine


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  1. Cea-Cea97

    Posted by Cea-Cea97 on March 27, 2016 at 13:32

    For me, I love when my boyfriend will put his arm around me in public. Usually that’s how he will introduce me, put his arm around me and say “This is C, she’s my girlfriend.” It shows me that he takes pride in me.

    I also think it is about protection. We went on a mission trip to a foreign country and there would be times when guys would be talking to me or getting a little close (including one who tried to kiss me). I would get my boyfriend’s attention or he would notice and come over by me. He’d put his arm around me and immediately the boys would stop/back off. Usually most were harmless, but I like knowing that he isn’t afraid to help me.

  2. Project Inspired

    Posted by AngelCandices on October 29, 2015 at 18:01

    I think it all depends on how you view him on terms or relationship, and how he views you. He may put his arm around you signaling friendship, or maybe because he is fond of you. 🙂 I don’t think when a guy puts his arm around you he’s thinking “you’re mine now”, but instead having positive feelings towards you that he wants to be closer. If you’re dating he may think “she’s my girl”, but that’s a viewpoint of “I don’t want anyone else to date her accept me”. — Bottom line for me is, he wants to be protective of you, but I don’t think he’s claiming “ownership” of you in the way we’re all thinking of. 🙂

  3. Pink Violin

    Posted by Pink Violin on October 6, 2015 at 21:32

    As a speaker at a conference I was at a few years ago said ‘The fine line between creepy and charming is permission.’ I think that it’s cute and reassuring when my brothers do that, and I feel like I’d like it if a guy I was into did that (provided I didn’t pass out!), but if I didn’t know the guy, he has no call or right to be touching me and I can’t be responsible for what happens to him… I have 5 brothers and have done martial arts… ’nuff said!

  4. goatluverr

    Posted by goatluverr on September 26, 2015 at 19:08

    I, as a girl, put my arm around my guy friends sometimes. I dont mean it in a weird way. Its just that we’re friends and i needed to see something or am teasing with them. No biggie!!!

  5. Project Inspired

    Posted by amelia.pond on September 19, 2015 at 17:08

    This sounds so ridiculous to me. There are instances when a guy putting his arm around a girl can be controlling or abusive, but I would say that in a healthy relationship, and especially in marriage, a little bit of ownership or possessiveness is appropriate. The couple would not be in a relationship unless they wanted to make their feelings and time together exclusive to each other and I think that putting your arm around your boyfriend, or if your a guy your girlfriend, is an affectionate way to express that.

  6. AudgPaudg

    Posted by AudgPaudg on September 17, 2015 at 09:43

    It CAN get kind of weird when you didn’t give him permission to do act physically. Like I was at the park with this guy and we both liked each other, but he was acting like we’d been dating for a year… Just being very physical. I wouldn’t say ‘OWNERSHIP’ but it was still weird.
    So I think it just goes case by case. 🙂
    Now, say I gave him permission to put his arm around me, since it’s a casual hug, then sure. I’m a teen. 🙂

    • BrittneyMoses

      Posted by BrittneyMoses on September 17, 2015 at 16:21

      I can totally see how that would be awkward! In those cases I think it’s okay to say, “Dude, personal space.” and hopefully he’d get the picture. But I agree. Casual hugs from the right person can make your whole day =)

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by Jinxmoonstone on September 16, 2015 at 14:57

    I think that it really depends on the situation. I was in an abusive relationship where whenever he put his arm around me, it most DEFINITELY was a sign of ownership, like he was making sure I couldn’t get away. However, I have several friends that are in perfectly healthy relationships that do that. So I think it really does depend on the relationship in questions.

    • BrittneyMoses

      Posted by BrittneyMoses on September 17, 2015 at 16:24

      I’m deeply sorry you had to go through that but I’m relieved to hear that you got out. Abuse is never acceptable and in this case a gesture that could signify love and protection was turned into control. It definitely depends on the nature of the guy and the relationship. Thank you for sharing your story Emma.

  8. Speak4Elohim

    Posted by Speak4Elohim on September 16, 2015 at 14:01

    That’s… incredibly extreme. For me personally, and with the great, godly guy friends I have, to put an arm over the shoulder basically means protection. I mean, really, “Ownership?” I would say that there are definitely ungodly guys out there whose intentions in putting his arm around your shoulder are not pure, but should you even be friends with those guys? An arm around the shoulder, short and simple, means “I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. I will protect and honor you.”

  9. Smylinggirl

    Posted by Smylinggirl on September 16, 2015 at 13:34

    I think it would depend a bit on the circumstances, but in general, no. Putting his arm around her shoulder is just a nice, sweet gesture. What this comment by the celebrity stems from is our cultures’ feminism and rebellion of the gender roles established in the Bible. It’s sad that something so simple and innocent as an arm around the shoulder is being attacked as somehow “oppressive” or “possessive”.

    • BrittneyMoses

      Posted by BrittneyMoses on September 17, 2015 at 16:29

      It certainly depends on the relationship but the over generalization of possession comes off a bit extreme. I agree. Thanks Sarah!

  10. goatwrangler

    Posted by goatwrangler on September 16, 2015 at 13:13

    I don’t think it’s a horrible thing. I wouldn’t feel offended. Now, if I didn’t want the guy hanging all over me, I’d expect that if I shrank away and squirmed out of it, he’d take the hint. And if he didn’t, I’d have to tell him — you can’t hang a person for not taking a subtle hint.

    • BrittneyMoses

      Posted by BrittneyMoses on September 17, 2015 at 16:33

      That’s very true Connie! You should be able to communicate how you want to be treated by others. Thanks for sharing!

  11. pinkkitty523

    Posted by pinkkitty523 on September 16, 2015 at 13:05

    I think that’s WAY extreme. It does depend on the relationship between the guy and the girl and if you don’t like it then you should say something, but if it’s between a boyfriend and girlfriend they both put their arms around each other. If a boy see’s another guy flirting with his girlfriend he may put his arm around her to say that she’s his and vice versa.