Controlling relationships will often begin well and a controlling partner can often be sweet, charming and confident and seem to have everything together when you first meet them. Controlling behaviour in the early throes of a relationship such as, calling and texting frequently or wanting to spend as much time with you as possible, could be confused with protection and being attentive. But, be aware. The actions of a secure person will feel attentive and appropriate, whereas the actions of a controlling person will feel obsessive and intrusive. At the beginning of a relationship when mood-enhancing hormones can cloud your judgment, it can be easy to deny controlling behaviour and get more deeply involved. If you have been in a controlling relationship before, have a mother or father who was controlling in their relationship or are feeling vulnerable, after, for example a break up or after having been single for a long time, then read on to hear about the top signs of a controlling relationship. Controlling behaviour typically becomes more intense and frequent as the relationship progresses and as you give in to what the other person is demanding.
What Are the Signs of a Controlling Boyfriend or Girlfriend?
Controlling behaviour is more readily associated with men, however, there are women too, who use excessive control in relationships. Here are examples of controlling behaviour which you may recognise at any point during the relationship:
- Your partner starts making negative comments about what you wear and demands that you wear different clothes.
- Your partner makes negative comments about your weight and suggests that you go on a diet, even though you don’t need to.
- Your partner questions the time you spend without them, for example with friends or pursuing a hobby.
- Your partner shows jealousy towards one of your “exes” or your friends of the opposite sex.
- Your partner questions how much time you spend at work and any time when you work late.
- Your partner appears jealous of the relationship you have with your children from a previous relationship.
- Your partner accuses you of infidelity when that is the last thing on your mind.
- You feel smothered by your partner’s constant suspicion and interrogation.
- You feel like your every move is being monitored by your partner.
- Your partner wants to keep you to yourself and keep you away from your family and friends.
- Important friends and family have taken a dislike to your partner.
- You have stopped talking to your friends and family about your partner because you feel embarrassed about complaining yet again.
- You feel guilty about questioning your partner’s intentions or leaving them since they need your help and support.
- When you confront your partner about their behaviour, they say they are going to change and say all the things you want to hear, for example: they want to get married/have children/have another child/move in with you.
Why Are People Controlling in Relationships?
There is a spectrum of controlling behaviour in a relationship with 10 being so extreme that it would be considered abuse and 1 being mild enough to live with. There are also different reasons for someone being controlling which include:
- Growing up with parents where one of the partners controlled the other
- Suffering from low self-esteem and using control as a way to overcome it
- Feeling lack of trust because previous partners have “done the dirty” on them
Can I change a Controlling Partner?
In my experience, no person can change another person in a relationship; change has to come from within the person who needs to change. However, if your controlling person recognises their behaviour and is willing to work through it, with for example, counselling, then you may be able to support and encourage your partner through this. It is not something, however, that you should take on single-handedly. If you are in a relationship where you are feeling unhappy more of the time than happy, I would suggest that it may not be possible for your partner to change their controlling behaviour with you.
How Do I Get Out of a Controlling Relationship?
If you have been in a controlling relationship for a while, you may have already been through a few cycles of break-ups and make-ups. When a partner has control over you, they are good at persuading you to get back together, despite all your intentions not to go back to where you were before. That is why it is important to:
- Get some help from a good friend, coach or counsellor when you do decide to break up.
- Break up the relationship by phone if you fear seeing the person and not being able to resist them.
- Refuse to take any calls from your ex to prevent you getting caught up in one of their persuasive “get you back” campaigns.
- For a period of time and if you can, stay away from places where you might bump into your ex.
It can be really hard to break the cycle of being in a controlling relationship but if you do let go, you will have the space to attract a healthier relationship. If you have any questions regarding this post, I would be very happy to answer them in this blog.