Being controlled leaves you feeling insecure, guilty, unstable, and emotionally damaged.
The controlling and manipulating is used strategically by the controlling partner.
The emotional damage is spotted later on in the relationship, hence the ones being victims of such behavior have a hard time noticing that the emotional damage that they’re being exposed to is not as ‘normal’ as they think it is.
There are signs of jealousy, control, possessiveness, but they’re done carefully, especially at the beginning of a relationship.
A relationship with a controlling partner is a toxic relationship most of the time. That is due to confusion, emotional damage, and drama that is constantly present in the relationship.
What does a controlling person act like?
A controlling person is terrified of the other’s freedom and independence; their way of gaining control over you is slowly getting your freedom and independence away through manipulation (emotional, physical, etc), toxic behavior, and violence.
13 warning signs of a controlling partner:
1. You’re “allowed” and “not allowed” to do/say things
Being “allowed” to do things is one of the first signs of a controlling partner.
A controlling partner will want to take charge of your activities, the way you present yourself, and the people you surround yourself with.
It’s a controlling person’s way of feeling important and heard. Such behavior can lead you to isolation, losing the sense of self and identity, and questioning self-worth.
- They “allow” and “don’t allow” you to go to particular places.
- They interrupt you when talking, and tell you that you’re not “allowed” to say those particular things.
- They prohibit you from hanging out with particular people.
2. They don’t communicate – They’re passive-aggressive
They don’t communicate what’s bothering them, they don’t communicate their feelings or their problems. A relationship without healthy, and understanding communication is a relationship that’s over.
Instead of verbal communication, they choose to be passive-aggressive. They make hurtful; ironic; jokes about you, they get silent and act distant without sharing why.
This is a form of emotional manipulation and it’s very damaging. It leads you to feel unwanted, guilty, and in constant need to improve something so that you don’t repeat the mistake they made you believe you did.
- They act distant so that you go after them and attempt harder to please them.
- They leave you feeling doubts about what you did wrong, this way you’ll be in their minds.
- This could be their indirect, sometimes abusive, way to make you do particular things.
3. They overreact to small things
When something, in particular, bothers your partner, they start arguing instead of calmly addressing the issue.
A controlling partner uses this[overreacting] as a tool to make you feel guilty for something small, or even unimportant, that you did. It’s a way of making you feel insecure so that you feel like you’re not doing enough, and that you’re hurting them.
- They use guilt to make you feel like “the bad guy” in the relationship.
- They play the victim after they’ve shouted and called you names while addressing an issue.
- If you’re the one addressing an issue, they’ll overreact, making you say “sorry” and feeling guilty for even addressing “such a childish thing”.
4. They don’t take responsibility nor acknowledgment for their damaging behavior
This is one of the common symptoms of a controlling person.
They may or may not be aware of their damaging behavior. However, when a particular hurtful move of theirs towards you is addressed, they don’t take responsibility nor acknowledgment for what they did.
They’re prone to denial, refusing to apologize, and being indifferent to your feelings.
- They get very defensive and never see themselves as the ones to blame for their actions.
- They don’t apologize, instead, they turn the situation around, manipulate you, and as a result, you end up apologizing for something you didn’t do.
- They interrupt you when expressing opinions or feelings, they don’t care to listen.
5. They want proof for everything: location, activities, conversations…
A controlling manipulative partner will need constant validation, and constant proof of your location, your activities, and your conversations. This is due to their insecurities, lack of trust in people, and inner instability they constantly deal with.
They have a war within them, they don’t trust themselves which leads to them having a hard time comprehending that someone could be sincere without an expectation or ulterior motive.
- They’re persistent in sending them pictures of what you’re doing, when, and where you’re doing them. They’re overly jealous and possessive.
- They want you to send your live location “or else”.
- They want the passwords of your socials and devices.
Note: Passwords and devices are your personal belongings; if you don’t share them willingly this is a way of them forcefully intruding on your personal space.
6. They refuse to get things other than their way
If your partner is controlling, they will refuse to get other opinions and accept new ideas other than their own.
Accepting critics, new ideas, and doing things differently from the way they’ve decided to do them will put them in a position in which they feel vulnerable and exposed to the power of someone else.
They don’t respond well to criticism, they might get mad, angry, violent, or even abusive about it.
- They require control over every situation.
- They get angry/mad/abusive when you share another way of doing things other than their way.
- They impose things on you.
7. They constantly make you feel guilty for things you didn’t do
They use accusations to manipulate you into feeling guilty, and feeling like you’re not enough for them. This way they’ll keep you constantly seeking ways to improve for them, seeing flaws within you, and thinking that you deserve the way you’re being treated.
You might hear accusations of not loving them enough, not appreciating them enough, or cheating on them. Because of the guilt that they cause you to feel, you end up going out less, and oftentimes, this leads to isolation from people you love/that love you.
- They accuse you of the hurtful things they do to you.
- “You don’t treat me well! This is unfair, look how much I’m doing for you.”
- “Look what you made me do to you!”
8. You’re exposed to fear because of their threats/ultimatums
Threats and ultimatums are yet another way of gaining control and power within the relationship. You’re constantly exposed to fear about the connection with your partner.
You fear that they’ll leave you, fear that they’ll hurt themselves if you leave, etc.
- “You’ll never see me again if you do this just once more!” (note: for small things, such as saying a certain word, or doing something that doesn’t affect them at all).
- “Do this by next week or else!”
- “I’ll stop being so kind to you, and you’ll see how it feels.”
9. Their criticism isn’t constructive
Their criticism isn’t constructive at all, in fact, it makes you feel very unworthy, insecure, and helpless when you’re in their presence.
The thing about a controlling male/female partner is that they’ll keep doing this, they’ll keep pushing until they see you can’t handle it any longer. Once they see you “on the ground” they’ll come and compensate with gifts, or nice words.
- They call you names and point out things “you’re not able to do”.
- “You can’t do anything right!”
- “If you’d cut your hair like this I’d find you sexier.”
10. They show abusive behavior
Abusive behavior has many forms, and it’s manifested differently by different people.
A few signs that your partner is showing abusive behavior towards you are: you feel fear around them, you feel like they could hurt you anytime, you feel powerless in their presence, you believe you’re unworthy for them because they’ve told you so.
- Emotional manipulation, gaslighting.
- Threats that go beyond physical safety (e.g. breaking things).
- Violence, physically and emotionally.
11. They make you feel inferior and insecure
A controlling person is in constant battle with their inner instability, insecurities, and fears.
They project their fears and insecurities on you so that you don’t see beneath the surface. If they’d allow you to see within them, you’d see their fragility and this would make them feel weak.
They make you feel inferior and insecure to prevent you from realizing that they’re weak and scared on the inside; to prevent you from the realization that you deserve to be treated better. This way, they have control over you.
- They make you feel insecure so that they feel superior towards you.
- Seeing you insecure nourishes them, and gives them confidence.
- They intentionally do/say hurtful things when they see you in a good mood, or confident.
12. They’re unstable
They do gigantic gestures for you in one moment, and in the other, you’re left feeling like you owe them for it. They seem to love and cherish you in one moment and resent you so badly in the other. In one word, they’re unstable.
You’re happy, and it seems like you’re not doing anything wrong this time, they just shut. All of a sudden they’re angry, mad, or sad about something they refuse to communicate. It’s something that you did apparently, but they refuse to tell you what it is.
- They intentionally say/do hurtful things when you’re enjoying yourself.
- Their mood swings very often out of nowhere, and it seems that every time, it’s because of you or something you did.
- They make you feel like you’re the one ruining the good moment.
13. They don’t respect nor consider your limits
They cross your boundaries as if they don’t know about them. They disrespect you, and they push your buttons to see just how far they can go.
Your weakness, your insecurities, and your state of vulnerability make a controlling person feel like they have the power in the relationship.
- You don’t want them to tell you where you go and where not, they do it by adding a threat that leaves you no other choice but to let them control your outings.
- You’d never tolerate anyone being disrespectful to you, especially a partner, but they seem to be getting away with it for quite a while now.
- They do exactly the things you told them would hurt your feelings.
What’s the reason behind a controlling person’s behavior?
A person who feels weak inside is either trying to fight it in healthy ways or choose control to get power from other people.
There are various reasons why people become this way, whether they want to or not. A few of them to mention:
– Feeling neglected and betrayed by the caregivers during early stages of childhood. A treatment like that by caregivers on a child can set a controlling mind of an adult.
A child that feels neglected, betrayed, and/or unloved is more likely to have trauma and to grow up with a controlling mindset.
A child treated that way never really got introduced to the idea of comfort, being loved and appreciated. So, they eventually had to learn the ways to get what they needed, something like validation, love, comfort, and appreciation.
– Being exposed to the feeling of helplessness during the early stages of childhood. Feeling unprotected, not cared for, and completely out of control by the parents (the few people in the world that are supposed to take care of you) can lead to a grown-up’s controlling mindset.
The behavior’s controlling behavior in a way protects that child that was once entirely vulnerable, hurt, and not cared for. That child never really grew up, and it’s somehow frozen and stuck in this mindset of an adult that’s not controlling and taking lead.
Control for this person is a learned skill to protect that inner child that never got healed from the idea that they’re not loved and taken care of.
– Mental or personality disorders – underlying mental conditions. A controlling behavior or need for control can also be caused by conditions or disorders such as anxiety, BPD, or other personality/mental disorders.
This is a person in constant need of external sources to provide calm and peace for the inner troubles and chaos they constantly feel.
How does a controlling partner affect the relationship? & How does a controlling person make you feel?
A controlling partner’s behavior becomes overwhelming, draining, and very damaging for the other partner.
Usually, romantic relationships fall apart because of the emotional damage, exhaustion, and emotional drainage that the relationship can be exposed to because of controlling and manipulative behavior.
It can often happen that a person with control issues is not aware of their damaging behavior, but in a lot of cases, this behavior is intentional.
A few early warning signs of a controlling man or woman in a romantic relationship are:
– They have a constant need for reassurance. They constantly need to know who you’re with, where you are, and what you’re doing. This could be spotted even after or during the first date.
– They go hot and cold on you for no particular reason. One of the signs of a controlling manipulative boyfriend or girlfriend is very common mood changes that seem to be happening because of something that you did.
You’re left feeling guilty, and insecure about something you have no idea you did. The right person for you doesn’t do that to you.
– They’re just mad for no apparent reason but they give clues that you’re the one doing something wrong. This one is one of those subtle signs of a controlling man or a woman.
This behavior leaves you feeling bad and sorry for something you’ve got no idea that you did. It’s how they know they got you.
– They criticize you instead of sharing opinions, or advice. This is a warning sign that can be spotted very early in the relationship/dating. Take it as a red flag when their comments are insensitive towards you.
A controlling and manipulative man or a woman that you’re dating sees that they’re hurting you with particular words, particular comments, they don’t stop there. They keep doing it.
They make you feel like you’re doing enough, and that you’re not worthy of them.
– They’re not happy with your achievements, they dim the light of the spotlight when it is on you. A controlling partner whether it’s a man or a woman will want the attention on them. They can’t bear to see you achieve more than them, or to see you having success more than they are.
They manipulate you into thinking that you didn’t deserve that achievement, that it was some sort of luck or coincidence that you’ve made it that far.
If you’re just early in the dating stage and you let them know of an achievement, but instead of being happy for you, their face frowns, then take this as a sign that the man or woman will be controlling.
What can you do if you’re in a relationship with a controlling partner?
A controlling partner can highly damage your way of perceiving yourself and others. They affect you negatively on your emotions, way of thinking, and way of dealing with life in general.
Here’s what you can do if you’re in a relationship with a controlling partner:
1. Look at your partner’s behavior from a different angle, try to understand where it is coming from. Is it childhood trauma, or an underlying condition?
2. Set boundaries, and if crossed prepare to leave. A controlling partner will constantly test and disrespect your boundaries so that they’ll see how far they can go to gain control over you.
Set your boundaries, and stick to them.
3. Surround yourself with people that love you and care about you. A controlling partner uses another tool to control you: isolation.
If you don’t hang out with people you love, you care for, and vice versa, you eventually start to forget how it’s like to be treated decently. Your partner becomes all you have, and their behavior will seem to be acceptable after a while.
4. Open up to someone you trust. Talk to a friend or a family member, someone that you trust and value. They might remind you of the person you were, the person that wouldn’t tolerate such behavior.
5. Seek help from a therapist. Professional advice in these cases is tremendously helpful and eye-opening. If you feel like your self-esteem and self-appreciation have changed, if you feel like you’re tired and alone, seek professional help.