Signs That They’re Controlling But You’re Too In Love To See It
It’s easy to put your best self out there in the beginning of a relationship, but there are other sides of us that come out later that aren’t always healthy. However, it can be hard to recognize the unhealthy traits once you’re already committed and feelings get in the way.
So we’ve made a list of warning signs that your partner might be controlling even if your feelings are clouding your vision.
They Come On Strong, A Little Too Strong
A controlling guy will usually come on strong from the get-go, making you feel very special and flattered with constant compliments and affection.
However, this is a sign of their need for control. They are carefully saying all the right things to lure you in and keep you.
They Criticize You For Everything
From the way you dress to the way you wipe the counter, they are using criticism as a way to influence your behavior.
The more negative criticism you hear, the more you start to believe it and become helpless and easier to for them to control.
They Keep Score Whenever They Do Something Nice For You
They want to make sure you know that they went out of their way to pick up milk for you at the store after work so they can hold it against you.
If they keep a tally of every time they do something nice instead of doing it out of love, then they are simply trying to get the upper hand.
They Guilt You Into Always Apologizing
A controlling partner has a way of always victimizing themselves to the point where even if they’re in the wrong, you’ll find yourself being the one to apologize over and over again.
This is either because you just want the argument to be over or because they’ve manipulated you into believing you’re the one at fault.
They Justify Their Behavior
They believe that they are never wrong, and every time they do something that bothers you—like getting overly jealous or condescending—they tell you it’s just because they love you so much and get so worried about you.
This is a big red flag.
They Make You Feel Drained When You See Them
They just take up all your energy.
If you just feel completely drained and exhausted from trying to keep them happy after every date or time you spend together, this is a sign of imbalance and control in a relationship.
You’re Seeing Your Friends And Family Less And Less
They make you prioritize time with them over anyone else and make you feel guilty every time you leave them alone. Or they don’t like your friends and family and get upset with you when you go see them or talk about them.
Either way, they’re isolating you as a form of control.
They Are Full Of Empty Threats
They give you ultimatums and threaten to leave you if you go ahead and do something that they disagree with.
They are using a fear of a breakup and your attachment to them to control your actions.
They Have A “Charming” Way Of Making You Change Your Mind
They know the right things to say to influence your decisions.
For example, they may give you backhanded compliments, such as telling you that you look hot for a night out without them, but that your skirt is too short, making you feel like you need to change it.
They Constantly Push Your Boundaries
They always want things their way, even if you’re not ready or comfortable yet.
They insist that you to see them on the day you said you’re unavailable, or that the two of you become exclusive before you are ready. And they get upset with you if you say no…until you say yes.
You’re Their Only Social Life
You become their whole world, and they stop hanging out with anyone other than you—and they expect the same out of you.
They can’t do anything without you being there, even things like cooking, and they expect an invite with you everywhere you go.
They Make A Point To Remind You Of Any Mistakes You’ve Made
They never truly let go. Even after you’ve apologized and you’ve both seemingly moved on, whenever you displease them, they’re right there to remind you of everything you’ve ever done wrong.
This slowly makes you feel belittled and like you’re a failure.
They Play Off Being Mean As “Teasing”
There is a difference between playful teasing—which is light, cute, and reciprocated—and comments that are actually just passive-aggressive and meant to make you feel bad.
Masking it as “just teasing” is just another way they justify their actions.
You Feel Like You’re Walking On Eggshells
If your partner has you feeling like you don’t know when or how you could set them off again, they have you under their control.
How they react to and deal with your actions isn’t your responsibility, even if you’re in the wrong. So, you should never feel like you’re walking on eggshells just trying not to upset them again.
They Have To Check In And You Have To Answer
While it’s normal for a partner to want to make sure you’re okay while out without them, it is not okay for them to text you five times in a row, getting increasingly frantic with each text because you’re not responding.
This is them stepping on your independence, and it shows a lack of trust.
They Get Defensive If You Try To Confront Them
As soon as you sit them down to try to explain how their words or actions have hurt you, they throw a tantrum and completely shift the focus of the conversation to something completely irrelevant.
They get angry and defensive. Anything to avoid taking accountability.
They Point Out That You Gained A Few Pounds
They point out that maybe you shouldn’t eat that last piece of sushi because you’re going to get fat and they won’t be attracted to you anymore. Or maybe you shouldn’t have one more drink because you get annoying when you’re drunk.
Watch out for the way they spin their controlling behavior as “looking out for you.”
They Have A Great Sense Of Entitlement
Be careful if your partner feels entitled to you doing more for them than they ever do for you.
This happens when there’s “one person who’s feeding the needs of the other person. One person is giving and giving and giving, and the other person gives one back. There’s an imbalance,” says therapist Shannon Thomas.
Their Best Is Always After Arguments
If they are extra sweet and affectionate toward you right after an argument, before going right back to their old ways, they’re simply trying to suck you back in so you forget about the argument before they give you a reason to have another one.
Their best should be more consistent.
They Put All The Blame Of Failed Relationships On Their Exes
Watch out for how your partner speaks about their exes. If they describe their exes as terrible people and refuse to take any accountability for the relationship failing, that’s a red flag.
They are likely to exhibit the same controlling and negative behavior towards you.
Their Love And Attention Are Conditional
If your partner is making comments about how they might be more attracted to you if you lost some weight or spent more time on your appearance, or about how you’re not doing your part in the relationship so they don’t know what they’re getting out of it, that’s a big red flag.
These are signs that someone is making their love conditional and something you have to earn.
Creating A Sort Of “Debt” You’re Beholden To
Controlling someone may start really strong at the start of a relationship, but appear like grand romantic gestures like fancy meals, lots of gifts, the use of their space and things when they’re not around, etc.
These things can be used as a control tactic, specifically giving the expectation that you owe them something in return for being so generous.
They’re Spying Or Snooping On You Or In Your Things
This one is a little more obvious, but if the person you’re with has created an environment where it’s clear they don’t trust you, that should be a huge red flag.
A lot of couples get comfortable to the point of sharing their passwords for their phones and so on, but if they’re demanding these things from you so they can keep tabs, that’s not a good sign.
They’re Paranoid And Overly Jealous
It can be hard to let go of bad things that have happened to you in the past, but if someone you’re dating is acting really paranoid or overly jealous, and that doesn’t change with constructive conversations, it’s not a great sign for the health of your relationship.
This could be a sign of someone who is insecure and is trying to guilt you out of contact with other people, specifically of the gender you’re attracted to.
They Don’t Respect Your Need For Alone Time
You can love your partner and still need time to yourself. That is a totally normal and healthy thing.
A partner who doesn’t respect your need for alone time doesn’t have a lot of respect for your needs, and this is also a way that they can suck the energy out of you.
They Assume You’re Guilty Until Proven Innocent
It’s normal to fight with your partner. But if you find that your partner is constantly getting mad at you and assuming that you’re always doing something wrong, that’s a bad sign.
A controlling person is very good at making you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t.
They Purposefully Drag Arguments Out
Someone who is controlling knows how to put you in a situation where you get so tired of arguing and fighting with them that you pretty much just let them win every time.
This is especially true if your partner is more passive-aggressive.
They Make You Feel Stupid For Long-Held Beliefs
It’s great to be in a relationship with someone who can challenge you and get you to see new sides of things, but ultimately, your opinion is your own.
But when you’re with a controlling partner, they don’t see it as a two-way street. You’re wrong and they are right. The things you believe, your ideas about politics—all wrong according to them.
You Have Sexual Interactions That Feel Off
This one can be a little hard to pin down sometimes, but if you’re having or had a sexual interaction with your partner and something about it made you feel uncomfortable, especially if it’s a common thing you feel you can’t discuss with your partner, that’s usually a sign that something is wrong.
The two of you should be communicating about what you’re comfortable with and how you’re feeling in the moment.
They Have No Desire To Ever Hear Your Point Of View
Just like your opinions don’t matter and your beliefs aren’t valid, an abusive partner will have no desire to hear your point of view about anything because they’re never going to agree with it.
They see themselves and their view as superior.
They Need To Be The Center Of Attention
If all eyes are on them, then they get to dictate everyone’s perception. This will be noticeable when every time you experience success, they make it about them.
They might either diminish it or try to upstage you. They want to be the one in the spotlight.
They Have An Opinion About Every Single One Of Your Friends
Maybe your friends are very different from theirs (if they even have any), but that doesn’t make them any less good people.
His constant criticism is just his way of trying to make you see them negatively so he can isolate you from them. Then he can have you all to himself—without their warnings.
Their Next Step Is Unpredicatble
His spontaneous and unpredictable behavior might have come off as adventurous and exciting, but now you just feel unsettled and afraid.
This is because the goal is to keep you guessing and focused on them. If you can’t predict it, only they have control over it.
They Buy You Clothes And Lingerie
They may appear to be innocent and thoughtful gifts, but be wary of a partner who tries to dress you.
This is his way of controlling your style and making sure you don’t wear anything revealing outside of the home, but still having a say in what he’d like to see you wearing in the bedroom.
They Are A Neat Freak
If they expect you to keep their space or your shared space clean, especially without contributing, then be very careful. This is often worsened by their very rigid rules and expectations.
You shouldn’t have to worry he’ll get mad at you just because you didn’t load the dishwasher right.
You Can’t Make A Decision Without Them
If your best friend asks if you want to get drinks, you shouldn’t have to tell her that you’ll have to check with your boyfriend first.
Rather, you should be able to simply update your boyfriend that you made plans without risking him getting mad or offended that you didn’t check with them first.
Future Plans Mostly Incorporate Only Their Goals
They have your future already all laid out for you. You’re relocating when they get promoted, you’re going to pump out the two babies they’ve always dreamed of, and then they’ll come home to your cooked dinner.
Where do your goals fall into this plan? You’re meant to be a partner to build a life with, not just someone to fill in into their pre-designed plan.
Even Intimacy Is On Their Terms
When they’re in the mood, they expect you to be ready to go, and even when you are, it ends when they’re over it. There’s little consideration given to your pleasure and needs.
You shouldn’t feel like you could be replaced by something he bought at an adult store.
Causes Of Controlling Behavior
The most common causes are anxiety disorders and personality disorders. They usually date back to childhood events and baggage.
They believe that being able to control everything around them will bring them peace. They don’t trust anyone else to be able to handle things as well as them.
How To Deal With Controlling Behavior
The thing with control is that he may not even realize he’s doing it or mean to be hurting you.
Start out by making him aware. Then you can put a plan together for how to handle it. However, if it escalates or they refuse to acknowledge or take measures to fix it, then it may be time to walk away.