30+ Signs You’re In A Controlling Relationship

By Carole 1 year ago

1. Isolating you from friends and family

Image source YourTangoCommon controlling behaviour in a relationship is seeking to separate you from your support network, your family, friends and work colleagues.  They may complain how much time you spend with them, to making bad comments about them and trying to put a wrench between you and them.

2. There is drama if you don't respond immediately

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In a controlling relationship, you feel you need to be next to your phone and able to respond at any time.  If you don't you'll be 'in for it' which means they will become angry, overly worried or sarcastic.  You know it will involve a drama so you make sure you don't ever get to that position where you don't respond at the first ring.

3. Blaming you for their actions

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Controlling relationships are also easily detectable by who ends up being blamed and you can be sure that, whatever it is, it will be you.  Even if they broke a glass they will say you were in the way and caused them to do it.  It's a losing battle unless you can find a way to get out of the relationship.

4. Feeling you have to check in for any decision

Image source Couples Therapy
Control freaks in relationships like to exercise authority over all decisions.  They give the strong impression of being wise and having the expertise to drive you into checking every decision with them.  Part of you might want a little more independence but can't see a way of getting it.

5. Controlling what you wear, eat and spend money

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Being in a controlling relationship feels like you don't and can't have your own opinion, choices and needs.   The more sophisticated they are, the more they can mask it in the veil of being worried or generally concerned about you.  You will wonder if they do actually know better.

6. Criticizing you all the time

Image source Defeating Divorce
There's a saying 'you can't do right for doing wrong' and that's how a controlling partner will make you feel.  They will criticize you over small and big things, grinding you down as you try to please them.  They will go on about it for hours until you agree they have your best interests at heart.

7. Threatening you – more or less overtly

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Intimidation does not have to be physical so the outside world is unaware of it.  They might threaten they will cut your contact with the kids if you divorce the person or tease you that they will release secrets about you to your family.  Worse of all, they may threaten to cut your 'privileges'.

8. Keeping a scoreboard

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We are talking a virtual scoreboard here.  In a controlling relationship, it's about them keeping track of the good things you've done. No matter how many it is, they will have done more and it becomes an exhausting and unhealthy mental game that you shouldn't be subjected to.

9. Feeling their acceptance and appreciation is conditional

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The common thread in many controlling relationships is feeling the need to earn their love which is very sad.   You need to change to meet their affections and losing weight is one of the traits.  However, once you have lost the pounds, they will say you look scraggy so you can't win.

10. Using guilt or anger to manipulate

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Depending on how proficient they are at manipulating you, the signs should be easy to spot.  Guilt tripping you into doing what they want, without a care for your own needs, together with a lot of shouting and swearing, are all strong traits of a controlling person.

11. Making you feel you're in debt

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If the signs of controlling personality showed up right in the beginning, it would be easy to notice them for what they are but it's a very gradual process to hook you in slowly.  Gifts and generosity they once showered you with are now holding you to ransom and they feel it's their right to collect on that debt.

12. Jealousy or paranoia

Image source Quora
Although jealousy in relationships may appear as though they just love you so very much, over time it becomes very difficult to hear.  The obsessiveness, intensity and unreasonable behaviour become too excessive to ignore and all too much for you to bear.

13. Going through your things

Image source Quora
This is a definite sign you can hardly ignore. You will hate it but feel powerless to protest because you haven't got the energy to argue when you know you can't win.  As well as rummaging amongst your belongings, your partner may listen to your calls, check your messages and spy on you.

14. Protesting against your time alone

Image source The Mail
If you feel like you cannot have some time to yourself and feel guilty if you do, then that's part of the control your partner has over you.  They will probably say they want to spend more time with you, so you can't have your own space and you end up feeling like the villain.

15. Making you feel you are not good enough

Image source The Mail
This is the most frequent characteristic of a controlling relationship. You might have had little confidence before you met your partner but, as sure as eggs are eggs, you will gradually be controlled sufficiently enough to think you really are not good enough.

 16. Having to earn to get on their good side

Image source The Sun
Although trust is earned over time, in a controlling relationship you might feel you never reach that trust. You feel as though you have to keep working to get on their good side.  You never seem to given the right to be considered innocent until proven otherwise.

17. Making you feel stupid or incompetent for your beliefs

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In a healthy relationship, any disagreements (we aren't talking arguments) would normally be talked over but in a controlled relationship you feel you are not smart enough, not capable enough and not adequate enough to fight your corner in a manner to come to a joint agreement

18. Belittling or embarrassing you into submission

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Teasing and 'taking the mickey' out of each other is the fun part of a relationship.  Couples know the other person inside out and only say stuff that they know will be taken in jest.  However, in a controlled relationship, you may feel ridiculed and then made to believe you misunderstood what they said.  Either way, you'll be hurt and they don't care.  It's what they want.

19. Enforcing you to disclose details against your will

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One of the clear cut signs of controlling personality is when you feel you have to share any information your partner asks.  They could question you about your will and even suggest you change it if it benefits them.  No matter how unwilling you are to show them personal stuff, you see no way out of it.

 20. You don’t feel heard or understood

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There isn’t much room for your voice and opinion in your so called relationship.  It's usually their way or no way at all.   They will express no understanding of your outlook on any issues and often over-talk you which you will find quite draining and so give up.

21. Trying to control who you spend time with

Image source Issues I Face
We are talking about a person that tries to bring order into a social situation in different ways so they can control over what happens.  They are likely to attempt to control who you can see and who you can't and that can extend to close family members.  For fear of starting an argument, you'll agree.

22. Impending your growth and goals

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If you improve your mental health and inner strength and look to future goals, a new job etc., this will not go down well with your partner as they don't want you to feel independent.  They will subtly slow down your progress and keep you by their side.

23. Causing you to question your sanity

As a result of trying to cut you off from your support network, embarrassing you and making you question your own beliefs and reactions, you could end up doubting your judgment. If they convince you their reality is the right one, this is a reason why you might not leave them.

24. Dominating or controlling in sexual activities

Image source The Guardian
Control creeps into the bedroom as well, so you might sense you can’t refuse sex without getting on their bad side.  You may feel under pressure to have sex with them or there could be consequences.
For example, they get emotionally distant and make you work your way on to their good side for days.

25. They make threats if you don’t do what they want

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Somebody who is controlling isn’t always just irritating. They can also be dangerous, threatening to withhold certain privileges through to physical abuse. You don’t have to live this way. Try and find the strength to do whatever it takes to figure out how to leave the relationship safely.

26. They withhold affection when you don’t act how they want.

Image source A conscious rethink
Affection in a relationship should not be earned based on conforming to the whims of a controlling partner but that is highly likely to be the case .A controlling partner will try to make it seem like you have to win them over in order to receive their affection, even a kiss on the cheek.

27. They tease you and make fun of you

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A bit of playful teasing is part and parcel of a healthy relationship and can even be fun, provided both partners understand each other’s boundaries. However, controlling partners will tease you to the point of maliciousness. They often will accuse you of being too sensitive.

28. They accuse you of cheating or lying

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To hold domain over you, a controlling partner will throw accusations at you as they will often live their own life in a state of paranoia. . Sometimes these accusations are a cover for their own dishonesty.  Try and recognize this and do all you can to protect yourself.

29. They Pretend To Be The Vulnerable One

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If you pluck up the courage and stand up for yourself, on the rare occasions, they will pretend to be so upset and say they are trying their best to look after you because they love you so much.  You won't know what to say then so back down and get on with how they want you to be.

30. They eat better quality food than you

Image source Daily Mail
A controlling partner, who has already brought up the subject of your over-spending of the weekly food allowance, will encourage you to 'make do' to balance the books.  They may even eat expensive food in front of you and you do without as there's no housekeeping money left.

31. Your Partner Doesn't Like Being Left Out Of Your Plans

Image Source / Highlights PR
A controlling partner doesn't just mean they prevent you from spending time alone, or control who you spend time with. It can also mean they don't like you doing anything without you, either. Not because they actually want to spend all their time with you, but just because they want to make sure every plan you have is based around them.

32. They'll Accuse You Of Flirting Or Cheating

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Jealousy is another big thing for a controlling partner. They also might be projecting on you for some trauma they've had in past relationships if they've been cheated on. You may find they accuse you of flirting or even cheating even when you haven't, if you show the slightest attention to someone else.

33. They'll Check Your Text Messages Or Other Messages

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A big controlling manoeuvre is to of course not give you any privacy with your own messages, either. Whether that's text, emails or social media, they'll want to know exactly what you're saying, who you're talking to, and what people are saying to you. Then they'll usually have a problem with it no matter how innocent your conversations are.

34. They'll Check Your Personal Belongings

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They may also check your personal belongings, such as inside your handbag or coat pockets. They may go the whole hog and check receipts to see where you've been, or if you've been 'lying' about who you've been with. They might find something that belongs to a friend and ask you why you have it.

35. Gaslighting

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It doesn't matter whether it's only once, or all the time - gaslighting is gaslighting, and it's unacceptable. They might deny your feelings or experiences, or try to twist your viewpoint, so that you begin to question whether what you're feeling, or have experienced, is actually true.

36. You're Scared Or Anxious Around Them

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Some of the most important signs you're in a controlling relationship can be how you actually feel in yourself. If you're finding that you're constantly on edge in regard to how they'd react to things, what they're going to say when you tell them you have plans, or anything else, there's obviously something controlling going on to put you down.

37. You've Either Been Told To, Or Feel Like You Have To, Check In With Them At All Times

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You have to tell them where you are and what you're doing when you're away from them. If they don't hear from you after a certain amount of time, they're going to chase you up or make you feel bad for it. You have to answer their calls and texts straight away to update them on what you're doing.

38. Being A Back Seat Driver

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If you're a driver and you go out together, your partner may also show controlling behaviour from the passenger seat. A lot of back seat driving can be innocent, like when your parent tells you to slow down, but in this case it could be your partner telling you how to drive, criticizing you for how you drive, or having a go at you for looking at the person in the car beside you at the light if they smile at you.

39. They Might Even Manipulate You In A Nice Way

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Controlling behaviour doesn't have to be seen as negative. They may pretend to cry or be upset, say nice things about you, buy you flowers so that you can't feel angry at them, or just genuinely act vulnerable and kind towards you so that you feel affection for them.

40. Controlling About Vacations

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The idea of you and your partner planning a vacation together is a good one - nothing controlling about that, right? But they might undermine you're every decision, like you saying you want to go for two weeks and them saying no we're going for one week, or you saying you'd prefer a hotel to a villa and them booking a villa anyway without asking you first.

41. Controlling About Home Decisions

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The same could be said about home improvement decisions if you live together. You might have discussions together but in the end they're ultimately the one that will make the decision no matter what you say. You could say you don't have enough money for a bathroom renovation, and they might say well we're getting one anyway.

42. They Have A Very Specific Idea About Relationship Milestones

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A controlling person might want to control how the relationship is progressing, too, and this could be very meticulous. They won't propose to a partner unless they've been together four years, they won't celebrate an anniversary unless it's the yearly ones (rather than quirky first kiss anniversaries, for example) and they might have progressions mapped out - which they would have decided all on their own.

43. Having A Hold On Your Free Time At Work

Image Source / Forbes
You work away from your partner for your job, but instead of just catching up with you when you get home, they want complete control over your work breaks. They expect you to call them on your lunch break and speak to only them. They want you to text on your afternoon break to tell them what you're doing. They want you to text them when you're leaving. In any healthy relationship, this could just be checking in to catch up or say I love you, but for a controlling partner, it's just a way for them to check up on what you're doing.

44. Belittling Your Beliefs, Even If You've Had Them Your Entire Life

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Subjects like religion, spirituality or politics can cause wedges in relationships, but even if you have different views, you'd expect basic respect and empathy. But for a controlling partner, if you don't believe what they do, then they're going to do everything they can to make you feel bad about what you do believe. There's a difference between a partner having a friendly debate with you about your belief in ghosts when they don't believe, but making you feel stupid for it is another thing entirely.

45. They Want You To Feel Grateful They Chose You

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A controlling partner may love to constantly remind you what a charity case you are. You're lucky you get to be in a relationship with someone like them, you should be grateful you have a partner like them, etc etc. It's also a key manipulation to have you lacking self-esteem and therefore working harder in case you lose them.

46. Putting Pressure On You For Bad Habits

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They might be a heavy drinker, smoker or occasionally take recreational drugs - and that might mean they want you to as well. Even if you say no, they might pressure you into it, or even call you boring or get mad at you if you don't do it. Especially if you're out in public together.

47. Commenting On Certain Areas Of Your Body They Don't Want Seen

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This could be as well as controlling what you wear, or they may always let you wear whatever you like but still have a few things to say about it to make you self-conscious. This could be 'don't you think that neckline is too low?' or 'that skirt is quite short'. Alternatively, it could be telling a male partner their t-shirt is too tight, or their hair doesn't look right without gel.

48. Having A Huge Influence Over Your Job Or Educational Decisions

Image Source / Derby Telegraph
Maybe you've been offered a huge promotion but your partner is telling you not to take it because they don't agree with it, or because it'll mean you'll be at work more. Maybe you've just got accepted to university but it means relocating and they're not happy with you being away from them. Anything you want to do for yourself, they have a problem with.

49. You're Constantly Told To Shut Up

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The main reason for this is because you may have a different viewpoint and opinion and they simply don't want to hear it. If they're constantly telling you to shut up or just to stop talking, they want to control the conversation which means sometimes only wanting to hear the sound of their own voice.

50. Demanding Facetime Instead Of Voice Call

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This takes the controlling 'checking in' behaviour one step further. You could call them and tell them you're with some friends but they may demand a Facetime to see who you're with, what you're doing and if you're telling the truth. Messages or voice calls aren't good enough - they want a video feed.

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