10 Signs You’re In A Controlling Relationship
A controlling relationship tends to sneak up on you like a bad habit you’ve formed over time, but only really noticed after it caused real damage. Compare it to eating unhealthy take-out a few times a week, which doesn’t seem so bad at the time. However, six months down the track you notice your jeans just won’t zip up anymore.
Emotionally, this is what happens in controlling relationships. Small yet unhealthy scenarios might occur on a weekly basis. You excuse them in the big scheme of things. That is, until you realise how depleted, insecure and unhappy you feel about life in general. By then, it’s often extremely hard to break free of the patterns, let alone the relationship.
When you watch out for these 10 signs and try to catch them early on, you can expand beyond the behaviour to either stop it in its tracks, or move on to the happy, healthy and loving relationship you deserve – with someone else.
1. He knows all your passwords
Maybe you have a few shared devices or apps with your man, in that you both have the passwords and use them together. Netflix for example. You have a big problem though if he knows how to access your phone, email accounts, banks accounts or anything else that’s your own private information.
If your partner has deep trust issues, which is often the case with controlling men, it’s likely you’ve caught him snooping through your stuff. This might have led to arguments whereby he asks for passwords in the name of ‘openness’ or ‘honesty’. To make him feel better and to prove to him that you’re trustworthy, you’ve given them to him.
Now though, you feel like everything you do is potentially monitored. You censor communication with friends and family. Openness and honesty is one thing in relationships, but if he has access to all of your private life, he’s crossed your boundaries in an attempt to feed his own sense of control. Change your passwords and let him know he needs to respect your right to have your own private space. There’s no place, or need for, spying on your partner in a loving relationship.
2. You make excuses for him to your friends
How many times have you chosen to stay with your guy, rather than go out with friends? Or, when you tell the girls about an argument you had, which was clearly instigated by him, how often do you end up excusing his behaviour by saying he’s just stressed, sensitive, had a bad upbringing or was cheated on by an ex?
“If you find yourself constantly defending your man, or actions you take because of him, it’s time to have a good hard look at why.”
If you find yourself constantly defending him, or actions you take because of him, it’s time to have a good hard look at why. What is it about him and your relationship, that keeps putting everyone offside? Friends and family can often spot controlling behaviour long before you can, so take the time to really listen to their points of view.
3. You are his everything
In the beginning of a relationship with a controlling partner, it’s super flattering to have a guy who seems so invested in you. Maybe he lavishes you with gifts, calls you all the time and starts talking early on about the great future you’ll have together. You love the attention and take it as a good sign, rather than a warning bell.
Initially, falling in lust or love is often an intense time where you’re happily living in each other’s undies. There’s a big difference between this stage though, and a man who continues to have no other life, but you. Where are his friends? Why is every weekend pre-planned to include only the two of you? How is it that he has nothing else to do but be at your place every night? If you can’t answer these questions, that warning bell is ringing loud and clear.
4. He is your everything
Ask yourself how you’re feeling at work, yoga class, while you’re hanging out with friends or doing your favourite hobby. Are your interests still giving you inspiration and making you feel good about yourself? Or, have you given up things you really love, because your relationship takes up so much time? If you’re doing less of what matters to you, or if those things aren’t bringing you as much joy, think about what does.
If your man has become your everything, you’ll realise that the only times you feel really good are when you’re with him, he’s happy with you or praising you. You’ll feel a nagging sense of insecurity whenever you do anything that doesn’t involve him. If he’s become your main source of self-esteem in this way, it’s imperative that you get back to the world of you, immediately.
5. You don’t follow the same rule book
If you’re in a controlling relationship a common, repetitive scenario goes something like this. You mention you’re going out with the girls on Saturday night. He wants to know exactly when you’ll be home and, if you’re late or don’t text him, he gets angry and sulks for hours.
On the flip side, he goes out with his mates, doesn’t even tell you that he’s going, and gets home as the sun comes up. You mention it would have been nice for him to text you. He tells you to stop nagging him and that he can do what he wants. All is fair, in love and war, so if he has one set of rules for you and another for himself, take that as a definite telltale sign of a controlling relationship.
6. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells
How often does your man get frustrated, annoyed or angry at you, over small things? How often does he blame you for anything that goes wrong? If it’s on a weekly or daily basis, it’s likely you’re always walking on eggshells around him, just so you don’t piss him off. This is pretty much always a sign of his own emotional instability and inability to control it. It very rarely has anything to do with you, at all.
Because you care or think you can help or change him, you put up with an unnecessary amount of criticism. You suck it up when he lashes out at you, or you engage in negative fighting that almost always elevates to dramatic proportions because he actually just wants an outlet for his emotional issues. No amount of help on your part will ever change this type of toxicity. If this is happening, your man needs to be able to acknowledge the behaviour, have the intention to help himself and act on it.
7. You feel uncomfortable saying no to him
Following on from feeling like you’re walking on eggshells, if you feel uncomfortable saying no to your man, something’s gone very wrong in the relationship. Perhaps you’ve become so accustomed to saying yes to his plans, his decisions and to what he wants to do, that you actually feel like you’re betraying him or the relationship by saying no or disagreeing.
Worse, maybe you’re subconsciously or consciously doing everything you can to avoid triggering his toxic responses to not getting his own way. This is like trying to distract a two-year old in order to get them to stop crying. Remember who you are and what you want out of life. If he disagrees with it so much, or never compromises, why are you choosing to settle for a life of conflict?
8. You have to ask permission
When you make a decision, whether big or small, are you ultra-conscious of how he’ll react to it? Do you feel concerned about going to see friends or family, without first running it by him to see if it fits in with his plans? If so, you’re in a relationship with a controlling man who’s wrapped you up in chains that are very tight indeed.
Healthy relationships allow space and the freedom to each live your own lives, as you wish. They don’t make you feel like you have to ask permission to do your own thing. They certainly don’t reach a point where you feel worried about mentioning your own plans, because you know he’ll get angry or try to stop you from doing things.
9. Extreme jealousy is the norm
It’s normal to feel a bit jealous in a relationship, say when someone’s flirting with your partner or he’s scored a fantastic new job while you’re stuck in one you hate. We all have the green-eyed monster in us and a bit of healthy jealousy never hurt anyone. But, everything depends on how, and how often, we unleash it.
Jealousy isn’t just about the romantic side of things. In fact, it’s really common for controlling partners to inflict their jealousy on you about nearly everything. They’re tired and you’re not, so that makes you insensitive if you want to go out. You make more money than him, so he makes snide or critical remarks about your skills or work. Heaven help you if it is romantic jealousy he feels, because if you just look at another guy it’ll set him off. If this type of jealousy is the norm for you, don’t ignore the clear warning sign.
10. Physical abuse
If you’re in a physically abusive relationship, then you’re with a controlling man. It’s that simple. Of course, there are various factors that would have led to you being in the position, but those aren’t as important to examine right now, as is dealing with the current situation and taking yourself out of it.
Tell people you know, or call Lifeline or a community support centre for help, especially if you feel it’s dangerous to leave. You’re never alone and you’ll find that once you’ve safely left the situation, life won’t be the doom and gloom scenario he’s probably instilled in you.
Whether it’s now clear that you need to leave your current relationship, or you understand the boundaries you can set for improvement, one thing’s for sure – relationships are a bonus in life, not life itself. If yours is a controlling, unhappy one, it’s simply not worth it.
Relationship happiness is out there for you, as soon as you acknowledge that it is, truly, what you deserve.