Recognizing the early signs of controlling behavior in a partner can be more difficult if you grew up in a household with controlling parents. During your childhood if whoever raised you was very controlling and manipulative it’s a behavior that you are used to and feels familiar. You may not even know once you’re in a relationship in adulthood that your significant other is doing this because it’s your comfort zone. This is also why people stay in physical or verbally abusive relationships. If their childhood involved this kind of abuse, it’s feels familiar even though you know it’s wrong. We always tend to go towards our comfort zone.
Here are some signs of controlling behavior in a relationship:
- They are always calling or texting you excessively and then get upset if you don’t respond right away.
- They want to know where you are and you who are with all the time.
- They ask you to make a date with them during a time frame that you told them previously you had plans with others. Then they try to get you to break your plans or try to join you instead.
- They try to make you do things you are not comfortable with or stated you don’t want to do.
- They get upset when you don’t comply with their demands and explode with rage or try to make you feel guilty.
- Despite your opinions they are always right and you are always wrong.
- They won’t listen to your opinions or ideas.
- They cannot have a conversation and see both sides of the coin, it’s their way or the highway.
- After one date they say you are in an exclusive relationship with them without having a discussion about it. If you go on dates with other people after the fact they freak out.
It may feel flattering in the beginning that someone is giving you all this attention, but it’s not healthy attention. It’s actually very unhealthy behaviors. Within the first week of dating someone, no one needs to know your daily itinerary minute by minute. That’s creepy for one. Second of all, no one is in an exclusive relationship until the two people sit down and have a discussion about it. That’s something the two of you decide together, not one person telling the other person you’re only dating them.
Example of controlling behavior: My father wanted me to do a nasal rinse when I was having sinus problems one day. I didn’t want to just for the pure fact that I didn’t want to squirt something up my nose. He slammed the nasal rinse and plastic syringe on the counter top and yelled at me to do it. I said no, he screamed back, “I must not know anything then!” and marched off pouting like a child. It was kind of funny, what’s the big deal? I just didn’t want to do it. Later that night we went to a friend’s going away party. Two of my friends at the party were both doctors. My father went up to them and said I needed to do a nasal rinse to help my sinuses and asked their opinion. Then he tried to get her to convince me to do the rinse. She came over to me and told me what their conversation was about. I rolled my eyes and said I just didn’t want to and didn’t understand why he was so bent out of shape about it. We laughed, and yes maybe it would help my sinuses, but the point was I just didn’t want to. My father responded like it was the end of the world if I didn’t do what he told me to.
Controlling behavior feels like you’re a caterpillar in a cocoon struggling to get out and spread your wings, yet the other person wants to keep you in the cocoon. The more you struggle to get out, the tighter they hold you in. If you do break out for a while they will try even harder to hold you down until you finally get weak and just give up.
If you feel like you’re constantly struggling in your relationship and they are showing any signs of controlling behaviors from above, get out. You are the only one who will allow someone else to control and manipulate you. Stop letting someone else control your life.
Most people who feel the need to control others will not want to have anything to do with you unless they can control you. It’s better to walk away and end the relationship if you can for your sanity. If the person is a family member or co-worker, try to keep them at arm’s length. When you must interact with them, try to keep the peace. Though, as soon as they start bossing you around just end the conversation and walk away. They will soon realize you will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
How to Eliminate Others Controlling You:
- Don’t answer their text messages or phone calls.
- If you must speak with them, keep it short and end the conversation if they start telling you what to do.
- Don’t tell them your daily itinerary if they ask, just say I’m working or I’m going out. Don’t say with whom or where you are going.
- If they keep trying to contact you obsessively or get nasty, turn your phone off if you need to.
- Don’t respond to their emails.
- If you met them on an online dating site, block them so they cannot see every time you log on.
- If you added them on Facebook, delete them. With social media it makes it very easy to stalk someone.
- Don’t allow them to make you feel guilty.
Just remember that you cannot change someone else, you can only change the way you allow others to treat you.
Tara Richter is an Internet Dating Coach in Tampa Bay. She is the author of “The Dating Jungle Series” and an Internet TV Show Host.