Is My Partner Controlling?

June 9, 2013

Being in a relationship with someone who is controlling can be very difficult. Most of us have seen someone who was with a “control freak” and we wondered how they got themselves in that situation and why they put up with it.  But the signs can be hard to read in the beginning.  Their attempts to monitor your behavior can seem like positive attention. They couch their manipulation with phrases like “I just love you and worry about you” or “I’m simply trying to look out for you”. All that seemingly positive attention can be a little intoxicating as it might make us feel loved and cared for.  However, that attention usually intensifies as the relationship progresses until it becomes too restrictive.  The relationship can quickly become abusive as the controller gets frustrated with your lack of obedience and manipulates you with verbal assaults, emotional isolation, rages or even physical and sexual abuse to “keep you in line”.  It won’t take long before you become a shadow of your former self and someone else is looking in and wondering why you put up with it.  No one’s self-esteem can withstand years of this kind of manipulating and abuse without serious consequences.  A controller’s behavior usually gets worse not better.  It’s important to know if your partner is controlling because if he/she is, you need to start setting firm boundaries to protect yourself and the future of your relationship. Men have gotten a lot of blame in this area but make no mistake, there are many men living with very controlling women.

So how do you know if your partner is controlling? Answer the following questions.

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Does Your Partner…
  •  Have certain “rules” you have to follow? This might look like time limits for certain activities or restrictions on who you can be friends with.
  • Check your email, Facebook, text messages or phone messages so they know what you are up to?
  • Get critical of you and use insults and shame?
  • Try to control how you dress?
  • Dictate how much time you spend with your family?
  • Monitor your weight or physical appearance and then control when and how much you eat?
  • Withhold sex or physical affection when they don’t get their way?
  • Try to force you to have sex or perform sexual acts you aren’t comfortable with by being critical, shaming, sarcastic or manipulative?
  • Correct what you say or do and lets you know there is a better way?
  • Have you on financial restrictions?
  • Think their way is better and right and your opinion doesn’t matter much?
  • Always step in to solve your problems sometimes making you feel you are incompetent?
  •  Believe they are helping you be a better person and you need them to function properly? Get angry when you make mistakes and degrade you? Find a way to make it your fault when they make a mistake?
  • If you answered yes to three or more of these, your partner may have control issues that are damaging to your self-esteem. Learning how to set boundaries is key for you to survive this kind of relationship.  We are here to help!

    You may also like:

    How To Rescue Your Marriage

    How To Rescue Your Marriage

    KIM BOWEN is a licensed professional counselor who offers relationship therapy through her company, The Marriage Place. Her blogs and newsletters have been featured in various publications


    1. Daryna

      I’ve gone through mairrage counseling twice with two different husbands. So I think I know what I’m talking about on this subject.The first phase is the honeymoon stage. The couple is newly married and life is good. He/she can do no wrong. The next stage is when each other begins to notice each others bad habits: dirty clothes on the floor, not helping with the dishes, laying around the house in their under-ware watching t.v.Then comes the nagging stage. The couple begins to tell each other that they don’t like his/her bad habits (dirty clothes on the floor etc.) The nagging becomes worse, the yelling starts. Doors are slammed, snide comments are said under each others breaths, loud enough to be noticed but low enough not to be understood.The yelling stage quickly begins. I never did like your mother! If you would only take me out once in a while, I wouldn’t be this way Money problems begin, more yelling .infidelity begins in most cases or worse yet, the physical abuse.Total upheaval is in the household, things get out of hand and no one can stand each other. Someone sleeps on the sofa, the *** stops, meals at the table cease and no one speaks to each other.Divorce is waiting right around the corner.It *****. It’s not fun and I never want to go through this ever again as long as I live.I hope that I’ve helped you with your book.

      • Kim Bowen

        You have given a good description of the phases most marriages go through. However, there is a final stage that I help clients get to and that is one of fulfillment and contentment. It doesn’t have to end in divorce. I love seeing couples who are on the brink of divorce find their way back to each other. I hope that was your experience.


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