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The Signs of a Controlling Relationship

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Thank you so much for this information! I was in a relationship for about 2 months (I understand the short span of time we were together) with this guy, and he would show many of these signs. Thank God I got out of that soon enough - everyone was telling me something was off about him but I just ignored it for a while, but eventually I just decided that my family must have been saying something right. Now, I know that it was a CONTROLLING RELATIONSHIP.
I guess I'll be able to keep these in mind now. Thanks!
Reply 61
This thread will surely help a lot especially those in a relationship having this kind of problem.
1. Isolating you from friends and family
2. Chronic criticism—even if it's 'small' things.
3. Veiled or overt threats, against you or them
4. Making acceptance/caring/attraction conditional.
An overactive scorecard
Spying, snooping or requiring constant disclosure
my ex threatened to kill himself if i broke up with him so i stayed till he got bored
Reply 64
Original post by (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ
To what extent are you talking for the checking in thing?

If I'm going out late somewhere knowing I'll be out late without my SO I'll make sure to keep in contact and vice versa, I don't really see this as a red flag.

Original post by HLN22

As per my original reply to that, I think Georgia and Bubbles covered this well in their earlier posts, but simply put, wanting a check-in about safety is absolutely fair enough, whereas constant demands to know where you are and who you're with are not :holmes:
Reply 66
Original post by Anonymous

"Not wanting you to go on nights out"
Calls it controlling when your SO doesn't want you going out to get drunk with girls at a club.
Calls it controlling, yet you get angry if your SO goes out and does his own things with the boys.

"Not wanting you to see your friends"
Nobody in a relationship feels comfortable when you have friends of the opposite sex
You are friends with whores/sluts. Do you really think guys would worry so much if you were friends with the village nun?

"Telling you what clothes/ makeup/ products to wear"
Cloths and makeup speaks volumes of what you are trying to do.
Men don't like it when their women dress slutty or wear makeup, at it signals they want to make themselves look more attractive, but for who?

"Demanding you ‘check in’ when you’re out"
My boyfriend is so terrible because he worries about where I am and if I'm safe! So bad!

"Not allowing you to have privacy"
Don't tell me you haven't broken privacy with your boyfriend, you just do it behind his back, while he asks you directly.
Relationships are a two way street, you must be considerate of the other person and their feelings. OP is doing a perfect job of showing the world the problems with most modern women. Only caring about themselves and about how THEY feel. Then have the gull to call the men "controlling"....

I agree with this post. Although I understand the original intent of OP and of these kind of guidelines (that is, to make people in vulnerable positions understand there is a way to empower themselves), one cannot ignore all the modifying factors brought by: age of people involved, past trauma (for both the "victim" and the "abuser") etc.

I had a control problem with my ex, except his boundaries were off the charts. I thought I had a good time and believe that my relationship was good and had a lot to learn (still do), but I was shocked by a series of behaviors and at the end when he did a complete U-turn, in only a month to be more specific, inadvertently making me wonder how can people be so weak and pathetic?

First things first, I did not know how to piece together what he was doing and didn't know what emotional cheating was, as I simply never experienced it. In fact, I had never experienced someone violently breaking up or away. Moreover, instead of telling what he had to tell to my face, he was a coward and instead ran to other people or internet forums, doing the best he could do to try and hurt me though messages.

He described a girl he had as friend as "best friend", after only knowing her for a few months and meeting even less, and used to do more intimate stuff together with her before being in a relationship with me, such as sleeping in the same room, indulging in stories of their/her sexual fantasies and experiences though she was in a relationship with other people, "helping out" when very vulnerable - hammered drunk etc. He referred to their relationship as platonic but "emotionally rewarding" because they had some similar experiences of problems (neurological disorder, divorced family, etc.), but he refused to let me hang out with them, claiming that she was too "vulgar", "weird" or crazy, basically acting like he is embarrassed by her. He would go on claiming that he just doesn't see his friends too often, than he doesn't really have any close friends, and that he and them are too busy, so I never got invited to hang out with anyone he categorizes as "friend" after a year of relationship and despite him meeting my childhood friends and even sleeping at their place. He started talking about private matters of our relationship with another person of the opposite sex who knew me, and this so-called girl friend thought it was a green light to making sexual advances towards him while he still was in a relationship, and while she herself was seeing another guy or recently got out of a relationship (what is so attractive about having a rebound I wonder?).

He only told me about the incident two months after, claimed that what she did was disgusting and immoral, that he dislikes her name and that they don't talk anymore, to then get in a relationship with her only 2 weeks after we parted; and started presenting her as some sort of trophy to me or like a new toy "I have a girlfriend and you don't" style. I lost my ability to trust this person prior to this incident as my guts were almost screaming at me that there was an elephant in the room despite nothing having happened from my side (I was committed and after something long-term/serious) but I was unable to accuse him on guts and instead took them as "childish mistakes" as he was describing them.. I've been put in the situation of asking what people and hobbies come first after me in his schedule countless times as he had to re-schedule or cancel visits or calls with me often, and he mainly cared about his own "difficulties" in doing his undergraduate degree. He kept claiming he had it though despite never having to work and affording a lot of pricey equipment and trips; while I was at the other end, doing multiple jobs while finishing my part-time Master's and living on much smaller income. He moreover lied to me about his schedule, telling me he has full days of work when in fact he was spending over 20 hours weekly of playing games and watching series as visible in his account histories (some of which I had access to as given by him) and then complain that he does not have enough free time and that I am taking too much time off him doing work, that I shouldn't "dare" tell him what he can or cannot do in his free time if it makes him feel good. Of course, I was left out of his leisure time, despite playing and watching series being doable in two. Neither Easter nor the 3 months of summer holidays were spent together as he had his own plans with his family, as an additional detail, so 4 months out of 12 we did not see each other. Most of these I excused or overlooked, though I started pressuring him too to spend more time with me, as I grew attached to him and he made me think he was not capable of intentionally hurting me... After a year together and even meeting each others' families, he moved in a month from "no, it's allright, it's my fault, don't do that or go to a psychologist to talk about these issues, I will do this to solve it" to "It was all your fault, you manipulated me".
I came here as a foreign student only a year prior to me meeting him, but he tried accusing me of being the source of all his life problems, both related or utterly unrelated to me, lingering from past emotional scars from his family divorce, ex relationship, etc., thinking it would make me bite some sort of bait and give him a sadistic satisfaction; while it was okay for him to sit on his self-categorized-as-very-overweight ass and never learn a single word from my language, or song from my playlist; to put it bluntly.

It was a stomach-turning situation to be put in, to see someone falling downhill like this and stepping over all promises made as a partner, such as remaining friends or helping each other in case of need (nice way to strip yourself of self-respect), and I wish you don't become the girlfriend (or boyfriend) having to ask this question (cringe memes doing justice):

Attachment not found.

Therefore, I'm posting this as a conclusion... don't ever accept such behaviors and better call it off when partners cannot comply with the same concept of commitment, before it becomes controlling or negative in any sort of way. There was a lot to learn. This person seems to be, in the end, the kind that takes pleasure from knowing they cause harm and hardship to others, especially to someone they claimed they loved. The Germans have a fun word for it, schadenfreude. It may not mean much to people who don't have spiritual practices, but I pray he finds what gets defined as mental peace... and for my own, as it's quite obviously slightly off the axis... otherwise I wouldn't have put up with investing time and energy into someone who runs away to others "kiss and tell" style at the slightest sign of hardship. That's what one gets for trying to be the nurse and mommy in someone's life who doesn't rightfully win it: when they take bad decisions, of course it is your fault! In this case, of course it was my fault he for example failed his school year for the second time

Related to quoted post: The "telling what sort of make up to wear" and all can have cultural nuances. Depending on the person's background, it sometimes really doesn't come from the partner wanting to control and be "abusive", but from an internalized concept of what society or his/her social status agrees with or not and saves them from criticism. It's more of a what/who comes first question once again, and it can actually be done without realizing when adherence to social norms and values is top priority. I usually go with the people who are more... loosely chained to tight societal expectations and views. I try to stay away from those who blindly kiss asses or who mindlessly adhere to political correctness without exercising criticism.
(edited 3 years ago)
Original post by Anonymous
I'm sick of coming on here every time I'm home from uni and asking for advice about my controlling muslim boyfriend I am in second yr now i let him ruin my first yr came out with no mates and now again he's ruining my second year i am going to fail my exams Every time i try to leave him he bangs on my window and annoys my housemates, we have huge arguments when they're in the house, he called me a sl** shouting at me at the bus stop in front of strangers and hurled abuse at me when i was going out for a meal with my dance team, he wants to spend every day with me, he walks me to my lectures and never goes to his, he always wants me to pleasure him sexually,even when he knows i don't want to, he gets angry when i say i don't want to, he doesnt let me drink when he's there, only when I'm home and with family. i can breathe more now I'm here, away from him wanting to look at my phone, he doesn't let me do my uni work, he only wants me to go to sleep when he wants to, he made me put my profile pic on insta as me and him so that guys don't follow me/like my pics, he checks my social media daily but doesn't have accounts himself, he said i need to send him my selfies before i post them, my family don't know I'm with him, his parents don't know about me. he calls me names and in summer he threatened to throw acid in my face. i called the police on him but when they came i turned them away cos i was scared. I told my friends in the summer that id left him but i went back to uni and he was there, following me, not leaving me alone. i don't love him, how do i leave him now when he says he does so much for me, he makes me breakfast and food and helps me do things but doesn't help the fact that he's really abusive

Tell ur dad. . . He'll sort him out
This is about accurate but also as an addition, co-dependency can also lead to unhealthy relationships so it's important to set some clear boundaries.
Original post by georgiaswift
Signs to look out for in a controlling relationship

Many people don’t realise they’re in a controlling relationship. Or, more accurately, they do, but don’t want to admit it to themselves. The signs are all there, but they’re justified with ‘I’m only doing this because I love you’, or ‘I do trust you, it’s everyone else I don’t trust’. Through my own first-hand experience of bouncing from one controlling relationship to another, coupled with research and articles from expert psychologists, I’ve compiled a (by no means definitive) list of some of the most common signs of a controlling relationship. If this helps even one person out there, it’s worth it 😊

Not wanting you to go on nights out
A lot of partners in controlling relationships say “I don’t want you going clubbing/ out with your friends/ to the pub” etc. This isn’t healthy no one should be controlling where their partner goes or with whom. It’s often justified with ‘I just don’t trust the people in nightclubs’ or ‘I’d rather you spent time with me’, but if they trust you then what other people do shouldn’t matter; they trust you not to do anything, so nothing will happen! And if they don’t trust you, the relationship will be doomed from the start.
As for spending time with them, it’s a balance you can spend time with your partner on some nights, and time with your friends on others. You shouldn’t have to choose one or the other.

Not wanting you to see your friends
A lot of (although not all, and not exclusively) heterosexual couples say they don’t want their partner spending time with their friends of the opposite sex. As before, it all boils down to trust. If your partner trusts you not to cheat on them with one of your friends, then it shouldn’t be an issue who you hang out with or how often. And if they don’t trust you, you shouldn’t be with them in the first place.

Telling you what clothes/ makeup/ products to wear
It’s one thing to tell your partner that what they’re wearing is two sizes too small or has a large stain down the front. It’s completely another to say that they don’t want you to wear revealing outfits or hair gel or too much makeup. They often make these ‘rules’ because they say they ‘don’t want other people looking at you’. But why is that a problem? You’re in a relationship, so it doesn’t matter who looks at you, you know and your partner knows that other people can’t have you!

Demanding you ‘check in’ when you’re out
This is another scenario which is completely out of order. Under what circumstance could you need to report back every half an hour with information about where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing? If you’re worried about your own safety when out, then you call the shots about ‘checking in’. It’s up to you to make that decision, not your partner.

Not allowing you to have privacy
In an attempt to control their partners, some insist on checking through text/ Facebook/ Whatsapp messages, 'just in case'. You may not even know they're doing it. But if you have reason to believe they're looking at your messages, that's a giant red flag. Other invasions of privacy include: checking internet history, sat-nav destinations, and call logs; listening to your voicemails; "vetting" or "approving" social media posts such as instagram; and going through your activity log to check whose selfies or statuses you've liked. All completely unacceptable. A relationship means that you value each other's privacy, not that you have no privacy.

Your friends and/ or family are worried
If multiple people are telling you that something seems off about the relationship, chances are they're right! Often you can't see it for yourself, and it takes someone with an outsider's perspective to show you that you and your partner's relationship isn't normal. If lots of people have concerns or doubts about your relationship, it might be worth asking yourself what they're all seeing that you aren't.

Making you feel guilty
Have you ever been made to feel like something is your fault, even though you know deep down it isn’t? That’s manipulative and a sign of a psychologically abusive relationship. Maybe they forgot their keys, and they say it’s your fault for not reminding them to bring them. Or maybe they didn’t charge their phone, and it’s your fault for not having a spare charger in your bag. Or maybe you had to cancel a date last minute because your brother was taken into hospital. Whichever way they try to spin it, it’s controlling and incredibly unhealthy.

This is a term some of you won’t be familiar with. To gaslight is defined as: “to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity”. Jeremy E. Sherman Ph.D. describes it aptly by saying:
“Picture someone who sporadically turns 180 degrees without knowing or admitting it. You're standing in front of them. They turn around and suddenly you're behind them. So they scold you: "Hey you. Why did you suddenly jump behind me? I’m standing still and you're hopping from one position to another." To make themselves feel consistent they have to call you inconsistent.”

According to Psychology Today, there are some very common techniques to look out for:

1. Blatant lying the controller will often tell lies which are very obviously untrue, which makes you begin to question every little thing. This keeps you confused and unsure. They may also deny they ever said something when you know they said it, which again makes you start to doubt yourself.
2. Negative comments they will make a snide comment here and there, only very occasionally at first, until it becomes more and more frequent. Of course, they will give positive comments every so often too, so that you can convince yourself they’re a good person, deep down.
3. Projection gaslighters tend to project their own inadequacies onto you. A serial cheater will often accuse you of cheating, which distracts you from their own behaviour, for example. Accusations of cheating and such also induce paranoia on both sides - the abuser convinces themselves that you are cheating and so their actions are justified, whereas you may begin to worry that your behaviour is inappropriate or flirtatious when, in reality, it's nothing of the sort.
4. Questioning reality an abuser will convince you that everyone is allied against you, and is lying to you for their own gain. This causes you to turn to the gaslighter for information rather than anyone else, and so the cycle is able to continue.

The most important thing to remember is that these behaviours don’t happen all at once. The ‘frog in a frying pan’ is a perfect analogy for this type of situation. If the heat is applied suddenly and all at once, the frog will jump out and run a mile. But if there is originally no heat, and it is turned on and up slowly over time, the frog will happily sit in the frying pan until it boils to death. It's also incredibly important to remember that anyone can be in this type of relationship, no matter their age, race, nationality, gender, sexuality, or job.

What a relationship is fundamentally based on is trust. If your partner trusts you completely, then you shouldn’t have to limit your behaviour, because they know you’ll be faithful. And if they do make you limit your behaviour, they don’t trust you as much as they say they do.

Please feel free to add any other common signs in the comments, or to share your own experiences. There’s always a friendly face to turn to, and if anyone needs support or advice, please please send me a PM. I’m here to help!

Below are a few resources for anyone who needs them:

0808 2000 247 - 24-hour Freephone Helpline (for any type of abuse)
116 123 - The Samaritans (24/7, 365 days a year)
020 7008 0151 - The Forced Marriage Unit (for people being forced into a marriage)
0808 802 4040 - Respect (for people who think they might be a perpetrator of abuse)
01708 765200 - SupportLine (for any type of abuse)
0300 999 5428 - Broken Rainbow (for LGBT+ people who are abused)
0808 801 0327 - Men's Advice Line (for help, support, and advice for men who are being abused)

Another thing I learned from previous relationship is when letting your partner know your plans feels like a permission.
Reply 70
Ive lost a friend to a controlling relationship a year back.

It started off with just a few minor signs such as guilt tripping him into coming home when she was bored even though he was out enjoying himself. As well as not being able to see his parents as much.

As time progressed the mind games progressed into her telling him that his parents had stolen money from his bank account which simply wasnt true as they are honest and hard working people. She would also send messages to his family on his phone saying that he didnt want to see them again.

Towards the end we were only hearing from him once a week and he hadnt spoke to his parents at this point in over a year. He would get defensive if we ever said she was controlling him or that she was just using him for money. (like her mum had done to the stepdad).

It turned out in the end that things unfolded rather as I imagined, she had come over from a foreign country and latched onto the first boy she laid eyes on in college. She then decided once her and the mother were done with the stepdads money who they had also used to gain entry to the country, they would go on to ditch him and make him homeless.

The final straw for me was when she on purposely smashed his alcohol on the ground when he was having a good time because he started drinking when she wasnt there first.

I talked to him about it on discord and tried to tell him he was being used but he couldnt handle it and blocked me.

Rhys if youre reading this please just talk to your family, they are devastated that you havent talked to them in 2 years now. See you on the other side.
Wow! Reading that made me realise I was in a controlling relationship. Well tbh she did show signs early on of being overly possessive.

But I only just realised that our relationship was in fact toxic.:gasp:

It's a madness in the dunya!
I am lucky to have a husband, who never controls me, instead, sometimes I control him but that is my love towards him. But it is not bad to have some control over each other. as it shows, the worry you have about your partner. Though, too much of anything is bad.
It's so important to see the signs early on and cut ties. Even if someone asked for the pin to my phone I'd say no. I find it invasive and if there is things you need to know I'll say.People can be incredibly insecure in relationships and lacking emotional maturity. A relationship should never be your whole life obut simply a part of it. I feel that beta males would not feel so insecure about a partner being around other men if they stopped being sexualy anxious as a young adult. If highly sex driven young men who lack the social skills to build relationships should seriously consider getting over sexual anxiety by using escorts or prostitutes. Lack of sexual activity in young men can seriously stunt emotional maturity, everything then evolves around sex. I know that won't be a popular option but what we are seeing is guys addicted to porn and having unrealistic expectations of sex. Alpha males should be able to lessen controlling women by communicating their feelings around the security of the relationship and i think this a large part of women being labeled "psychos" which is incredibly unfair when it normally stems from lack of honesty.
(edited 3 years ago)
What if she is spending one to one time with a friend she used to sleep with? Like going to his house to hang out... is that regarded as okay?
Original post by Anonymous
What if she is spending one to one time with a friend she used to sleep with? Like going to his house to hang out... is that regarded as okay?

Do you trust her?
Original post by Anonymous
What if she is spending one to one time with a friend she used to sleep with? Like going to his house to hang out... is that regarded as okay?

Generally no. Instruct her that she can only meet him in a public setting or break up if you don't feel you can trust her.
Original post by Pugglet
Do you trust her?

I did and she promised me nothing happened, but she also did kinda cheat on her last boyfriend. I dunno, I still feel like it comes across as disrespectful. I wouldn't have dinner with a girl I used to sleep with at her/my house. I wouldn't be rude and cut them off, I just wouldn't do that.

I'm worried I'm being insecure but it still doesn't sit right with me
Original post by Rakas21
Generally no. Instruct her that she can only meet him in a public setting or break up if you don't feel you can trust her.

Yeah I'm in a tricky situation
Original post by Southern_chap
I did and she promised me nothing happened, but she also did kinda cheat on her last boyfriend. I dunno, I still feel like it comes across as disrespectful. I wouldn't have dinner with a girl I used to sleep with at her/my house. I wouldn't be rude and cut them off, I just wouldn't do that.

I'm worried I'm being insecure but it still doesn't sit right with me

If she’s cheated in the past I wouldn’t trust her on it but that’s up to you.

Personally I did meet up and hang out with a guy a used to sleep with (as he was my best friend) while I was dating someone else. Turns out I was the one being cheated on but oh well.