Signs of Controlling Behavior in a Partner


One of the most trying situations in a relationship occurs when your partner wishes to control every aspect of your life. Unfortunately by the time you realize that a partner is a control freak, you are already in a full-fledged relationship. Here are however a few signs which could put you wise to your partner’s controlling behavior and thus help you take the right decisions in a relationship.

Clingy behavior

Though the stereotype of a controlling partner involves rage and physical violence, in the early stages of a relationship, controlling behavior is unlikely to be manifest in this way. Instead it may take a more outwardly innocent-looking form like clingy behavior. For instance, your partner may start whining because you came home fifteen minutes late from work, demanding to know why you’re late and not being able to accept that you stopped off at someone else’s office to catch up for a few minutes. Even if you go out with your partner regularly, an occasional meeting with friends is likely to bring on a series of complaints from him/her. Other instances of clingy behavior that could indicate a controlling behavior at work are when you go to a support group meeting or go out to fulfill other personal obligation and then return home to an argument.

Attempt to alter your personal habits

One of the most insidious ways that a partner can trap you in the web of his/her controlling behavior is by determining your personal choices and daily habits. He/she will at first suggest and then decide what clothes you are going to wear, what foods you are going to use and even what brand of soap you toothpaste you should use. While it definitely feels good when a partner makes you dinner or lays out your clothes once in a while, especially when you are already burdened with too much work, such momentary thoughts of random kindness should not be confused with the controlling nature of being told you can’t wear something out of the house because it might attract too much attention or you can’t use a particular perfume because it is all wrong for you.

Lack of privacy

Yet another way that a controlling partner seeks to have power over you is by ensuring that you have no personal space. Your wardrobe, your desk, files and computer all are understood to be open for his/her perusal and investigation; if need be, he/she even has the right to enquire and seek explanations for why such and such thing is among your possessions, who gave it to you and why. However such a state of affairs is not apparent from the very beginning. Initially your partner may encourage you to share personal information and email passwords as though out of love and concern – in fact you may even feel flattered by the desire to share and give out not suspecting that more devious traits are at work here. Eventually though your partner will grow more insistent on having access to your bank accounts or personal documents and by this time, a controlling personality is in full swing.

Expressions of jealousy

Just like a controlling partner attempts to determine every aspect of your daily routine, so too with your personal life. He/she may exhibit a strong streak of jealousy in the early days, which may even feel flattering since you are likely to interpret it as intensity of his/her love for you. Over time though this jealousy can take on a more vehement tone with your partner interrogating you about every co-worker or demanding an account of every minute of your day. By this time your partner has shed off his/her earlier clinginess and emerged with the true colors of a controlling behavior.

A two-faced personality

A control freak lives two different lies – on the outside they are hugely social people, popular and vivacious in company while only those who know them well are familiar with the aggressive and hurtful nature that lies beneath the surface. This is one of the reasons why your friends and family may not understand your unhappiness in such a relationship and on the contrary praise your partner for the caring person he/she is. Indeed this two-faced mask suits your partner fine since they can use it convince you that nobody else has a problem with who they are and so things are as they should be.

Emotional blackmail

In order to control your actions, a controlling partner may often take recourse to emotional blackmail; he/she may threaten to leave and imply that you don’t love them but actually all these are ways to prevent you from doing things that he or she doesn’t want you to do.

Makes you feel guilty

One of the surest signs that you are in a controlling relationship is when you hesitate before asking for things you need or want. Controlling behaviors and relationships benefit one partner at the expense of the other. Whereas in a healthy relationship, your needs and desires are likely to be viewed as legitimate requests, a controlling partner on the other hand  will make you feel guilty for asking for your own needs to be met. In fact controlling money and resources is one of the chief ways that abusive partners ensure that victims are unable to leave a toxic relationship. Even in a normal relationship, you may not always get what you want, but at least you are free to express who you are and what you want which is hardly the case when living with a controlling partner.

Desire to separate you from a support network

Among the more painful ways that a partner may impose his/her control over you is to cut you out from a healthy social network. If you find your partner getting resentful and angry when you call or go up to meet your friends and family especially when such contacts are only occasional and not a daily affair, you have a definite problem at hand. Your partner may regularly put you down in front of people who love you or behave abominably around those who are close to you so that eventually you feel too ashamed and avoid seeing them. In all these ways, a controlling personality attempts to cut out a victim from all possible sources of emotional and social support so that the latter feels lonely and afraid and is thus easier to sway to his/her wishes. Over time such controlling behavior in a partner may end up with you ending all contact with your family and friends and feeling more unhappy and isolated than before – a situation which your controlling partner had been angling for since the beginning.

He/she frightens you

The ultimate object of a controlling personality is to bring you under complete submission and while the early stages of this process is marked by unease and anxiety, in the end all you feel is fear and dread. If you have been living with a controlling partner for some time now, you probably feel as though you are tiptoeing about a minefield and– you have no idea which act or word of yours will unleash a fury of verbal, emotional or even physical violence. If this is what your relationship has come to, the only thing that remains for you is to get out.