Dating and Relationship Advice

10 Warning Signs of a Controlling Relationship

A healthy romantic relationship is supposed to produce feelings of happiness and security but being involved with a controller can fill a person with anxiety and tension. Controllers are people with a personality disorder and they can make life hell for their romantic partners, family and anyone else close to them. Controllers may suffer from one or a combination of personality disorders.

This type of person feels they must control everyone and every situation in order to compensate for their own feelings of inadequacy. Relationships with controllers become stagnant because they cannot grow when one person seeks to dominate the other. There are several red flags that will indicate a relationship with a controller.

Most controllers will not display these warning signs at first for fear that the relationship will end immediately but as soon as they feel they’ve reeled in their catch, the warning signs will begin to appear. Look for the warning signals.

Shallow Emotions
Controllers have very shallow emotions. They can attach and detach with amazing speed. They show very little remorse following a breakup, divorce or even the death of a spouse and can become involved in another relationship very quickly. They may find another romantic interest in as little as a couple of weeks or even days. They often display shallow emotions toward their loved ones, such as parents and even children.

Once a controller sets her sights on a love interest, she moves in quickly. She may outwardly declare her love and start talking about marriage in as little as 2 to 4 weeks of dating. Soon, she may announce that she is pregnant. Male controllers act in much the same way, usually proposing marriage soon after the start of the relationship.

Self-Centered
Controllers are very self-centered individuals that have a “me” mentality. A controller wants all of the attention to be focused on her. She has to be the center of her partner’s universe and she perceives anyone as a threat that may divert the partner’s attention away from her. The controller resents the time her partner spends with his children, family or friends and will try to control that aspect of his life.

Controllers have little regard for the concerns of others, focusing almost exclusively on their own needs. They often appear to act as though they are deeply concerned about others, displaying actions such as calling friends to ask how they are feeling, but in reality their behavior is only a mask to hide their own self-centered concerns.

Entitlement
Controllers have an enormous sense of entitlement. They believe that they have a right to be the center of attention. They feel they deserve respect, power or acknowledgement. They feel that they have the right to do whatever they want to do and that others should meet their demands. If their desires or demands aren’t met, they often react by creating a scene or punishing their partner with the “silent treatment.” Their behavior can be compared to a child that has a temper tantrum because he doesn’t get his way.

Isolation
A controller may fear that her partner’s friends and family will detect their controlling behavior and reveal her true intentions to her partner. In order to prevent this, she will attempt to isolate him from his friends and family. Controllers are natural manipulators and they will use manipulation tactics in order to exert control. The two most common manipulation tactics that controllers use are to make grandiose promises or threats.

They have a strong need to be in control and if they feel they are losing control they become threatened. They will try to get their partner to become angry at friends or family in order to create a rift and keep the partner isolated. The controller may tell the partner that friends or family are jealous of him or using him. A controller may go as far as telling her partner that his friend made a pass at her to get the friend out of the partner’s life. Controllers will also get angry if the partner’s friends or family come to visit.

A controller will try to prevent her partner from participating in outside activities. She will attempt to persuade her partner to abandon all hobbies and interests that she can’t have total control over. If her partner does participate in any activity, she will insist on accompanying him. A controller will even insist on taking the children along, knowing that her partner will have to focus his attention on her and the family, thereby preventing him from completely enjoying the activity. If the controller cannot prevent her partner’s participation in outdoor interests, she makes sure that she is present, so that she still has some degree of control.

Interrogation
People who are controllers would make excellent interrogators because they question their partners as if they had committed a crime. A controller will question her partner incessantly. She will want to know his whereabouts, who he talked to, what he did and all the details. A controller will call her partner several times a day, even when he is at work. If he doesn’t answer his phone right away, she will interrogate him.

Controllers often like money because they are self-centered but they also resent the amount of time their partners spend at work. Controllers have paranoid tendencies and will look through phones, wallets and other personal items for evidence of cheating. A controller may even go as far as following her partner around, spying on or stalking him.

Physical Abuse
Although most controllers exert control by using emotional abuse, some also use physical abuse. Both male and female controllers may hit, kick, slap, punch or otherwise physically abuse their partners. A controller may also display violent behavior by breaking items or destroying property to intimidate the partner.

Blame
Controllers love to play the blame game. They always blame the partners for everything that goes wrong in the relationship or more accurately, when they don’t get their way. When the controller doesn’t get her way, she becomes verbally abusive and tries to destroy what is left of her partner’s self-esteem. Then suddenly her personality will become sweet and docile. She will say she’s sorry, although she doesn’t really mean it and start making promises she doesn’t intent to keep. The next time she doesn’t get her way, the cycle of blame will begin again.

Know-it-All
Controllers are often know-it-all personality types. A controller will correct her partner all the time, in effect like she is disciplining a child. She sees herself as superior to her partner and others. She may insult his speech, dress or other behavior. Controllers act self-confident even though they have very low levels of self-esteem and often berate their partners in front of other people. They also tend to be arrogant and quick to make sarcastic remarks. The partner often feels as though he is walking on eggshells for fear of interrogation or never being able to do enough for his controlling partner.

Listen to Family and Friends
People are often blinded by their relationships and don’t always see the truth. People close to the partner of a controller are often able to see through the manipulative behavior. If the majority of the partner’s family and friends do not like the controller, it may be wise to listen. While it is always true that there will be people that don’t like others, in the case of a controller type relationship, family and friends are usually right. It is definitely wise to listen to what other people say regarding the controller and take it into consideration.

Fear of a Break-Up
If the partner has finally had enough and decides to get out of the relationship, the controller will panic and try a multitude of tactics to keep the partner from leaving. They will go to extreme lengths to stay in control of the relationship. A controller may beg, plead, cry or threaten the partner to make him stay. She will promise to change and may even threaten to commit suicide if he leaves.

If the partner does manage to escape from the controller, he should keep his distance and not return to the relationship. Once a person has left a controller, if he returns, the controller will make it even more difficult for him to leave again. Once a person has left a controller partner, she will call repeatedly and may even call the ex-partner’s friends and family members, begging them to tell the ex-partner to come back to her. She may send the ex-partner gifts or even show up at his workplace and cause a scene, begging him to come back.

Escaping the grasp of a controller personality type can be extremely difficult and stressful. In some cases, it may even be necessary to get a restraining order against the person. People with a controlling personality need professional assistance and should seek the help of a qualified therapist.

Resources and further reading:
Stanford.edu
MentalHealthMatters.com
Way2Hope.org

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