It can be hard to detect whether you’re in a controlling relationship, by the time you realise you’re often in too deep. Majority of relationships start off sweet with the romantic gestures and each person on their best behaviour. The honeymoon period is also the rose tinted glasses stage as we don't really know the person we're dating properly. We put on a charade and are guarded with the information and feelings we show.
I’ve witnessed many friends who’ve fallen victim to controlling partners and are still dealing with the consequences now. Some of them don’t trust their current partners who don’t display controlling tendencies. One friend even mentioned that she will test her partner by asking certain questions to test his response. When he reacts normally she is somewhat confused as her last relationship has scarred her into believing that all men are controlling.
I used to work with a young lady whose husband would drop her off and pick her up from work EVERYDAY!!! Initially I thought how sweet why doesn’t my BF at the time do that? In hindsight I realised it was actually a form of control. He didn’t trust her and wanted to check her every move, she confirmed my theory with stories of her husband’s behaviour. Being protective is one thing but when it veers towards bizarre behaviour it gets a little scary.
People with extreme controlling tendencies are very manipulative. They're usually highly intelligent with very low self- esteem. They mask their lack of true confidence with an overt confidence or arrogant bravado. They key is that the establishment of control is very subtle and often occurs over time. I'm in the second year of my Counselling Course and we're delving into mental issues and personality disorders. I recently read a piece on mental health and it touched on Controlling Behaviour. Here are a few signs you may be dating a controlling partner.
1. Most controllers will have a temper. I met a guy that would switch at a click of the fingers. I honestly thought he was taking some form of drug or had some serious issues (which he has). All jokes aside when you’re around this kind of behaviour you don’t know where you stand. It's like dating Jekyll and Hyde. You’re not sure which character you’ll encounter from one day to the next and no one wants to feel like this in a relationship. If your partner gets violent with others, the wall, etc. There’s a high probability they may turn that violence onto you. This behaviour will undoubtedly intimidate you regardless how much they assure you they would never be violent towards you.
2. Killing Your Self- Confidence. A controller will repeatedly put you down even if its subtlety. They’ll make you feel less intelligent, inferior, and less attractive. It leaves you questioning yourself and wondering if what they are saying is true. They slowly eat away at your confidence and self-esteem. This in return allows you to believe you should be treated in a disrespectful way and your self- worth has devalued.
3. Always Your Fault. If you never argued back, if you’d hurried up in the bathroom you wouldn’t be late for the cinema. A controller does not take personal responsibility for their actions. Someone else is to blame for why they acted violent and why they resorted to verbal or physical abusive.
4. Nothing You Do Is Ever Good Enough. It could be that you don’t call enough, aren’t supportive enough, don’t’ say I love you enough. They’ve made all these sacrifices for you yet you don’t do enough in return. I believe a loving partner doesn’t give to receive and don't measure their sacrifices on comparison. This is another way of destroying your self-esteem and confidence.
5. Cutting off Your Support. My friend’s boyfriend at the time got her to a place where we couldn’t get hold of her. He’d lock her in the house and take her phone with him. In order to control her fully he had to cut off her support group i.e. family and friends. Why? Because we could influence her behaviour and try to make her see that this guy is not right for you. This is not rational behaviour and very extreme but you'd be surprised what people will do. Remember I stated that controllers are very manipulative and will often tell you things that aren’t true. I.e. if your mom really loved me she’d accept our relationship.
6. Break Up Panic. A controller panics at the idea of a break up if they didn't initiate it. Be prepared to see your partner break down in tears, promising to change and pleading you not to go. Some people will go as far as to threaten suicide to make you feel like you’re responsible for their decisions. They will shower you with phone calls and visits and insist on letting everybody know how much they love you. This behaviour is in aid to keep you a prisoner emotionally. I read this great quote by Joseph M. Carver, PH.D, Psychologist
‘Remember, if your prize dog jumps the fence and escapes, if you get him back, you build a higher fence. Once back in the grasp of Controller - escape will be three times as difficult the next time.’
7. No Hobbies. The last thing a controller wants is for you to have any outside interests that don’t involve them. They’ll encourage you to drop any fun activities as it doesn’t involve them. They'll probably guilt trip you into dropping such activities. I.e. it isn’t good for you or it’s taking you away from quality time with them and the family.
These are just a few examples of the types of behaviour a controller will display. This behaviour will end up making you feel crazy and doubting yourself. Your confidence will have hit rock bottom and your self- worth is no more. People often get so caught in the effects of physical abuse which controlling behaviour often leads too and disregard the physiological damage.