One of the most pivotal characteristics of an unhealthy relationship is an imbalance in the power dynamic. In other words, when one partner exercises more control over the other. In this article, I’m going to share the signs you are in a controlling relationship.
A controlling relationship can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, a loss of self-esteem and more. It prevents someone from exploring life and breaks down their individuality until they are nothing more than a puppet who is controlled.
To avoid a toxic relationship like this or to get out of one, it is highly advisable to be aware of the signs you are in a controlling relationship.
- You can’t talk to the opposite sex.
- You’re forced to end respectful friendships.
- You are being isolated from your family.
- You’re not allowed to be on social networking apps.
- Your partner constantly checks your phone.
- You’re critiqued on a regular basis.
- You are being threatened.
- You are guilt-tripped into submitting to your partner’s will.
- They are gaslighting you.
- Your partner is jealous and paranoid very often.
- You’re forced or manipulated into doing what they want.
- You constantly have to apologize.
- Your partner withdraws love and affection when they don’t get their way.
- Your partner spies on you.
- They keep a score of your mistakes.
- They go through your things without permission.
- You don’t have control over your own life.
- They embarrass you in front of others.
- Your every move has to be reported or monitored.
- They blame you for their controlling behavior.
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at how each of these signs show up in a relationship on a regular basis.
Related post: 10 Toxic relationships signs to look out for
1. You can’t talk to the opposite sex
Every relationship should have healthy boundaries but that doesn’t mean you should be forbidden from communicating with the opposite sex.
That’s not realistic.
If communicating with colleagues, business associates and family members becomes a problem, even if these conversations are completely above board, it’s a sign you are in a controlling relationship.
2. You’re forced to end respectful friendships
When you’re in a relationship, it’s normal for you to prioritize change and for you to spend more time with your partner.
This may require you to make some sacrifices to the amount of time you spend with friends.
However, this does not mean that you should discard good, loyal and respectful friendships.
Not by any means.
The only time it’s reasonable to consider distancing yourself from a friend is if they’re interested in you, there has been some form of history or they’re causing an intentional problem within your relationship.
If your partner insists that you get rid of all your friends, irrespective of gender or anything of that nature, then this is one of the signs you are in a controlling relationship.
At the end of the day, you should have a choice in the matter.
3. You are being isolated from your family
Someone who is controlling in a relationship will find any reason to be threatened by others. Whether it be family, friends or even work colleagues, they will try to isolate you from them, especially your family.
Why? Because it’s normal for us to dedicate our time, affection and effort towards our family members.
A controlling partner wants to monopolize all of your resources, be it emotional or monetary and so they will create a reason to separate you from those you’ve known all your life.
- Get-togethers come to an end.
- You’re forced to reject invites to parties and events.
- Communication dwindles because you are constantly being pulled away whenever you try to get in touch with family.
- Deception and manipulation are used as a means to poison you about your family.
These are just some of the signs that you are being isolated from your family. Be wary and conscious of this or else you will lose those who actually love you.
4. You’re not allowed to be on social networking apps
One of the modern-day signs you are in a controlling relationship is when you are forced to avoid or delete any social networking app because your partner doesn’t like them.
That is not fair and not a loving or trusting thing to do.
Just because other people use these apps to flirt or cheat doesn’t mean that everyone does or that you plan on doing that at all.
For your partner to force you to avoid all of these apps is just another sign of insecurity and control.
5. Your partner constantly checks your phone
Snooping through your phone, checking your messages and asking to go through your gallery can be an intrusion of privacy.
I understand the argument that if you have nothing to hide, then it shouldn’t be a problem to hand over your phone.
However, this defeats the purpose of a relationship. Why? Because a relationship is a mutual agreement to share your life with each other. If you remove choice from a relationship, it no longer is a proper relationship.
Your partner should trust you enough to respect your privacy. Ofcourse, this wouldn’t matter if you’re actually doing something wrong but I hope you understand.
6. You’re critiqued on a regular basis
One of the ways a toxic partner gains control over you is by breaking your confidence.
With a barrage of criticism from a loved one, it’s only natural to feel a sense of disappointment, weakness and a desire to earn back their praise.
Rather than provide constructive criticism that helps you to grow as a person, this partner uses criticism as a means of breaking your will and manipulating you into seeking their approval.
In the end, your desire to seek and win their approval becomes an easy way for them to control you.
So, if you find yourself being critiqued on a regular basis by your partner, it could be one of the main signs you are in a controlling relationship.
7. You are being threatened
A partner who constantly threatens to leave you or cause harm in some form is trying to control you. There is no balance and equality in this form of relationship.
Instead, fear is used as a tool to control your actions and decisions on a regular basis.
8. You are guilt-tripped into submitting to your partner’s will
When your significant other knows that threats or anger won’t sway you to act differently, they may resort to guilt-tripping you into submission.
This is a form of manipulation that not only sways your ability to make decisions for yourself but it also makes you feel bad about wanting to prioritize your own needs.
In time, guilt can have devastating effects on the power dynamic in a relationship.
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9. They are gaslighting you
Gaslighting is when a person psychologically abuses and breaks you down by making you doubt your sanity and perception of events.
Rather than take ownership of a mistake or wrongdoing, this kind of partner will convince you to believe that you’re wrong and misinterpret everything.
This can often create a sense of distress and anxiety.
When you are in this state, it’s obvious that you won’t be thinking clearly. In doing that, it validates this fake narrative that you have mistaken and misjudged situations.
At which point, even you will start to believe that you’re going crazy. Thus, your partner gains complete control over you during the relationship.
10. Your partner is jealous and paranoid very often
Jealousy may be a sign of love and protectiveness but it can also be attributed to insecurity and control issues.
People with extreme jealousy will often lash out, be suspicious and throw accusations at you almost unexpectedly.
Their perception of your interactions with people will vary from that of others. The explosive display of jealousy is to force you into submission.
To avoid making them jealous, you may start to alter all of your behavior to accommodate them until you’re not talking to anyone and living like a shadow of your old self.
Related post: Why does my girlfriend think I’m cheating on her?
11. You’re forced or manipulated into doing what they want
When you don’t have a choice and your say is overlooked on a regular basis with the expectation that you will be happy, then that is a form of control.
You may notice that your partner doesn’t give you the opportunity to offer your opinion, feelings or thoughts on any decision or matter.
What they say becomes the law of the land and if you are to go against them, then you are punished and made to feel like a criminal.
12. You constantly have to apologize
People make mistakes and that’s okay.
Yes, an apology is necessitated when you hurt someone but if you’re just going about your life and there’s this constant need to apologize for just doing normal things, it’s a huge problem.
Think about it for a second – if an apology is always rendered for hurtful or wrong actions, wouldn’t you start feeling as if taking care of yourself or doing innocent things as wrong if you are forced to apologize to your partner for them?
Is that not a form of control?
To change one’s perception of what is right and wrong to suit one’s deceptive needs?
I believe it is!
13. Your partner withdraws love and affection when they don’t get their way
Throughout our lives, we are taught that every action has a reaction. If you are to engage in illegal activities, it is a punishable crime. If you were to work hard, you are rewarded monetarily.
This can even apply to relationships in a healthy way.
However, when you are punished with silence, rudeness, disrespect and no affection whatsoever for simply disagreeing with your partner or not following their instructions, it’s a sign that you’re in a controlling relationship.
You are essentially being punished or rewarded based on your willingness to be controlled.
Related post: 10 Signs someone is using you
14. Your partner spies on you
Being tracked and spied on for no reason is obviously a breach of privacy but it’s also a way of placing fear in your heart at all times.
By making you feel like your partner is constantly watching your every move, it creates a sense of anxiety and weakness within a relationship.
Even if you have absolutely no intentions of doing anything wrong, it will constantly weigh you down and create an environment of fear and restriction.
Since you are ruled by fear, you are inadvertently being controlled by your relationship since that is the source of your distress.
15. They keep a score of your mistakes
A love and understanding partner is someone who is willing to listen, consider, sympathize and/or forgive you for the mistakes that you make unintentionally.
Part of forgiveness dictates letting go of the mistake itself and giving your partner the opportunity to move forward without having to be punished for their mistakes by having to be blackmailed.
When a partner constantly keeps a score of your mistakes and reminds you of them in an attempt to embarrass and humiliate you into submission, then it’s absolutely one of the signs you are in a controlling relationship.
Always remember that there’s a difference between being held accountable for your actions and being blackmailed into submission by a controlling partner.
The former helps you to grow into a smarter and more mature individual whilst the latter breaks you down and keeps you trapped in a vicious cycle of guilt, regret and submission.
16. They go through your things without permission
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, everyone has the right to have their boundaries respected, especially if those boundaries do not stem from bad motives and are more than reasonable.
When you catch a partner snooping through your phone, computer, cupboards, bags and financial accounts, it’s a violation of the rules agreed upon for the relationship.
This issue falls within the scope of a controlling relationship when you are overpowered and made to feel like you don’t have a say on what you would like to remain private.
17. You don’t have control over your own life
Take a look at some of the most controlling aspects of an abusive relationship and you’ll find one commonality – the victim has little to no control over any resource that gives them independence.
They can’t spend a cent, even of their own money, on something that they want. Everything that they do, say or want has to be approved by their partner.
If not, they are exposed to some form of punishment.
This is one of those signs you are in a controlling relationship that could absolutely destroy your sense of self.
18. They embarrass you in front of others
One of the ways someone can get control over their partner is by creating this expectation of fear for embarrassment in society.
Just this week, I was in a grocery store and I could hear this man insulting his wife over dish-washing liquid.
It’s this type of behavior that makes someone feel like they can’t even speak up for themselves because of this fear of humiliation in public.
In my opinion, this is one of the telltale signs you are in a controlling relationship.
19. Your every move has to be reported or monitored
Not being able to express yourself or do something without constantly texting and calling your partner with a detailed breakdown of where you are, what you’re doing, what time you’ll be back and more is a subtle sign of a controlling relationship.
It’s a considerate thing to do in a committed relationship to let your partner know if you’re going to be busy for an extended period of time or if they’re calling to check up on you.
But, it shouldn’t be a stressful expectation that is often punished if unmet.
Trust me when I tell you that paranoia and control go hand in hand.
20. They blame you for their controlling behavior
Lastly, a way to manipulate and maintain control over someone is to make them believe that their own behavior created this result.
In other words, it’s a form of blame-shifting that fixes nothing and keeps the power dynamic in favor of the one who is controlling.
What you’ll find is that after a huge fight or breakdown, the controlling partner will appear to be apologetic or nice but the crux of what they’re saying actually leads to this idea that you are responsible for why they treat you like a prisoner or puppet.
At that point, you absolutely have to accept that this is one of the signs of a controlling relationship.
Being in a controlling relationship can feel like a prison sentence. Rather than having the freedom to explore life with your partner, you are jailed within the confines of his or her controlling nature.
Identify these signs you are in a controlling relationship and do something about it as soon as possible.
Because if you don’t, I can almost certainly tell you that nothing will change and things will get worse with time.
If you have a partner who is actually willing to admit their flaws and wants to make some changes to be more trusting and less controlling, then all power to the two of you.
If not, you need to give this relationship serious reconsideration or be prepared to fight an uphill battle until you establish some footing that gives you a say in the relationship again.
With that being said, I hope this article on the signs you are in a controlling relationship was helpful and eye-opening. Please let me know your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.