Are You in a Controlling Relationship?

We’ve all been in toxic relationships where we might have been manipulated, lied to, or even abused. But controlling relationships are a lot more common than we might think simply because we mistake our partner’s controlling behaviour for love. A partner doesn’t have to be physically or verbally abusive for your relationship to be unhealthy – emotional manipulation can be just as damaging… If you can relate to more than a couple of these signs, it may be time to reconsider your relationship status.

Constant Criticism
Criticism can start out small and then gradually build up until you are being picked at for almost every little thing you say or do. It might be your partner’s way of belittling you and convincing you that you need them to keep you in line. Many people will take the criticism as constructive and see it as their partner simply trying to “make them a better person” – but this is not the case. You may struggle to feel accepted or valid when under constant scrutiny, a person who truly loves and accepts you works hard to embrace your flaws.

  • They tell you, you spend too much time on your phone.
  • They tell you they don’t like the way you dress/do your makeup.
  • They make you feel bad for the way you do things.
  • They make your emotions feel invalid.
  • You feel like you have no support or encouragement.
  • All in all, it feels like they are always trying to change you.Isolation
    A controlling partner is more than likely to isolate you from friends and family – it might start subtly at first, but they might start saying that your best friend is bad for you, or they don’t like your family. They want to rid you of any support that isn’t themselves so that you only have them to fall back on; they want you to feel like they are the only person you can depend on.
  • They will make you believe your friends are bad people.
  • They will convince you, you don’t need your family.
  • They will trick you into believing that they are the only people you will ever need.
  • They will stop you from going out and having fun.
  • If you do go out, they will make you feel bad for it.Constant Disclosure
    A controlling partner might snoop through your phone or socials, and they may genuinely spy on you. They will need constant updating on your whereabouts – it may be because of their own insecurities and the idea of having fun or being around other people without them can make them anxious or even angry.
  • They will call you more than once while you are out and about without them.
  • They will need to know your whereabouts at all times.
  • They might become angry and/or aggressive if you don’t answer your phone.
  • They will make you feel guilty for going out.
  • They will make you seem like the villain.Selflessness
    It might seem at first they are just incredibly generous and are truly in love with you, however, throwing money and gifts at you is a big red light that they are very insecure and may use those gifts to control you later on in the relationship.
  • If they buy you a phone and a contract, it is very likely they will use this as a way of keeping you close.
  • They “blackmail” you with all the gifts and money they spent on you i.e. they will bring up all the things they have done and bought for you should you upset them.
  • They might buy you things that could be near impossible to pay back should you need to – they will create a debt you are beholden to.Jealousy and Paranoia
    They might not be physically aggressive – but they can still become angry and jealous which leads to highly possessive behaviour that you might confuse with protectiveness. Jealousy in a relationship is normal, but in a controlling relationship it can be unhealthy amounts that causes serious arguments and result in tears! Try to identify what is a normal amount of jealousy, and what is clearly too much…
  • They make constant accusations about you being unfaithful.
  • They become angry and/or aggressive when they become jealous.
  • They will make you feel guilty for nothing and/or like a bad person.
  • They will become jealous and paranoid for very small reasons.