Control is not love. Signs that a prospective or current partner is seeking to take control over you are generally present from the start. It’s important to recognize these signs and not enter into a relationship with the person or get out as quickly as you can if studied signs of control are present. The longer a person waits to extricate themselves from a controlling relationship, the harder it will be to leave and the more the person’s self confidence will be eroded, sometimes totally destroyed by the controller.
Sometimes the emotional manipulation a person can suffer at the hands of a controlling partner is complex enough that the person who is being controlled actually starts to believe that they themselves are to blame and that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner puts up with them.
Emotional control often leads to physical control and abuse. It is vital to take note of the red flags and get out before you allow yourself to be a victim.
Why do some men act like this? Why do they try and control someone they claim to love and care about?
Usually it stems from the vulnerability that comes in loving and trusting someone. They also may have grown up observing relationships where the man held the upper hand by controlling women or viewed women as secondary to men. They might feel threatened when encountering a woman with confidence and popularity and seek to bring her down to make themselves feel better by isolating her, demeaning her and ultimately controlling her.
Whatever the reason it can have devastating emotional and physical impacts on the women who have had the misfortune to fall in love with these men.
Relationships based on distrust and control are unhealthy. Relationships where love is held hostage ultimately don’t last.
A toxic relationship with a controlling man can affect anyone. It is a myth that only weak women can be controlled by a guy. In fact self confident and successful women are often caught in the web of a controlling partner. Little by little their self worth is eroded away until if they are lucky enough to escape the relationship it can take years to build themselves back up and to recover from the experience of being exploited by a control freak.
If you notice more than a few of the following controlling tactics with a guy you need to take it seriously and assess your health, sanity and safety before it’s too late.
Better to break it off straight away than to spend years trying to heal what a controlling guy has set out to destroy.
1. In a short space of time you become his everything..’his soulmate.’
At first like a fairytale come true, a controlling guy can come on strong. After knowing you for a short period of time you are suddenly hailed as his ‘soul mate’ the most wonderful woman he has ever met. He can’t envisage being without you. This is backed up by daily phone calls, hundreds of text messages, constant contact where he can make you feel like the most special woman in the world. Who wouldn’t want this attention? Isn’t this what all women dream about? However when a guy needs to be attached to you at the hip and you can’t do anything without his hearsay, it’s a huge red flag. Emotionally mature men take their time getting to know someone. In most circumstances, feelings, especially for men, develop over time. These controlling guys invent feelings because they know it’s what they need to display in order to lure you in. Any guy that keeps coming on strong for more than the first few months of a relationship can start to inhibit your ability to do things independently, if it means that you have no privacy, then it has become an issue of control.
‘I was so flattered by the attention at first. We would text for hours every night. He would call several times a day. I saw him constantly. He seemed so interested in everything I had to say. But then it started to be an issue if I wanted to go to the gym .. he didn’t want me to go as other men were there .. he said I got tired after the gym and was then in a cranky mood. It got so bad I used to hide my gym clothes in the boot of my car and pretend I was going somewhere else so I could go and exercise. Then I would shower at the gym so he wouldn’t know I had been. When I look back it seems absolutely crazy that I would accept these conditions, but at the time I did it so I would not upset him, it seemed easier than being interrogated and having a fight.’
‘If I made plans to do something that didn’t involve him, even with my own family it started to become an issue. He said he loved me so much he needed me to be with him all the time. I started spending all my time with him.’
If you find yourself making excuses about condoning controlling behavior that limits or stops you from doing things you used to do prior to involvement with a guy you can only assume things will get worse until your every move will need to be documented. Control starts subtly but once it’s in motion it only increases until you find yourself having to ask permission to do anything. Controlling guys quickly and with great skill, try to make you feel as if anything you do, other than things that include them, is a disruption to the ‘wonderful, perfect’ life you have together.
2. Isolating you from everyone
This can start out subtly, but this is often the first step of control. They start finding fault with people close to you. Your best friend, your sister, your mother is too demanding and so on, trying to turn you against anyone that you used to rely on for support. This is a two fold form of gaining control. When you abandon others you then only have the controller left to rely on and those close to you lose the ability to inform you that you are being controlled, manipulated and possibly in danger. The only way a controlling guy can attain full and unquestioned control over you is by isolating you from your former allies.
‘My ex-boyfriend use to refer to me as a pie and always complained that he didn’t get enough of the pie. That everyone got a bigger piece than him and he ended up with nothing. He found fault with everyone I knew. I ended up relying on him for everything .. it took a lot of work to mend those relationships.’
If your friends and family don’t like him you need to take heed. They know and care about you and can clearly sense when there’s something amiss with a guy, this is why he tries to isolate you from people in the first place. It is a number one priority.
3. Your self confidence is in tatters.
Early on during the ‘love bombing’ stage you were perfect.. the most beautiful woman ever born, a goddess, the way you dressed was perfect, everything you did was praised. However a controlling man once he has you under his spell will start to criticize what he used to adore. Those short, sexy dresses you wear that he used to love will now be deemed as ‘slutty’ and inappropriate. In fact he will soon be telling you what to wear and to avoid a scene you will start to comply with his wishes. A controlling guy wants to change and mold you into a person of their own image who does what they want and believes what they believe. The way they achieve this objective is to replace praise with constant criticism, your job, your intellect, your looks, your hair.. again they will start of subtly and as you start to accept these assessments they will increase in intensity. You will start to doubt yourself no matter how much self confidence you previously had. It is akin to the frog fable. If a frog is immediately thrown into a pot of boiling water he would jump out in shock and escape his inevitable demise. However if the frog is put into a pot of cool water that is boiled gradually he will adjust and accept his situation until it is too late and he is burnt irreparably. It is the same mechanism that a controlling guy uses to gain control over a woman. If they presented themselves as they really are right from the start a woman would run away as fast as possible with no further contact, however the insidious process a controlling man uses is to enamor a woman in their web first, make her doubt herself and to erode her confidence until she compliantly believes all that the controlling guy tells her. It is a form of brainwashing that controlling men perform very well on their victims.
‘Before my relationship with John, I was incredibly self confident, successful and strong. I could think for myself.. indeed he praised everything I did. Then gradually the constant criticism started, over small things at first and then over nearly everything. He told me I dressed like a whore and I should dress like someone’s girlfriend not like I was on the lookout for a guy. He made me doubt myself to such a degree I started believing him. He even told me when he thought I wore too much perfume and how disgusting it was. When I had been sick and wanted to try to change my diet and not eat meat anymore, it is like he took it personally and told me I was no longer the woman he had first met who used to try anything.. eat anything. We had a huge fight once when I didn’t want to eat anything fried. I stuck to my guns but it ended up being a huge public row.. over something I wanted to eat. Not what I was trying to make him eat. It all seems crazy but it was true .. I couldn’t even make decisions on what to eat anymore.’
Don’t let anyone try to remake you into someone else to bolster their ego. If a guy starts to constantly criticize all the things he used to find amazing about you, then he was never into you in the first place. Tell him to take a hike.
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
As the relationship deteriorates and the controlling guy takes over more and more of your life you will consider leaving him at first when things get too bad. However before you break up or if you do and then get back together you will then suddenly find yourself back in the arms of that sweet, lovable, kind guy you initially fell in love with. It will feel like getting a huge dose of a wonderful drug that sets you off on a high until the cycle of criticism and control starts all over again. Whenever the controlling guy feels like he is losing you or that you are doubting the relationship, he can generally rein you back in with a bit of a sweetener that he once offered in copious amounts. However the longer this break up, get together cycle endures, the shorter the periods of reconciliation bliss will last.
‘When we got back together after a fight or a break up I felt like I was in seventh heaven. He was back …the guy that told me I was his soulmate. The guy that bought a heart necklace in two pieces that we both wore half of to show the world we were one. But it never lasted. I was never good enough to make it last he said. I was the one that f….d everything up and so the problems in the relationship were all my doing. The periods of post break up euphoria lasted for shorter periods of time until there was hardly any difference and he didn’t even bother trying to pretend anymore.’
Some women then really start to believe that everything wrong with the relationship is their fault and that the controlling man was correct all along. If only they tried better, did more, wore the right clothes and stopped upsetting him, that wonderful, romantic prince would come back for good. But he can’t come back because he never existed. A controlling guy is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Once you see what’s underneath, that’s what you are going to ultimately get.
5. My ex-girlfriend was crazy! You are acting like her you are also crazy!
For the controlling guy sooner or later any girl he is involved with is going to be denounced as too emotional, paranoid and crazy. Relationships break up that is a fact of life. Most people understand that breakups happen for a multitude of reasons and that both parties play a part in the demise of a relationship. But a controlling guy has no interest in taking responsibility for a relationship that has not worked. out. How a person speaks about their ex says as much, if not more regarding the speaker than the person they’re characterizing. If you start dating someone who calls their ex “crazy” it’s worth thinking about what such a negative, all or nothing description says about the guy who is saying it. People generally take out blame on the person closest to them. If a guy is calling his ex girlfriend crazy someone that he liked or loved enough to date then there is a good chance you are next in line to be called the “crazy” one. You also need to really take notice if he characterizes more than one ex girlfriend as being crazy. If so you will know for sure who the crazy one really is – him.
‘Jacob used to tell me how crazy and emotional his ex-girlfriend Sarah was and how happy he was to finally meet someone like me who was normal. But guess what? Now he has told everyone how crazy I am .. if a guy ever tells you that his ex-girlfriend is crazy you need to run as fast as you can away from him. I wish I had.’
How a person talks about their ex surmises more about them than their ex. We all make mistakes, however a controlling guy is used to laying the blame on others for not succumbing to his controlling behavior.. It’s easier for him to label the woman as too emotional, too difficult or crazy until he moves onto the next one.
6. Pressuring you into unhealthy behaviors
Undermining your fitness goals, constantly encouraging you to drink and take drugs are all ways that controlling guys use to thwart your attempts to be a healthier and stronger person. Since controlling people thrive on weakening their partners, it’s a natural tool for them to use.
‘We used to drink every night. We used to drink so much I sometimes could not stand up in the morning. I had a miscarriage on a plane .. it was traumatic, after we landed we calmly walked through customs and he bought some wine. We then went to the hotel and drunk it. The whole time we were away I never saw a doctor (although I was still bleeding heavily) I just kept acting as though nothing was wrong. I didn’t want to “spoil” our time. By this time I was so downtrodden and empty I accepted anything even the demise of my health. A person that loved me would have taken care of me, would have put my needs first. A controlling guy never does. His needs and his wants are first and foremost and once you stop being fun no matter what the circumstances, you are to blame.’
Be with someone who truly cares for you and will look after you if you ever get sick the same as you would look after them. Don’t put your health in jeopardy by indulging in unhealthy behaviors to placate a controlling guy who has never really cared for you in the first place.
7. These controlling relationships can turn into physically abusive ones
When a guy is controlling, for any reason and doesn’t trust you, he can eventually lose it when he gets suspicious or if you stand up against him. Generally, as the time goes on it doesn’t take much to fan his temper and you increasingly become the target of his accusations, relentless grilling, blaming and anger. Not satisfied with his girlfriends’s answers the guy can get increasingly frustrated and this is the point where physical abuse can emerge. A shove can turn into a punch. A punch into a black eye and for some women physical abuse can turn into their deaths. You need to start worrying about your safety when you feel like you need to “walk on eggshells” to keep him from getting angry and are frightened by his temper. You need to stop thinking that his jealousy is a sign of love. It’s not it is control and unfortunately emotional abuse often escalates into physical abuse. Don’t become a statistic. Get out before it’s too late.
‘When I disagreed with my boyfriend he would hold me down onto the ground so I couldn’t move he said it was for my own good, that I needed to be controlled and he was helping me. He once locked me in his apartment again for my own good, so that ‘I would wake up to myself’ he regularly took my phone, hid it as well as numerous other controlling habits. I am glad I got out when I did. I used to not understand and see women as pathetic who stayed with abusive men, but now I understand it, you can only understand it when you have experienced it. And it can happen to any woman. Women need to heed the signs and walk away at the first sign of controlling behavior from a guy.. Don’t accept it not even a little bit of control because it creeps up on you maybe until you and perhaps also your children become another frightening and unfortunately ever more common statistic.’
Honor yourself. Choose to be in a caring relationship with a man that does not feel the need to control you. A controlling man can become dangerous, even if they’ve never been violent before. Don’t think it can’t happen, because it can. Ultimately don’t be afraid to ask those closest to you for help even if you have been estranged from them by the controller. A controlling guy is only as powerful as you are isolated. Don’t jump into a relationship without losing your head. Be rational, and take your time. If you notice a few signs of controlling behaviors from a guy take a step back, go slower and believe in yourself and your intuition. Don’t allow a controlling guy to dominate your life and change who you are. Find someone instead who loves and accepts you just as you are. We all deserve that.