10 Signs of a Controlling Relationship and How to Deal With it

Couple holding hands

We are all products of our conditioning. Our beliefs, experiences and knowledge dictate the way we interact with other people and our own selves.

It is common for some people to develop a manipulative or controlling personality owing to their deep seated insecurities and fears. If you happen to be in a relationship with such a person then you are likely to sense the signs of a controlling relationship.

In this article we talk about 10 common signs of a controlling relationship and provide suggestions on how to deal with it.

Signs of being in a controlling relationship

Most intimate relationships are controlling to a small extent because we undoubtedly link up our lives to them – this is true even in family relationships.

The problems start when the relationship becomes excessively controlling to the extent of becoming a source of degradation. If a relationship does not let you grow then be sure that it’s suffocating you.

Being in a controlling relationship will make you feel suffocated sooner or later. Here are the signs to watch out for.

1. It’s never about you

This is usually the most obvious sign. If you find that your preferences and likings are usually ignored or manipulated to suit the interest of your partner, and it becomes a habit, then you are being controlled in your relationship.

2. You sense a stark possessiveness

It is common to feel protective and a little possessive in any intimate relationship. Humans are born possessive. The problem is with unhealthy or dramatic possessiveness where you start feeling strangled.

If your partner is excessively jealous or possessive of you, then he/she will try to control your movements and might even dictate on who you should or shouldn’t interact or talk to.

3. You are unable to take independent decisions

If you find yourself asking your partner’s permission, rather than having a discussion, for every decision then it defines a clear sign of a controlling relationship.

Even in the most intimate relationship there should be room and space for personal growth and interests.

A healthy relationship is not binding but liberating.

4. You find yourself apologizing too often

Is it always you who is apologizing even if you know it’s not your fault?

This is a common scenario in any controlling relationship.

In the long run you will start feeling a lot of resentment towards your partner for making you feel lowly all the time.

5. You find yourself doing what you would rather not

If you find yourself doing things you’d rather not do just to please your partner, then it a definite sign that you are in an acutely controlling relationship and your partner is well aware of your dependence.

Your self respect and esteem would be deeply dented if you tolerate such abuse.

6. You sense resentment more than care

Do you see your partner being constantly resentful of you rather than be caring towards you?

Any healthy relationship comprises of people who want happiness for the other person and there is usually no room for resentment. It is normal for resentment to take the face of manipulation in due time.

7. Your priorities seem to take a back seat

If you find yourself disengaging from the several other priorities in your life, like your friends, family and hobbies, in order to satisfy the needs of your partner, then you are clearly in a manipulative and controlling relationship.

Your partner is most likely imposing his/her loneliness upon you.

8. Negative emotions surpass the positive ones

Do you constantly find yourself depressed, fuming, sad or frustrated with life?

Intimate relationships should make you a more loving and cheerful person not the other way round. Negative emotions may be pointing to a deeper truth that your relationship is being toxic towards your life.

9. Fear seems to be the dictating emotion

What do you envision when you think of your relationship – Darkness or bright light?

If there is an intuitive feeling of fear inside you regarding your relationship then it would suggest that you are feeling strangled or congested. Fear is the dominant emotion in any controlling relationship.

10. You feel like breaking free

It is not uncommon for people stuck in controlling relationships to dream about a better life with a brighter relationship.

This feeling arises because you have let your life be dominated by a relationship to the extent of losing touch with yourself and your needs.

How to deal with it?

Here are a few tips on how to deal with a controlling relationship and get back to living a fulfilling life.

1. You don’t have to break off

Just because you identified yourself to be in a controlling relationship does not mean that you have to break off with your partner.

Remember that it’s not his/her fault that he/she behaves this way – most of it has a lot to do with childhood conditioning and their personal experiences with insecurity.

Instead of feeling like victim learn to look at your partner as the one who needs help. If you intuitively know that your partner deeply loves you, in spite of their controlling behavior, then you just need to work at the relationship to make it more fulfilling rather than moving away from it.

2. Help your partner get over insecurities

Once you see through the manipulative behavior that your partner uses to control you, there is little chance of your being ensnared by it.

Now you are in a position to make some changes in your relationship especially with respect to your partner’s outlook.

Communication and unconditional love can go a long way in healing the deepest of insecurities in your partner.

3. Take control of your own happiness

Stop depending on anything outside you to satisfy you.

A relationship is not a source of seeking happiness but an avenue to share love. Your happiness is your responsibility. Keep it that way.

Stop blaming your relationship or your partner for not being able to fulfill you. If you take charge of your own happiness it won’t be long before your relationship becomes balanced again because you are no longer feeding it with your insecurities.

4. Make room for all your priorities

Dealing with a controlling relationship can get tough when it comes to making personal decisions. Your controlling partner may want to have say in every part of your life, don’t stand for it.

If you allow your partner to dictate what should and shouldn’t be important to you, it will cause you to live in resentment instead of freedom. Love blossoms better in an environment of freedom than bondage.

5. Balance your love life with your personal life

Your relationship with your partner can be the highlight of your life but don’t make it the only thing in your life.

You will become more whole as a person when you learn to appreciate several beautiful experiences, apart from your relationship, that life has to offer.

6. Stay in touch with your support system of friends and family

Your friends and close family members care for you and mean well, don’t shun them or ignore them because you are too busy in your relationship.

Give them some of your time and enjoy their company. If you make your partner the only center in your life, it won’t be long before they start unconsciously misusing this power they have over you.

7. Stop seeking approval

Remember that what other’s think of you is their problem not yours. You don’t have to defend yourself or provide explanation for everything you do just to seek approval from your partner. You are allowing yourself to be a victim when you seek approval.

8. Learn to love yourself for who you are

A healthy sense of self will ensure that you will never do something you don’t like doing – no matter how strong the outside force.

When your source of love and strength comes from within you will never get ensnared into a controlling relationship for long. When you learn to love yourself your partner will develop a sense of respect for you as well.

In conclusion

In conclusion, dealing with controlling relationship is all about taking responsibility for the situation and working with a desire for more freedom and love – a basic right of every sentient being.