9 signs you’re being too controlling in your relationship

It’s not always easy to tell you’re being controlling. Universal Pictures UK on YouTube

Controlling behaviour can be incredibly detrimental to a relationship. And it’s not always easy to know you’re being too controlling until it’s already damaged your relationship.

That being said, there probably were a number of signs that showed that you’re being too controlling, even if you missed them.

If you want to know whether or not you’re being too controlling, here’s what you may want to look out for.

You dictate what your partner does, who they’re friends with, and more.

Allow your partner room to have friendships. DisobeyArt/Shutterstock

Regardless of how you feel about what your partner does, who your partner is friends with, or anything else, if you’re telling them what they are and aren’t allowed to do in terms of those things, you’re likely being too controlling.

“Controlling behaviour is often related to feelings of anxiety,” Carrie Askin, LCSW, the co-director at Menergy, told INSIDER. “If I feel anxious that my partner will leave me, I might try to control who they talk to or where they go or how they dress.”

Working on managing your anxiety, working with a therapist, and being more mindful can help.

You’re always quick to criticise.

You’re most likely feeling insecure. Shutterstock

If you regularly criticise those around you, that too could be a subtle sign that you’re being too controlling, Dr. Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D., a licensed counselor, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and the author of “Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life,” told INSIDER.

“Work on your issues around insecurity,” Campbell said. “Controlling people usually have issues with trust, and so they want to control whoever is in their lives as a way to protect themselves but they actually set themselves up for people to betray and/or leave them because the pressures of being with them are too demanding and/or demeaning. It’s important for each person who is controlling to work to be whole. It is vital they turn to therapy and/or others methods of self-development. that can help them overcome this problem.”

There’s a reason why you’re so critical all of the time and it might be that you’re dealing with insecurities that have yet to be addressed.

You’re isolating them from their friends and family.

You might be isolating your partner. AMC

Isolation can be incredibly dangerous when in a relationship. If you find you’re controlling behaviour is distancing your partner from their loved ones, it’s important to take a step back and assess and address this behaviour.

Further, isolating your partner could come in the form of you not wanting your partner to focus on their other relationships.

“These are signs that the partner is isolating their mate from loved ones,” Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW, a dual-licensed social worker, told INSIDER.

You always want to know where they are.

Give your partner space. leungchopan/Shutterstock

“Controlling people often check up on their partners via text message, phone call, and social media all day long,” Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.

“They don’t do it to send love notes, they do it to make sure the partner is being kept in line. They nitpick each social media post, check things like what time the partner posted and cross-reference it with where they think the partner should be.”

If you always feel the need to know exactly where your partner is at all times, that can certainly be a sign that there’s a control or trust issue there. You may think they’re hiding something or otherwise lying to you. Still, recognising that you might have an issue with control and doing what you can to get help can make a big difference, Osibodu-Onyali added.

You want them to focus on you instead of others.

They should have room to focus on others. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If all you want is for them to focus on you to the detriment of their relationships with other people, that’s another potential sign that you’re being too controlling.

“This is often a precursor for emotional, psychological, and physical violence. In these situations, the mate is primed to be taken advantage of and demeaned without having anyone to encourage leaving the relationship,” said Shane.

Working with a professional can help you get to the bottom of things and determine where your controlling behaviours are coming from.

You look through their phone or at their social media accounts.

This is a dangerous modern-day problem. Jason Howie/Flickr

Looking through your partner’s phone or social media accounts without their permission isn’t OK and can certainly be related to being too controlling. Campbell said that this sort of behaviour can actually be a sign that you’re being a bit controlling.

You might be dealing with jealousy, which is leading you to do these sorts of things in the first place, Campbell added.

Read more: Here’s the real reason why you get jealous in relationships – and what you can do about it

You’re not OK with them making decisions or doing things without you.

Relationships need mutual trust. Warner Brothers

“Many couples are interdependent. This means each person can make decisions independently of the other, however from time to time, they make decisions together,” Osibodu-Onyali said.

“A controlling partner expects that most decisions should not be made without consulting him or her first. This includes little decisions such as what to eat for dinner, what route to drive to the big party and what the other partner should wear.”

If you simply can’t deal with them making decisions or doing things without you, that might lead you to do things and say things that send overly controlling vibes.

You ask a lot of questions.

You might be smothering your partner. Shutterstock

It’s great to ask your partner, friends, family members, and the like questions about themselves and their life, but if you ask too many probing questions about everything and anything all at once, that could actually be a sort of sneaky sign that you’re controlling.

“A controlling partner might appear to be overly concerned with the other partner’s whereabouts, appearance, speech, work habits, etc,” Osibodu-Onyali said. “While this might at first glance appear to be a sign of a caring partner, it could eventually feel like harassment or smothering.”

You’re making them feel guilty.

Your partner shouldn’t feel guilty for everything. Shutterstock

Although you might not realise it, when you are consistently accusing your partner of things in an attempt to make them feel guilty, this is a way of maintaining control.

Leon F Seltzer Ph.D., wrote in Psychology Today that “the controller may induce nagging guilt in their victim for spending ‘too much’ time with others – or accuse them of caring more about these other relationships than about themselves.”

If you suspect you might be a controlling person, consider seeing a therapist and figuring out how best to address your behaviour. And if you think you might be a victim of a controlling relationship or abuse of any kind, you can contact organisations such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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