Having a healthy relationship is something that many aspire to obtain. Being able to share your deepest and darkest secrets with the person you love without holding back is a great feeling to have. Unfortunately, though, not everyone gets to experience that type of relationship. In some cases, the relationship that you’re in can be more trouble than it’s worth and more toxic than you may even realise. And that’s especially the case if you’re in a relationship with a controlling partner.
“Being conscious, present and mindful of what’s taking place in your relationship is difficult because we tend to be blinded by love or the idea of being in a relationship,” Celeste Viciere, LMHC – author and host of Celeste The Therapist Podcast– told INSIDER. “Work on not allowing love to blind your judgment, and keep an eye out for any controlling behaviour.”
Since it may be difficult to spot, here are 10 signs that you should keep an eye out for in your relationship.
They spend a lot of time trying to dictate your money.
One of the main issues that couples have is that of money. From not making enough to spending way too much, that seems to be a recurring topic of conversation. Though some issues can be sorted out, if you have a partner that’s always making your money a focal point of conversations, you may want to consider their motive.
“Coming together and having an open conversation about finances is great,” Viciere told INSIDER. “It can get controlling, however, if your partner starts telling you what you can and cannot do with the money you are earning.”
They try to seclude you from those that you love.
When you’re in a relationship, you tend to spend a lot of time with your partner. Usually, your family and friends are understanding of that because there is a balance between spending time with everyone in your life. If you’ve started to notice that your partner wants you to only spend time with them thought, this is a huge red flag that something isn’t right.
“If you have established relationships that are healthy and your partner is struggling with this, that’s a sign,” Viciere said. “When someone is trying to control you, taking you away from people who love you will allow them to have complete control. Sometimes your partner may say certain negative things about situations with your family or friends. Be mindful of the conversation to assure you are not being swayed in one direction.
“If you are constantly hearing these negative things from someone you love, you may begin to believe it, and over time, may look at people whom you have always cared about as enemies. Make sure any conversations you have with your partner about family or friends are not geared toward negativity, but instead are more solution-focused.”
They threaten to “out” you.
If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community and have not shared that with those closest to you, the partner you choose should both respect that and be patient with you while you gain the comfort to express that. According to mental health professional and co-creator of Viva Wellness Jor-El Caraballo, if you’re with a controlling partner, they can use your choice against you.
In LGBTQ relationships specifically, they threaten to out you to others if you’re not out, criticise or demean you for not “passing” enough out in the world (not being able to be read as “straight” in public),” he told INSIDER. “They will also call you slurs and names based on your identity, blame your troubles on you being LGBTQ and how you express yourself – even with them being LGBTQ, too.”
They have a tendency to tell you what is “right.”
When running into an issue in your life, the first person you usually vent to or discuss it with is your partner. What happens though when they try to force their opinions on you? Certified professional dating and relationship transformation expert and founder of LoveQuest Coaching Lisa Concepcion told INSIDER that this is a telltale sign that they want to control you.
“Pay attention to how they speak,” she said. “Are they presenting ideas or telling you what you ‘should’ do? Controlling people essentially want you to behave in a manner that pleases them so they will tell you what you ‘should’ do regardless of your feelings about it.”
You start to feel manipulated.
Though partners are supposed to support each other through both the good and the bad and push one another to be the best that they can be, when your partner seems to be doing their best to manipulate things to benefit them, you need to be very cautious.
“Controlling people present options not from a mutual win-win but instead to satisfy their own needs,” Concepcion said. “So they will tell stories as to why you would be seen as a great partner or judged favourably if you just did or said XYZ. They dangle the reward to get the response they want.”
You’ve heard how controlling they are from other people.
When it comes to those we love most, the last thing we want to hear is anything negative about them. If you happen to be dating someone who is controlling, however, there’s a high probability that others have noticed their traits – even if you haven’t.
“Oftentimes, we’re in denial and become detached from our truth and instincts. Controlling people silence our voice so we stop trusting ourselves,” Concepcion told INSIDER. “We begin to assume they are right and they know best. Our friends and relatives who observe the dynamic between us and the controlling partner may comment.
“Make sure you’re paying attention and not just brushing it off. They knew you before you were with this partner and if you forgot who you were back then, they didn’t. Losing yourself to a controlling partner is common. Trust family and friends when they bring up red flags you may be turning a blind eye to.”
They tell you or act like your opinion doesn’t matter.
Both parties in relationships should feel as if they matter. From their feelings to their concerns, everyone deserves to feel as if they matter when with someone. When you’re in a controlling relationship, however, you might feel the total opposite, Holly Zink, relationship expert for Grapevine, told INSIDER.
“Most controlling partners believe their opinion is the only one that matters,” she said. “They don’t want to hear your input or what you have to say. They want complete control over your every action, no matter if you enjoy it or not.”
They need to know your every move or they make a big deal if they don’t.
Having a partner that worries about you and what you’re doing can be nice in small doses. According to Zink, however, once the questions of what you’re doing and where you are becomes the focal point of each conversation, you may have a problem.
“If your partner is controlling, they will likely want to know where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re with at all times,” she said. “They want to be able to control what activities you’re doing and who with so it meets their standards and expectations.”
You work so hard to please them, but not because you truly want to.
Dating safety and success coach and creator of the Date Differently Programs Teagin Maddox revealed to INSIDER that you may have a controlling partner if you focus on trying to make them happy just because you want to avoid issues.
“You try hard to please your partner, but it’s to avoid upsetting them or triggering them,” said Maddox. “It’s not because you want to make them happy, make them feel special, or because it’s valued or appreciated. This happens with a controlling partner because they may get angry or become passive aggressive if you don’t put them first and accommodate their needs on their timeframe.”
They’re always making promises that they won’t keep.
Reliability is an important trait, but if your mate is a constant flake, then that may be a surprising sign of their controlling nature.
“Agreed upon changes are not sustained and promises are not fulfilled as stated in controlling relationships,” Maddox told INSIDER. “This is how they keep you invested in the relationship and it’s an intentional manipulation because a controller knows how play on your hopefulness. They do this by giving just enough to make you believe in them – over and over again – so that you don’t disappear.”
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.