We all appreciate strong, independent women in our lives.
It’s wonderful to have someone who knows what they want, who can stand on their own two feet, and who is willing to go after their goals.
But sometimes, that strength can morph into something a little less healthy: CONTROL.
If you’re sensing something isn’t quite right in your relationship, here are seven signs you might be dealing with a controlling woman.
1. She Often Decides Without Consulting You
Making decisions without consulting you may seem insignificant initially, especially if it’s about relatively minor things. What movie to watch, where to eat dinner, what weekend plans to make – the list can stretch on.
In these situations, it’s easy to dismiss the lack of input you’ve had, attributing it to her proactive nature or her knack for organization.
However, what’s truly concerning is the pattern that’s being established – the underlying implication that your opinions and wishes are secondary, or even irrelevant.
She’s creating a narrative, a dynamic where she’s the one calling the shots, and you’re just along for the ride.
Keep an eye on this pattern; if it’s an occasional thing, it may not be cause for alarm. But a consistent trend of unilateral decision-making points towards control.
2. She Frequently Invalidates Your Feelings
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to feelings; they are personal, subjective experiences. So, when she frequently dismisses your feelings as irrelevant or wrong, you’re navigating into controlling territory.
She might label your feelings as ‘overreacting’ or tell you that you’re being ‘too sensitive.’ This form of gaslighting serves to undermine your trust in your own emotions, gradually making you more reliant on her for validation.
The insidious thing about this form of control is how subtle it can be.
It’s not always blatant dismissal; sometimes, it’s more along the lines of questioning why you feel a certain way, subtly implying that your emotions aren’t justified.
Either way, the result is the same – a pervasive feeling of self-doubt that keeps you tethered to her.
3. She Monitors Your Every Move
Now, of course, in any healthy relationship, partners care for each other’s whereabouts, primarily for safety reasons. But it crosses the line into controlling behavior when it becomes obsessive or suspicious without just cause.
Say you’re hanging out with friends, and she demands regular updates on what you’re doing, who you’re with, or when you’re coming home.
Or maybe she insists on having access to your personal emails, social media accounts, or text messages. This level of surveillance is not normal, nor is it healthy.
It reflects her desire to control your interactions, often born from a place of insecurity or possessiveness.
Not only does this behavior violate your privacy, but it also indicates a deep lack of trust, which is a key foundation in any relationship.
4. She Uses Guilt as a Weapon
Perhaps she regularly highlights how much she does for you, pressuring you to reciprocate. Or maybe she uses your love for her, making you feel bad for not meeting her often unrealistic expectations.
Her love, attention, and even her presence might seem conditional on you behaving a certain way.
This constant state of guilt keeps you off balance, always trying to please her to avoid disappointing her.
As with other signs, it’s about power and control, maintaining the upper hand in the relationship dynamic.
5. She Tends to Be Jealous or Possessive
A little jealousy is normal in relationships. However, when it becomes intense or unjustified, it turns into a form of control.
Does she get irrationally angry when you spend time with friends, family, or even colleagues? Is she often suspicious of your relationships with other women, despite having no reason to be?
These behaviors suggest she’s attempting to isolate you from others, maintaining her grip on you.
This possessiveness stems from her need to control your interactions, eliminating any potential ‘threats’ to her position in your life.
6. She Criticizes You Frequently
Constructive criticism in a relationship is healthy; it aids growth and personal development. But when the criticism becomes frequent, harsh, and unjustified, it turns into a control mechanism.
She may target your appearance, your job, your friends, or even your dreams and aspirations.
The idea is to chip away at your self-esteem, making you feel unworthy and thereby more dependent on her for approval and validation.
Remember, everyone has flaws, but in a healthy relationship, your partner loves and accepts you for who you are.
Jordan Peterson puts it perfectly in his book 12 Rules for Life,
“What can be truly loved about a person is inseparable from their limitations”.
They don’t incessantly pick at your insecurities to maintain power over you.
7. She Threatens or Manipulates During Arguments
While disagreements are normal in any relationship, how they are handled can provide valuable insights into the dynamics of the relationship.
If she resorts to threats (like breaking up or telling others personal things about you) or manipulates the argument (playing the victim, twisting your words) to ‘win,’ you’re dealing with a controller.
These tactics demonstrate her need to come out on top, regardless of how it affects you emotionally. It’s about winning and maintaining control, rather than understanding and resolving the issue at hand.
If you’ve recognized some of these signs in your relationship, it’s essential to address them. Remember, control is not love.
Everyone deserves a relationship based on respect, understanding, and mutual equality. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it – you are not alone.
1. What can cause someone to become controlling?
A variety of factors can contribute to someone developing controlling behaviors. Often, these behaviors are rooted in insecurities or fears.
For instance, a person may fear abandonment and, to prevent that, they might try to control their partner’s actions to keep them close.
Past experiences such as childhood trauma or previous relationships can also shape how a person behaves in a relationship.
Though, while understanding the reasons behind these behaviors is important, it does not excuse them.
Another cause could be cultural or societal influences. Some individuals may have grown up in an environment where controlling behavior was normalized, leading them to believe that such behavior is an acceptable part of a relationship.
It’s important to differentiate between understanding the causes and justifying the actions.
While certain experiences may lead someone to exhibit controlling behaviors, it doesn’t make it right.
Each person is responsible for their actions and should seek help if they are struggling with control issues.
2. Is it possible for a controlling person to change?
Yes, a controlling person can change, but it’s a process that takes time, effort, and most importantly, willingness.
First and foremost, the person needs to recognize their behavior as problematic. This self-awareness is crucial for the first steps toward change.
Once the person acknowledges their controlling behavior, professional help, such as therapy or counseling, is often beneficial.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, can help them identify and change their harmful patterns of thought and behavior.
A solid support system can also provide encouragement during this process. However, it’s important to remember that change ultimately lies in the hands of the individual.
While support and resources can aid this process, the desire and commitment to change must come from them.
3. How can I confront a controlling partner?
Confronting a controlling partner can be challenging, but it’s an essential step toward addressing the issue.
Start by clearly expressing your feelings and concerns, focusing on specific instances where you felt controlled. Speak with empathy.
It’s important to maintain a calm, firm demeanor during this conversation.
If your partner becomes defensive or argumentative, it might be helpful to involve a neutral third party like a therapist or counselor.
They can facilitate a productive conversation and provide guidance on how to navigate these tough conversations.
4. What should I do if I’m in a controlling relationship?
If you find yourself in a controlling relationship, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety and wellbeing.
Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a professional counselor to discuss your experiences. Their support and guidance can be incredibly helpful as you navigate your situation.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help, such as a therapist or counselor. They can provide valuable tools and strategies for handling controlling behaviors, and in some cases, can help you plan a safe exit strategy if necessary.
There are numerous organizations that provide resources and support for people in controlling or abusive relationships.