You might not be aware of the signs your boyfriend is controlling towards you. Or maybe you have noticed that he does seem rather dominant, but have decided that he's just a take-charge kind of guy. Controlling men tend to be very clever about how they work so that you're oblivious of what he's up to. Watch out for the following signs your boyfriend is controlling …
1. Lost Friends
One of the major signs your boyfriend is controlling is that he distances you from family and friends. There are many ways that he may do this. Perhaps he persuades you to spend time with you, rather than with other people. He may even sulk if you make arrangements to meet friends. Or he may get you to move to another city well away from friends and family.
2. He Dictates to You
A controlling man will often tell you outright what to do. He will say he doesn't want you going to college or going out with your friends. Or he may tell you that you're too stupid to get that promotion, so don't bother. If you find that your movements and actions are being dictated by a man, get away from him. It won't get any better.
3. 'Nice' Face
Some controlling men are more subtle and put a 'nice' face on. They appear to have your interests at heart but are really steering what you do. Often, they are criticizing you when you really analyze what they are saying. For example, if he says that you shouldn't go for promotion because the job will be tiring, he may secretly resent the possibility that you could be earning more than him.
4. Checks up on You
Does your boyfriend call to find out where you are? Does he ask when you'll be home, and want to know your every move? You might interpret this as meaning that he's worried about you, but there's a big difference between calling to ask when you'll be home and checking up on you.
5. Makes You Feel Guilty
Controlling men often try to make you feel guilty because you have other interests. They may imply it, rather than say it outright. Let's say you want to go away with friends and your boyfriend doesn't like it. He may pretend that he's not feeling well, but tell you not to worry, go anyway, he'll cope … So you cancel your plans, and he's got his way without appearing to have told you what to do.
6. You've Given Things up
Relationships often involve compromises, but these should be made on both sides. Be wary if you have given up everything for your boyfriend. Controlling men often persuade you to give up your studies, hobbies and job to move to a new city, where you are at a distance from family and friends. Making a change or a new start can be good for you, but not if you've deliberately been isolated.
7. Makes You Dependent
A controlling man likes to feel that you are dependent on him. This may be economic (you've moved to be with him and can't find a job), or emotional. He wants to be the only important thing in your world. Even if you do think about leaving, he's made you so dependent on him that you can't imagine how you'd cope.
8. He Puts You down
If your boyfriend starts to put you down when you do something by yourself and makes it look like you can’t do anything without his help, beware! When a guy starts picking on your flaws and telling you you're not good enough, this is a manipulating tactic. This will eventually make you lose your own confidence, and wait for his reassurance and help each time you try something new.
9. He Makes Decisions for You
It may seem great when you're really indecisive and your boyfriend helps you make simple choices, but what happens when he does it without you asking? If he starts to pick what you're wearing, eating and where you're going, you need to start to notice these things. If he disagrees with every decision you try and make for yourself, I hope you start to realize what's wrong in the situation.
10. He Freaks out when You Stand up to Him
When you finally stand up to someone that has been trying to control you, there are a few things that could happen. He could either break down and say you can't leave him, he loves you and he never meant to make you feel this way. He could test you and push you to see if you'll actually break up with him. Worst of all, he could get violent. If any of these things happen when you stand up for yourself - get out.
11. You Feel Crazy
If you start to freak out and think that he's hiding something from you or that you're doing something wrong, this isn't OK.
A controlling boyfriend can sometimes make you feel like you're the crazy one in the relationship. This is their way to manipulate you into staying with them and telling them things they want to know.
Do you ever start to complain about, but then jump to his defense minutes later? Once a friend suggests maybe you should split up, do you all of a sudden start to say “Oh you just don’t know him like I do. He’s actually really sweet" or anything like that? If so, that's a bad sign. It probably feels more like you’re trying to convince yourself, rather than who you’re defending him to.
13. He Needs to Know Everything
Does he ask you where you're going? Who you're going to be with? What you're going to be doing? These are all red flags. Of course, it's normal to tell your significant other where you're going and who you're hanging out with, but there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. It should be okay for you to go out without telling your partner where you're going or even if you're going out at all! If he demands knowing anything, you should take notice.
Some controlling men are outright bullies and tell you flat out what you should and shouldn't do. Others use psychological tricks to get their own way. These are not healthy relationships, and you might think that you'd never end up in one like it. But it's happened to many women who thought the same. So be aware of the tactics these men use. Have you ever been in a relationship with a man who told you what to do, and how did you realize what was happening?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Lydia Sheehan.