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Is your partner too controlling?

Tags: trust in relationships, emotional abuse, relationship conflict, controlling partner

Feeling your partner is too controlling is a serious issue; often the warning signs are there very early on in a relationship but tend to get ignored. Possessive and jealous behaviour gets excused, taken as a sign that your partner is so madly head over heels in love with you and they just want you all to themselves.

However, over time controlling behaviour usually gets worse not better and can really undermine the good things in a relationship. Admitting there’s a problem can be painful; and difficult for both of you. But facing up to it is the first step to ending it and getting your relationship on a more equal footing; but how you might wonder?

People mistakenly think that a relationship is only abusive when there is physical violence or bullying. That’s a common misconception. There’s emotional abuse too; this takes many forms and feeling you are being controlled should be taken as warning sign. No one should feel scared or intimidated by the person they love.

Unlike physical violence ignoring, denying or excusing behaviour is especially common when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical.

Feeling constantly controlled or manipulated will over time destroy your confidence, make you anxious and depressed, and often isolates you from people and situations that make you feel good about yourself. The first step to changing things is recognising when things have become abusive only then you can get the help both of you need. There are many signs that behaviour has become too controlling. The most telling sign is feeling scared of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them or constantly watching what you say or do in order to avoid a row —then your relationship is in danger of becoming abusive. Other signs are that you partner puts you down or will try to control you what you do and who you see.

But it’s important not just to focus on the other person’s behaviour; think about how it’s making you feel …..Do you feel less confident, isolated or unable to get through to them?

Think about how you would answer the following questions

How you feel

  • Afraid of your partner
  • Mistrusted
  • You avoid certain topics because of their reaction
  • Like nothing you do it right
  • Powerless to change anything between you
  • That there must be something wrong with you and you deservce it
  • That you have to lie about who you have seen or where you have been

Your partner’s behaviour; do they...

  • Regularly put you down in front of others
  • Shout at you
  • Act badly around people you are close to so you avoid seeing them
  • Belittle you when you have good news
  • Blame you for their behaviour
  • Treat you more like a possession that a person
  • Get very jealous or possessive
  • Control where you go and who you see
  • Stop you seeing family and friends
  • Control things like money, phone or car
  • Check up on you


What next

If you have answered yes to some of these questions then you need to open up the conversation with your partner about how you are feeling and changing things for the better. Using some of the exercises and articles on can help get you started …..Try and approach things together.

Articles and exercises about improving communication and getting on better will help get you started. Sometimes overly controlling behaviour comes from insecurity so make it clear to your partner you want to change things because the relationships matters to you.

If you have answered yes to most of the questions then you need to take action and may need to seek additional support to help you work through things together. The relationship  forum is moderated by trained counsellors and mediators who can offer advice and signposting. But you may feel more comfortable having a private discussion by using the listening room.

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  • User-anonymous India Flag

    I fell for a Pakistani Muslim guy and it's normal in that culture to be controlling. But when he tried to control certain aspects of my life I never let him. I have my own voice and I don't need to be controlled.

    Thu 21, Aug 2014 at 11:18pm
  • Cc Charlie (moderator) Flag

    To the most recent poster - I'm sorry to see that your partner's controlling behaviour is beginning to alarm you.. I wonder if you'd like to post about this on the Relationship Forum where I'm sure more people would read it and respond with support and advice. Or you might prefer to talk to one of the relationship counsellors in the Listening Room.

    Wed 13, Aug 2014 at 11:19pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    I have spent the last couple of days really analyzing how I feel about my husband because of his new and somewhat disturbing behavior. I am trying to be objective about this issue and if I am doing something to cause his insecurities then I want to fix it, but it feels to me as if no matter what I do he is not pleased unless I satisfy him in the bedroom. Which then makes me feel more like a possession than a person in our relationship. The issue is mainly that he is persistently coming up to me at least every 15 to 30 min and telling me to kiss him and hug him and it is making me feel very controlled. This all started a week ago after my friends wedding that I was a part of and was busy for about three days with wedding related events. The night before the wedding we were setting up the decorations and my husband called be continuously to check on me, which he stated was because I am his wife and he was just worried about me. I could not even enjoy my friends wedding because of his behavior. I had to leave my friends house early the night of the rehearsal because of how upset he was. I am feeling more and more uncomfortable around him and I know he just wants to be closer to me but with the combination of his obsessive behavior and his constant sexual innuendo it makes me not want to to those things because he keeps telling me to do them. Is there something wrong with the way I am reacting to this? I just want him to relax so things can get back to normal, but it is just not happening. I have talked to him, but his behavior just gets brushed off because he just tells me its because of how much he loves me. He did admit he was jealous, but he is not doing anything about how uncomfortable he is making me feel. What should I do? I feel so powerless, I even tried bringing our son to my moms and having a movie night at home where we could just reconnect, but he made it completely about sex (mother nature was in) and I was doing what I could, cuddling, hugging and kissing, but he still asks for more (literally asks me to smile and kiss him). For a lack of a better word, his behavior is creeping me out. I love him but right now I just want to get away from him because of his actions. Please if you have any advice for me or anyway on how to better relay how I feel to my husband let me know. Thank you for listening;)

    Wed 13, Aug 2014 at 3:31am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Maybe you need to become a confident independent person in your own right before you settle down with someone. Going to college sounds like a good can always keep in touch with your boyfriend by phone and Skype.

    Fri 25, Apr 2014 at 10:54pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    I have a partner who when we go to thing like pysic readings belittles me in front of the reader tells them that I actually believe in the stuff and that its ridiculous for me to really believe it that its all for fun makes me feel stupid for believing it he made me cry in front of the reader. He also thinks that my friends are bad for me and there out to use me . Everytime things go wrong like he cuts his finger he lets out a string of curse words not directed at me but they make me tense. He says im not corporate enough wants me to dress in certain way. He has never hit me or anything but im concerned there are times I want to be able to do my own thing go away to college but I would miss him im 21 years old what do you guys think

    Fri 25, Apr 2014 at 4:37pm
  • Cc Esme (moderator) Flag

    Hi Anonymous,
    Sorry to read that you're feeling down because of your partner's controlling behaviour. I wonder if you'd like to post about this on the Relationship Forum where I'm sure more people would read it and respond with support and advice. You might also like to talk to one of the relationship counsellors in the Listening Room.

    Thu 19, Sep 2013 at 7:37pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    I am a school administrator and I am in the same situation as what the article states. It has really gotten me down here lately. I dont want to be around anyone or do anything for fear of what she might say. I dont even want to talk to her anymore. Communication is out. I need help, I think im going into depression!

    Wed 18, Sep 2013 at 4:36pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Hi DOROTHY50, in my experience the first move is the hardest. If your husband is not physically abusive...would it be possible to have him read this article as a start to a discussion about how you feel? or do you think he is aware of how you feel? It is usually possible to change things even if you need a bit of outside help....what do you think?

    Mon 6, Aug 2012 at 6:53pm
  • Cc admin Flag

    Hi DOROTHY50,
    I'm sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time. We do not have any specific content which can provide all the answers. However, you might find it helpful to post an anonymous thread on the relationship forum, where others in the online community may be able to offer advice and support. You might also get some insights from our moderators who are all trained relationship counselors.

    Tue 31, Jul 2012 at 2:27pm
  • User-anonymous DOROTHY50 Flag


    Mon 30, Jul 2012 at 7:30am

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