8 ways to recognize if you’re being controlled in your relationship

There’s a fine line between being cared for and being controlled in a relationship.

The difference comes down to freedom. When you’re being controlled, your partner makes decisions for you without giving you a say.

Being cared for, on the other hand, means your partner respects your autonomy, even while guiding or advising you.

Recognizing the signs of control can be tough. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you spot them.

Let’s delve into 8 ways to identify if you’re being controlled in your relationship.

1) You’re always seeking their approval

In a healthy relationship, you feel secure in your own choices and actions.

But when you’re being controlled, you may find yourself constantly seeking your partner’s approval. You’re hesitant to make decisions without their input or fear their reaction if they don’t agree with your choices.

This is a classic sign of manipulation – when your partner has made you feel that their opinion is the only one that matters, or worse, the only one that’s right.

Remember, in a balanced partnership, your thoughts and decisions are equally important. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Spotting this sign is the first step towards regaining your autonomy.

2) They dictate your social interactions

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you stop having a life outside of it.

I remember a time when I was seeing someone who seemed to have an opinion about every friend I had. “You’re spending too much time with Sarah,” or “I don’t like how you act around Mike.”

At first, I thought they were just being protective. But then I realized I was starting to lose my friends. I was isolating myself, all because of the subtle control my partner was exerting over my social life.

It was a wake-up call. No partner should have the right to dictate who you associate with. If you’re experiencing something similar, this could be a sign that you’re being controlled in your relationship.

3) You’re constantly apologizing

Did you know that people who are being controlled or manipulated in their relationships often find themselves apologizing even when it’s not necessary?

This may happen because the controlling partner has a way of turning things around, making you feel guilty even for trivial matters. They play the victim, and you end up saying “I’m sorry” more often than you should.

It’s not normal to always be on the defensive in a relationship. If you’re repeatedly apologizing for things you shouldn’t be, it’s time to reassess the situation.

4) They criticize you frequently

Love is about acceptance, not constant criticism.

If your partner frequently points out your flaws, belittles you, or makes you feel inadequate, it’s a red flag. This could be their way of making you feel less confident, thus making it easier for them to exert control over you.

Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding. If you’re often on the receiving end of harsh words, it might be time to rethink your relationship.

5) They limit your independence

There’s something beautiful about sharing a life with someone, but it’s equally important to maintain your individuality.

If your partner discourages you from pursuing your interests or tries to limit your personal time, it’s heartbreaking. It feels as if they’re clipping your wings, stifling who you are as a person.

Everyone deserves the freedom to grow and explore their passions. If your partner isn’t supporting this, it’s a sign they’re exerting control over you. Remember, love should make you feel free, not confined.

6) You feel anxious around them

I used to find myself feeling unusually anxious around my partner. My heart would race, my palms would get sweaty, and I’d often feel a knot in my stomach. I chalked it up to love, but it wasn’t. It was fear.

Fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of causing an argument. This constant state of anxiety was not about love; it was about control.

If you’re constantly on edge around your partner, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t normal or healthy. You should feel safe and relaxed with the one you love, not anxious and fearful.

7) They invade your personal space

Whether it’s going through your phone, reading your personal messages, or intruding on your personal space, these are all signs of controlling behavior.

Respect for personal boundaries is key in a healthy relationship. If your partner feels entitled to invade your privacy, it shows a lack of trust and a desire to control.

Remember, everyone has a right to privacy. If that is being violated repeatedly, it’s time to take notice.

8) You’ve lost your sense of self

The most alarming sign of a controlling relationship is when you start to lose your sense of self.

If you no longer recognize the person in the mirror, if you’ve let go of your dreams to accommodate your partner’s, if your feelings and needs always come second, it’s a glaring sign that you’re being controlled.

Never compromise on who you are for someone else. You are important, and your happiness matters. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Final thought: It’s about respect

At the core of every relationship, there should be a foundation of respect and equality.

It’s essential to remember that love is not about control, but about mutual understanding and freedom.

Dr. John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert, stated, “In a healthy relationship, each partner allows the other to influence them.”

When control starts to seep into your relationship, it’s a sign that respect and equality are being undermined.

If you recognize any of these signs in your relationship, it may be time for some serious reflection. Remember, your feelings and experiences are valid. You deserve to be in a relationship where you feel loved, respected, and free.

So take a moment, reflect on what you’ve read, and always remember: love should never cost you your freedom or sense of self.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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