If someone uses these 8 phrases, they’re seeking control in a relationship

Relationships can be complex animals (trust me, I’ve had my fair share of experience).

Don’t get me wrong.

I understand that you can’t always agree and get on perfectly.

That’s just not realistic.

But while fights are inevitable, it’s important to be aware if your partner is actively up to something more cynical.

In other words, if they’re trying to control and manipulate you.

It’s super toxic and simply not on.

How do you spot this controlling behavior? Well, there’s certain language you can look out for.

How many of these eight phrases do you recognize?

1) “You don’t need anyone else, you have me.”

On the face of it, this appears to be a positive thing to hear from your partner.

But be careful!

If they’re constantly bad-mouthing your friends and family or suggesting that you move away together, they may be trying to isolate you.

Because ultimately, this helps them control you.

After all, you’ll be more vulnerable if you don’t have the support of other people in your life (and they know it).

They’re basically trying to make you more dependent on them.

2) “It wasn’t like that.”

Let me add some context to this one.

Imagine your partner has been staying out late without explanation.

When you confront them about it, they dismiss your feelings and deny any wrongdoing.

Perhaps they’ll say something like “You’re making things up.” or “You’re being paranoid.”

This is a form of gaslighting

It can lead you to question your perception of events and make you feel like you’re in the wrong.

It’s a particularly effective manipulation tactic as it can leave you feeling confused, anxious, and powerless.

How to spot gaslighting?

Ask yourself this, does your partner at least acknowledge your concerns? 

Here’s the thing.

Even if it’s something completely harmless (and can be solved with better communication), it’s a fact that you feel the way you do, and it should be addressed, not simply ignored.

3) “You always prioritize others over me.”

This is an example of guilt-tripping.

Let me explain.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll care deeply about your partner (you love them after all).

So when they criticize you like this, it can feel pretty rough.

You’ll instinctively feel guilty and want to fix the situation. This puts you in a submissive position and (you’ve guessed it) makes it easier for them to control you.

At the end of the day, they’re trying to get you to do what they want.

And it should be a big red flag!

Some other examples of guilt-tripping include: ”I sacrificed so much for you and this is how you repay me?” and “I thought I could count on you, but I guess I was wrong.”

4) “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”

Wait a minute!

You’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound so bad.

Well, hear me out.

While this phrase (when used in isolation) could be absolutely genuine, it could also be an attempt to love-bomb you.

It’s all about the context.

If you’ve only been together for three weeks and they’re already declaring their undying love for you (like, every day) maybe take a step back for a moment.

Consider that they could just be telling you exactly what you want to hear.


To manipulate and control you!

Love bombing is when your partner displays excessive attention and affection to make you feel tied to them.

It’s more of a behavior than a single phrase, but watch out for overly dramatic language like: “I’ve never felt this way before.”, “You complete me.”, and “I’ve never met anyone as perfect as you. You’re my soulmate.”

5) “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll leave.”

This one is slightly less subtle!

But threats and ultimatums are an effective form of control.

Here’s the thing.

Your partner is basically forcing you to imagine the worst-case scenario (the end of the relationship). This creates fear, which acts as a powerful motivator.

If you care for them, the last thing you want is for them to leave. So chances are, you’ll do what they want.

Of course, they’re well aware of this.

Threats are a particularly evil form of manipulation because they leverage fear and panic.

If your partner has given you an ultimatum, you should question if you really want to be with someone who is happy to instill fear in you to get what they want.

6) “You can’t do anything right without my help.”

Strong, independent people are harder to control and manipulate.

This phrase attempts to undermine your confidence and break you down to make you more vulnerable.

Again, by itself, it probably won’t have much impact on your self-esteem.

But continued use over time may slowly grind you down until you become more and more reliant on your partner.

It’s important to recognize this behavior early in your relationship and confront them on it.

7) “I need to know where you are at all times.”

The need for control can sometimes be driven by your partner’s insecurities.

In this example, they seek to monitor your physical location.

This could be because they don’t trust you, or have been hurt in the past.

But you’re entitled to your privacy and surveillance like this won’t end well. It gives them power in the relationship, making it feel one-sided.

Instead, they need to deal with their insecurities, because quite simply, it’s not fair that they can’t trust you (if you’ve done nothing wrong). You’ll only grow to resent them over time.

8) “Nothing I do is ever good enough.”

Finally, this phrase is an example of playing the victim.

If you’re partner constantly says things like this, they’re probably trying to get sympathy, avoid taking responsibility for their actions, and ultimately, control you.

This emotional manipulation is designed to make them look helpless or unfairly treated.

If you catch your partner constantly playing the victim (or displaying any other behaviors in this list) you should have a direct and frank conversation. 

Share your concerns and tell them you feel manipulated. In some cases, you may suggest they seek professional help.

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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