People who are controlling in their relationship usually display these 9 manipulative tactics

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There’s a fine line between being assertive in a relationship and being controlling.

The difference? Free will. When someone’s controlling, they’re usually employing manipulative tactics to get their way. Often, this is done subtly and under the guise of love or care.

But it’s important to recognize these tactics for what they are – manipulation. And, believe it or not, there are tell-tale signs that show when someone is using them.

This article unveils those 9 manipulative tactics that controlling people often display in relationships. Let’s break them down together.

1) Gaslighting

One of the most common and insidious tactics used by controlling individuals is gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where one person makes the other question their own reality, memory or perceptions. The term comes from a 1944 movie called “Gaslight”, in which a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane.

In relationships, this can take many forms. For example, a partner might deny that certain events happened or dismiss the other’s feelings as “overreacting” or “imagining things”.

The aim? To make the other person doubt their own judgment and become more dependent on the manipulator for their version of reality.

It’s a subtle form of control because it undermines the individual’s self-trust and confidence. Recognizing this tactic is the first step towards countering it.

But remember, it’s crucial to trust your own experiences and feelings. Don’t let someone else redefine your reality.

2) Guilt-tripping

Another manipulative tactic that controlling people often use is guilt-tripping.

Guilt-tripping is when someone makes you feel guilty to get their way. They might twist a situation around to make it seem like everything is your fault, or constantly remind you of a mistake you made in the past.

I remember an instance in a past relationship where I was constantly made to feel guilty for wanting to spend time with my friends. My partner would say things like, “Sure, go ahead and have fun. I’ll just be here all alone.”

It was a clear attempt to manipulate me into staying home. The guilt I felt each time I wanted to go out was overwhelming.

But over time, I came to realize that this was not healthy behavior. In a balanced relationship, both parties should have the freedom to maintain their individual lives outside of the relationship. It’s okay to spend time with friends, and it’s okay to want some alone time.

3) Isolation

A few years back, I was in a relationship where my partner constantly criticized my friends and family. Subtly at first, then more blatantly as time passed.

I found myself slowly pulling away from the people I loved, spending less time with them, missing out on gatherings and events. I didn’t even realize what was happening until one day I looked around, and it felt like it was just me and my partner against the world.

That’s isolation.

It’s a disconcerting tactic used by controlling partners who want to eliminate any outside influences or support that could challenge their control over you.

The aim? To make you feel alone and dependent on them.

But here’s the thing.

You are not alone.

Reconnecting with your support network is an essential step in regaining your independence and breaking free from a controlling relationship.

4) Constant criticism

Ever been in a relationship where nothing you do ever seems good enough? You might be dealing with a controlling partner who uses constant criticism as a manipulative tactic.

This can be anything from belittling your achievements, to undermining your abilities or even making fun of your dreams and ambitions. The aim is to chip away at your self-esteem, making you feel worthless and dependent on their validation.

It’s essential to realize that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Constructive criticism is one thing, but if your partner’s comments leave you feeling small and inadequate, it’s time to question the dynamic of your relationship.

Remember, a loving partner should build you up, not tear you down.

5) Threats and ultimatums

A particularly damaging tactic used by controlling individuals is the use of threats and ultimatums.

This can range from threats to end the relationship, to more severe threats of harm or even suicide. The intent is to create fear and anxiety, making you feel like you have no choice but to comply with their demands.

Ultimatums, too, are a form of manipulation. They create a false dichotomy, forcing you to choose between two extremes, usually with the aim of making you do what they want.

If you’re faced with threats or ultimatums in your relationship, it’s a clear sign of a controlling partner. Seek help from trusted friends, family or professionals if you find yourself in such a situation.

6) Love bombing

This tactic might sound like a positive one, but it’s not. Love bombing is when a controlling partner showers you with excessive affection and attention right from the start of a relationship.

They may make grand gestures, shower you with gifts, or constantly tell you how perfect you are. It can feel amazing, like a whirlwind romance, but there’s a darker side to it.

The aim is to make you emotionally dependent on them quickly. Once they feel they have gained your trust and commitment, the controlling behavior and manipulation can begin.

Healthy love takes time to build and should never feel overwhelming or rushed. If you find yourself in the midst of a love bombing campaign, take a step back and assess the situation objectively. Healthy relationships are about balance, respect, and mutual growth.

7) Financial control

Controlling individuals may insist on having access to your bank accounts, control over your spending, or even prevent you from working.

In my past relationship, my ex-partner insisted on paying for everything and initially, it felt like a generous gesture. But over time, I realized it was their way of controlling me. I was made to feel guilty for wanting to contribute, and eventually, I became financially dependent on them.

It’s only after stepping out of that relationship did I truly understand the importance of financial independence. Money matters should always be a shared responsibility in a relationship, with both partners having equal say and control.

8) The silent treatment

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive form of manipulation that controlling individuals often use. It involves ignoring or refusing to communicate with the other person until they give in to your demands.

Being on the receiving end of the silent treatment can be incredibly distressing. It can make you feel anxious, guilty, and desperate to resolve whatever issue caused it.

However, healthy communication is crucial in any relationship. Everyone has disagreements, but they should be resolved through open and honest conversation, not through punishments or withdrawal of affection.

9) Blame shifting

Last, but certainly not least, is blame shifting. This is when a controlling person never takes responsibility for their actions and always finds a way to shift the blame onto you.

Whether it’s a disagreement or a mistake they made, somehow it always ends up being your fault. This is a deliberate tactic to keep you on the defensive, constantly trying to justify yourself instead of addressing their behavior.

The most important thing to remember is this: everyone makes mistakes and everyone should be accountable for their actions. If your partner consistently shifts the blame onto you, it’s not just unfair, it’s manipulative. Stand your ground and don’t let them evade responsibility.

Final thoughts: It’s all about respect

The fabric of human relationships is complex and woven with various emotions and behaviors. When it comes to manipulation in relationships, the core issue often boils down to a lack of respect.

Respect, in its simplest form, means acknowledging the autonomy, feelings, and needs of the other person. A controlling partner who uses manipulative tactics often disregards these aspects, causing harm and distress.

If you recognize any of these tactics in your relationships, remember that you are not alone. Countless others have experienced similar situations and have found ways to reclaim their autonomy.

Whether it’s seeking help from a trusted friend or professional, or finding solace in support groups, there are resources out there that can help you navigate through this.

The journey may be challenging, but it’s worth it. Because every individual deserves a relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and love – free from manipulation and control.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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