13 Subtle Signs Of A Controlling Boyfriend & Ways To Deal

Your boyfriend doesn’t want you to leave his side. He wants to be a part of all your plans and stays concerned about your whereabouts. You may consider the gestures as care and affection. But is it really love or signs of a controlling boyfriend?

Differentiating true love from controlling behavior can be tricky. Often the signs are so subtle that you end up being in a controlling relationship without realizing it. Since staying in such a relationship can be damaging, knowing the telltale signs of a controlling boyfriend can help you take the necessary measures to avoid an emotional breakdown later.

Keep reading as we give you an insight into the signs your boyfriend is controlling with practical tips to deal with him.

In This Article

Why Your Boyfriend Might Want To Control You?

When a person is domineering, unyielding and tries to control someone else’s life, it could damage both parties. There can be several reasons for a person to exhibit controlling behavior. An individual may try to control you due to:

  • Insecurity
  • Low or damaged self-esteem
  • Lack of trust
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of abandonment

Certain personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder and emotional sensitivity, are additional reasons a person may develop controlling behavior.

protip_icon Point to consider
The feeling of being in charge or any traumatic experience in the past could also make a person controlling.

13 Signs Of A Controlling Boyfriend

Signs of a controlling and overbearing personality aren’t instantly recognizable. Instead, they appear over time when you spend time with your partner and get to know them better. If you are sensing control in your relationship, look out for these signs to get a clear picture.

  1. Your life revolves ‘only’ around him: A controlling boyfriend wants your life to gravitate around him. If you do anything without him, he might sulk or get angry. He might undermine your achievements and belittle your efforts. That’s all because he is demanding and wants you to depend on him and be a reason for everything right in your life.
  1. He isolates you from others: Your boyfriend may love to spend time with you. But if he cuts you off from your family and friends, giving unconvincing reasons, he could be  manipulating you. The constant nagging for meeting people without him or making you cancel plans indicates you have a controlling boyfriend. He displays this restrictive behavior to ensure you have less of a social support system and any other perspectives or points of view that may try to tell you that he is controlling.
  1. You have no privacy: Be it a marriage or a romantic relationship, having personal space is essential to maintain your mental and emotional health. If your boyfriend is intrusive and demands you to share your text messages, emails, bank details, and other private information, it’s a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. Of course, you can share everything with your boyfriend. However, that should be willing and not forceful.
  1. He is overprotective: Whether it’s a coffee break or an office lunch, your guy wants to know your whereabouts. He monitors your every move and wants updates when you are away from him. If you forget to do so, he might blame you for ignoring him or accuse you of not being invested in the relationship. There is a fundamental lack of trust in the relationship. Not only is this an unreasonable request but it signifies that there is a fundamental lack of trust in the relationship.

protip_icon Point to consider
The “Controller” and “Dependent” relationship positions are typical examples of insecure and toxic relationships.

  1. You are blamed for everything: A controlling boyfriend is always intolerant and puts you at fault for everything wrong in your relationship. Instead of letting go of things, he might take you on a guilt trip. He may dominate your sanity and gaslight you into believing that you are the reason for his wrong behavior. His blunt remarks and display of disappointment could make you apologize even for mistakes you never made.
  1. He loves you conditionally: While he expects you to love him unconditionally, a controlling boyfriend’s love for you would be conditional. If you act or behave in a way he disapproves of, he might make you feel unworthy of his love. On the other hand, he may shower you with love if you do just as said. He might not always put forth his conditions directly but will make sure to make his intentions clear through his behavior.
  1. You don’t make your decisions: From choosing with whom you should talk to what you should wear or eat, he is extremely authoritarian in nature and decides everything for you. He controls your life’s decisions as he believes you can’t do anything right yourselves. If he has a say in everything you do, without paying heed to your wishes or opinions, you should ask yourself if you want to continue being with such a person.
  1. He is always right: A controlling boyfriend believes he’s always right and persuades you to believe the same. He conveys his opinions and views with conviction and confidence that you start following his footsteps without realizing it. His exceptional manipulation skills soon make you consult him for every big and small decision, and your relationship becomes co-dependent. He will never admit fault or take responsibility and apologize.
  1. He keeps a score: Whether you canceled a lunch or forgot your anniversary date, that one innocent mistake of yours will be counted a hundred times. He may take it up every time there’s an argument. If your boyfriend never lets go of petty issues and instead uses them to demean you, it’s a strong sign that he’s trying to control you.
  1. He doesn’t treat you equally: He can stay out late with friends, but you can’t. You can’t check his messages, chats, or email, but he can do so as you drawing boundaries means you don’t love him enough. If your guy has different rules for you than what he has for himself, it’s time you sit across the table and unveil his over-possessive and controlling behavior.
  1. You lose freedom: Be it lunch with colleagues or a night out with your girls, you don’t make any plans without his permission. You do so because you don’t want to hurt him. But ask yourself – are they issues that can make a genuine person angry? Why is it that he never takes your permission before doing what he wants while you need to seek his permission for simple things in life?
  1. He criticizes you a lot: From making the bed to how you dress and talk, he notices everything about you and analyzes it too critically. If you behave in a manner that he disapproves of, he criticizes you openly, even when people are around. He doesn’t hesitate to use harsh comments that may hurt or intimidate you. If this happens repeatedly, it’s time to take strict action and save your self-esteem.
  1. He micromanages you: When he always tells you what to do and wants to manage everything in your life, it is a clear sign of a controlling boyfriend. A controlling boyfriend discards your need for independence and personal space. It is okay for partners to care about each other, but it may affect the relationship when he meddles with every aspect of your life. When you are not allowed to make independent decisions for yourself, you are compromising your individuality for the sake of the relationship. In a healthy relationship, both partners trust each other and give space to make their own decisions. If you feel your boyfriend is trying to control everything, it is essential to talk about it and set boundaries.

Daisy Buchanan, a blogger who had been in a long-term relationship with a controlling boyfriend, had to go through the same dilemma. Every time she tried to communicate her feelings and needs to him, he kept shutting her down by making it seem that she was the one going insane. Buchanan says, “I would tell him that I wished he would stop canceling our plans at the last minute, or that he would be more affectionate… He would always answer with a question. ‘Why are you so needy?’ ‘Why do you hate yourself so much?’ ‘Why don’t you see a professional, who can help you with all of your problems?’ I was the problem, and for a long time I believed that if I fixed myself, I could be the perfect girlfriend and we could have the perfect relationship (i).”

Having one or two of these signs doesn’t mean your boyfriend has controlling and oppressive behavior. Sometimes, emotions take over an individual, and they may behave unreasonably. But if your boyfriend exhibits several of these signs, you should learn the practical ways to deal with them.

How To Deal With A Controlling Boyfriend?

Your boyfriend controls you, but you love him and want to give your relationship a second chance. Here are some simple strategies that can help you make him realize his mistakes.

protip_icon Did you know?
Coercive control is a type of psychological abuse in which the offender engages in a series of controlling and manipulative behaviors in a relationship to exercise control over the victim, frequently through intimidation or humiliation.
  1. Understand his personality: Before dealing with a controlling partner, understand what they do and why. Often, a person develops controlling behavior due to a lack of trust in the relationship. However, a controlling attitude could also sprout due to fear of abandonment, traumatic life experiences, or underlying personality disorders. Irrespective of the reason, addressing it could help improve his behavior.
  1. Have an honest and open conversation: Often people don’t know how their behavior is making others feel. Hence, having an open conversation is necessary. So, sit with your boyfriend and talk. Tell him how his behavior makes you feel. Initially, he might act defensive and try to reason out with you. But be determined to make him realize his shortcomings without being rude. A controlling person is highly likely to be short-tempered, so be calm and composed. Deal with all the arguments with positivity and try to make your partner see things from your perspective.
  1. Take back control of your life: Sometimes you let your boyfriend make decisions for you. You do so because you trust him and you know he will do your best for you. However, if he takes every decision of life, without considering your opinion or wishes, it’s time for you to take back the control. Set clear expectations and learn to be assertive to get what you want instead of settling for what he decides for you.
  1. Stop being dependent on him: If you want to end his controlling behavior, stop seeking validation and approval from him. By doing so, you can get the freedom that rightfully belongs to you. Do what you feel is right and live your life the way you want. Ask for his opinion and involve him in your plans, but don’t get too dependent on him that he starts controlling your every move.
  1. Set healthy boundaries: Having healthy boundaries is essential to nurturing a healthy relationship. So set clear boundaries and ensure you and your partner follow them. Since it’s difficult for a controlling person to accept rules, help your boyfriend practice them. Seek professional advice if he is unable to mend his behavioral issues even after having your prompt support.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it normal for a boyfriend to be controlling?

No. Having a controlling boyfriend is not normal and can negatively affect your mental and physical well-being. You might not know that your boyfriend is controlling at the beginning of your relationship since a person who is controlling knows how to manipulate their partner.

2. How do I end my relationship with my controlling boyfriend?

If you’ve decided to end your relationship with your controlling boyfriend, you must be prepared because the anger and grief such people experience after a breakup may push them over the edge, leading to threatening behavior, which can be intimidating. So, make sure you surround yourself with people who support you, assess your level of safety, consider potential scenarios and how to deal with them, and ask for help if necessary.

3. Is my boyfriend controlling or caring?

The line between caring and controlling is razor thin, making it difficult to distinguish between them. Caring is motivated by selflessness and love, whereas controlling comes from insecurities and jealousy. If you have a controlling boyfriend, you may think he is caring at the beginning of your relationship, but you will soon be able to tell the difference.

Living with a controlling boyfriend can be challenging. Managing your emotions and handling your boyfriend’s temper can make your life difficult. However, you need to make your boyfriend realize how his controlling behavior is making you feel. He might not readily accept his mistakes or mend his ways, but stay determined with your efforts. Guide him to healthy relationship practices and help him overcome his behavioral patterns. If even after trying your best, his behavior doesn’t improve and rather worsens, you need to decide whether you want to stay in such a relationship or move on for a better one.

Infographic: How To Know If You Have A Controlling Boyfriend?

You may have a controlling boyfriend if you’ve felt suffocated in your relationship lately and think you’re losing yourself. A dominating partner can be toxic to a relationship. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the obvious signs of control to respond accordingly. For some telltale indicators of a controlling boyfriend, see the infographic below.

warning signs that your beau is controlling (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder and emotional sensitivity, can cause controlling behaviors.
  • Signs of a controlling boyfriend include no privacy, isolation, overprotective behavior, and lack of freedom.
  • Understanding your partner and having open communication can be helpful in addressing controlling behavior.
  • Setting healthy boundaries is crucial to protect your emotional and physical well-being.
  • Taking control of your life is essential to maintain your independence and autonomy.
Controlling Boyfriend_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Are you in a relationship and feeling like your partner is controlling? Watch out for these 8 signs to know if you’re in a controlling relationship.

Personal Experience: Source

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Dr. Holly Schiff is an experienced clinical psychologist with around nine years of experience in the field. She did her Doctorate of Psychology in School and Community Psychology from Hofstra University and graduated from Fordham University.

Read full bio of Dr. Holly Schiff