Ways You're Being Controlling Without Realizing It

by Teresa Newsome

Being a fierce boss is no easy task. But it's one thing to have your life on lock, and to get what you want, and it's another to be controlling. There are ways you could be a controlling partner that you might not even realize — ways you could be confusing with not taking any crap or with building the life you want with no apologies.

Like all things, the line is a little bit blurry sometimes. But there are some behaviors that are flat out unhealthy for your relationship. In fact, being decisive and being controlling are actually very different. One has room for negotiation and respect while the other is just about power. When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw a lot of unhealthy control masked as empowerment.

But, when you're dealing with a relationship, you have to account for equality and fairness. And when you do that, you have to compromise. And compromising means you don't get your way all the time. I know. Tragic. But your relationship will be much healthier (and happier for you both) when you give up your controlling behaviors in place of some smooth compromise. Cause sharing power is as sexy as being in a healthy relationship.

1. You Get Your Way All The Time

Is it your way or the highway? You probably want to rethink that attitude. Yeah, it's cool to get what you want, but equality means your partner gets what they want just as much. And in order for that to happen, sometimes you need to put their wants and needs first. And they'll do the same for you. It's a give and take, not a dictatorship.

2. You Boycott The Friends

Do you tell your partner they can't bring their piece of crap friends to your house? Do you refuse to hang out with them and constantly run your mouth about how much you hate them? They might be crappy friends, and you might not want them in your house, but you can't control who your partner is friends with. You can tell them your concerns you can prefer they don't come over, but you can't make your partner dump their friends. You have to work on some kind of compromise.

3. You Always Pick Dinner

You pick the restaurant. You pick the movies. You pick where you go on vacation. You even pick out your partner's clothes. Either your partner refuses to make decisions (which is a problem in and of itself) or you're just being controlling. You both have opinions that matter and you both need to do your fair share of the decision making. And sometimes you even need to let your partner make a decision that you're not crazy about, like tacos when you were craving pizza, even though you love tacos. You won't die if you eat tacos, no matter how bad you wanted pizza. It's not always about what you want.

4. You Check Their Phone

There are a couple of problems here. First, it's an invasion of privacy. Second, it's controlling. And the reason it's controlling is because it undermines the trust you have, and it makes your partner feel like their phone is just as much theirs as it is yours. Your partner is not in control of who you talk to, what games you play, and what pictures you have. Relationships need to be built on trust.

5. You Never Get Your Own Drinks

Maybe you're royalty, and that's cool, but in the movies, do you ever see the king or queen being their partner's servant? Nope. Your partner is not your bartender or maid or secretary. Their primary job isn't to fetch you things. If you're always telling your partner to do things or get you things, you're probably being controlling. Or at least lazy. Neither are good for your relationship.

6. You Love The Cold Shoulder

When all else fails, and you're not getting the response you want, or if your partner does something that you don't like, do you shut off? Retreat? Give them the silent treatment? And do you refuse to talk to them until they cave and give you want you want? You guessed it. Not cool. Controlling. If you need some time to think before you talk, that's one thing, and something you can tell your partner. But using your silence or revoking your attention to get your way is an unhealthy behavior.

7. You Break Out The Puppy Dog Eyes

If you don't get what you want, do you pout? Break out the puppy dog eyes? Say things like "if you really loved me, you would..." Those are actually subtly controlling behaviors. They're used to convince someone to do something they don't want to do. Sometimes it's fine and cute, when the stakes are small. But when it happens all the time, and it's about a more serious issue, then it's not cool.

8. You Break Them Down

Are you mean? Do you say mean things or do mean things when you don't get what you want? Or are you just mean in general? Being mean breaks someone down and when someone is broken down, they're easier to control. I'm sure you knew being mean was wrong, but I bet you didn't know there was a whole other layer of manipulation and control at play.

9. You Correct More Than A Teacher

Here's the scenario. Your partner starts talking. You interrupt with a correction. They start talking again. You interrupt again to have your say. This is a really effective way of controlling the conversation and making sure the stories your partner tells are in line with what you want them to say. And it's not just controlling. It's super rude. Your partner has a right to talk without you correcting them or redirecting them.

10. You're The Kitten In The Tree

Are you helpless, or do you play helpless when you want your partner's time or attention? Does everything hurt your feelings so that you need consoling instead of having a real conversation about your problems? This is a form of control. More accurately, it's a manipulation that makes your partner feel sorry for you or feel the need to rescue you instead of being upset with you. In healthy relationships, there's room for consoling and conversation. Everyone takes responsibility for their actions.

11. And A Tiger In The Sack

If you use sex as a weapon to get what you want, then that's a controlling behavior. For example, if you refuse to have sex with your partner until you get your way. Sex should not be a bargaining chip in your relationship unless you both know that you're getting something you want, and you're both willing.

If you realized you're more controlling and manipulating than you realized, it's not too late to turn it around. And if you realized your partner is using these tactics against you, don't let it slide. Get help, work it out, or move on to someone who respects you.

Images: Pexels (12); Isla Murray/Bustle