Are you with a controlling boyfriend or is he just a bit jealous, or even insecure? Most people believe that they would easily know the difference but when you are actually involved in the relationship it is not so easy to realize these things. But recognize it you must, because there is a world of difference between a controlling boyfriend and someone who just needs a bit of reassurance.
And if you are reading this, then you obviously suspect that there is something wrong so let's have a look at some of the things to look out for if you already see signs of a controlling relationship. Obviously every single one of these things do not have to be present for you to know that you have a controlling boyfriend and some of these things may not be obvious to you. That's why it can be useful to go through the list with a trusted friend (not your boyfriend!).
If you do have a controlling boyfriend some of these things may be obvious to you, some of them may not. That's why it's useful to go through the list with another person because outsiders are often able to see things that you cannot.
A controlling boyfriend will not just affect your behavior, but they will be aiming to change your perception of reality, your thinking, your beliefs, your decision-making, your emotions and your behavior. They want you to make them the center of your universe. They want you to make them the purpose of your life. They want you to have them in your head all the time. They want you to put them first, second and third in your life, with everyone else (including you!) a distant fourth. They want all your attention and energy directed towards them. They want you hanging on their every word, following their instructions and tending to their every whim.
This type of dating and violence adds up to a very significant change of who you are. They change you at your very core. The essence of who you are disappears and a different 'you' appears. This 'new person' does devote all their time and attention to the controlling boyfriend. The new personality stands up for the manipulator, defending him if friends or family criticize him. This new personality is dependent on the controlling boyfriend, needing to report everything back to him, having to check with him before doing anything important and may even get to the point of asking 'What would he think if I do or say this?' before making any kind of decision.
Your friends or family may have even said to you that you have changed in your relationship but you more than likely brushed it off. You may have considered that they were interfering, they didn't understand your situation, or they were exaggerating. The thing is that you are probably unaware of just how much you have changed because you were led through a process step by step and the changes were so small to you that you were unaware of many of them. You will also probably believe that you were making your own decisions all the way along (because lots of the psychological pressure being applied you was hidden from you) and this also makes it difficult for you to realize how much your personality has been molded by the controlling boyfriend. In fact, the presence of changes in the personality should be considered to be one of the important signs of a controlling boyfriend.
This false personality is called a pseudopersonality and was initially described by Edgar Schein in the 1950's after studying the effects of brainwashing on prisoners of war. In this situation, after the prisoners were released and went home, they continued to believe in the things that their captors had installed in them even though they were no longer under the influence of the enemy. What Schein noticed was that the original personality had been broken down, there were changes made and these new changes were frozen in place. This process was done with such strong influence techniques that the pseudopersonality did not disappear simply because the prisoner had left the coercive environment. The ideas, beliefs and behaviors persisted after the prisoners were released.
The same thing happens when someone is in a relationship with a controlling boyfriend. A big difference is that a woman does not think that her boyfriend is an enemy. The woman is tricked into thinking that the boyfriend is caring, loving and that he has the woman's best interest at heart. This makes her a willing participant in the relationship. She trusts and believes what the boyfriend says. This further hides the psychological pressure from the woman. When a woman gets involved with a boyfriend that she knows is a bit risky, who is known to be a 'player', or is involved in somewhat dubious things, if things go bad it's not totally unexpected. It may still be a shock but the woman knows that there were warning signs along the way.
If a woman gets involved with a boyfriend who is charming, intelligent, successful and believes that she has met Mr. Right, to find out that he is the complete opposite of what he claimed to be is a major shock to the system. To realize that your whole reality was based on lies and deception, that things you thought were true, things you based your life on, were lies, were a fabrication of a twisted and cruel mind, is devastating. It's not possible to get over something like that in a few weeks. It's incredibly difficult to get over that on your own. It's much better to have someone who can point out the inconsistencies, the contradictions, the hidden pressures and manipulation techniques for you.
There are more details here about how the pseudopersonality is created.
The pseudopersonality is programmed to be the kind of person that the controlling boyfriend wants to have around. It is programmed to be adoring, caring and submissive. It is programmed to think that he is right, his ideas and beliefs are the best and that it is not ok to disagree with him or have different opinions. The pseudopersonality is kept in place using fear and guilt. There is fear of upsetting him, because, after all, that temper he has is fierce and it's best to avoid bringing that out if it can be helped at all. And the victim is make to feel guilty for making him feel bad. Somehow it's ok for him to make you feel bad, but if you try to do the same things to him, he manages to turn it around and you end up feeling guilty for saying or doing things that upset him. And he will typically be great at playing the victim. He has a great ability to make out that you are being nasty and selfish to him and it's often enough to get you to back down and give in to him. This is an interesting contradiction in a controlling boyfriend, where at one and the same time he can be a victim but use that very thing to be very dominant and controlling and victimize those around him.
The pseudopersonality is unable to think very well. It does not see these kind of contradictions. It is very difficult for the pseudopersonality to see many of the contradictions of the controlling boyfriend. The beliefs of the pseudopersonality are often very strong, stronger than normal, healthy beliefs and these can cause the victim to ignore, deny, or even be unable to see the reality of the situation. For example, a woman's pseudopersonality may believe that the controlling boyfriend loves her, even though he is treating her like dirt. The pseudopersonality may believe that the controlling boyfriend is a good person despite the repeated law breaking, physical abuse, lies, cheating and obvious mistreatment of children. This may seem strange to outsiders, and it can be very distressing to family members that their loved one literally cannot see what is going on, but this is exactly what happens in mind control environments.
What is it about a controlling boyfriend that allows them to abuse, torture, mistreat and basically destroy other people? How can someone be so callous and cruel?
There are people who have no emotions, no empathy and no conscience. People often think that such types have difficulty expressing their emotions, they are emotionally shut down or they are 'off' in some way. However, these justifications are used because many people simply don't understand that there are actually people who don't have emotions. No guilt, no remorse, no regret, no shame, no embarrassment, no fear, no love, no happiness... If someone never experienced these emotions, if they never felt bad, what could they do? Well, they could do anything they liked because nothing would upset them. They can be as cruel, horrible and as abusive as they like because they don't feel bad about it. They never 'feel another person's pain'.
These types are not easy to spot, first of all because most people don’t know that they exist. Most people think that every one has emotions and that's the way it is. They don't ever suspect that someone may not actually experience emotions in the same way that they do themselves.
The second issue is that these types will feign emotions, they pretend to be emotional, in order to remain hidden in society. And they can be very good at it.
These people are called psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. They have a personality disorder and the lack of emotions means that their relationships with themselves and with others are severely disordered. They are egocentric and selfish and believe themselves to be superior beings. They exploit others and interact with people in deceptive and controlling ways for their own benefit.
You can read more here about psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. Some people use the word sociopath and psychopath interchangeably but for others there is a difference.
A psychopath can be a great actor. After all there is no shame or embarrassment if they make a mistake, they just carry on as if nothing happened. This allows them to lie and deceive very easily. In this way they present themselves as the ideal partner at the start of the relationship until you are committed. Then the bad behavior starts.
They are often very good at reading people, too, because they study people. The good manipulators will practice and hone their influence skills so that they know how to use their techniques with a wide range of people. This makes them dangerous. Dangerous because they learn how to get people to do stuff that they wouldn't ordinarily do. They get good at fooling people into thinking that they are making their own decisions when in fact, the manipulator is very heavily influencing the thinking and decision making of their victims.
Because they consider themselves superior, they believe that they are entitled to what they can get. They are capable of tricking, bilking, deceiving and conning people out of their possessions but if they can make friends with their victim, and the victim therefore willing gives things to the psychopath or narcissist, this obviously gives the manipulator much more power over the victims. In this way the manipulator can obviously extract much more from a person than if it's a one off con job. Manipulators will then bleed people dry for as long as they can, taking time, money, effort, assets, creativity, emotions and sexual gratification from their victims. And all for their own personal benefit with little or no consideration for the victim.
Do sociopaths know they are sociopaths?
Leaving such a relationship is very important. I know it's not easy but staying with a controlling boyfriend means that you will continue to be abused and taken advantage of. There is much written about how to manage such people but a psychopath or a narcissist is much better at tearing down your boundaries than you will ever be at putting them in place. Staying with such a person is a waste of your life because you are not actually living your life, you are living the life they have set out for you.
Getting away, however, is not easy because the pseudopersonality is programmed to need the manipulator. You may even feel that there is no future for you without the controlling boyfriend, that you may not be able to manage. If you do feel that life would be empty or lacking purpose without this controlling boyfriend, just consider it an indicator for yourself of how severe the dependency of your pseudopersonality is. The fact is that you managed before him and you can manage afterwards.
Your controlling boyfriend may have told you that you won't find anyone to love you the way he does. This is actually a wonderful ambiguity. The woman with a pseudopersonality, when she hears this, takes it to mean that if she leaves, she will be missing out on true love because the manipulator loves her so much. She won't ever find anyone else to love her as deeply the current boyfriend does.
Another response to the phrase, 'you won't find anyone that loves you the way I do' is 'That's lucky! Because if what you are doing to me is called love, I don't want any more of that!!' The psychopaths and narcissists redefine words (for their own distorted desires) and they often define what they do as 'for the partner's benefit' and they will also say that they do it because they love them. I mentioned above that the pseudopersonality cannot think very well and this is another example of the many ways in which the victim's thinking has been distorted.
You can read more ideas here about getting away from a controlling boyfriend.
Unfortunately, getting out is not enough. I explained that the pseudopersonality is put in place and reinforced over and over with powerful influence techniques and that it does not disappear simply because one leaves the abusive situation.
You have to work at undoing the damage done by the manipulator. You have to undo the bad beliefs and replace them with something that is actually beneficial for you. You have to undo the behavior patterns and build in choice into your range of behaviors. Otherwise the beliefs and decision making and behaviors of the pseudopersonality persist and cause problems in your life.
Another significant issue with not undoing the pseudopersonality is that psychopaths are good at reading people, as I pointed out above. If you have a pseudopersonality and you meet another psychopath or narcissist, they will instantly spot the fact that you have been in an abusive situation before and they will take target you again. This is not to say that you attract narcissists or psychopaths, but rather that they are hunters and they are constantly looking out for easy prey. For this reason it's very important to know how to recognize controlling people. Those with a pseudopersonality already in place, with the patterns of submission and service already installed, are easy targets for the manipulators.
Working with a professional in this field is worth the time and investment. You will get to understand fully what was done to you, how it was done and you will learn how not to get caught again. When you can understand the patterns of the psychopaths as well as the difference between an influence technique when it is being used for good as opposed to for destructive mind control, it's much easier to see these types and steer clear of them without getting caught.
You can read more here about the profile of the sociopath, narcissistic abuse recovery, recovery from a psychopathic relationship, preventing dating violence and how to leave a controlling husband.
Return from Controlling Boyfriend to What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?