Signs Of A Controlling
Boyfriend - Overt And Covert

The following signs of a controlling boyfriend are significant and should not be ignored. Every day that you are in a controlling relationship, the manipulator is stealing your time, your energy, your money, your creativity and your life. It's up to you to put an end to all this because the controller is not going to stop.

There is much written about this topic and there are the more common signs of a controlling boyfriend as well as those signs that are not immediately so obvious. Let's call them overt and covert. I will give a list of some of the more overt signs and then spend some time explaining interesting covert signs.

Of course, for the victim, all of the signs of a controlling boyfriend are covert. That's why the victims end up staying in an abusive relationship. They do not actually realize what is going on. When they begin to have doubts and question what is really happening, then they start looking for information to validate what is going on internally and to try to make sense of their situation.

So let's see if we can clear up some of those doubts and confirm that what is going on is not normal and healthy. First, those overt signs of a controlling boyfriend...


Overt signs of a controlling boyfriend

There are insults, criticism, humiliation and contempt. Initially, you may have thought that he was saying these for your own good or for the good of the relationship but he continues with this behavior and there is no end to it. You can't seem to measure up or reach his standards, no matter how hard you try.

He can make you feel great but he can also make you feel absolutely miserable. There is a lot more misery now than there is feeling great.

You are somewhat isolated from friends and family. You think it's your choice not to spend time with them because it causes arguments with your boyfriend but really he was doing things to deliberately separate you from them.

There are threats. He may threaten to break off the relationship, often indirectly, if you don't go along with what he wants. This is a nasty tactic. He threatens to commit suicide, again indirectly, if you talk about breaking up. This is particularly nasty. No-one wants to feel responsible for another committing suicide.

All that time, attention, care and love at the start of the relationship becomes conditional. You have to work hard to please him now to get any kind of attention from him. Instead of doing nice things for him to have nice times with him, as you did initially, now you spend most of your time doing things to avoid upsetting him.

He makes you feel guilty a lot. About a whole range of things... your body, your family, your work, your hobbies, your friends, your thoughts, your actions and on and on.

He makes you afraid. This is a tricky one because often people in abusive situations are not aware of how much fear they are living with until they actually separate from the controller.

He makes you feel like you owe him. After all, he claims, look at all the things he has done for you! When you look closely, it's trickery. He did something small and expects a huge payback. Or he did something once and expects to be paid back over and over again. You do something nice for him and he has no obligation to repay you, though!

He wants to know everything about you. At first, it was charming. Imagine someone being so interested in you. No-one had paid you so much attention before! But now he wants to know everything, where you went, who you were with, what was said, what's going on in your head. He may claim that you are withholding information from him or even call you a liar. Your response is to end up telling him everything to convince him that you are not a liar. When you give him all the information he wants, he still criticizes you and uses the information against you. (Over and over again!)

He is always s right. You are wrong. Anything that goes wrong you are blamed for.

You have to apologize for everything. He apologizes very rarely. If he does, it's a lie because he is doing the same horrible thing 5 minutes later.

You are expected to forgive him anything and everything. He forgives nothing. He keeps bringing up your mistakes and wrongdoings whenever he wants to make you feel bad.

He criticizes you and when you feel bad he scoffs at you for taking things so seriously. He claims he was joking. This is like a a punch in the face and then a back hand slap immediately after.

There are lots of double binds, 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situations. If you ask for help, he says you are useless. If you don't ask for help, you did it wrong and you should have asked him first. You are not cooking the food enough. When you cook it more, now you are burning it.

Sex may have been great initially but now it's a reflection of the rest of the relationship. It's all about him.

He lies. And when caught out, he lies more.

Let's move onto the more subtle stuff...


Covert signs of a controlling boyfriend

He attacks you at the level of identity. It's one thing for someone to say, "That was a ridiculous thing to do". It's quite another to say, "You are ridiculous for doing that!" A controlling boyfriend will use things that you say and do (behaviors) to make you feel ashamed about who you are (identity level). While he may be referencing something you actually did, his comments are designed to attack your personality. The message is that basically YOU are the problem. If you were different in some way, this particular problem wouldn't exist.

What this does to someone in a controlling relationship is to get them to feel bad enough that they want to change themselves in some way. It gets them to step up to the plate and try harder to please the controller. I know, it sounds twisted, and it is, but this is what happens in mind control situations. In this way, the victim begins to change things, step by step, in order to avoid upsetting the controller. They change their behavior, their thoughts, their perceptions, their beliefs and so on, in order to survive in the relationship (leaving is not an option!). In this way, the real personality of the victim is being destroyed while a new personality develops according to the desires of the manipulator. You can read more about this process in this article about narcissistic boyfriends.

Another significant sign of a controlling boyfriend is the regular occurrence of arguments about the same topics. These arguments are often infuriating because he never backs down. You think that you cannot get through to him, or he just doesn't get it, or your communication skills are lacking in some way, etc. etc. The same issue keeps happening and then there is the usual argument about it. He drags all sorts of other issues into the argument confusing things tremendously. (That's another indicator. He confuses things so much that you end up apologizing to him for the very behavior of his that you were objecting to!) Sometimes you may doubt yourself, wondering if you are being unreasonable because he seems so sure that it's your fault.

When you think he doesn't understand what you want, you are wrong. He understands perfectly! He is not stupid. You have said it many, many, many times. He knows. He just doesn't care about what you want. What he does care about is hammering his point home in your head until you either give up complaining or even accept his idea about the whole thing. These arguments can be considered indoctrination sessions. He gets to repeat his ideas over and over again until you switch your position in some way.

This brings so to another point, repetition. Studies have shown that if a person hears a piece of information from three different people, they are very likely to believe it. If they hear the same thing from one person three times, it has 90% of the effect of hearing it from three different people.

First of all, think news channels.

Secondly, think of all the things a controlling person repeats over and over again. The name calling, the comments about you, the criticisms and any other ideas they repeat frequently. They do this because, for them, these ideas are the ones they want in your head. It is part of the control. It matters not to them whether the ideas or comments are true or not. These are the things they want you to believe. They call you stupid when you are actually clever. They call you mean when you are incredibly generous. They call you self-centered when you are quite the opposite.

So, two things are important here. Very often what they say is not true. This is simply part of the process of destroying your personality, making you doubt yourself so that you change (change to be the way that they want you to be!). Therefore, whatever you have learnt about yourself from them, or whatever ideas you have developed about yourself during the relationship, has to be challenged. Find examples from the past where what they say about you is not true. Recognize that their words are a manipulative tactic, that they are lies, and start to think of yourself as you really are, not as how they wanted you to see yourself.

Another covert signal of a controlling boyfriend is the feeling that something is wrong in the relationship and you just can't put your finger on it. He claims that you are the problem and if you were different things would be great. But you secretly think it's him that is the problem but you can't seem to get evidence of this and you can't argue why he is the source of all the strife.

Outsiders will be able to recognize that the relationship is bad for you. But it's typically easier to see other people's situations than it is your own, especially when there is mind control involved. There is a detailed explanation of this idea here .

Another indicator is that you feel as if you have lost yourself in the relationship. This may not be so covert for some people but it's very important. A normal, healthy relationship will allow you to absolutely be yourself. A loving partner will typically help you to feel safe, create a sense of belonging, build up your self esteem, make you feel loved and allow you to grow and mature.

In a controlling relationship you find the opposite of many of these things. The victim may love the controller and believe that the controller loves them back, at least in some ways, but there is no safety, comfort or real love, your self esteem is being stomped upon on a regular basis and your real personality is being systematically replaced with a false personality, the kind of personality a controller would want to have around. Think slave! It's no wonder you don't know who you are any longer!!


Signs of a controlling boyfriend - What to do

If you recognize many of these signs of a controlling boyfriend in your relationship then you really need to take action. The manipulator is happy to continue with the control. What's not to like? He has everything his own way, he has programmed you so that he is the center of your universe, he is your purpose in life and you spend most if not all of your time making sure that he is comfortable. And the more you give, the more he demands. The more you try to please him, the higher he sets the bar. He is basically insatiable. He has no reason to stop so it's up to you to put an end to it.

That means getting out. I know, that seems impossible.

The first thing you need is information. You need to know what you are dealing with. You need to know what tactics are being used against you. You must understand how specifically he is controlling you, because if you don't, you can't mentally resist.

Is he a psychopath, sociopath or a narcissist? If he is, then the rules of the game change a lot. But you need to know...

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How is he controlling your behavior? How has he changed your perceptions of yourself and your perceptions of him? How specifically did he create the power imbalance in the relationship? How did he target you from the start? What tricks did he use to get you to commit to the relationship? If you think it was your choice to get into a relationship with someone like him, then you need to think again! You did not choose a relationship with someone like him. You were tricked into it! You need to understand all these things.

Find a professional to help you unravel this complicated mess. It will save you time, money and heartache.


Signs of a controlling boyfriend - More reading

You can read more here about what an abusive relationship is, what a toxic person is, things an abusive husband says, help for those in an abusive relationship, how to leave an abusive relationship and moving on after a psychopath,

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