If you are seeing signs your boyfriend is controlling, then chances are you are struggling. When you met him first, you probably thought you had met Mr Perfect. Now you are realizing that things have changed in the relationship but you may still feel that you love him.
But you probably don't want to accept that things are bad but you have a niggling feeling that things are not right and you can no longer ignore what is going on.
The first thing I suggest is that you listen closely to what the trusted people around you have to say about him. If your family and friends are warning you about him, then pay attention! I know you want to defend him, you do not want to hear criticism about him and you may even feel that you are betraying him by admitting that things are not right. However, when you start seeing the signs your boyfriend is controlling, you can't unsee them. If they are present, then that's what you have to deal with.
You can justify them away all you like, pointing out how he does some really nice things for you. The fact is, if he is controlling you, then he is controlling you. No amount of good behavior excuses bad, abusive behavior. Anybody can do nice things for you. Only abusive people will control and abuse others.
If you are being abused and controlled, that's what you need to focus your attention on. If it's happening, it's happening, it doesn't matter what reasons and justifications there are for it, you are still being abused.
So let's have a look at some of these controlling behaviors in no particular order.
You have to check with him before you do anything. Even if he's not present, you check in your mind whether he will be okay with what you are just about to do. If you think he will be upset, you don't do it. Or you hide it from him. You hope he doesn't find out. If you think it will please him, you go ahead and do it. You may consider that what you're doing is keeping the peace or making sure you don't upset him. In effect, you are asking for permission.
He is always right. You are always wrong. If anything goes wrong he will twist and distort everything to make it your fault.
This guy can make you feel fantastic. He can also make you feel absolutely horrible. At the start the relationship he made you feel great on a regular basis. That soon changed, though, and now he makes you feel bad about yourself very often.
You know there is something wrong with the relationship but you can't quite put your finger on it. He keeps telling you that you are the problem. However, you know that's not true and you suspect him, but you don't know how to explain it.
Sometimes you feel like you're going crazy. You can't understand why the relationship is the way it is and you end up questioning or doubting yourself.
He calls you derogatory names.
He ridicules you.
He makes you feel stupid and worthless.
He repeats these things over and over again.
He lies to you a lot. Depending on what stage of the relationship you're at, you may not recognize the lies but you may suspect that he is actually lying to you.
He is watching your every move.
You are expected to tell him everything about your day.
You may have realized that you know very little about him or what he's up to.
You are afraid of him.
He makes you feel guilty very often.
He criticizes you and others very often but does not tolerate criticism well himself.
He has a vicious temper. Sometimes he goes off over the slightest things. This temper also disappears as quickly as it appears. He can be very angry one moment and then the next moment he is acting as if nothing happened while you are an emotional mess for hours afterwards.
He has words or phrases, or even a tone of voice or a look, that makes you unable to think or continue an argument.
Arguing with him is an impossibility. He keeps going off on tangents, mixes one thing with another and talks so much you can't keep up with him. In fact, there may have been times when you went to him to criticize some behavior of his and in the end you apologized to him for doing that behavior yourself, and you still can't explain why you ended up doing that.
Negotiating with him is a waste of time. He can seem genuine in promising you the sun, moon and stars but five minutes later he goes back on his word.
He changes his mind about anything whenever it suits him. However, when he insists that you commit to something he will not let you change your mind.
He gaslights you. In other words, he tries to convince you that certain things happened when you know that they did not or he denies other events actually happened when you know that they did. This can be very disorientating for the victim and many people end up not trusting their own perceptions, memory or reality any longer.
He has a fantastic memory for things that you have done but when you question something he said or did he somehow cannot remember the incident.
Your life is one big emotional rollercoaster. You spend your time crashing from one crisis to the next. There is a huge amount of drama and chaos in your day-to-day living.
You are terrified of leaving him. Even the thought of it makes you afraid. How will you manage? Would you be able to survive? How angry is he going to be? What will he do to you? Would you ever find another partner?
You are not allowed to have your own opinions, wants, needs, desires and so on. Your life is organised around him. He has to be comfortable, he has to be satisfied, he has to be treated with kid gloves.
He keeps reminding you about all the bad things you've done in the past. He never forgives you for these things. He brings them up over and over again to deliberately make you feel bad.
You, on the other hand, are expected to forgive him everything. If you try and point out some of the things he has done, you're told you're always criticising and putting attention on the bad stuff and you should pay attention to all the good stuff he has provided in the relationship.
You feel like you owe him. You may not be sure exactly why, but he has made you feel indebted to him.
Your friends and family don't like him. As I said already, do not ignore this one.
If you recognize many of these signs your boyfriend is controlling, then you are in a very grave situation. This person is stealing your life away from you. The person is controlling your time, your behaviour, your thoughts, your emotions and the information available to you.
It's vital that you understand what is being done to you. The person you're with is not a good person. They are taking advantage of you and abusing you. Things are not going to get better with time. These people do not change.
You need to understand the situation so that you can make decisions to protect yourself.
You can read more here about living with a controlling person, how to spot a sociopath, things an abusive husband says, mind control tools, healing from emotional abuse and the difficulties of leaving a controlling relationship.
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.
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