Controlling people want one thing from their efforts: power. Being controlling is about holding onto that power for as long as possible in order to achieve some kind of goal. Whether it’s financially motivated or just plain greed, controlling people have a way of making their victims absolutely miserable.
Luckily, spotting a controlling person isn’t difficult when you know what to look for. If you’re in a controlling relationship or think you might be under a controlling supervisor or mentor, this guide is for you. Let’s take a look at these five signs that you’re dealing with a controlling person.
No one likes being lied to, but lying is a favorite form of control for narcissists, gaslighters, and other controlling types. Lies can be large or small in nature, but they serve a single purpose: to deceive, confuse, and derail you from your own thought processes. A controlling person uses lies to make you question yourself, your actions, and your very thoughts in an attempt to make their version of reality the only one you truly believe.
When it comes to the people we love, we have all the excuses in the world why they’re treating us poorly. It comes naturally to excuse our loved ones’ toxic actions, but it’s important to understand that most of the time, abuse comes from those closest to us.
Pay close attention to your spouse, partner, family member, or friend that you suspect is controlling. Do their facts seem to not add up? Do little white lies keep occurring and they always have excuses for them? Are you starting to question your own sanity?
For a controlling person to maintain the balance of power in their favor, they need to keep the victim away from the influence of others. After all, if you start talking to someone else, and they tell you the story doesn’t make sense, you could start to question things…which is exactly what the controlling person doesn’t want to happen.
Controlling people take huge steps to isolate you from others. This occurs a lot in marriages or intimate relationships. Through guilt tripping, arguing, and other methods, a controlling person can successfully cut their partner off from their support group; thus solidifying their control.
Take a closer look at the relationship you feel is controlling. Is the person always jealous when you want to visit with friends or family? Are you made to feel guilty for not wanting to spend 100% of your time with them?
3. Verbal Abuse
Now that your abuser has successfully isolated you from friends and family and made you question your reality with lies and deception, they’ll likely start the real control process by tearing you down as much as possible. This verbal abuse is usually followed up with a flimsy apology, often accompanied by gifts or other material items in order to sugar-coat what happened.
A controlling person only maintains control when you believe you’re worth less than you are. They’ll likely use name-calling and other methods to erode your self-esteem to the point where you truly believe you deserve how you’re being treated.
Here’s the bottom line: you don’t deserve to be treated that way. No one deserves to be made to feel like less than a person. If your partner, friend, family member, or colleague is purposely dragging you down, standing up for yourself is a must. Otherwise, you fall under the spell and become the victim of a control freak.
Feeling threatened in any kind of relationship is an unhealthy dynamic, and usually exists to maintain a balance of power for the abuser. This occurs a lot in work environments, especially in positions where the abuser is a supervisor or leader. They can use their power and influence within the company to threaten your job if you don’t comply with their demands.
In personal relationships, this often comes down to the “if you do/don’t do this, I’ll leave you” dynamic. This keeps you locked in a toxic relationship out of fear of being alone. Here’s some useful information: being alone is infinitely better for you than being with a toxic person.
5. Keeping Score
A favorite tactic used by controlling people is keeping score. Did they pay for dinner last week? You can be you’ll hear about it in the future. Did they do something nice for you? It’ll likely be used as a trump card during the next argument. Keeping score is a way to keep you feeling guilty and erode your self-esteem so that compliance comes naturally.
If someone you love keeps a tally of all the things they do for you, they’re looking to control you. After all, we don’t do nice things for the people we love to hold it over their heads later; we do it because we love them.