What are the early warning signs of a controlling man?
How do you know if you’re in a relationship with one, and, if you are, what can you do about it?
In this article, we’ll explore how and why some men are so controlling with the women in their lives and their own lives in general.
We’ll also offer some helpful advice on how to deal with a man who wants to control everything.
Before we begin, remember that controlling behavior such as manipulation, guilt-tripping, and aggressiveness are all forms of abuse and should be treated as such.
You don’t need to tolerate any hurtful or abusive behavior from anyone, even when you understand why they behave that way and even when it’s a partner in a romantic relationship.
So how do you spot a controlling man? What should you look out for when dating someone to predict how they will turn out later in the relationship?
How can you avoid ending up in a relationship with an abusive partner who tries to control your every move? Continue reading to learn the early signs of a controlling man.
Early signs of a controlling man
Knowledge is power, so look out for the following signs:
1. He is incredibly confident at first
A controlling man will likely come on strong when you two first meet. His behavior may be charming, flirty, and confident, and it will be easy to get swept away by that charm.
Of course, lots of men who aren’t control fiends can appear flirty and confident. The difference with the controller is that his come-on will be more intense than others.
He may reel you in with confident and overt expressions of his feelings for you. This is known as love-bombing – a manipulative tactic used to gain control and possession of a potential partner.
2. He wants to know every detail about you
He’ll pay close attention and show interest in every area of your life.
He’ll invest a lot of time and energy into you to prove that he likes you.
Soon, you may find that he never stops giving you attention. You become his world, and if he’s not so secure in himself and his world, then that’s something he might want to control.
3. He doesn’t like you spending time with others
Controlling men want all of your time.
They’ve built a picture-perfect idea of you two and your time together in their minds. Anything outside that image is considered a distraction, frustration, or problem.
He wants you and only you, all to himself.
He discourages you from hanging out with others, even your best female friends or family. He worries about how others may influence you and make you see their controlling behavior.
Deep down, the controlling man knows that his behavior is unhealthy, so any possible revelation of that truth to you threatens him.
He may explicitly discourage spending with others, or he may do so indirectly. He may use passive-aggressive behaviors, silent treatment, or back-handed compliments to make you feel bad for spending time with other people.
4. He doesn’t understand personal time
Much like a controlling guy doesn’t like you spending time with others, he’s also not keen on you spending time alone and away from him.
Of course, it will be ridiculous to expect to spend every minute of every day together – people need alone time naturally – but the controlling guy is different.
He understands the need for some alone time but not much, and he’ll be annoyed or upset with you if you choose time alone over time with him.
He may text or call when he knows you’re busy, not only because he wants your attention but also to reaffirm to himself that he has it.
He may also show up when you’re going somewhere alone, inviting himself with the audacity of a control freak.
If you tell him that you need or want to be alone, he’s likely to react poorly. He may not show it, but he’ll feel some resentment. He may even sulk and try to punish you in one way or another.
These may sound like extreme reactions, but they happen, so it’s important to know the early warning signs.
A controlling partner can be incredibly toxic to your mental health, especially when they enter states of resentment or strong attachment.
5. He doesn’t want you to be friends with other men
Your male friends are a problem for a controlling man.
The need for control often stems from a deep-seated sense of insecurity and fear of losing control.
If you have a male friend with whom you spend quality time, your controlling boyfriend won’t be happy.
He’ll project his fears onto you and your friendship and do all he can to stop those fears from happening.
He may tell you outright that he doesn’t want you to hang out with this guy or that guy because he’s jealous and afraid of being hurt, but that’s unlikely.
A controlling person often has to behave as they do because it helps them cope with their complicated feelings. One of those difficult feelings is vulnerability.
Instead of directly asking you not to hang out with someone, he may offer reasons why they’re a bad person and not worth it.
Perhaps they’re a bad influence, or they ‘only want to get into your pants.’
These are more subtle but toxic and abusive means of control and manipulation.
6. Your ex is off-limits
He may even introduce a twisted kind of logic into the equation.
For example, it’s perfectly normal to be friends with an ex, as long as both parties are emotionally mature. However, emotional maturity is often lacking in a controlling partner.
He may appeal to your logic and explain how exes can’t be friends, that there must be feelings somewhere and that you’re better off not seeing that person anymore.
He wants to make it sound like it’s a good choice for you, but it’s a means of protecting himself.
7. He doesn’t have his own life
One significant warning sign of a controlling man is that he’s obsessed about you too soon.
As mentioned earlier, he seems incredibly confident and charming and has no qualms about inserting himself into your life.
You may notice soon after meeting or starting to date him that he doesn’t have much going on. He may lack friends and hobbies and doesn’t talk much about his life other than the part of it he’s spending with you.
Both partners in a romantic relationship must have a life outside of the relationship.
Such a dynamic keeps the relationship healthy and helps both partners continue to support each other without feeling overwhelmed.
If his life without you isn’t that exciting or felt by him as unique, he’ll make an extra effort to keep you around.
Again, this can seem cute and charming at first, but it soon crosses a line, and the time comes when you need separation.
Knowing that you have more excitement in your life, you may feel guilty for him, but how he spends his time are not your responsibility.
You’re dating him, you’re not his mother, and he’s a grown man.
8. He misuses sex
Controlling behaviors may take time to appear.
However, they can show up early in the bedroom.
This is not about personal preferences and power dynamics. This is about his sense of entitlement, matched with a disregard for your needs.
A controlling guy may come to expect certain things from you in the bedroom and make you feel guilty or harbor resentment if you don’t meet those expectations.
He may argue that he ‘has needs’ but does so manipulatively.
Needs are one thing; unfair expectations and a sense of entitlement are another.
Things toxic partners say when they want to control you
If you’re with a controlling man, you’re probably not the first woman he’s tried to control.
Controlling people have plenty of practice with their craft and employ various methods to achieve their goals.
One such method is guilt-tripping, in which he makes you feel guilty for not spending time with him or some other behavior he perceived as hurtful or upsetting. He may use any of the following statements to make you feel bad about your choices:
You spend way more time with your friends than you do with me? Do you prefer them?
I feel worried when you spend time alone. I want to know that you’re safe.
What you said was hurtful, but I love you so I will forgive you.
I don’t like that guy. I think he’s a bad influence. I see the way he looks at you like you’re an object.
Why is he so controlling?
Why is this man so controlling? What has caused his control issues? How does one change from a rational human being to a control fiend?
Controlling and manipulative behaviors are symptoms of narcissism.
Either this man has narcissistic tendencies or suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, and that’s why he needs to control your every move.
Narcissists need to control others because that helps them feel safe and in control of themselves.
His controlling behavior may stem from deep insecurities, even if he’s not a narcissist.
Someone self-assured and emotionally mature doesn’t need to control others because they know how to trust. They were fortunate enough to learn trust from a young age and were able to carry it into their adult relationships.
He keeps tabs because he wants to know what you’re doing – that knowledge helps him regain a sense of control when he feels it’s been lost.
How to deal with a controlling man
Maintaining a relationship with a controlling man can be challenging but there are ways to preserve your sanity should you decide to stay in the relationship.
If you’ve found yourself in a relationship with an overly-controlling man, it’s essential to know how to handle him and yourself.
One of the most important and effective methods of dealing with such a person is setting clear, firm boundaries.
Remember that their need for control is about their own sense of insecurity or fear of abandonment.
You’re perfectly entitled to set boundaries around people and behaviors that you will or will not tolerate, and you don’t need to feel guilty about that at all.
Maintain your support network
Don’t isolate yourself from loved ones.
When people move into a controlling relationship, they’re likely to forget about friends and family members along the way.
You may have noticed this in your friends going through the same situation. The problem is that it’s harder to see when you’re the one in the relationship.
As such, spend time with loved ones who genuinely care about you.
They’ll be able to share their insights and feelings to help you gain objectivity about the relationship.
The best way to deal with controlling people is to center yourself when you’re around them.
They may be skilled manipulators and take any opportunity to control you. If you stay mindful and grounded, fully loving and accepting of your feelings and emotions, you’ll be much harder to manipulate and control.
Healthy relationships are what we should all strive for. They are the foundation of health and happiness and fulfill our deep biological need for community.
A controlling and abusive relationship is something to avoid at all costs. They jeopardize your mental health and well-being and can lead to depression, anxiety, and isolation.
If you notice the above signs in a guy you’re dating, see them as red flags and take heed.
It’s easy to assume that you’re over-thinking, that maybe you should give him a chance or that his behavior isn’t that bad.
Check-in and see if you’re gaslighting yourself—this is a common symptom of spending too much time with a controlling person.
Leaving a controlling relationship can be hard once it’s begun. It is, of course, possible, especially when you call on the loving support of trusted friends and family, but it’s wiser to look out for the signs and avoid entering such a relationship in the first place.
Hopefully, the signs above will help you recognize toxic behavior and make healthy choices moving forward.