Every relationship has its quirks, but if you feel you are losing parts of yourself to satisfy someone else's constant demands, you might be in a so-called controlling relationship.
Experts call this type of controlling behavior compulsory. "It's more than just a boss," says Lisa A. Fontes, a UMass-Amherst psychology lecturer and author of Invisible Chains: overcoming compulsory control in your intimate relationship . "There really is another person who is taking over her life, and nobody should be exposed to it."
Living in a controlling relationship can damage your emotional health and even your physical health by increasing your blood pressure and triggering a headache It causes chronic back and neck pain, she says. Watch for these common signs of trouble.
Your partner is trying to keep you away from other important people in your life .
Clark University's Doctor of Psychology, Denise Hines, examines male victims of domestic violence, and one of the first things she asks is: Does your partner control how often you see your friends and colleagues? Family? Sometimes the tactics are subtle. Does your partner start a fight or a scene around your friends and family? Is it exhausting to participate in social events because of this behavior? Having your partner check your phone, email address, and social media to see who you're talking to is also problematic.
Isolation is a big red flag, because when a person loses contact with others, they lose a certain amount of energy and resources, "says Fontes. The controlling partner then sets all the rules about what love is. Another particularly damaging example: Use your children as a lever by saying something like, "You will never have access to the children again if you do not do X or stay with me, or accept the thing I want." says Fontes.
Your partner's jealousy prevents you from doing normal things.
If you can not enjoy a night without being accused of flirting, this is a problem. "We hear from men who say they're in a restaurant or at a party, and their wife or girlfriend does not let them talk to other women," Hines says. Maybe your partner does not explicitly tell you not to talk to other ladies, but when you do, she's incredibly angry. "Some men describe that they" hold their heads down "when they are on the move, so as not to give the impression of interest," says Hines.
Remember, though all people sometimes feel jealous, no one should use jealousy as a weapon to control you. " We have these cultural myths that jealousy is a sign of love, that all time must be spent in a loving relationship, that romance gives up everything for love and that these ideas are a kind of traps. Says Fontes.
Your partner controls the money.
It is normal for couples to work together in budgeting and financial planning, but it's a problem when one partner controls all the money and the other can only use a certain amount, which is inappropriate given their financial situation Hines. To express punishments and rewards is also a form of control. "That should not happen in a healthy relationship," says Fontes.
Your partner is constantly criticizing you.
Experts call this perspective. " Perspecticide is a form of collapse of another person in a relationship so that she loses her perspective, and this can include incessant or very sharp criticism," says Fontes. "If it goes back and forth then it's probably not a controlling relationship, but if the criticism goes from one person to another in one direction, then it can be." If your partner tries to humiliate you before other people, it is also a sign that he or she is trying to control you.
You feel that you are going with things because you just need to keep calm.
"When you work constantly on your days or weeks, you do things because it's just easier than coping with the other person's angry outburst, you feel controlled," says Fontes. Do you always feel close to your partner? "When a person is worried, worried, always in the presence of their partner, or always afraid of getting into trouble, these are signs of control," says Fontes. If you feel relieved by your partner during a weekend, keep this in mind.
This is obvious, but it repeats itself: if your partner beats you, throws things at you, or does anything to physically hurt you, this is an attempt to control you. Nobody should live in fear and feel intimidated or threatened by their partner.
What to do if you think your partner has control
Advice could be helpful, says Hines. (The American Psychological Association maintains a directory of psychologists online.) In her research, Hines finds that male victims of behavioral disorders tend to find individualized counseling more helpful than advising couples. Helping family and friends can sometimes be helpful, says Hines.
"When a person starts to suspect, remembering the control they are experiencing is an important first step to being less isolated," says Fontes.
If and only if you feel secure in your relationship, you may be able to address some of the controlling behaviors through conversation. You could try to say something: I do not want you to open my mail anymore. "And see what happens," says Fontes. "Is it a relationship that can change and develop or not?" You need to find out where your limits are and what you are willing to stick to. "I think it takes some self-assessment and figuring out how to live your life," says Hines.
For some men, leaving the relationship is the best option, but that's a very personal choice and can be complicated depending on your circumstances, especially if you have children with your partner, says Hines.
What to do if you think you are the controlling partner
If the characters in this article occur to you because you are the controlling partner, seek advice. "In a relationship with a woman, a man is much more controllable than a controlled one, and one way to determine if he controls his partner is to see if his partner lives in fear and if his partner becomes increasingly isolated." says Fontes.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources to help both victims and offenders abuses.