They could be your partners or spouses, your bosses or colleagues, your parents or grandparents–controlling people are all over, living amongst us.
Hence, it’s wise to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to handle these types of folks.
People are controlling for different reasons, from their upbringing to personality disorders.
Regardless, the fact remains: controlling tendencies can be potentially harmful.
The good news is, once you recognize the signs, you can effectively nip things in the bud… before they get out of hand.
Let’s get to it!
1) They resist change
Here’s the thing: controlling people are averse to the concept of change.
They’re strong advocates of the philosophy “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But the thing is, even if it is broken, they often will refuse to budge.
They have a highly rigid way of doing things, and are often resistant to new methods, even if embracing change can clearly make life easier.
My girlfriend’s dad is wary of all things online–he doesn’t understand it, hence he paints the entire internet with the same brush.
According to him, everything virtual from Uber to Google to online shopping with a credit card is a “scam.”
In short, concepts he cannot readily grasp are deemed out of his control and therefore shunned.
And guess what? He’s notorious within his own family for being a control freak.
2) They micro-manage
Just a piece of advice for if you decide to start a business one day: There’s no faster way to alienate your staff than micromanaging them.
The controlling individual will want to be a part of every minor decision and situation at the workplace.
They tend not to trust others to handle things with the same competence as them.
This is not only demeaning to the employee but also a surefire route to low workplace morale.
3) They can be very inflexible
Once the controller has made up their mind about a certain issue, it’ll take some herculean arguments to have them compromise or understand alternative points of view.
In essence, it’s their way or the highway.
Think of the overbearing parent who will not let their son or daughter date outside of a certain race, gender, or class.
I think we all know a few people like that have had to live through this; i.e. pretty much getting disowned from family for pursuing a forbidden romance.
Listen, this isn’t just about wanting the best for your kids–having such an unyielding view of change can be an abuse of power; not to mention, a toxic level of control.
4) They have an excessive need for updates
In the context of a relationship, if you value independence, then being with a controlling partner simply isn’t for you.
Don’t expect a night out or trip with friends without constantly being surveilled by them.
They will likely interrogate you like the FBI–they’ll demand to know who you are with, where you are, what you’re doing, what exact time you’ll get home, and so on.
For the controller, the more vivid the details, the better.
They fear your independence and your being with other people for prolonged periods of time, as that might sway you from their control–their worst nightmare.
Ironically, this is also the type of red flag behavior that will drive a partner away.
5) They use guilt to manipulate
When you do act for yourself, expect the controller’s feathers to get a little ruffled.
As a coping mechanism, they’ll subconsciously turn to guilt to further manipulate you.
They might assume the role of the victim, twisting reality and facts to make you pity them and bend to their controlling ways.
Trust your gut.
If you feel something’s off, then it’s time to put your foot down.
Once a controller knows they can get away with certain bad behaviors, they won’t stop.
6) They make decisions for you
One of the hallmarks of a controlling person is that they lack respect for other people.
They may deny it, but by wanting to control you, they are stripping away your individuality as a person.
As established, they want you to be almost exclusively dependent on them.
Hence, they will not often hesitate to make decisions on your behalf, typically without even consulting you first.
Think of the rigid parents who have decided their child’s future for them–what college they’ll go to, what degree they’ll pursue, who they’ll marry, completely disregarding their autonomy as a living, breathing person.
Believe it or not, these types of people still very much exist.
7) They are over-dependent on routines
Real talk: Controlling people tend to be inclined towards order–more specifically, their type of order.
Perhaps, they have stern routines and are uncompromising about it.
If there is a deviation, this almost always induces a negative reaction; they’ll get disturbed, angry, and disoriented by the sudden turn of events.
All his life, my late grandfather ate three meals a day, at exactly the same times.
Breakfast at 9 am, lunch at 1:30 pm, dinner, at 8 pm.
Even when he wasn’t physically hungry, he’d still convince himself that it was time to eat.
If, for instance, a family member suggested we dine at an earlier hour, his irritated and confused demeanor would surface.
Occasionally, he’d lash out at whoever got in his way.
In the summers, we’d often plan family trips together.
To his credit, my grandfather would often foot the bill for these excursions.
But like a drill sergeant taking attendance, he would make sure all of us were present for things before boarding that plane or train.
If, for instance, one of his kids couldn’t make it regardless of how logical their reasoning was, he would cancel the trip completely, regardless if it was paid for or not.
100% attendance or no trip–this was his mentality.
Although I could never really put a finger on this rationale, one thing was for sure: he was a deeply controlling individual.
Contrary to popular belief, controlling people can change.
If you have a controlling person in your life, start with a gentle approach.
Articulate with kindness how their behavior affects others.
Chances are, they aren’t even aware of it.
Maybe they’ve been so caught up in their ways, that they need someone they care about to communicate these shortcomings with them with clarity.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to change.
If that doesn’t work, then it might be time to seriously reevaluate things.
So whether you’re in a relationship or friends or family with a controlling person, it may be in your best interests to start distancing yourself.
Your mental health is at stake.