In a perfect world, relationships are fully equal. But in reality, there is usually someone who is more controlling.
Are you that person in your relationship?
You may have wondered this if your partner complained about it to you, or you noticed they feel a little uncomfortable.
Or perhaps it’s someone else who pointed something out.
They could be wrong, but they may also have a point — consider if you do these 9 things to know if you’re the controlling one in the relationship.
1) You don’t want them to see their friends or family
When you start dating someone, you accept not only them but also their close circle of family and friends into your life.
Unfortunately, these people may not click with you as well as your partner does. And as a result, you may want your partner to spend less time with their friends and family.
You may not have told them explicitly to stop hanging out with someone. But they may have picked up on your feelings even if you show them more subtly. Ask yourself:
- Do you complain about them spending too long talking to someone on the phone?
- Did you tell them you don’t like one of their friends?
- Do you say negative comments about anyone in their life?
You may do these things without even realizing it, because those people don’t sit well with you and you want to have your partner for yourself.
But you should take care to stop, because this is a sign you’re being a little too controlling.
2) You constantly criticize your partner even for small things
Just like isolating your partner from their friends, criticism can start in small subtle ways.
In fact, you may even believe that your criticism of your partner is fully called for, or that you’re just helping them be a better person.
But at the end of the day, no matter how tiny a complaint may seem individually, when you add them all up together it makes it very hard for your partner to feel loved and accepted.
You started dating your partner for who they are in the first place, not for who they can become. Everyone needs and deserves to feel validated as a person the way they are.
If you catch yourself criticizing your partner constantly, take a moment to consider if you have made unrealistic expectations for your partner, or fell into a negative pattern.
And if you realize that you really can’t accept your partner the way they are, maybe it’s time to let them find someone who can.
3) You place conditions on your love
Have you ever said something like this to your partner?
- “I love you a lot more when you help around the house.”
- “I’ll help you with the dishes if you apologize for what you said.”
- “I’m not in the mood to be intimate now — but if you keep working out, I might feel different.”
No matter what exactly you say, the underlying message is the same: right now, you are not good enough.
And it’s another sign that you’re the controlling one in the relationship.
Of course it’s true that our feelings for our partner can ebb and flow, and we may feel frustrated with them from time to time.
But withholding love from them until they do or say something specific is not fair. Everyone has free will, and must be respected for that.
4) You keep score of who did what
This is something I caught myself being guilty of a few times.
I’m a person who tries to be very fair, and I never want to put someone else at a disadvantage. But I also had many people take advantage of me in life.
As a result, I developed a tendency to keep score of what I do for people as a way to protect myself from giving too much to people who don’t appreciate it.
I’m sure this is healthy to an extent, but not if it seeps into your relationship and makes you too controlling.
Examples include keeping track of who pays for what down to the dollar, or how many times you hang out with their friends versus yours.
It also includes saying things like “I did X for you, so you should do Z for me.”
When I realized I was doing things like this, I decided to work through my past traumas and it really helped me to stop being controlling.
5) You keep very close tabs on what they are doing
Another sign you’re the controlling one in the relationship is if you keep very close tabs on your partner all the time.
This includes constantly asking them where they are, or even more explicit invasions of their privacy such as snooping through their phone.
The very extreme of this is spying on your partner, secretly following them around or asking for updates from other people they hang out with.
I know a married couple where the wife did this constantly. When her husband said he was going to visit his brother, she would always find an excuse to phone the brother and check if her husband was really with him.
Needless to say, this kind of behavior is very stressful to both people in the relationship.
Your partner will feel like they’re in a trap, and you’ll be in a constant state of alert, unable to relax.
6) You are very jealous
Jealousy is a natural part of relationships, and in healthy amounts it’s a sign that you care about your partner.
However, if you let it get too intense it becomes scary and possessive instead.
You will begin to misinterpret innocent interactions as flirting, look for reasons to be suspicious and feel threatened by anyone your partner comes into contact with.
At the end of the day, this is a problem of trust and self-confidence. Even very well-meaning people fall into this trap, and the way out is by working through the past traumas that lead you here in the first place.
It’s very important to do this because otherwise you’re being too controlling in the relationship, and will eventually push your partner away.
7) You don’t give them enough alone time
How often do you and your partner get to have some alone time?
If it’s not very often, this is another sign that might mean you’re controlling your partner too much in the relationship.
You might think your partner doesn’t want alone time. And I’m sure they love spending time with you.
But no matter how much two people love each other, everyone needs a bit of time on their own for self-care, or to get in touch with their feelings and needs.
If you struggle with this, consider the fact that self-reflection is incredibly healthy, and giving your partner space to do this can only benefit your relationship.
8) You’re not willing to consider their point of view
Let’s face it — arguments happen in every relationship. Even Cinderella and Prince Charming had fights from time to time.
What makes the difference between relationships that make it through these setbacks and ones that don’t is both people’s approach towards the conflict.
In particular, they must both hear each other out.
This tends to happen when you want to force your partner to accept your point of view, so you don’t even give them a chance to express theirs.
You may feel like you’re in the right, and you want your feelings to be heard — but if you love your partner, you must give them the same.
9) You tease them in a way that feels uncomfortable
Finally, if you tease your partner a little too much, you could be the controlling one in the relationship.
Obviously, this is all relative. Some couples tease each other a lot, and get a hoot out of it.
But with others, you can tell that someone feels uncomfortable.
This is especially the case if the teasing points out your partner’s flaws or makes them feel bad about themselves in any way.
Some people fall into this trap when there’s something they would like their partner to change, but they’re trying to put a humorous spin on it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always come across as light-hearted as you may think, and your partner will just feel upset instead of connecting the dots.
If there’s something you want to change in the relationship, it’s better to sit down for a calm and clear conversation and put ridicule aside.
Have you found you’re the controlling one in the relationship?
After reading these 9 points, you may have realized that you’re the controlling one in the relationship.
If this makes you feel upset, don’t feel bad — you’re a great person and you weren’t hurting your partner on purpose.
The first step to becoming a better partner and person is recognizing things you can do better. You’ve just done that, and now you have the power to shift the dynamic in your relationship.
With the right strategies, you can make your relationship better and stronger than it ever was before.