Recently on our legal forum a woman asked, “I have been dating my partner for 2 years. He has asked me to marry him. I come from a divorced family and want to avoid divorce. Over the years I have seen a few red flags. My family and friends are also telling me he is too controlling. Can you tell me some things I should look out for and whether my boyfriend may be too controlling?”
How do you know when a boyfriend is too controlling?
Most people can recognize outright emotional or physical abuse. Unfortunately, many people are less adept at recognizing subtle controlling behaviors that may also be destructive for a long-term relationship. While it may seem romantic for someone to have an all-consuming, passionate, and obsessive love, living with someone who can be controlling, manipulative, or who limits your independence can be difficult, especially if it’s for the next fifty years.
Signs that your boyfriend may be too controlling:
- He limits your time with your family and friends or does not let you participate in activities.
Dating someone who wants to spend time with you is great. Dating someone who limits your ability to do things on your own or who makes you feel isolated to the point that you don’t have any other friends is a problem. This is especially true if he’s allowed to hang out with his friends and make plans separately from you, but you are not.
- You have no financial autonomy.
Controlling money is one of the most common ways to control another person. If your partner limits your access to the money, doles out an allowance to you like you’re a ten year old child, doesn’t allow you to make help make decisions that affect both of you, or isn’t honest about your financial situation, he may be too controlling. Unfortunately, controlling money will keep you isolated and too dependent on him.
- Your partner does not trust you.
Although transparency is important, relationships are also built on trust. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean you are not afforded some personal privacy. Following you, demanding an accounting of where you are at all times, reading your texts, and auditing your emails is not romantic, it’s controlling.
- They are too jealous or possessive.
Everyone wants to be desired and cherished. Controlling partners, however, can become angry and jealous at the slightest provocation. Does your partner get jealous when you talk to another guy? Do they get angry when you are home late? Watch for signs that your boyfriend over reacts when you have normal contact with other men.
- Your partner throws, kicks, or punches things to intimidate or control you.
Although many controlling partners never resort to physical violence against their partners, their behaviors can be just as intimidating and damaging. In some cases, their behaviors may also be a precursor to much more destructive actions. Maybe your partner has never hit you, but has he ever grabbed, pushed or pinned you against the wall threatening violence? If he has, this should be a warning that he is too controlling.
Do not ignore red flags. If your family and friends have warned you about your boyfriend be very careful about moving forward in a permanent relationship.
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