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5 Signs Your Are in a Controlling Relationship
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5 Signs Your Are in a Controlling Relationship

By Pamela Shenk, CHt


Many of us visualize a controlling partner as someone who openly degrades others or who makes threats. While these signs can be an indication of trouble, there are additional signs that may be so surprisingly subtle that you may not detect them at all. This is because most controlling people have an entire arsenal of weapons that they use. Sometimes they are so effective at manipulation, the controlled partner believes that they are the villain. It’s no wonder that toxic relationships can sneak up on almost anyone—whether you realize it or not.


I found this quick quiz online written by Dr. Judith Orloff, MD, in her book Emotional Freedom.  I encourage you to take it to see if you are in a relationship with a controller. These 5 questions can help you to determine if you are in an unhealthy relationship.

1.     Does this person keep claiming to know what’s best for you?

2.     Do you typically have to do things his/her way?

3.     Is he/she so domineering you feel suffocated?

4.     Do you feel like you’re held prisoner to this person’s rigid sense of order?

5.     Is this relationship no fun because it lacks spontaneity?


If you answer “yes” to 1-2 questions, it’s likely your dealing with a controller. Responding yes to 3 or more questions suggests that a controller is violating your emotional freedom.


So, what do you do? When you’re dealing with a controller or anyone, allow your opinion to be heard, but don’t tell them what to do. You can honor your opinion by being assertive and confident. Often I say, “the reason we have vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream is that everyone likes a different flavor.  In life, it is the same – we all have our own opinion. Most things in life aren’t right or wrong, they’re just a difference of opinion”.


Often a controlling person will ask you a question, but not even give you time to answer. Or, if you start to answer and your opinion is different than theirs, they will cut you off.

Stand your ground and say, “excuse me, you asked for my opinion, I would like to explain how I feel about this.”


Should you have a boss who is controlling and a perfectionist, understand that there are limitations. You aren’t going to change your boss or anyone else, for that matter. The only person you can control is you. In this case, you need to understand that this is his/her personality. If it becomes too much for you, then you might want to start looking for a new job. However, there are often ways you can find a way to work with this person. 


Knowing how to recognize the controller, allows you to choose how you want to interact with them. Often, the person that feels out of control tends to become the controller. Once you know how to spot the controller and how they operate, you can choose how you wish to interact with them.