Don’t put up with your controlling partner

By Sophia Lawrence

Of course it starts out OK. You find it cute that she is so clingy, it makes you feel wanted. It makes you feel special. But then the clinginess becomes wearing. And the questions start coming:

Who are you texting?
Who liked your Instagram?
Who is that girl at work?

Maybe she criticises you constantly or hurls thinly veiled threats. She purrs that it’s a good thing that you are with her, as no-one else can love you like she does, but it just crushes your confidence. You find all your plans changing to fit around her last-minute crisis. You never see your friends. She says she can’t cope if you leave her. You feel trapped.

This sounds like a controlling relationship.

It may seem hard to admit it, but some relationships just aren’t healthy. If you feel like your partner is controlling too much of your life, and isn’t prepared to change, it may be time to call it off.

A healthy relationship will have its ups and downs, but it won’t make you feel like you are being slowly strangled. Your partner should encourage and celebrate you, and also be prepared to make sacrifices for you. If you are in a flourishing relationship you will also recognise that sometimes it’s OK for you to be apart, do your own thing, and have your own friends.

If your other half wants you to become a social recluse, and only spend time with them, alarm bells should start ringing.

If they ask you excessive questions, and don’t believe the answers you give them, you may want to ask yourself if you can put up with this in the long term.

If your significant other is continually fuelled by jealousy and paranoia, it may be time to stand up for yourself and move on.

In all relationships, compromise is required by both sides. You know that you can’t get your own way all the time.  Doing what your partner wants sometimes, when they return it by letting you choose you at other times, isn’t a controlling relationship. Make sure you are prepared to let things go and don’t throw a hissy fit every time your S.O. makes a request.

However, there are times when the balance is tipped to one side only.  If your partner can’t take any form of disagreement, or makes you feel unsafe, this is not OK. If your partner continually excuses their controlling behaviour and doesn’t make any moves to apologise or change, it may be time to act.

Talk to someone you know and trust. Try and describe as accurately and as neutrally as you can some of their specific behavioural patterns and how that makes you feel. Maybe mention how your partner made promises to change but hasn’t. Explain how you feel scared to confront them, or to disagree with what they say. If crying and arguing are a daily occurrence, even about the smallest things, remind yourself that this doesn’t have to be the case.

Emotional manipulation or threatening behaviour are not the basis for a firm and flourishing relationship.

Your partner may have a tighter control of the reins that you realise. Remember, as hard as a break up may be, it may be better than a controlling relationship that is sucking you dry.

You deserve to be celebrated and cared for. Your voice needs to be heard and you shouldn’t be being controlled. You are not their pet and they are not your parent. They don’t have a right to constantly tell you what to do. Decision making should be a joint process. Even if you really like them, they can’t always call the shots.

If you don’t feel safe, and they aren’t prepared to change, maybe it’s time to move on.


We know that this article include some sensitive issues, that many people are affected by. If you would like to talk to someone, or need any advice, please visit our Get Help page.

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