Has a friend or partner accused you of being controlling? And you don't know what they are talking about?

Control means we get someone to do what we want. And it's not always obvious. We often gain control in subtle, underhanded ways.

How might you be secretly controlling your relationship?

1. You are so nice to your partner and do anything to make them happy.

Being nice is a natural, instinctive response, that we hardly need to think about as it comes from overflow. We are confident in ourselves, and don’t lose anything by giving.

If you are conscious about how giving you are, and exactly what you give, then it's about pleasing, not being nice.

Pleasing comes from lack. We lack a sense of self and of worth, and we please to push the other to give us the love and approval we can't find inside. It's control in a pretty dress.

2. You take perfect care of them.

Yes, in a relationship we care for each other. But if we take perfect care of someone without even asking if they need all our help, or at the expense of taking great care of ourselves? It’s codependency.

Codependency involves forcing the other person to love and need you by making yourself indispensable.

3. You always have some major issue going on you need help with.

We all have things go wrong now and then. But if we always have one endless drama after the other, then often it’s as we are unconsciously choosing to create it. We make the choices that create the drama and avoid the choices that lead to calm.

Why? So we can control our partner’s attentions. Get more of it. Keep them sucked into our orbit. If they refuse, given how much we are struggling with, they'll look mean.

4. You are hopeless without your partner.

If you notice that you are independent when by yourself, but become suddenly hopeless and needy in relationships, you are controlling your partner. Playing at being helpless is your way of forcing them to give you attention and devote more time to you.

But who would you be without them? How about an adult learning to stand on their own two feet, and investing in their own personal power?

5. You make endless sacrifices for the relationship.

You moved in with them and gave up an apartment you loved, quit your job to work closer to them, stopped going to see your own family at holidays to be with theirs, see your friends less to have more time together.

If your partner pushed you into any of that, then they are controlling and it's a set of red flags to take seriously.

But be honest. If these are choices you made, and if during fights you point out ‘how much you have sacrificed to be with them’? Then it’s a form of control.

You are using guilt to keep them in a state of ‘owing’ you, by making sacrifices nobody even asked for.

But aren't these behaviours normal in relationships?

They are certainly behaviours film and TV shows might normalise, and online relationship advice can encourage. But they are not healthy.

Love is not about 'being lost without someone' or needing endless attention. It's about running your life in a happy parallel line with someone else. You can both take care of yourselves, and have your own lives, but you choose to depend on each other and support each other. Not because you need to, but as you want to.

Need help to give up your controlling ways that leave you lonely? Book a therapist now and start learning new and healthier ways to relate.

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