13 Signs Your Partner Is Controlling You

Written by Harini Natarajan

Do you feel your partner is overly possessive? Do they make you feel insignificant just to get their way? If you answered ‘yes’ to both those questions, chances are high that you are in a relationship with a controlling partner. This is a toxic relationship with major red flags. If you remain in this relationship, things might even take a violent turn. In this article, we break down what constitutes a controlling relationship and who is a controlling partner. We also add in some tips to help you get out of such a relationship

What Is A Controlling Relationship?

A relationship where one partner holds the reins constantly and aggressively is called a controlling relationship. The controlling partner tends to always find fault with their other half. The controlling partner guilt-trips the other partner to get their way. They may disregard the other partner’s opinions or feelings consistently. The relationship often feels draining.

Age, gender, and sexual orientation do not play a role in deciding who is the controlling partner. The controlling partner may become violent when the other partner does not listen to them. It is clearly a toxic relationship.

Controlling partners manipulate the emotions of the other partner. They do this seamlessly, often using guilt to get their way. They may also mock the other partner when the latter disagrees with them.

Here are some signs that you may be in a controlling relationship.

Signs Of A Controlling Relationship

1. They Keep You Isolated

One of the most prominent signs of a controlling partner is that they try to keep you to themselves. They’ll keep you isolated from your family and friends. While this might not be done out rightly, there are a few subtle hints. If your partner keeps complaining when you speak to your friends or family, it could be a red flag. Another sign is if they blatantly ask you to stop talking to close friends. The aim of this is to increase your dependence on them and isolate you from your friends and family.

2. They Keep A Constant Eye On You

If your partner is extremely particular about where you go and when you get back, it is a sign that they are controlling. They keep tabs on when you go out and how long you spend with your friends or family. They admonish you for spending quality time with others. It feels like you have a curfew that you need to stick to.

3. They Keep A Track Record

A controlling partner keeps track of all your mistakes. They reprimand you constantly for them. But on the other hand, they praise themselves for all the things they do for you. In a healthy relationship, both partners encourage and forgive each other and do not take small arguments seriously.

4. They Violate Your Boundaries

A controlling partner tends to keep tabs on you to the point of even spying on your daily activities. They see no fault in checking your phone without permission or hack into your email accounts. They may snoop around in your stuff and even follow you when you go out. They’ll make you believe that you have to share everything with them right from the start.

5. They Disregard Your Opinion

Another sign of a controlling partner is that they make you believe that your opinion does not count. They belittle and even joke about your opinions. This is especially true when your opinions don’t align with theirs.

6. They Criticize Everything You Do

If your partner constantly criticizes you for everything you do, that’s a sign of a controlling partner. They might pass it off as a valid criticism, but it stands to reason that if they find fault with everything you do, that’s a problem.

7. Verbal Abuse

Most people consider physical threats as a red flag, but verbal abuse is just as bad. If your partner constantly threatens to leave you or harm themselves to get their own way, it’s a bad sign. Verbal abuse can be mentally and emotionally draining. Another sign is your partner constantly using foul language directed at you.

8. Acceptance On A Conditional Basis

If your partner only appreciates you when you do something for them, it’s a red flag. Love should be freely given, without any strings attached. If your partner is constantly sending you messages that you need to change in order to win favor with them, that’s wrong.

9. They Send You On Regular Guilt Trips

If your partner makes you feel like you treat them terribly, it’s a sign of a controlling relationship. They keep track of your daily activities and use it to guilt-trip you. This is a way to silence you while getting their way.

10. They Are Jealous And Paranoid

If your partner is jealous of everyone you hang out with, it’s an issue. If they think that every interaction of yours with other people is promiscuous, it’s a big red flag. They may also go far enough to follow you, giving in to their paranoia.

11. They Disregard Your Need For Personal Space

Every time you try to take time for yourself, your partner acts like that’s a problem. Stripping you of your “me” time is a manipulative way to drain you and get their way. It can also be seen as a method of increasing your dependency on them, so you’ll be less likely to leave.

12. Forced Sexual Encounters

If your partner is demanding sex from you, even when you don’t feel up to it, it’s a big red flag. This may also be seen as uncomfortable sexual encounters. If you feel upset after most of your sexual interactions, it could be because your partner is controlling even the bedroom activities.

13. Professional Insecurity

If your partner is insecure about your successful career, it’s a bad sign. In a healthy relationship, both partners build each other up professionally. In a one-sided controlling relationship, the partner may even try to make you quit your job to make themselves feel better.

To make things even clearer, here is a questionnaire that you can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to. It will help you determine if your partner is controlling (1).

The Yes Or No Checklist

  1. Does your partner try to isolate you and keep you away from other people?
  2. Does your partner try to keep you from leaving the house, joining organizations, working, or furthering your education?
  3. Does your partner limit or monitor your phone conversations, social media use, email, or mail?
  4. Does your partner try to find out what you have done and where you have been in a way that feels like “too much?” Does your partner spy on you or stalk you?
  5. Does your partner try to control your personal activities, such as your hobbies and interests and what you wear?
  6. Does your partner try to control your access to resources such as money or transportation?
  7. Does your partner make you feel afraid by shouting, swearing, name-calling, or insulting you?
  8. Does your partner try to control aspects of your health or body in ways that are harmful to you, such as making demands regarding your: eating or weight, sleeping, bathing, or using the bathroom?
  9. Does your partner try to block you from taking prescription drugs that you need, going for medical care, seeing a therapist, or exercising?
  10. Does your partner push you to use substances such as street drugs, prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, or more alcohol than you want?
  11. Does your partner push you to change your body in ways you’d rather not, such as getting tattoos or piercings, or cosmetic surgery?
  12. Does your partner push or force you sexually, and are you unable to speak your mind about sex? Does your partner push you to avoid practicing safe sex? Does your partner push you to take sexual pictures or videos?
  13. Does your partner block your efforts to separate or leave the relationship?
  14. Does your partner block your efforts to speak about things that matter to you?
  15. If you have children, does your partner try to control or harm your relationship with the children?
  16. Does your partner throw, kick or punch things, slam doors or stomp around to intimidate you? Does your partner grab or push you, get in your face, corner you, or pin you against a wall?
  17. Does your partner refuse to speak with you for long periods of time?
  18. Does your partner threaten you?
  19. Does your partner hurt you physically? Does your partner threaten you with guns or other weapons? Does your partner threaten suicide?
  20. Does your partner punish you or deliberately harm you?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you’re in a controlling relationship. Here are some tips to help you.

What Can You Do About It?

  • Don’t lose touch with your friends and family.
  • Have a self-care plan. Often in controlling relationships, stress can deteriorate your mental and emotional health. Exercise often, eat healthy, and meditate.
  • Be open to talking to a therapist. If your partner is willing, talk to a therapist together. On a side note: a controlling partner might not be fine with you seeing a therapist. They might even make you feel bad for seeking help. Keep in mind that you don’t have to tell your partner about your therapy sessions.
  • This is very important – be open to ending the relationship. While it may seem difficult, it will benefit you in the long run. Staying in a toxic relationship will harm you. It’s better to get out as soon as possible.
  • Once you decide to leave the relationship, your partner might make promises to change. This may just be a way of keeping you in the relationship. You might have to put your foot down.
  • If your partner is showing signs of anger or violence against you, leave that relationship without looking back. A controlling partner could easily begin physically abusing you to show their superiority or to make you listen to them. Get out before it’s too late and something terrible happens.

Maybe you read the signs and realized that you, in fact, are the controlling partner. If you want to change that, here are some tips to help you.

What To Do If You Are The Controlling Partner

  1. Be open to talking things out and listening to your partner’s point of view.
  2. Always build and encourage your partner rather than bringing them down.
  3. Don’t keep a record of mistakes that your partner has already apologized for.
  4. Don’t only show acceptance when your partner pleases you. Try to constantly show them and tell them you love them.
  5. When you and your partner are having a serious discussion, listen to them without interrupting them. Listen to what they have to say without becoming defensive or angry. If you feel that you are angry, take some time out and get back to the conversation with a cool head.
  6. Do not, under any circumstances, become violent with your partner.
  7. Accept that your partner needs their space, and do not spy on them.
  8. Talk to a therapist to sort out some of your controlling issues.


At the end of the day, if your partner does not make you feel safe and heard, it is a huge issue. Remaining in a relationship with a controlling partner is unsafe for your mental and physical well-being. You never know when things will take a drastic turn. It’s important that you know and are ready to cut the cord from that relationship. Being in such a relationship will leave you mentally, emotionally, and physically drained out.

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As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.