Relationships

Is Your Boyfriend Controlling You? Here’s What to Do

Don’t let your controlling boyfriend walk all over you. Here are some helpful tips on how you can assert yourself in a relationship.

Sometimes they don’t even know when they are being controlling in the relationship! That is the scary thing. If your guy isn’t aware of the fact that his controlling nature is a problem, he is unlikely to acknowledge it, and this is what can lead to an unhealthy relationship. Relationships should be based on open and fair communication and equality, and they should allow space for independence.

If your boyfriend is not aware of the fact that he is being controlling, then he is probably not willing to acknowledge that it is a problem. This might be because he is not intentionally trying to be top dog, he just has a controlling streak in his nature.

This may have less to do with wanting to control you as a person, and more to do with wanting to be in control of his own life and environment – which of course can affect you if you are constantly in the firing line.

The Controlling Boyfriend Checklist

It might be difficult to define whether your boyfriend is being controlling, because there are so many different types of controlling behaviour, including confrontational, aggressive and even passive aggressive behaviour.

It is very common for women in these types of relationships to question themselves because they are not sure whether or not they are imagining the problem, overreacting, or being over-sensitive. In fact, your boyfriend has probably accused you of these things many times!

If you are not sure whether or not there is a problem in your relationship that needs addressing, try answering the following questions. If you answer “yes” to most of them, you are probably dealing with a controlling boyfriend.

  • Does he delegate tasks and boss you around, but shows inflexibility and is not interested in what you have to say when it contradicts what he wants?
  • Does it feel like you are both attached at the hip, and that you have difficulty maintaining your own space and independence?
  • Have you lost touch with friends, family and personal interests you used to have?
  • Does your boyfriend set all of the rules, but often have a different set of rules for him self?
  • Does the financial situation in your relationship seem unfair? Do you feel your financial freedom is being hindered?
  • Has your boyfriend ever been physically threatening towards you?
  • Do you always have to run things by your boyfriend before you make any personal decisions?
  • Does your boyfriend have a significant effect on the way you feel about yourself, even when he is not around?
  • Does it feel like your boyfriend never acknowledges when he is wrong?
  • Do you experience your boyfriend having regular “moods,” or does he withdraw when he doesn’t like something?

Why It Is Important For YOU Not to Let Your Boyfriend Control You?

Relationship Difficulties

Good relationships are balanced and equal, with fair communication and room for independence. You might mistake your boyfriend’s controlling nature for love, and you may even feel flattered that your boyfriend is so into you, but the reality is that he is more into himself, and things can only get worse.

If you let your boyfriend get away with his controlling behaviour now, then you are reinforcing that it is okay to treat you with less respect than you deserve. The sooner you assert yourself, the sooner he is going to have to face up to his own behaviour and take notice of your needs. Remember: A man, who truly loves you, will love for who you are!

The longer you let controlling behaviour go on for, the more difficult you are making it for him to accept that he has to change the way he treats you. It is also important, and more responsible, to establish a healthy relationship before you commit too heavily to a relationship. Once you move in together, or get married, or have children, if your boyfriend is controlling, he will feel like he has even more power over you.

How Much Respect Do You Have For Yourself?

If you allow yourself to be treated badly or unfairly in a relationship, because you love your boyfriend and you don’t believe that he intentionally means to cause you any harm, you will eventually start to feel bad about yourself. By this point in your relationship the behaviour will be well-established, and breaking his bad habits will be much more of a challenge for both of you.

The more you accept your boyfriend running the show, the more you will grow to feel that your own opinions, thoughts and feelings don’t count.

You may find it more difficult to make decisions for yourself too, which can lead to you being more and more dependent upon your boyfriend – giving him even more control in the relationship!

This all equates to a lowered sense of self-respect because you won’t actively be valuing yourself as a human being, which inevitably leads to a low self-esteem.

It is surprising how quickly this kind of situation can evolve and spiral out of control, and once you lose your own sense of identity you will end up feeling trapped and unhappy. So deal with it now!

How to Assert Yourself In a Controlling Relationship

Young pensive woman talking on the phone

Take It One Step at a Time

Nothing happens overnight, especially big changes that have probably been developing gradually over a longer period of time. You can take the control back slowly though.

The trick is to focus on changing your own behaviour rather than attempting to change the behaviour of your controlling partner.

Once you start to assert yourself, your partner will have no choice but to start viewing you differently, because you will be introducing experiences in the relationship that he is not used to dealing with in a manipulative or controlling way.

Control is something that happens over time, so he won’t be able to persuade you to drop the reigns so he can lead, if you have taken them in your hands and are setting things in motion.

Bring Friends and Family Back Into Your Life 

Build a good support network so that you are not on your own and vulnerable to your boyfriend’s controlling behaviour.

It is not as easy to control someone who has her friends and family to back her up. When your boyfriend realizes that his bad behaviour isn’t kept behind closed doors anymore, he will be more likely to watch himself, and treat you better because he won’t want to look bad in front of other people.

Start to Put Yourself First

This means that YOU are your number one priority. Make sure that everything you do from now on benefits you, and if you are feeling used, or like something is not fair or equal, don’t do it; stand up for what you want.

For example, you can start small by asserting what it is that you want to watch on the TV.

You don’t have to be confrontational about it either, just bring it up in a natural way that there is something on the TV that you are looking forward to watching at a specific time, and invite your boyfriend to watch it with you.

Then you will have asserted your own choice, made a decision about watching it, and included your boyfriend so that he can get involved and enjoy something that YOU are interested in.

He may not give up the control he loves so willingly, but the more you assert yourself, the more he will realize that something has to change if he wants the relationship to work.

In fact, the more he refuses to cooperate and have an equal relationship with you, the more power he will be handing over, because eventually he will push you to the point where you can see that you are not being treated with respect, and you will see that he doesn’t really love you and that you deserve better – and that will be the moment he will have lost all control, and your love, because you will leave him.

Share Your Experiences Of Being In A Controlling Relationship

Support other readers who are dealing with controlling boyfriends by sharing your experiences in the comments section.

About the author

Scarlett Robinson

I am inspired by the ways people interact. Human behaviour and emotions are wonderfully complex, and I want to dig deeper and understand more. This is why I explore intimate relationships in my writing. (I’m also ever so slightly kinky.)

33 Comments

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  • My ex tried making me delete my social media accounts because “he didn’t like them” but wouldn’t dare delete his own. He threatened to dump me and said some crule hurtful things to me then after he tries making everything seem better and says he loves me and cares about me when minutes before he was saying how unappreciative I am and that all I want is attention.

  • My boyfriend is controlling at work and this has now spilled into our relationship. We’ve been together for 10 months, moved in together after month 2 and both of us have finally filed for divorce last month. Everyone on my side have known about him since month 2 and I had to make some hard and drastic changes for him to feel confident and secure in this relationship. He’s finally told his family and children about me 2 weeks ago and I am so very hurt at how slow he has taken. He no longer talks about marriage with me and only talks about him and his family and how great it’s going to be to have them over to “his” new place (not our new place). He gets mad at me when I get hurt over his actions…controlling!

  • my boyfriend will get upset about something that i either dont do his way, or when he asked and then hell try to make it seem like its because im inconsiderate hes taking these little disputes as far as to walk home and i stood outside his window(more than a few times) in the rain for hours just to get him to chill out and to convince him i care. i dont see how anybody could make someone stay out in the rain. his defense is he didnt ask me to stand there. This is very helpful. I hope I stick to it.

  • My ex boyfriend was controlling from day one and I happen to not realize it until months later. I lost my friends because of it and my entire young teenage year because I chose to be with someone who tried telling me what to do. Every time I went out it was him texting me asking what I’m doing and who I’m with. Zero trust zero respect

  • this is exactly what happened to me I swear omg lol. me and my boyfirned just broke up and why? because of his jealously, insecurities, and controlling behavior. I had to leave him I got tired of it. how did you know?

  • My boyfriend is JUST LIKE THIS. he bitches at me for being on facebook, which idk why it says I’m on all the time and I’m not. When we first got together all I had was guy friends, bc me and my bestfriend had a fight. I gave all of my friends up for his insecurities. And me and my best friend made up after we got together and he recently tried to make me stop communicating with her & i finally stood my ground and told him no. Im not losing her again, & def not over you!

  • My bf regularly reads my messages,checks my fb and calls and now he wants to starts making random drug tests…
    I let him all do it, and keep doing my thing ;) and never get caught!
    I already have parents,thank you very much.

  • My bf don’t give me space he wants to drive me everywhere and I can’t go out with my friends. All my friends dissapear from my life.

  • My boyfriend of almost 3 months deleted every boy off of all of my social media accounts, including my contact list. He doesn’t let me post selfies and gets very angry when i tweet things. He doesn’t let me walk home alone and gets furious when i hangout with my friends instead of him. He tells me “rules” on what to and what not to do. Also, he is mad because i am busy on his birthday and i have go to a family dinner. He is trying to convince me to hangout with him on his birthday. I have never been in this type of relationship before, i would love any advice that could be given..

  • I been with my boyfriend for almost four years and he has always been controlling, even capable of physical and verbal abuse. He even raises his voice at his mom and grandmother. During the summer that just past, I childishly left him for someone who seemed to adore me and decided to be with him, and within two months i was pregnant by this new dude. Long story short, I did not keep the pregnancy and I did not stay with this new dude. I went back to my boyfriend and now things are even more rocky. It seems the only way for him to love me is by obeying him..and I’m not even sure thats a good idea.

  • I’m 16 and I’m seeing this guy that’s 18 and he’s not even my boyfriend yet and these are some of the things he has said to me:
    – Your too skinny
    – You have to put on weight to be with me
    – You can’t show your stomach or your arms unless your with me
    – You can’t drink alcohol if you do I’ll never talk to you again
    – Rates me out of 10
    – Says I’m dumb and stupid
    – I don’t dress classy enough
    – I’m not to his level because I don’t have a job and he does
    – Doesnt let me go out with guys that are friends I’ve had for 2 years
    – Says my hairs to long
    These are just some of the things he’s said to me and I’ve only been seeing him for 2 weeks.
    He also says I can’t tell anyone about me and him yet including my best friend. He’s really nice and lovely most of the time but idk.

  • My boyfriend and i have been together for almost 2 years. We have been through many family problems together and helped each other through. His last girlfriend who he loved cheated on him, so he had trust issues, he still kind of has them but not nearly like he did. He didnt want me to have a facebook and i told him i wouldnt have one if he did so he ended up deleting his so i can. Recently we both opened them back up. He hated me hanging out with friends. But i am starting too again. He is getting better. But he and his frends think im the controlling one because whatever he wants me to do its only fiar if he does too. Like the facebook. Anyways. I dont know where to go from here. Whenever he doesnt get his way he gets mad. And acts like its ky fault. I usually cave in and just say sorry. Not today though we had the biggest fight and now he wont even talk to me at all. But how can this relationship get better if i just cave in in every fight

  • My boyfriend makes me feel like I am emotionally unstable if I get mad or hurt when he does something that bothers me. When I try to explain how I feel, he automatic gets mad and accuses me of cheating or tells me that I must want to leave him.

  • My boyfriend controlls everything i do. I cant go anywhere i want to go or do anything i want to do. We both work and have good jobs and live together so i let him have controll over all the because he pays the billa good and never spends on stupid things like me. I have alot of money saved now because of letting him keep my debit card in his wallet. We stay on a weekly budget. We go shopping alot so i have everything in the house i want and need and all the shoes and clothes and stuff i want but its getting out of hand. Im not happy at all. Sometimes i am and sometimes im not

  • My boyfriend and I have had a very bad relationship. Sounds stupid right? I should just leave then. . . Well, I can’t. I feel like there’s no where to turn. I have no home of my own, I rarely see or talk with my family and the few friends I do have has all gotten busy with their own lives because they are not wanting to know what I’m going through any longer. My boyfriend and I have had a no contact order a court date and many breaks that last a week long. He puts me down alot and even in front of his friends. His friends condone his behavior towards me which makes it worse. My boyfriend is an alcoholic, chews multiple percs at a time, has previously (or even still – who knows) been addicted to oxys.

  • I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost a year and a half now. At the begining we were infatuated with each other and he adored me for me, he made me feel perfect and always tried to make me happy. Then once he moved closer to me and we could see eachother almost every night he started to act differently. He said some of these things
    -we don’t go to parties without eachother (when in the passed he had gone to far more parties than I ever did)
    – I don’t want you wearing leggings anymore unless you’re with me ( when I always have worn them far before he came into my life and he even complimented me when I wore them and bought me a few pairs)
    – I don’t want you wearing that dress ( any dress that is above my knee he f*cking loses his mind about, so even in the summer I feel forced into long dresses and even at my grad rehearsal I felt like I was doing something wrong for wearing a beautiful modest dress) he even made a few passive aggressive comments about the pictures I posted with my friends.
    – he basically made me throw away all my friends or scared them off from aquintances, close friends to childhood bffs and even my family.
    – he recently started suffering from depression and was in a car accident a long time ago that has messed up his back. He’s not the man I fell in love with anymore.
    -he often would degrade me by calling me harsh unspeakable names, names that you don’t say to someone you love. (He wasn’t like this for a long time, but then he randomly said it and has continued to after that)
    -I love him but I’m growing miserable with my life in the peak of my youth and feel useless and hurt a lot of the time and I don’t believe or trust his apologies anymore.

  • I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 2 years. At first I thought he was really sweet and kind and he still is but we had a long distance relationship and I was young and didn’t take things seriously. Long story short I cheated on him and I told him about it thinking he would break up but he didn’t. Now a year later he constantly wants to know what I’m doing who I’m with. For gods sakes he won’t let me even hangout with my sister. I thought about breaking up but I love him with all my heart and now I’m 4 months pregnant with his baby. He has become very angry and aggressive towards me and idk what to do. I never start a fight he always finds something wrong with me and throws a fit saying he’s going to leave me. He has pushed me a couple times but nothing that bad he mostly yells at me. I feel more and more worthless each day. I want to fix this but idk how. :(

  • He controls me all the time, don’t allow me to go out with friends, reducing my social networks. He said I always stick to my phone, addicted to it and even online most of the time. This is why he wanted me to change. I understood and wanting to change my habit, I can do it myself, gave myself a limit in a day. Right now I copped it but what I realized was I started losing friends, doesn’t really talk frequently. I lost myself, this is not me. I love talking to people and he restricts me not to. He said he hurt of not listening to him. I wanted to get rid of him but for some reasons, I can’t. I’m scared too, he knows everything about me even I didn’t tell. That’s creepy. One day he gave up in this relationship and moved on. I have been suffering and now he got the other girl. He is still controlling me.

  • i dont know what to do i love him but he dosent let me to hang out with my friends i want to have him and my best friend together he just cant share me with anyone i`ve loved him so much but now im not sure if i love him like first days or not he just want me to do whatever he wants and whatever he thinks its right he is so overprotecting if you have any ideas please share with me

  • I was wondering if you ever codeinsred changing the page layout of your website? It is well written; I really like what youve got to state. But maybe you could add a little more in the way of written content so people can connect to it better. You have got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you can space it out better?

  • This has to be the most superficial article about a potentially abusive situation ever.. If you don’t feel like you can pick your own TV show both you and your boyfriend need serious counseling.

  • I love my boyfriend so much. But that the problem. He way too much controlling me. Im hoping that one day he will change when he feel that my love for him will not waver but i was wrong. Its getting more serious. Idk what to do. I love him, but im also unhappy as he wont let me do my things. I cant hang out with my friends anymore and he just want me to hang out with him all the time??

  • I have a boyfriend and he is controlling .. I tried telling him that he is and I try to stand up for what I want and like . For ex makeup I enjoy makeup and he tells me when can or can’t wear it . Also with clothes and friends and family but I tell him he has to change in order for our relationship to grow and he said he can’t because that’s the way he is ” is there another way I can try to help him or let him understand ? Or should I just end it ..

  • I have been with my bf for going on 3 years… At first it was like everything I ever wanted but as the years progressed i saw a side of him that I don’t like very much. I have 2 children from a previous relationship and they are attached to him… Its gotten to the point where he controls what i wear and says I’m not allowed to wear make up… I cant even walk to the corner store or take the kids to the park by myself or with out his permission… I know i have done things to make him question me but i feel like its getting to be to much…I cant have friends or let alone go talk to my mom or sisters with out asking him permission to… I love him I really do and its just getting to be to much… He hangs out with his family when he wants… i tried to do the same with him to show him how it feels but he blanks out an storms out…what should i do… I’m so confused…

  • ive been with my boyfriend for two years and all of this was true. Its a painful relationship and i hope to god this works. I love him and want him to realize im his. Hes so caught up on losing me that hes holding too tight. So tight that i cant breath and hes taking all the air in for himself.
    Its time a stop and take a deep breath. Im gonna distance myself from him and do as i please. Of course, while thinking of him. Im not going to just go out of my way and hurt him. I want this control to end not worsen.
    ladies, please know you’re 100% the priority in your relationship. Never let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. Im not one for the gooshy mooshy comments, but no girl should be put through this. Fight it, keep it, feel it getting better.

  • SERIOUSLY nothing is worst than this,, if you have controlling boyfriend…. at one point of time you will loose yourself an this relationship too.. you will start thinking as if u are wrong.. i have experienced it… my boyfriend was like this only,, he was not comfortable if i am using social media… putting pictures of myself.. taking with my male/female friends.. even if i m uploading pics with them…to whom i am talking too.. to whom i am messaging.. i felt like i m in trap.. and some police-thief game is going on.. i was so lost into him.. and i used to cry.. then i finally decided ill live the way i want. he has to accept me the way i am.. and if he cant.. then there is no point to be with him. if ill loose myself..then how ill live.

  • I’ve been with my bf for 4 years on and off,I love him to bits more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my entire life BUT as times gone on because my parents don’t like him because he’s threaten me before and my dad too also he’s thrown my house keys down the drain,slept with one of my friends,called me his ex names,tells me my private parts don’t smell nice,that he wants to f** me like a dirt,he smells his fingers when I turn over in bed,he’s unfortunately made me lose my job with my mum which I’ve worked at for 12 years because he’s getting into my head that she’s controlling me,now my whole family arnt speaking to me I’ve missed my first Xmas and new year with them in 28 years my dad is gutted I really want my family back but I’m too scared to leave him because I’m afraid il want him back,he lives with me so I’m scared to make him leave because he won’t have any where to go and he wil shout at me and tel me it’s all my own fault! For the time being I’ve been working in a pub which is literally 40 seconds away from my house to help us pay the bills which is important to me but he’s slowly getting angry every time I tel him I’m going to work he thinks I’m flirting or talking to other men which is really not the case I want us to have a happy life! Really what can I do? I’m so upset but can’t find it in my self to tell anyone that I no because I no they don’t really care because it’s not there life I can’t go to my mum wel I can but I don’t want to yet! :((((

  • My boyfriend and I have been together for one year. During that one year, he has been verbally abusive and also emotional abusive. So I was around 51-52kgs when we started dating. Then 3 months in the relationship I got pregnant. I had gained weight during that time and had gained even more after my abortion. He would always say I was fat, I need to lose weight etc. Then right after that he would say I look good the way I am. He’d also get mad whenever I said I was going out to meet friends. And my pay checks don’t even feel like its my own anymore. I can’t do anything without him getting mad. But I can’t get mad at him when he does things that aren’t right. He will always set rules for me but never follow it himself and recently what made me upset is that he likes to manipulate what I say in arguments such as: we would have a little disagreement over something small, like I didn’t help him hang the washing as I said I would but instead I cleaned the bathroom since I thought that a grown man doesn’t need my help to hand washing. So he got angry over that and I kept on explaining it to him. Then he would always reply with “is this how you treat me? “, “you said you’d come so why? “, “why can’t you just listen”, “just be a good girl Okay”. In the end he will always bring up other things not related to what we were arguing about and at the end I would always be crying because I don’t know what to do and Bc I don’t like fighting with him. And he would always treat me nice after just yelling at me. I hope someone is reading this because I have no one to tell this too….. Thanks…..

    • I hope you’re seeing this. You’re not alone. I’ve been w my bf for almost 2 years. He’s actually a good person when he’s not treating me horrible. I work, I have a decent job but he gets jealous of it. He makes really good $ and reminds me constantly and likes to brag to everyone how he supports me. We do live together so we have joint bills. Luckily no kids together. He has teenage sons and I have 2 little girls. Everything is a competition to him w the kids. He constantly picks at my girls and hates that I get along w thier father. His ex is not nice so he’s jealous I have a good ex and he doesn’t. He constantly says my kids are perfect but in a bad way. He accuses me of cheating constantly. At work. At home. I can’t go to the gym. I can hardly go to the store without being accused of cheating. He calls me names almost every day. Even when he is asleep bc he talks in his sleep. I’m a whore and slut and dumb bitch. I recently was going to my mom’s for dinner and he was out of town and I ended up not going bc he threw such a fit. So needless to say I can’t do anything w my mom without getting accused of something. He accuses me of cheating w every male in my life even my step brother. I can’t even hang out w his family. He has all sister’s. He will tell me to go see them but then gets mad and says I’m cheating. I don’t have any friends and it’s my fault for letting it get to this. I had to get rid of Facebook. I have Instagram but I’ve deleted almost all the guys off of it. The few that i still have if they like anything I’m cheating with them. Usually we cannot even ride down the road w our him saying you want that guy there don’t you. I used to look straight ahead but now I don’t even care. He’s been cheated on in the past but this is beyond me and over my head. This is insane. It’ll get better then bad again. He’s out of town for work alot and expects to be on the phone w me for the entire time I’m awake. If not he gets very angry. Threatens me w so much all the time. I cannot even go to a 50 year old couples pool with 2 young daughters without him. He accuses me of cheating w thier uncle. I’m in a mess and know I am. I have been divorced once and had courage to leave. I need to do the same here and I have no one to confide in…

      • Sweetie so sorry, you better devorce because life will passyou by n regret it later, You will be fine dont judge your self by past experiences.

        Remember there people out there who loves you unconditionally ,contrally to that jerk!

  • I have been there , it is suffocating!! This type of guys make you worry even if he is not arround !! Better leave because they will never change , they love controlling!!
    I have one year since i left him and i feel amzing!