This article will highlight two relationship red flags, which go hand in hand. The accompanying video can be found here.
Let’s jump right in …
1. They attempt to control what you do, where you go, and who you spend time with.
They question why you want to spend time with other people, including known friends and family. They may intentionally ask you to go out with them knowing you have plans, for example, to attend a pre-scheduled family dinner. They attempt to make you feel guilty for keeping your plans and say you’re choosing other people over them. They may constantly call or text you when you’re with friends or family, not caring they’re taking your time away from other people in your life.
They want to know where you are and what you’re doing all the time. They may even keep record of where you say you’re going and who you’re spending time with. They become upset when you spend time with others because they either want you to be with them, in constant contact with them, or home alone. They become upset if you miss answering one of their calls or texts and later accuse you of hiding something from them versus understanding you have a life to live; you could have been in the shower, in a store, on another call, taking a nap, fixing dinner, etc.
They attempt to drive a wedge between you and other people in your life. Their goal is to make themselves the most significant person in your life. If you share a situation with them and they don’t like the outcome, they may speak badly about the other person. They attempt to place others in a bad light in your mind, and make you question your friendships and relationships. If they can manipulate you into thinking negatively about a person, you may eventually decide to not communicate or spend time with that person.
They try to make you feel guilty for spending time with others even when you don’t have anything planned with them. They’d much rather you stay home alone in the mental box they’re building for you. There are several methods they’ll use in attempts to squeeze you into their box:
- Gaslight you; make you think you’re crazy for questioning their behavior toward you.
- Use ultimatums; threaten to end the relationship if you don’t do what they want you to.
- Manipulate you by twisting your words; insist you said something you didn’t.
- Live a double-standard and act like it’s okay; they believe they can come and go as they please without any regard for your feelings or desires and get upset if you question them about it.
- Never accept responsibility for their own actions; they blame you for their choices and everything they say is wrong in the relationship.
- Keep score of what they think you’ve done wrong; they bring up things you two have already talked about and resolved as if it’s a current issue.
- Keep important information from you; they hide things they know you’d question them about or things you wouldn’t approve of.
- Be secretive and lack integrity; they delete texts and emails they receive from other people, shield their phone when it rings, or take phone calls in a room away from you, etc.
2. They lack trust and demand your phone, email, and social media passwords.
A person is sometimes controlling due to having trust issues. They’ll say they don’t trust you, when it’s an issue within their own mind from something that happened in their past they have yet to deal with. They may demand access to your social media accounts, phone, and emails; or they may hack into your phone.
A lack of trust in you and the relationship is sometimes due to them not being honest with themselves, about who they are, and believing if you found out you’d end the relationship. They live a life of pretending to be who they think you want them to be. OR they live according to a faulty perception of themselves, which may be indicative of a narcissistic person or someone with other mental health or personality disorders. This person isn’t capable of being honest with you because they’re not honest with themselves. They may have unresolved childhood or young adulthood trauma and have learned to behave the way they currently do in order to have their perceived needs met. They may or may not realize they’re this way.
It makes sense that a person who feels unsure about themselves will question the validity of a relationship and seek constant reassurance from you that things are okay and you do deeply care for them. Ironically, while they’re seeking to gain emotional strength from you, they’re unable to contribute to the health of the relationship.
It can become emotionally draining for you to continue putting work into the relationship when the other person isn’t. You’ll likely start to feel the relationship is one-sided and that your efforts aren’t reciprocated.
The best thing you can do is end the relationship as soon as you see these red flags creeping in. The relationship will not be a healthy one if the controlling person doesn’t make positive internal changes. Professional counseling is a great way for them to learn about themselves, their controlling behavior, understand why they have trust issues, resolve their childhood trauma, unlearn bad behaviors, learn effective coping skills, and learn healthy ways to express themselves to have their needs met.
Comments are always welcome and I’d love to read your experiences regarding the red flags mentioned in this article. Have you behaved in ways described in this article? If so, how did you overcome them? What advice do you have for people who are controlling or are the ones being controlled?
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