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10 Brutal Truths About Loving A Control Freak

“It never even occurred to me, I just thought of him as a dominant partner – one who loves me,” she told me, in between muffled sobs.

Anna was telling me all about having had a control freak for a husband. Now that she had filed for divorce and was well past the effects of the heady dope of love, she could see the classic signs of control that Steve had displayed all along. The urgent pursuit, the pressure to commit, the obstinacy about leaving all details in his care, the bitterness about anything that didn’t go his way, trashing friends, exes, colleagues, the inability to handle criticism while dishing out platefuls to others… and so many more.

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“In retrospect, there were so many ominous indications; I just didn’t recognize them, she said, after taking a few sips of water. In the moment, I didn’t know how to feel about the situation. I knew that some tiny voice inside Anna’s head may have prompted her to see how Steve thought that every manager he worked under was incompetent and every woman in his life had ‘screwed him over.’ Nonetheless, I was aware how love had the power to kick all reason to the wayside and I chose to be there for my friend.

Suggested read: Are you in a controlling relationship? Read this..

Later that night as I tossed about the story and its details in my head, I realized that although a dominant head is prevalent and usually acceptable in most couple equations, an uneven distribution of power wherein a partner enjoys the thrill of being in charge and chooses to perpetuate the ‘control’ is extremely unhealthy and self-destructive. The resultant distortion can lead to disastrous consequences (as with Anna and her controlling husband) and mar all chances of ever getting the relationship on an even keel.

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There is no denying the fact that the power dynamic in a relationship always fluctuates, but a consistent crest on one person’s end and a trough on yours is reason to be worried. So, then, is it easy to set boundaries and watch out for the signs from the early stages of a relationship – deciphering all the subtle ones like backhanded compliments, slowly infiltrating your time management, work management and your finances, to inherently manipulative – like making you question the legitimacy of your needs and desires, conditioning you to feel guilty for indulging your desires, pushing you to sidetrack your preferences, and even berate yourself and causing you to believe that they have your best interests at heart before they magnify into full-fledged controlling behavior like being with a crazed maniac pushing you to do drugs or engage in violent sexual activity, cutting you off from the world, and being extremely ‘possessive’ about you and your time?

Suggested read: Are YOU your relationship’s worst enemy? Find out

In love – hardly. Take the controlling husband as a point in case. With Anna’s social relations becoming strained, people looking at her sideways, conversations with friends and family getting tense whenever the controlling husband popped up, her constant obsession with activities that required her to be by herself, her goals pushed to the backburner, denied validity, her own method of questioning her needs and desires, and her fear of the consequences of non-conformity were all signs of being with a control freak. Yet, she’d always slide in an excuse for her controlling husband. She’d dismiss all the ‘controlling’ methods deployed, since she was blindfolded by the controller’s ability to mask his ‘control’ beneath the veneer of love and having her best interests at heart. She was unable to recognize all the signs of a control freak that resided and blossomed in her controlling husband’s persona – for she believed he loved her and indeed, had her best interests at heart. Such can be the deluding power of a control freak.


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The aversive strategies used by a control freak to exert and maintain his power in a relationship – discounting (denying the importance, the magnitude, or the legitimacy of your needs, questioning their validity, and ingraining the concept in your mind so you are shamed into acquiescence), withdrawal/abandonment (using the fear of abandonment to exert control), threatening, blame-games, belittling, guilt-tripping, derailing (a covert technique that deflects the desires of the partner by changing the focus of the conversation altogether), and deprivation (the withholding of desirable outcomes so as to use control to attain one’s own ends – akin to punishment) – are THAT powerful!

So, then how is one supposed to be armed against controlling behavior in a relationship? Is there no way to read the signs early on, save oneself, and dodge the self-destructive patterns of being embroiled in the intricacies of a controlling relationship? Are there no methods to know whether a person’s behavior spells out his control freak characteristics?

Suggested read: Identify THAT abusive relationship now…

There is, indeed. I am sad that Anna and I had lost touch over the past couple of years and that I couldn’t have offered her this earlier. But for all of you who are grappling with a similar situation, wherein the danger flags are all hoisted but you are saluting them for you see them as nominals of ‘love,’ here’s what you need to read. The not-so-blatant truths about loving a control freak:

1. You will deal with a lot of dissonance

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One of the most distinctive characteristics of a control freak is incongruent behavior. Someone who is nice to you but not so much to the waiter, laughs off his racist remarks, displays a heightened level of inconsistency between his beliefs and his actions, and fails to live up to his words ever-so-often might not be who he/she seems on the outside. And you might do well to be wary of the person in question. This kind of dissonance causes everything they say or do to be suspect coz you never know which of the things they say or do is reflective of their true character or lack, thereof.

2. You will be struck with insane levels of possessiveness

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A certain level of possessiveness is warranted in all relationships. But a person who needs to dictate the ticks of the clock and be with you all the time, is resentful of your other relationships and makes you feel guilty of indulging in any other activity whilst abandoning him to his or her own company is directing you toward the writing on the wall. It’s writ in clear, lucid hand. Read it. If you have been mistaking this sort of behavior as sweet, I’d implore you to understand that this stems from a deep-seated insecurity and his tendency to see everyone you associate with as competition and therefore, begrudge a smidgen of time that you spend away by being increasingly reluctant to share you with anyone or anything is only going to get more acute and perhaps, perverse.

3. There will be an element of secrecy to their behavior

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What you don’t know can hurt you. An inherent tendency to avoid vulnerability at all costs causes control freaks to thrive on their dope of holding the reins all the time. Being vulnerable makes one susceptible to pain and that is not a desirable outcome for the control freak. As such, he will always hide parts of himself, prevent you from meeting friends and family who might let you in on apertures he has kept fast shut and will, most definitely, be concealing things that might have a deep impact on your equation. What you need to know is that while those measured doses of self-revelations might seem mysterious and alluring in the beginning- a person who withholds sharing himself can make you feel alone, even when you are together.

5. Bitterness is the air they breathe

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A surefire sign that Anna had overlooked throughout the course of her relationship with Steve, this one is a dead giveaway. If all that the person has to say about others in his life is bathed in animosity, you might do well to do a little digging yourself than take him at face value. Of course, his bitterness may be rooted in deep-seated resentments or incidents of early life- but directing it toward people for no reason than to vent is harmful to him, you and your relationship together. If he is coming home with nasty things to say about the bosses (he has switched jobs six times in the past two months!) and is always badmouthing exes- you have reason to worry!

5. They will hold you responsible for their unhappiness

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As mentioned earlier, blame-games and guilt tripping are favorite tactics of a control freak. If you are held responsible for any untoward incident in their lives (even when it isn’t remotely related to you) or are held accountable for their wavering moods too(!), you might want to tick off this sign and rethink your interpellation, dispel the illusory clouds and break free of the grip of these Machiavellian tricks.

6. And then, play martyr

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If he/she is always playing the long-suffering, anguished individual who will continue compromising or accommodating even when he is being unappreciated, or tries to impress that he/she is the only one holding work and home together when everyone around is acting incredibly selfish, impudently hedonistic, acutely frivolous and are all incompetent- you might release your end of the strings- coz he/she is controlling them and take the fall than the play!

7. You will never be good enough

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Control freaks have a way of playing upon your weaknesses and ferreting out your Achilles’ heel to hobble you with it. They will always tell you what you did wrong, their nit-picking is severe and they will attack you in ways that will have you questioning your methods. Yep, that’s their thing. These are all ways to make you doubt yourself so you can never question their perfection and be vulnerable enough to their control.

8. They hate to have their authority questioned

couple arguing over money

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Control freaks are basically ‘know-it-alls’ who take umbrage if you happen to dispute any of their contentions. They will dish out platefuls of criticism but get offended if somebody is critical of their actions. They cannot stand to be challenged lest their ‘power-house-of-cards’ comes tumbling down. This ‘my way or highway’ style of living is deployed to befit their incessant need for control.

9. Order is their anti-anxiety pill

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Their ‘way’ is always the right way of doing things and if they are feeling stressed or anxious about a turn of events that might put their control in jeopardy, they shan’t be able to relax until ‘order’ (the way they desire it) has been reinforced.

10. Your weaknesses will be their ammo

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Whilst they shall never open up their vulnerability door, they will put a foot through yours’, barge in, loot all they can and stack it away for use in war. They will use your weak points and vulnerabilities as ammo and shoot bullets right where it will hit you the most- so they can play off against your weaknesses and exploit them to their advantage- the devilish form of control. Do not be surprised if they attack your parenting skills or shoot a steady stream of invectives for your loved ones. Their ways can get extremely perverse and hurtful as their need for control amplifies. And if you decide to defy their control, they will possibly be using the master ammo next.

If the self-proclaimed ‘perfectionist’ you are with has swept you off with a charm-all-too-surreal and yet, you never quite feel yourself, watch out for these signs. If they read in ‘yay,’ Red Alert. Control freak on the loose. Confront the controller or run!

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10 Truths About Loving A Control Freak
Don't allow that control freak to turn into a controlling husband or wife. Read on to see whether you can confront the controller or take an exit.
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."