So we’ve all heard about boyfriends and girlfriends who are controlling. They want to control you as a person. They want to basically use you as a puppet and have no problem pulling around on your heartstrings. But what about a partner who wants to control the relationship? Now that’s a slightly more subtle way of controlling you. It’s not so much that they are bossing you around, but they are the boss of the relationship. They have all of the power. They wear the pants. And as you can imagine, it’s not a fun time. But the worst part is that you may not even realize you’re in one of these awful relationships. The signs are a lot more subtle and innocent. He’s not yelling at you on the streets or demanding that you be home right after work. But if any of these signs rings true, you might be in a relationship with someone who is in complete control. And that’s not a relationship you want to be in.
15. You Have To Check In With Him
So just like being in a relationship with someone controlling, when you’re in a relationship with someone who has complete control over the relationship, you always have to check in. Can you go grab drinks with the girls after work? You’ve got to text your man first and see if he was planning something for you. It’s not so much that you need his permission. It’s just that you honestly don’t know if he has something planned because he doesn’t bother to tell you ahead of time. And if you miss him tonight, it might be a while until he makes time for you again. So just to be safe, you run all of your plans by him. Parents want to fly you home for Christmas? You tell them to hold off until you can call your man and see what he’s planning for the holidays. You don’t want to miss out on any mistletoe kisses while you’re home with the folks.
14. He Can Have Friends. You Can’t.
Again, this one sounds a lot like a guy who is controlling. And don’t get us wrong – the guy who controls the relationship is controlling. But he’s doing it on a really subtle level. So this isn’t him telling you to your face that you aren’t allowed to have friends. In fact, if you even suggested that he would laugh at you for being ridiculous. It’s just that his friends always seem to come first. Like when he cancels on your date night last minute because Trevor wanted to go out for drinks for his birthday, he expects you to understand. In fact, he’ll even use that as an excuse. How was he supposed to know Trevor would want to do birthday drinks? It’s not like Trevor has had the same birthday every year and a favorite pub that he always invites his friends to. And it’s not like your man could’ve texted you earlier in the day to let you know. Why? Oh, y’know…cause Trevor is his best friend and well, yeah….
13. He Won’t Put A Label On It
You know your man has complete control over the relationship if he’s the one resisting putting a label on it. He won’t DTR – define the relationship. You might be hinting at it. You may have slyly asked him how he wants to be introduced to your parents. Or you may have even straight up asked him what you guys are doing. But he refuses to give you an answer. He avoids your hints. He shrugs when you ask how he wants to be introduced. And when you straight up ask him about it, he says some BS about how he doesn’t believe in labels. If your guy has done this, it’s time for you to get out. If he doesn’t want to call you his girlfriend (and you’ve been dating for a reasonable amount of time), it’s not because he’s some new age guy who doesn’t believe in the institution of relationships. It’s because he wants to keep his options open.
12. He Won’t Make Promises
A guy with all the control and power in a relationship won’t make promises because he doesn’t have to. He knows that a promise is a commitment, and clearly this guy doesn’t want to make any kind of commitment. If he did, he would be giving you power , which he will never do. So instead, he remains really vague. You mention your girlfriend’s wedding in the spring and how you have a plus one. He pretends he didn’t hear you. When you press and ask him directly if he’d want to go, he says he isn’t sure what his schedule is going to look like. Even little promises, like taking you out for your birthday or being exclusive, are hard for him to make. When you ask him about it, he’ll say some BS about not wanting to let you down. That right there is already a let down!
11. He Talks About His Family, But You’ve Never Met Them
This is one of those signs that is kind of hard to tell. At first sight, it seems like your guy is actually one of the good ones. He talks about his family with abandon and you think to yourself, “How nice! I’ve found a good wholesome family man!” But don’t let him trick you. He may talk about his family, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to meet them. He’ll even say things like how much his mom would love you or how you and his sister have the same taste in music. He’ll take you out shopping for his dad’s birthday gift. But when it comes time for him to go see his family, he’s going solo. And that’s because bringing you home would mean admitting that he’s in a relationship and starting to share the power.
10. He Makes You Wait
If he has the control in the relationship, he’s the one making you wait. You might not even realize it but look back. Are you always showing up for dates first? Do you sit at the table alone for 15 minutes because he can’t find parking, is running late or swore you said 7:30 and not 7:00? Or maybe he’s the king of rain checks. He’s constantly telling you he has to reschedule. And he even makes you wait for the little things, like texts or phone calls. Does he never text back? Or when he does, is it hours or even days later? Yeah, that’s a trend. He’s not just forgetful. He just doesn’t care. You deserve better than that. No one should be making you wait or at least not all the time.
9. He Calls Your Bluff
So by this point, you’ve had about enough. You’re waiting for him all the time. He never makes dates. You haven’t met his family. And he won’t even call you his girlfriend. So you’ve had it. You’re done. You decide you need to put your foot down. You’re going to stand up for yourself. So let’s say he texts you at 11:00 pm asking if you’re up and if he should come over. You tell him it’s kind of late. So what does he do? He calls your bluff. He writes back, “So do you want me to come over or not?” This is his power move. He knows he has the power in the relationship so he’s using it. If you’re not going to let him come over, he might go find someone else. And if he truly has that kind of control over you, you’re going to cave and tell him he can come over anyway.
8. You’re Not Sure If You Can Flirt
Because he refuses to put a label on things, you have no idea where you stand. You’re out for drinks with your co-workers and the cute guy from IT wants to buy you a drink. Should you say yes? You’re not sure! A part of you knows that you can do whatever you want. There’s no harm in saying yes. It isn’t illegal to have a drink with a cute co-worker. But another part of you feels guilty. You don’t feel right having a drink with someone else when you kind of have a thing with this guy. You assume he would be upset if he found out about this. But are you allowed to be upset if he goes out with someone? You don’t know! It’s all so confusing. And the only one with the answers is him, and he’s not giving them to you.
7. His Schedule Comes First
Everything you two do is according to his schedule. His calendar comes first. You never go out on Tuesday nights because he works early on Wednesdays. His friends get together on Fridays for baseball, so you can only go out after 9. If his buddy calls and invites him to the pub, he’s going. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of this. It’s nice that you can respect his work and hobbies and make time for his friends. But the problem is that he’s not nearly as considerate about your schedule. You work early on Mondays? Yeah, not a concern when he decides you should go see a 9:20 pm movie on Sunday. You are the one who has to bend around his schedule, never the other way around.
6. It’s All Words, No Actions
The type of guy who loves to control the relationship is a master wordsmith. He’s all about the charm. He tells you things that make you feel all warm and sweet. He lays on these really romantic lines about how soft your lips are or how good you look in his shirt. He knows the right things to say. And he may even follow through with some of the physical stuff too. He has no problem charming you and being romantic with his words and his bedroom moves. But when it comes to real life actions? Yeah, he’s out. He’s not going to be holding your hand in the streets. He may have said he’d love to wander through old bookstores in Paris with you but he’s not going to follow through and book the trip. He may have said he loves having you over at his place but he’ll be showing you the door as soon as the morning comes. This guy can talk the talk but he will never walk the walk.
5. He Keeps Hope Alive
Another classic controlling move is for this guy to do everything he can to keep hope alive. Because if he’s treating you badly and making you put up with a crappy relationship, why are you still around? Because he keeps you hoping for better. He says he isn’t ready for a commitment. So it’s time for you to walk away, right? But before you do, he says it’s because he just got over a bad break up and just needs a little time. So you hold out for that day when he is totally over the break up and ready to commit. Or he keeps canceling on dates and you’re fed up. Right before you end things, he promises that his schedule will get better once he finishes this project at work. Or if he never texts you back and you can’t stand it, he’ll remind you that he’s buying a new phone over Christmas and he’ll be a way better texter then when his phone works. This guy is keeping hope alive and making you wait for a day that is never going to come.
4. You Make All The Effort
If he’s controlling the relationship, it means he’s the boss. Which makes you the employee. And what does an employee do? They work. You’re the one putting all the work into the relationship. You have to make all the effort. You plan the dates. You make the reservations. You work around his schedule to see when he’s free. You find the only movie theatre in town that’s playing that French film he talked about a couple of weeks ago. You do your hair and buy a new dress. And then what happens? He shows up late to dinner. He’s wearing the same t-shirt you saw him in three days ago. He’s on his phone all night. And he just complains that you guys have to drive farther away to get to the movie theatre. And when it’s his turn to plan a date? Well, he’ll try to make you do it. If he has to do it, it ends up being Netflix at his house and somehow you end up in his kitchen doing the dishes or helping him fold laundry.
3. He Has Rules
Of course, the most controlling thing a guy could do would be to put down some ground rules. When we hear about rules in a relationship, we usually assume it’s rules that the girl is putting into place like no kisses until the second date. But here we’re talking about rules that a guy who is controlling the relationship is putting down. And it’s not even a fair game because he’s making up new rules all the time. Like when you brush your hand against his as you’re walking through a crowded mall and he says, “Oh, sorry. I don’t do holding hands. It’s not my thing.” Or when he asks you to come over at 11:00 pm but then tells you that he has a rule about no sleepovers. Making plans for a Saturday night? Doubt it. He has a rule about weekend dates. And all of these rules? They’re total BS. There’s no winning this game.
2. He Expects You To Always Be Available
So remember how his schedule always comes first and he’s allowed to have friends and you’re not? Right, that’s all to set it up so that you’re always available to him. If he texts you first (which rarely happens), he’s expecting you to text back. And if you don’t, he’ll take even longer on the reply to punish you. If he makes plans to see you that night, he is expecting you to drop everything to make it happen. He doesn’t care if you had plans with your friends, you should cancel them. He doesn’t care if you have a work thing, his schedule comes first. And if you really aren’t available and can’t cancel your plans, he’ll pretend it’s okay but it won’t be. He’ll punish you by not reaching out to see you or getting all passive aggressive.
1. You Feel Awful
The #1 sign that he’s controlling the relationship is that you feel bad about the whole thing. You just feel awful all of the time. And who can blame you? It’s a crappy feeling not knowing where you stand in a relationship, always having to put in all of the effort, knowing your needs come last and being jerked around. You may really like this guy or even love him. We’re sure he’s got some redeeming qualities. If he was an a**hole all of the time, you’d never be with him. But even a guy who is really hot or really funny shouldn’t get to control the relationship. You should have a say about your own relationship and your own life. He doesn’t get to have all of that power over you. Because it makes you feel sh!t++y and it makes you feel bad about yourself. That’s not what a good relationship does.
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