You can meet controlling people in many areas of your life. In your romantic relationship, at your workplace, in your family. Sometimes it can be tricky to realize that you are facing one, as it can be misunderstood as a type of caring, showing interest or helping.
But all in all, what you can feel – deep inside yourself – is that being on the long run with this person makes you feel somehow uncomfortable. Even suffocating. It changes your life a big time – and not in the good sense. Maybe you feel that you want out from this connection, you want to run as far as possible, the soonest possible.
This is the sign, that someone is pushing you and controlling you in ways that is not good for you. At all.
The controlling person in a relationship
Being a woman, I feel it most credible and authentic if I talk about a controlling partner from my point of view, this person being a man. But this definitely doesn’t mean that women do not do the same with their partners!
One type of a controlling man in your life exists even before it would be a real fulfilled relationship. He pops up in your life from time to time, whenever it is convenient for him, whenever he feels the need from his own end. At these occasions he wants to know all about you. What you have been doing, where you have been, with whom you have been there. He wants to make sure that he is aware of all the minutes of your time.
And this happens while you and him are not even in a relationship.
You can find this as a nice gesture of him being interested in you, of course.
But this is the trick. Because it is not about that.
If he was really interested in you, he would be there with you, spending time with you, making things happen the way it is good for you. But this person is just too much concerned about being in control, about his own particular needs. He wants to know, that he could have you. But he actually does not make a move to make it happen.
It is just a psychological game. Conscious or not, that doesn’t matter. Most probably he has various women around him in his control bucket or let’s call it control household – and he is absolutely fine with that.
This is the kind of man-woman connection, that most probably would be better off without being fulfilled.
The other type of controlling man exists in a fulfilled relationship. He is already your boyfriend, husband.
He is the one, who is always there where you are. Saying that because he wants to be with you, because he loves you so much. He says that he wants the best for you and this is why he never leaves you alone. He says, that he just wants to care about you, so he never leaves your side. But does he?
I guess you already know the answer, which is a big fat ‘no’.
It all goes deep down to control and owning the other person.
Him being in control of you, your time, what you do, with whom you do it. Sooner or later you can realize, that you stop meeting your own friends or anybody actually, or if you meet them, it only happens together with him. Maybe at those very few times, when he is having something to do on his own, he lets you alone for a short while. And he sells it as him being nice for ‘allowing’ some alone time to you with your friends. Or maybe, even if he has something to do with you not included, he still wants you to sit at home, waiting for him.
And if he leaves you alone, he is still constantly checking on you.
Either by calling every half an hour for a vague reason, or sending you messages, funny videos or whatever. The main thing is that even in this case, he wants to make sure that he is never out of your ‘space’.
It is also very dangerous in such relationships, that you can lose yourself. You can lose your identity. Slowly, but steadily, you forget about yourself, what you like, what you would like to do, what your own preferences are.
If you think about yourself how you were before this relationship and how you are now, as if you saw two completely different people. And I am not talking about losing your single lady-self and changing it to your relationship-self. But about who you really are. Losing that.
This is when you feel that without ‘your man’ you would be no-one.
And that is a huge problem!
You need to be your own self even within a relationship, in harmony with your partner! But a controlling partner does not let you do that. He wants you to be part of him, a belonging, a property. So you chose to lose yourself for ‘your man’.
The controlling person at the workplace
Most typically a controlling person at the workplace is a line manager. The concept of control comes from their position, however, in this case it is misinterpreted.
They are those leaders, who don’t actually lead, but they manage in the negative sense. Everyone and everything. The very popular expression for that nowadays is the micromanagement.
They want to know absolutely everything that you are working on, the more details the better. They want to know about all minutes of your working time. You can also experience that you have no authority to decide on anything by yourself at all, no matter your seniority level.
What they have in their minds is that they know it better.
They don’t trust other people, of course they will not trust people below them in the hierarchy, so they control them.
They control every step of the way. Being on all the meetings, have to be copied on all the e-mails, standing at your back at all times – regardless whether you need it or not. They don’t even ask this, they just decide that they are needed by you. You don’t even have the chance to say no – on the one hand because they don’t even ask you; on the other hand because even if you said so, they would not hear it.
In such work environment you can lose your independence.
Sooner or later for example you can feel that you cannot make (right) decisions, only with the help of your manager.
This is exactly what a controlling line manager wants!
Make a dependent person of you, who will praise the boss and their greatness. The more the praising, the more control they have over you, everyone and everything.
In extreme cases, the controlling mentality of a line manager can also sneak into your private life. They start to dispose of your free time, questioning your after-work activities, contacting you out of working hours and on weekends, and so on.
The controlling parent
It is one of the most difficult situations, having an over-controlling parent.
Parents, by default, have the duty of controlling and protecting their kids when they are small and unprotected. Even at the early stage of a child’s life, the parental control can be pushed too hard.
However, when the children begin to awaken and try to establish their own personality, there should be a natural process of letting them be on a longer leash first, then letting them go.
In many cases, this letting go does not happen. They are the so called ‘helicopter parents’.
Doesn’t matter how old you are (20, 30 or 55), they continue to believe that they know better what is good for you.
They still tell you what you should do in your life, what decisions you should make, where you should work, how you should manage your finances, what partner you should choose and so much more.
They also want to know all the tiniest details of your life, they expect you to call them every day and they feel personally offended if you don’t share absolutely everything from your life with them.
They say that they only want what is good for you and that they do it for you. But actually, they don’t.
They do it only for their own selves.
They simply don’t want to face the fact, that their children are not children any more.
It hurts them to feel that they are not needed now as much as they were, when the child was e.g. 2 years old. If these parents have lived their lives so far through their children, they feel more and more useless now. Which they compensate with pushing even more and more control over these children – who might be actual adults for a long time already.
But what it actually results in, is that they are pushing their children further and further away from themselves.
If you have controlling parents, you can feel it frustrating and suffocating. You can continuously have arguments with them as they want to tell you the ultimate solution to your life – but you don’t need it, #thank-you-but-no-thank-you.
Instead of them asking you what you would need, they tell you what you need.
As a result, either you give in and live your life this way, or you start to avoid them, stop talking to them, move to the other end of the globe. Anything to get out of this situation and finally be on your own, living your own life, the way you – yourself – want it.
But running away from a controlling person – either in a relationship, at the workplace or in your family – is really the move that solves the problems in its roots as well?
I will share with you my thoughts about the coping techniques in my next article.