Signs Of a Controller

Relationships can be complex and sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between caring behaviour and controlling behaviour. A partner who seeks to dominate can disguise control as love or concern, making it challenging to recognise the signs. It's crucial to distinguish, however, as control can lead to a toxic and potentially abusive relationship.


One of the first signs of a controlling partner is their need to manage or influence all aspects of your life. They may present opinions that dictate your choice of attire, friendships or career moves as if these are joint decisions, but often, they're asserting dominance. When your autonomy is questioned, or you're pressured to relinquish privacy, such as sharing passwords, it's a red flag that shouldn't be ignored.

Isolation from friends and family

A controlling partner may attempt to isolate you from your support network. They might criticise your loved ones or fabricate reasons why you shouldn't see them. Their objective is to weaken your external relationships, making you more dependent on the partner and easier to control. When your partner's presence becomes a requirement for social interactions, it’s cause for concern.

Financial leverage and dependency

In a partnership, financial control can be a subtle form of dominance. Your partner might take charge of all financial decisions, restrict your access to money, or monitor your spending tightly. Financial dependency is a powerful tool, as it can leave you feeling helpless and tied to the relationship. Every individual is entitled to financial independence, and anything less is a significant indicator of control.

Constant criticism and gaslighting

Constant nit-picking, belittlement or the feeling that you can't do anything right in your partner's eyes is another sign of a controlling relationship. This persistent criticism can deteriorate your self-esteem, making you more submissive. Gaslighting, where your partner manipulates situations to make you doubt your reality and diminish your confidence, is particularly insidious.

Punitive behaviours and manipulation

Control can manifest through punishment for not adhering to your partner's desires. This could range from emotional withdrawal and silent treatment to explosive arguments or threats. The absence of open communication and manipulation to conform to your partner’s ideals reflects their need to assert dominance rather than foster mutual respect and understanding.

Monitoring movements and communications

If your partner is persistently checking up on you, monitoring your movements via apps, or reading your messages and emails, it's a clear invasion of privacy. Trust is at the heart of all successful relationships, and without it, control often follows. This level of surveillance isn't affectionate—it's authoritarian.

If you recognise these signs in your relationship, it's important to evaluate the dynamics with honesty. Unpacking issues of control requires courage and sometimes professional guidance, such as counselling. Remember, everyone deserves a relationship built on trust, respect, and equality. Don't hesitate to reach out to support networks; addressing the problem sooner rather than later is essential for your well-being and safety.