Deal with controlling people

How to Handle Controlling People

How to Handle Controlling People
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Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on January 29, 2016

Can controlling people be successfully managed? It depends on the type of behavior and the willingness to try several tactics. A controller can be a friend, neighbor, boss, co-worker, spouse, or parent. Here are several ways to effectively deal with them.

  1. Identify the type of controlling behavior. There are many ways a person can be unscrupulous. They can tell lies about the victims family members or friends in an attempt to create a dependency on their opinion. They can embarrass, humiliate, or shame to make the victim feel small. Or they can deliberately set up scenarios where the victim explodes so the controller can justify their domineering behavior.
  2. Dont believe the lie. Controlling behavior is not about the victim, it is about them. They are the broken ones who feel the need to manipulate. A domineering person insists that the reason for their cunning behavior is because of the victims attitude, actions, tone, or body language. This is a lie. There are many ways to confront a person in a healthy manner without the use of serpentine behavior.
  3. Recognize the triggers and patterns. A controller often uses the same pattern of dysfunctional behavior over and over again in a variety of environments. It is far easier for them to repeat familiar offenses than it is to discover and test out new ones. Once recognized, this becomes an easy way to identify the possible triggers. Knowing the spark, allows time to either plan an appropriate response or an escape route.
  4. Carefully choose a response. Do not directly answer a control tactic. This is precisely what the controller wants and most likely they have planned out responses to whatever is stated. Their goal is to incite the victim to a defensive subordinate position so they can overshadow. Instead, choose from one of these responses.
    1. Ignore and walk away. When the controller seeks out secret information about the victim and uses it later as a tool for embarrassment, this is a good moment to ignore and walk away. Indulging their historical revisionism will only increase the humiliation as the victim responds defensively. Stepping aside politely and quietly will highlight the dysfunctional behavior for anyone else who might be around.
    2. Distract or change the subject. When hour long explanations are given for simple issues in an effort to wear the victim out, distraction is the best method. Usually the controller has an almost rehearsed speech so when interrupted, they cant easily return to where they left off.
    3. Ask a question. When the controller fails to see shades of grey making an issue either their way or a complete opposite extreme, this is the time to ask a question. Preferably a question which reinforces the concept that there is more than two options available. Do not ask Why questions however or the controller is likely to become defensive and react in a verbally aggressive manner.
    4. Apply logic to the statement. When a guilt trip is given such as I gave birth to you therefore you have to , this is a great time to apply logic. Counteract the guilt with reason, never emotion. You taught me that I dont have to do anything, is an appropriate response instead. Have a couple of statements prepared ahead of time for use.
    5. Answer the fear. When the controller is jealous of the relationship between the victim and another friend, respond to the fear of abandonment. Actually say the words, I hear that you are fearful I will leave you for someone else. Then only speak about that topic, refusing to divert back to the obsessive envious comment.
  5. Try, try again until done. When one method fails to work, try another one and if needed, another after that. But at some point the relationship might have to come to an end. As the Kenny Rogers song The Gambler goes, Know when to walk away, know when to run. A controller who resorts to more extreme forms of manipulative behavior is not worth the trouble of having a relationship.

Last medically reviewed on January 29, 2016


Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on January 29, 2016

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Signs, causes, and how to deal with them

People who are controlling try to assert power over others and control situations. In some cases, a person may adopt controlling behaviors out of anxiety because they worry that things will go wrong if they do not maintain control. In other cases, it may be to assert dominance, which is a form of abuse.

Everyone tries to control what happens in their life to a certain extent. However, when a person tries to control elements of someone else’s life, this can be damaging.

In this article, we describe the signs that a person is controlling and explain how control relates to abuse. We also look at the causes of controlling behavior and how to deal with it.

If someone tries to control situations or other people to an unhealthy extent, others may describe them as a controlling person.

They may try to control a situation by taking charge and doing everything themselves or control others through manipulation, coercion, threats, and intimidation.

People may come into contact with controlling individuals in many areas of life. These individuals can be:

  • partners
  • friends
  • family
  • bosses
  • coworkers
  • strangers
  • neighbors

These people may wish to control those close to them, such as their partner or family, or gain power and control over larger groups of people.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines abuse as behaviors that a person uses to maintain power and control over another individual. These behaviors may arise in intimate relationships but also appear in the workplace, family relationships, and friendships.

Controlling behaviors may occur in several forms of abuse, including:

  • Physical abuse: Any unwanted contact from someone who has the intention of causing another person injury is physical abuse.
  • Emotional and verbal abuse: This comes in the form of nonphysical behavior, such as insulting or threatening someone, constantly monitoring them, or trying to humiliate them.
  • Sexual abuse: Behaviors constitute sexual abuse if they pressure or force people into a sexual activity in which they do not want to engage.
  • Financial abuse: This occurs when someone attempts to control a person’s financial situation.
  • Digital abuse: This form of abuse uses technology, such as texting and social media, to harass or intimidate someone.
  • Stalking: Stalking happens when someone watches or follows a person constantly, making them feel unsafe.

Abusive behaviors that someone may use to exert control over an individual may include:

  • slapping, punching, kicking, biting, choking, scratching, or trying to smother a person, throwing objects at them, or pulling their hair
  • threatening to use weapons against them, such as knives, bats, or firearms
  • forcing them to use alcohol or drugs
  • preventing them from leaving the home or forcing them to go somewhere
  • calling them names, yelling or screaming at them, and criticizing them to break down their confidence
  • humiliating them in front of other people or using online communities to intimidate or embarrass them
  • acting in a possessive manner with a partner, not trusting them, and frequently accusing them of cheating
  • demanding to know how they spend their time, where they go, and who they have contact with
  • isolating them from seeing family and friends
  • blaming them for their abusive behaviors or telling them everything is their fault
  • manipulating or forcing them into having sex or performing sexual acts
  • giving them an allowance and monitoring their purchases
  • depositing paychecks to a bank account they cannot access
  • stopping them from going to work by taking away their mode of transport
  • stating who they can or cannot follow or speak with on social media
  • using social media or GPS technology to track their activities
  • pressuring them to send compromising or explicit messages, photos, or videos
  • constantly messaging them and making them feel as though they cannot be away from their phone
  • sending them unwanted messages, emails, texts, voicemails, and letters
  • showing up at their home or workplace uninvited

Abuse can manifest in many ways, and more than one type of abusive behavior often occurs in an abusive relationship.

Several underlying factors may drive controlling behavior, such as:

  • Anxiety: For some people, attempting to control certain situations is a way of coping with anxiety. Treating anxiety or the underlying condition causing it may improve their controlling behavior.
  • Personality disorders: Some personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), may increase the chances of someone using controlling behavior.
  • Learned behavior: A person may have learned controlling behavior and other forms of abuse from other people. For example, they may have grown up in a family with domestic violence or intimate partner violence or learned from caregivers to try to exert power over their partner.

It is crucial to note that although mental health conditions and past trauma can contribute to controlling behavior, they can never justify abuse.

Strategies for dealing with controlling people depend on whether the behavior is abusive and whether it occurs at home or in the workplace.

If the behavior is not abusive, it may be best to begin by discussing it with the person. However, confronting a person with abusive behavior may flare up the situation and potentially be dangerous.


A person can try communicating with a controlling person by:

  • using “I” statements, such as “I feel hurt,” to speak in a way that reduces feelings of blame
  • discussing ways to divide responsibilities or share control
  • offering alternative courses of action to replace the behavior, such as making plans together rather than the person making plans for them

If, after speaking calmly and openly with someone, they do not listen and continue the controlling behavior, a person may need to consider distancing themselves from the individual.

Set boundaries

It is impossible to influence how someone else behaves completely, but people can be clear about the treatment they expect and how they will respond if someone crosses the line.

A person needs to set boundaries, assertively share what they want with another individual, and say “no” when they are unwilling to do something. By setting boundaries, a person regains control and clarifies what they will and will not tolerate.

Choose a response

When someone is controlling, a person can respond in various ways to diffuse the situation. These include:

  • Ignoring them and walking away: If a person is trying to humiliate someone, quietly walking away will draw attention to their dysfunctional behavior rather than indulging them.
  • Creating a distraction or changing the subject: If a controlling person uses long, rehearsed speeches to wear a person down, interrupting them will make it more difficult for them to return to where they left off.
  • Asking them a question: If someone views a situation as only being able to go the way they want or the complete opposite, it can help to ask a question. A question can reinforce that there are more than two options available.
  • Counteracting with reason: If a parent uses the fact that they gave birth to someone as a way to control them, the person could ignore the attempt at guilt tripping and counteract with logic rather than emotion. They could remind the parent that people never have to do anything and have the right to choose.
  • Acknowledging their fear: If a controlling person is jealous about someone’s relationship with another friend, it may be helpful to respond directly to their fear of abandonment. Acknowledging their fear that the person will leave them for someone else and discussing the topic may prevent them from making envious comments in the future.

Create a safety plan

If someone feels unsafe due to a person’s controlling, abusive behavior, they should consider developing a safety plan. A safety plan can help them safely leave the situation and lower their risk of being hurt.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, a safety plan may involve:

  • identifying friends and family members to contact for help
  • identifying exit points and safe places to go
  • keeping an alternative prepaid cellphone nearby
  • memorizing the phone numbers of trusted family members, friends, or shelters
  • making a list of items or documents to take when leaving quickly
  • checking with a doctor about how to gain access to extra, medically necessary items for themselves or their children
  • getting information on the local family court in case they require a restraining order
  • collecting evidence of abuse or violence, if it is safe to do so

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides an interactive guide to safety planning, and the Office on Women’s Health details what to include in a safety packing list.

Emotional and verbal abuse can sometimes escalate to physical abuse, so a person must know the warning signs that a situation could become threatening.

Signs that a relationship has become dangerous include the person:

  • displaying physically intimidating behaviors, such as punching walls, throwing objects, or breaking a person’s belongings
  • using weapons to intimidate
  • harming or threatening to harm pets or children
  • threatening self-harm, violence, or death to get what they want

Everyone has the right to feel safe. Anyone experiencing abuse should seek help to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Various helplines, support groups, counselors, therapists, and other resources are available to ensure that people can find safety and recover.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of domestic violence, call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help. Anyone who needs advice or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 via:

  • phone, at 800-799-7233
  • live chat, at
  • text, by texting LOVEIS to 22522

Many other resources are available, including helplines, in-person support, and temporary housing. People can find local resources and others classified by demographics, such as support specifically for People of Color, here:

  • The Office on Women’s Health
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

To a degree, everyone wants to control what happens to them. However, if a person needs to control every part of their routine, situation, or environment, they may have anxiety or a mental health condition.

When someone tries to control or manipulate others, this can be a form of abuse.

It may be possible for a controlling person to change their behavior over time with psychotherapy if a relationship is unhealthy and not abusive. However, if a relationship involves abuse, a person’s behavior could escalate to physical violence.

It is important for people living with a controlling or abusive person to create a safety plan to protect themselves. A safety plan can help them leave a threatening situation safely and be more independent once they have left.

what if it's hard to quit? |

You want to get away from him, but you feel that it is impossible, but why? People believe that if you have an unhealthy relationship with a controlling person, you should leave. While this is true, the situation is often more complicated than just walking out the door. Having been with a controlling or abusive person, they make you feel intimidated, belittled, and threatened. It can be difficult to focus on what actions to take, but no matter how dire the circumstances are, there is always a way to live better.


Look out for warning signs

Signs of a controlling man include verbal, emotional and physical abuse. This happens in ways that may limit or control how others speak or speak. This behavior acts as a form of manipulation where the man wants things to go their way. If you notice that your boyfriend or husband is paranoid, insecure, or using ultimatum tactics to manipulate you, he may be controlling you. Other actions he may take include criticizing you for no reason, intentionally isolating you from others, making you feel guilty or using guilt to control you, and making you feel less or less.

Distrust, humorous teasing disguised as criticism, instilling a sense of doubt and expectation that his sexual needs will be met are further warning signs. If you are experiencing emotional pain due to a verbal abuse or if he causes you physical harm, it's time to end the relationship. Any time you felt insecure or disrespectful; he crossed the line. It's time to assess your options and make your move. There are local agencies that provide support to anyone who seeks immediate help. There are also online consultation options if you want to talk to someone about your situation. Help is available and you deserve a better life.

Identify what's holding you back

When someone hears about a person who is in an aggressive or controlling relationship, they're probably wondering why they don't leave. This is a logical answer, but dealing with a person with characteristics of a controlling personality is not easy. There are several reasons why people stay in unhealthy relationships, for example:

  • A person may not perceive their relationship as unhealthy because society has normalized certain behaviors that are abusive or controlling. If you don't notice related activities, you don't assume reasons for ending the relationship.
  • It is impossible to see that they have been emotionally abused when their self-esteem is damaged during the relationship. It's hard to walk away and start over because the controlling person has foisted false narratives on their partner that made them feel worthless. The person may feel unworthy of a better choice.
  • Get into a cycle of abuse when the offender apologizes or acts friendly after the situation. They claim they won't do it again to make the victims feel better. The behavior can be minimized, but it continues.
  • It is extremely difficult for them to leave if they are not sure of their safety. Some may be life threatening when trying to decide what to do, especially immediately after leaving a partner.
  • It is difficult to get out of the cycle of violence or control. Some may not realize that the relationship is toxic and when they realize they try to break up with their partner several times before doing so for good. Someone can get used to being controlled before they figure out how to end it.


  • Feel pressure from society to get out of the way. People can say that everything is ready, forgive and forget, or do what is necessary for fidelity. A person may not want to be seen as someone who hurt their partner for leaving them. Remember that a real friend or partner will never endanger or harm you if they care about you.
  • Feel responsible for your partner's actions. In a relationship, this is known as gaslighting. The abuser makes their partner feel bad, guilty, or guilty. In many cases, this is not your fault, but a controlling, manipulative aspect that often comes up in different situations.
  • Believe that everything will change if they stay. At the beginning of a relationship, you may notice signs of a controlling guy, but think that showing him love will help him become a better person. You might think that they can help their partner become better if he had a difficult past. A person must be ready to change his own behavior. Relationships should not be based on the fact that you change someone's behavior.
  • Feeling social pressure to become the ideal partner. Social media and certain cultures can influence people's perception of what is considered an ideal relationship.
  • You feel embarrassed or afraid when others find out about their situation. People in controlling or abusive relationships may worry about being blamed, judged, or looked down upon by other people.
  • Experience an addiction that is difficult to break, such as marriage with children. The person may share finances, living space, and friends with the abuser, making it seem impossible to get away from them.

There are many reasons why it is difficult to leave a toxic relationship. It is important to identify the factors that you think are preventing you from breaking up or ending a relationship. You are responsible for your life and how you want to live it. Help is available to end the relationship.

Making a Care Action Plan

Once you understand why leaving is so difficult, evaluate your options and determine how and when to act. It may be difficult for you to leave, but stay motivated by thinking about your freedom, safety, and how you are getting your life back. Here are suggestions to consider when determining how to end a relationship.

Reconnect with people you know. Many controlling relationships lead to feelings of isolation or loss of contact with family and friends. Reconnect with people you know and be honest about your situation. It doesn't matter if it's been months or years since you last interacted with them. You may not feel comfortable contacting you, but you may be surprised by their support and will be happy to hear from you. They become an important part of your support system. They can offer you a place to live, a shoulder to cry on, and a great fit or lean on them instead of your abuser. If you don't have family or friends, think of someone you know or trust, such as your doctor, church member, or police officer.


Establish an escape plan over and over again. If your safety is a concern, shelters are available for people seeking support through local programs or shelters. Planning how to end a relationship increases a successful breakup. This ensures that you are physically and emotionally able to leave, making sure everything is accounted for. Know what to do, such as who to call, where you'll be staying, what to pack, or what to bring to a friend's house to keep for yourself until you're settled. A plan will make life more comfortable if you wait for the right time to get out.

Leave when the risk of confrontation is minimal. To ensure the success of your plan, consider when your partner is busy so that you don't get stopped. When planning to leave a controlling husband or boyfriend, know the day and time to put your plan into action. If you are planning to meet a close friend or family member, let them know about your plans. Consider changing account passwords.

Find someone you can talk to about your situation. Don't wait until you're out of a relationship to talk. Hanging out with a controlling guy can bring up emotions that are difficult to deal with personally. Someone you can trust, such as a family member or friend who you can stay in touch with during the transition, can help you focus on caring. A couples counselor can help you deal with the emotions that come with a breakup. Controlling and abusive relationships can leave scars that make it difficult to move forward in life. You can get tools to help you avoid abuse. Considering your mental health needs, thinking about what you want to achieve after leaving.

Make sure you are physically and mentally safe . Be proud that you mustered up the courage to leave the abuser. It's a frightening and challenging experience with someone who uses their insecurities to prey on others. Every action you take that helps you get away from it is worth celebrating. This is the action that leads to your victory. If you could ignore his calls, texts, or emails today, that's great, there will be problems after that, but when you hit a milestone, it will give you the boost to stay focused. Focus on positive actions and thoughts. Take care of yourself and treat yourself to something you love. Your physical well-being may include seeking a restraining order or legal defense if your safety is a concern. It provides a certain level of security so you can focus on recovery.


You deserve love. It's important to confront your fears about leaving a controlling relationship. Understand the abusive or controlling behaviors in your relationships and their patterns. You may feel unworthy after being cut off by someone, but giving up the relationship and getting professional emotional support ensures that another abuser doesn't take advantage of your vulnerability. You deserve someone who will respect, love and admire you for who you are. Take your time and put yourself first. You can do that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the signs of a controlling person?

When you control the people in your life, it may not be immediately obvious. Your friends and family may notice controlling or abusive behavior before you or before you are willing to confess. Both toxic relationships and controlling relationships involve the emotionally abused victim. The controlling partner is also sometimes physically abused.

Signs of being a controlling person or that you have a controlling partner include:

  • They isolate you from friends and family
  • Tell you how to dress or talk
  • Make you feel small
  • Make you feel humiliated
  • Make you feel that without them your socioeconomic status will suffer
  • They infiltrate your network of friends and relatives to control
  • Make you feel guilty for innocent interactions with other men
  • Difficult long-distance relationships with school friends and family
  • Overly concerned about your safety when you want to go out without them
  • Make you spend time away from family
  • Do not value your point of view

The controlling partner will eventually take over every aspect of your life until you finally feel broken inside. If you find yourself in a relationship with a control freak, you need to get away from the controlling person as quickly as possible or you will find yourself in a long-term relationship with a toxic person.

What is a bossy husband?

A controlling husband is a controlling person who emotionally abuses you and isolates you from friends and family. They want all of your attention and they don't want you to do anything they don't approve of or justify. When you are in a relationship with people in control, you need to consider the long-term consequences. Will your controlling partner and his behavior affect your children? Will you feel guilty for bringing them into the world with such a controlling father? If he controls you, how will he be with other members of your family? Controlling men don't usually change, so if you think you can change boyfriends or fiancés before the controlling partner becomes your husband, think twice about the consequences down the road. It is very difficult to deal with controlling men and come out on top. If you currently have a controlling partner or a controlling husband, understand that this is considered tantamount to an abusive relationship.

How do you deal with a controlling person?

It's hard to tell how you deal with a controlling man because he is the controlling partner in the relationship. The relationship patterns you encounter while dating are reinforced when you are in control with control lovers.

If you understand that controlling people always get their way, no matter what steps they take to get it, you can avoid romantic relationships with a controlling partner. However, emotional abuse is central to the control of people interacting with others. Some consider overcontrol to be a personality disorder. However, controlling people do not feel that something is wrong with them; something is wrong with everyone, and therefore they need to be controlled. They don't feel guilty about their behavior because they feel like they're helping you get better or better. The manipulative or controlling partner will use any tactic necessary to get you to behave the way they want, even if they drive you into an eating disorder, use emotional abuse, or isolate you from your friends and family.

The best way to get away from a controlling partner is to walk away and never look back. Yes, you can love them, but never change them. Eventually, you yourself will get hurt, and by the time you realize it, it will be too late or too hard to leave before they physically harm you.

What does gaslighting mean?

Gaslighting is used to describe abusive behavior created by controlling people who manipulate information - a way that makes the victim question their sanity. Controlling people use gaslighting as a way to make someone question their memories or perceived reality. This is a way to keep the victim away from friends and family and rely solely on the person in control. Many victims of gaslighting can develop psychological disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. They do not know what is real and what is not due to the constant manipulation of the controlling people in their lives. Even when the victim is finally told that she needs to avoid abusive relationships from controlling people, she has a hard time accepting this as the truth. Both abuser and victim ostracize friends and family as part of the will and desires of control freaks.

What are the signs of a controlling guy?

It is not always obvious to the victim that she is in a relationship with controlling people. Despite warnings from friends and family, controlling behavior is based on the premise that the victim is safer with them, and that hurt and meanness are caused by those who try to take her away from the abuser. Managers use methods to gain your absolute trust and then use it against you.

If you are in a new relationship, some signs that you have a controlling boyfriend:

  • Asking you to dress modestly; they don't want others to see your body
  • Makes you feel bad about not supporting them or agreeing with their point of view
  • Making you feel guilty for innocent interactions, such as staying up late at work with male colleague.
  • Trying to control what you eat

These are just a few of the signs that you are dating a controlling guy. Controlling people rarely change, so if you feel like you're dating a controlling person, it's better to leave sooner rather than later.

What is a narcissistic husband like?

People in control also tend to be narcissists. A narcissistic husband thinks he knows everything and will humiliate you when you try to share your opposite opinion. He often sets you up only to bring you down. Where controlling people just want total control over every situation, a narcissist may let you do things they don't approve of just to be able to brag that if you'd listened to them in the first place, you'd be better off. .

What is a controlling relationship?

Controlling relationships are relationships either as friends or in romantic relationships with controlling people who insist on having their own way. They rarely let you make your own decisions or make decisions without their initial approval. This does not mean that a mutually respectful relationship is one with a controlling person; it's not the same thing. When you're in a relationship based on mutual respect, you may want to consult with your partner when making an important decision to make sure it's the best for everyone in your family, including you. When you are in a controlling relationship, the controlling people involved require you to get their permission before doing anything, or prevent you from doing something that they generally disapprove of.

How to communicate with controlling people?


Man among men Know thyself

We are annoyed when someone tries to decide for us what to do and how to live. But if among our loved ones there is a person who is inclined to control everything, we should be especially careful - otherwise we may lose our will and subordinate ourselves to his desires.

“The controller believes that he has the right to control the life of another person, because he perceives him as an extension of himself,” says psychologist Patricia Evans, author of the book Controlling People. - In the depths of his soul, such a person cannot recognize the independence and separateness of the existence of another.

He has an illusion of an ideal world in his head. If it conflicts with reality, the controller tries to correct reality, but not his ideas about it.

Why is it so difficult to resist attempts at control?

First of all, it is difficult for us to recognize them - especially if they are expressed in a soft and hidden form, in the form of advice, suggestions or jokes. Common phrases that the controller uses are “you are making a mistake by marrying him”, “if I were you, I would think more”, “deep down you know that I am right” ...

Our unwillingness to spoil relations also has an effect. “Often the controller is among the people close and significant to us,” says Patricia Evans. - It can be one of the parents, partner, boss.

Growing up, such a person is unable to hear himself, recognize and name his emotions

In such relationships, he takes a stronger position and at first seems smart, authoritative, self-confident. If we fail to stand up for ourselves from the very beginning, we can become addicted.”

It may very well be that in childhood others did not pay much attention to the feelings and needs of such a person. He received instructions and hints from others what to feel, what to think. The manifestations of his own "I" were not considered.

Growing up, such a person is unable to hear himself, recognize and name his emotions. Instead, he focuses on the image that his elders instilled in him. Therefore, he builds his relationships with others in the same way - applying to them the “correct” image that already exists in his head.

“He doesn’t realize how unrealistic his expectations can be and how unrealistic his demands can be.

“When a friend, lover, or child does not do what is expected of him, the controller begins to behave irrationally,” explains Patricia Evans . “This behavior reflects the controller's fear — the fear that his world will lose its integrity. Therefore, he does not realize how unrealistic his expectations can be and how unrealistic his demands can be.

What if you are already dependent on the controller? First of all, advises Patricia Evans, it is necessary to separate your own thoughts and feelings from those that another person imposes on us.

“Some, especially children of controlling parents, live for years as if under the Imperius spell from the Harry Potter books - unable to make a volitional decision and doing only what others demand of them,” says the psychologist. “But if you realize that you are fitting your life into someone else’s illusion, and find the courage to separate reality from fiction, you can break the spell.”


  1. It is important for him to always be right.
  2. He is sure he knows who you are and what you "really" need.
  3. He thinks you're wrong if you don't agree with him.
  4. Perceives doubt in his words as a direct attack on himself.
  5. Does not listen or hear other people's arguments.

How to free yourself from the influence of the controller?

1. Find your inner core

Those under the controller's spell begin to believe the story they are told. They get used to thinking in other people's categories, speaking in other people's words and phrases, they begin to navigate better in other people's illusions about their life than in their own ideas about it.

To develop immunity to controlling behavior, you need to create your own, alternative history. Make your own decisions, no matter how difficult they may be. Find yourself a business that you will do alone, without asking for advice and tips. So you will know for sure what you are capable of and where you want to go.

2. Work on your self-esteem

One of the common tricks of the controller is to belittle the interlocutor, to inspire him with a sense of insignificance. "You won't succeed." "You are nothing without me." "Without me, you would be lost."

The best way to avoid reproaches from the controller is to find as many positive aspects in yourself as possible. Write down your good qualities on paper. Don't be afraid to exaggerate a little. Describe something you've ever done successfully (even if it's a nailed shelf).

Direct confrontation may not produce results, but on the contrary, will only increase the controller's anxiety.

3. Be firm

Direct confrontation may not produce results, but on the contrary, will only increase the controller's anxiety. Instead, it is better to firmly express your attitude to the situation.

Let's say, "I feel uncomfortable when you tell me what to do and how to think. In the future, I would like you to respect my opinion and recognize my right to make my own decisions.”

4. Ask questions

The simple question “what?” can be very effective in pointing out to the controller that their behavior is irrational. Don't be afraid to look stupid.

If you insistently ask the other person to clarify what he wants from you, you will make him think about his own words. As a rule, the controller is able to realize that he is too demanding, but it is difficult for him to do this during a conversation.

5. Consult a therapist

The dependency relationship that forms between a controller and their companion can be very strong. If your attempts to reconsider the situation do not lead to the desired result and you are afraid to break off the relationship, it is better to seek the help of a professional.

Source: P. Evans Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You (Adams Media Corporation, 2002).

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