Dominant personality in relationships

5 Signs You are a Dominant Partner in a Controlling Relationship

In This Article

With the passage of time, it may seem like you are losing control of your relationship, while your partner is the one controlling the relationship. The dominance of one partner can be healthy if it doesn’t take a toxic turn. 

However, it can create a major imbalance and get suffocating if your partner is way too dominant.

But, don’t you stress over it.

What is a dominating relationship?

A dominating relationship is where one partner is controlling the other partner because of their dominant personality.

Such a person tries to control every aspect of the relationship which also including how the other person reacts or feels.

Are you a dominant partner in a controlling relationship?

So, what is the meaning of dominating person? What does dominant mean in a relationship?  

Well, being dominant is a personality trait of having a decisive role in the relationship. The dominant partner in relationships holds control, and they sanction most of the ongoings of the relationship. 

A marriage or relationship is never 50/50. It is always 100/100, with both the partners going the extra mile to help it last. Having a dominant role in a relationship comes with a lot of responsibility. 

Related Reading: How to Get Out of a Controlling Relationship

5 types of dominant relationships

There are various types of dominant relationships based on who holds power in the relationship. Know them below:

In a submissive and dominant marriage or relationship, there is always one dominant partner holding charge of things in the relationship while the other partner is the submissive one. Here, the roles are defined, and there is no relaxation of roles.

In this type of relationship, one partner consensually submits to the other partner. This is different from the dominant and subordinate relationship because of the intense level of command by the dominant partner. The slave doesn’t voice an opinion in such relationships.

Related Reading: 4 Glaring Benefits of Dominant-Subordinate Relationships

In such relationships, the dominant partner is the man. Here, the woman plays a submissive role, and the man defines the relationship.

As opposed to the male-led vanilla relationship, the female is the dominant partner or the leader of the relationship. She makes most of the decisions in the relationship and sets goals.

  • Equals

In this kind of relationship, both parties hold equal power. They both make decisions and run the relationship. Being equal is one of the signs of a healthy relationship, and it leads to a long-lasting commitment. 

5 symptoms of a dominant partner in a relationship 

Read on as this article will guide you towards dominance in relationships. Below are some signs of dominance in a relationship:

1. They are independent

You may not know this, but independence is the fundamental sign that shows your partner that they do not control you. They don’t depend on their partner to take them for groceries or to complete other daily needs. 

Instead, they go out by themselves and get things done. This way, the partner will know that they are able enough to do the chores without them.

Also, they go out with your friend circle whenever it is feasible and do not require their partner’s permission for that.

Related Reading: Why Is It Important to Be Independent in a Relationship?

2. They seek what they deserve

This is one crucial tip to having a dominant personality in relationships. Never, I repeat never settle for anything less than what you deserve

If you think something is not going the way you want, walk away. It is the right thing to do and show the partner that you need to be treated only the right way.

3. They do not stay quiet

Didn’t like something your partner did? Tell them. Being dominant in a relationship means confronting your companion. This is the way to go. Also, if there is a doubt about something, clear it up and be honest with them.

Restrain from bottling up your emotions and feelings inside. Moreover, if you want something, ask them straight away and do not hesitate.

Also Try: Quiz: Are You a Dominant or Submissive Partner?

4. They act confident

A dominating personality is upright and confident. They speak up for themselves. They do not let their partner have control over them. If something goes wrong, they disclose it and show their partner that they are as equally powerful as them.

They never stay under their foot but climb up their heads. They do not hesitate while speaking up about your needs. Also, do not hold back in any argument. Express your opinions freely.

5. They do not always stay available

They go out and enjoy life. They do not hang up on their friends only because their partner wants them with them.

They show dominance by letting them know that life does not only revolve around this relationship, but they have a life outside of it too. They do not always need a partner in order to have fun. Some time alone is also vital.

How to deal with a dominating partner?

At times, it can get extremely difficult to live with a dominant partner. Check out these steps on how to deal with a dominant partner:

1. Maintain your boundaries

Keeping boundaries is a crucial act in a relationship. One of the ways to tackle a dominant partner in a relationship is that you do not always give in to your partner’s demands because this will make you seem needy to your partner. 

For this, first, you need to know your own limits. Then, never let your partner cross any of it. They should know that they will not get off easily with you.

Related Reading: 15 Must-Have Healthy Boundaries In Marriage

2. Stay strong

Never let your emotions carry you away. Speak up for what is best for you. It is important not always to take the emotional path, but to stay firm and talk the matter out like a mature adult. This way, your partner will realize that you cannot be controlled emotionally.

3. Stand with your words

As the saying goes, 

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Never backtrack from your words.

To handle a dominant partner, do what you said. If you promised something, fulfill it. Your partner must be aware that you are honest with what you say. You will appear as the weak one if you do not stay firm in your words.

4. Be honest

Finally, you need to be completely fair to your partner. If anything goes wrong at your end, tell them and apologize.

In the video below, Jennah Dohms shares the need for true transparency and accountability. It leads to strength, and if we all practice this, it reduces the fear of the future.

Do not hold it back as they may then find you hard to trust. Also, this may prevent your partner from having any advantages over you. So, always have the upper hand in your relationship.

Related Reading: 11 Secrets to Enhance Transparency in a Relationship

Wrapping up

Being a dominant partner or being with such a partner can be tiresome, and it is fairly obvious. So, check for the signs of a dominant partner and make sure you create the right balance in the relationship with both partners having a say.

How Can You Tell If Someone Has a Dominant Personality?

A dominant personality involves traits like proactivity, assertiveness, and often, extroversion. Agression and manipulation are also possible.

That assertive co-worker pushing you to your limits might be a team asset and goal-oriented, but a dominant personality could be challenging to handle.

Not all people with a dominant personality behave in the same way. You could find a self-assured friend who always seems to lead the way or a peer who doesn’t hesitate to use intimidation to get what they want.

In general, some of the traits associated with this power-oriented personality type can be challenging to navigate.

A dominant personality is a personality type that often leads themselves and others into action. It’s primarily defined by an overarching motivation for power and a sense of pride.

This doesn’t mean dominant personalities are always eager to obtain power or behave like tyrants. Instead, it may mean some of them can behave in ways that are persistently:

  • confident
  • assertive
  • unrelenting

Dominance across many species is often associated with patterns of behaviors that involve intimidation, coercion, and aggression. But when it comes to humans, this isn’t always the case or if it is, it doesn’t always have a negative connotation.

In 1928, William Moulton Marston proposed a human behavioral model of emotions now known as DiSC, which categorized human behaviors into four quadrants:

  • dominance
  • inducement (influence)
  • submission
  • compliance

Under the DiSC model, dominant personality traits include:

  • impatience
  • manipulation
  • egotism
  • bluntness
  • stubbornness
  • determination
  • aloofness
  • perfectionism
  • restlessness

But, according to Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, a board certified psychiatrist out of Houston, being dominant isn’t solely about the negative, controlling behaviors. This would be one end of the possibility spectrum of dominant traits.

“A person with a dominant personality type is assertive, courageous, proactive, and self-reliant,” she says. “They are focused and goal-oriented as well. These individuals carry themselves in a manner that is socially impressive and emanates positive vibes to others.”

She adds that dominant personalities often have high self-esteem and confidence levels.

Other characteristics Gonzalez-Berrios says may come with a dominant personality include:

  • dedication to hard work
  • strong leadership abilities
  • high positivity
  • stoicism
  • self-control
  • confident body language

Dominant vs. influential personality

Under the DiSC model, dominant personality is associated with results or reaching a goal. It’s about “leading the way.

Influential personalities can also be leaders, but under DiSC standards, they do so by working with those around them, cultivating relationships, and focusing on social recognition rather than achievements.

Gonzalez-Berrios explains dominant personalities are not usually strong with social skills.

Instead, as goal-oriented, driven individuals, they can be challenging to sway with compromise and may be rigid in their processes and thoughts.

“As far as empathy and compassion are concerned, it is usually less than others,” she says. “They do not
like to follow but prefer to lead.”

Being dominant in relationships may come naturally to some people. Dominant personalities like the challenge of leading others, for example, or they feel empowered when they take charge.

A dominant personality in a relationship may want to make decisions for you, but they could also encourage and motivate you to action.

In some cases, dominant tendencies may lead someone to engage in abusive and toxic relationship behaviors.

But abusive behaviors in a relationship, which are always about power and control, can be signs of a mental health condition and not only a personality type.

A 2012 review into dominance behavior found dominant personality traits often overlapped with mania and narcissism.

Psychopathy has also been associated with dominance and power seeking, though a 2017 study found this framework of dominance was linked primarily to gaining social standing and not personal achievement.

To deal with a dominant personality in your life, Gonzalez-Berrios recommends the following tips.

Changing your communication style

“You need to be commanding and clear about your needs with them,” says Gonzalez-Berrios. “They are not interested in finding out hidden stories.”

Gonzalez-Berrios suggests:

  • avoiding small talk
  • steering clear of nit-picking
  • focus on facts and outcomes during a conversation

Accepting them for who they are

A dominant person’s behavior isn’t a reflection of how they feel about you. Most likely, they aren’t targeting you — they treat everyone, including themselves, this way.

They may not use sweet-talking or display a friendly attitude, says Gonzalez-Berrios. Instead, they may come through as bold, straightforward and to-the-point.

Most of the time, they expect the same from you.

Staying one step ahead

Gonzales-Berrios suggests keeping up on new skills and efficiency routines that may help you appeal to the problem-solving nature of a dominant personality type.

If you’re one step ahead, it can be difficult for them to feel the need to direct you.

Setting boundaries

Accepting dominant personality traits doesn’t mean you have to put up with inappropriate behaviors or with attitudes you don’t feel comfortable with.

Setting clear boundaries can be a way for you to protect your physical and mental well-being. It can also provide a standard and a way to say “no” without needing a list of reasons or excuses.

While a dominant personality is often associated with negative traits of aggression and manipulation, there are many positive traits to be recognized, as well. Dominant people can be strong leaders, dedicated, and goal-oriented.

If you’re finding it challenging to co-exist with a dominant personality, changing your communication style and setting clear boundaries can help.

instructions for use - Career on

Almost every team has at least one employee with a dominant personality type. They are motivated by winning, competing and achieving results. They are bossy and confident, but can also be stubborn, aggressive, and overly direct.


Working with such people is not easy, especially if you yourself are a reserved, sensitive and not at all pushy person. But if you want to succeed in your career, it is important to learn how to work with all colleagues, including those with a dominant personality type. nine0003

Here are 6 ways to effectively build relationships with them.

1. Focus on the what, not the how.

The dominant type is task oriented. He cares about results, not processes. When talking to him, focus on concrete, tangible facts. It's better to make direct statements than to have a brainstorming session. Talk about how your proposal affects the end result and expected results.

2. Skip polite phrases.

Dominant personality types work in A.S.A.P mode. and value efficiency. These are the type of colleagues with whom it is better to omit pleasantries and get straight to the point. For example, omit phrases like "How are you?" or "I hope you're doing well" at the beginning of emails. Similarly, in a meeting, jump straight to the agenda.

Do not waste the dominant type's time retelling events, repeating details, or giving your opinion. Start with your key message and focus on the essentials. nine0003

3. Give them independence.

To influence an employee with a dominant personality type, you must understand that he is driven by the desire to achieve and control. The more space you give this person to solve problems and make decisions on their own, the more effectively they will work. Dominant personalities value autonomy, so don't be surprised if one-on-one encounters are brief or non-existent. Before delegating authority to an employee with a dominant personality type, make sure that the areas of authority are clearly defined and articulated. Give him bold, ambitious long-term goals so that he constantly strives for more. nine0003

4. Explain why they need to change something.

When giving these people feedback on their work, focus on how the behavior changes you are asking for will help them achieve their goals and achieve better results. For example: “Your directness negatively affects your direct reports. If team members leave, it will mean that you will have fewer resources to complete client sales, and therefore you may not achieve your goals.” nine0003

You can also use comparison as a way to constructively motivate employees with a dominant personality style. For example, highlight competitors that perform better to push them to develop.

5. Fill in the blanks.

Healthy, productive teams are made up of employees with different personality types.

While dominant types tend to innovate and progress, they can also ignore risks and act too quickly. If you tend to make decisions more carefully and deliberately, you can bring stability and rationality to the process. Similarly, you can be the one who breaks down ambitious plans into detail and directs the actual implementation. nine0003

6. Don't take their actions personally.

Employees with a dominant personality type may respond harshly. Remember that their harshness does not mean they are angry, upset, or disrespectful of you. Most likely, they ask you tough questions because they want to get your attention. Brevity and some harshness in communication is part of their usual behavior, and not a reflection of their personal attitude towards you.

If you yourself are trying to gain more weight in the team, if you lack self-confidence, and you tend to think over your decisions for too long, then you have a lot to learn from dominant types. Integrate the benefits of their style into your own and you'll be surprised how much more effective your team will become. nine0003

when control in a relationship destroys our identity?

Headings : Latest articles, Psychology

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Not so long ago "Monocler" published an article about totalitarianism and its manifestations in groups, cults and states. However, total control can manifest itself not only within certain systems, but also in the relationship between two people. Living together with a constantly controlling and terrorizing partner is tantamount to being in a totalitarian cult that controls the mind and emotions of its victims. Today we understand what a "perspecticide" is and why it is important to know about this phenomenon. nine0003

Violence can take not only physical, but also psychological character. With a certain psychological impact, the aggressor criticizes the beliefs and views of his partner until he finally “brainswashes him.” This latent inhibitory effect has been termed "perspecticide" in the scientific literature.

So what is a prospecticide?

"Perspecticide" is a new term in the field of psychological influence. The phenomenon is characterized as one of the types of psychological or emotional abuse, in which one partner in a relationship completely controls the other. In the end, the latter loses his views along with the sense of his own "I". Dr. Nicola Graham-Kevan, Lecturer in the Psychology of Aggression at the University of Central Lancashire, England, notes:

“The term prospecticide was coined by social worker Evan Stark, author of Coercive Control, who described the phenomenon as a radical form of coercive control over a loved one.

This phenomenon is often similar to Stockholm Syndrome, in which abduction victims develop sympathy for their captors over time”[1].

Regular author of Monoclere, psychotherapist Maksim Chekmarev clarifies:


“Perspecticide is not some new phenomenon, but a word that has become customary to designate a certain type of relationship. This form of behavior itself has historical roots. For quite a long time, women and children were considered the "property" of a man - a husband or father - and therefore were in conditions where they did not have the opportunity to develop their identity. In modern psychology, such relationships are usually interpreted as attachment trauma, in which the aggressor creates a relationship with the victim that threatens her autonomy. In Russian science about such relationships, but without a hint of pathologisation, Vasilchenko wrote, introducing the ideas of Eric Burne into his sexology. He singled out the types of relationships in a pair: "woman-mother" and "man-father" or "woman-daughter" and "man-son", in which, despite the fact that people are in partnership, their interaction is asymmetrical - one depends on the other psychologically. nine0003

Read also Emotional dependence, or life in a vicious circle

How does the perspecticide affect the victim?

A high level of control can seriously affect a person's mental state. Graham-Kavan notes that victims are often unable to cope with negative emotional states. By agreeing to control, the person can thus ease these negative feelings, which can lead to a negative cycle of control and dependency. nine0003

In this regard, victims tend to submit to the influence of their partner, expressed in total psychological control, as they see it as an easier way out of the situation. However, it is difficult to obtain more complete results, especially since there have been relatively few studies on this issue.

Lisa Aronson Fontes, a psychology researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, characterizes the phenomenon as "a relationship of a suppressive or controlling nature, where the dominant partner tries to change the way the victim thinks. " nine0003

“The aggressor defines what love is. The aggressor tells what is right and what is wrong, keeping constant surveillance of his partner. The aggressor also determines what is wrong with the victim and what they need to do in order to fix it.”

Fontes continues:

“When exposed to prospecticide, people give up their own opinions, religious affiliation, advice from friends, goals in life, and so on. And here the natural mutual influence that occurs in relations between people in pairs is not at all implied - such a phenomenon seems to be more vile and is carried out unilaterally "[2]. nine0003

Key features of the prospecticide
  1. Self-doubt

The first thing a bully does is try to lower your self-esteem. He questions your abilities, talents, your own choices, opinions and beliefs. He may taunt you, openly criticize you, or make subtle and pointed remarks that cause you to gradually begin to doubt yourself. The aggressor may also use emotional blackmail and guilt, in which the victim feels “worthless” and feels guilty for being worthless. Soon a person loses self-esteem, and gradually begins to accept for truth the lies imposed by the offender. nine0003

  1. Downplaying thoughts and feelings

Aggressors often plan their relationships. They try to intimidate and confuse their partners in order to increase control over them. This effect can be achieved by resorting to physical, mental methods, or both of them. Moreover, this process is facilitated by interference with the victim's established routine (as a result of which the victim is deprived of rest and sleep), gaslighting - a form of violence, the main purpose of which is to make the victim doubt the objectivity of his perception of the world. — Approx. ed., Devaluation of feelings, overestimation of views, and objection to the victim's own opinion. Many offenders even resort to stalking ⓘ Obsessive, excessive attention to the person. - Note ed., to achieve the desired results. nine0003

  1. Isolation from loved ones

The aggressor manipulates social situations and the psyche of the victim in such a way that the victim loses contact with his environment. The abuser may tell his partner false facts about his friends, relatives, or colleagues in order to narrow the partner's social circle. After all, when you are isolated and unable to communicate with those who know you well, it can be easy to lose your sense of self. Victims are also deprived of any habitual activities that once gave them strength and independence. nine0003

  1. Total control

The abuser controls every aspect of his partner's life. Such control is manifested not only in cases with one's own routine, spending money or wearing certain clothes, but also in the most intimate things, like sleeping, bathing, eating. In this situation, the victims eventually accept the new rules of the game and forget about their past, free life.

  1. New identity

In this way, the aggressor manages to establish control over the life of his partner. Once the victim loses faith in their ability to think and make decisions on their own, the offender may try to change their old beliefs about themselves (confident, independent, smart, kind, beautiful) to new false ones (stupid, weak, ugly, unpromising). In the end, due to the formed isolation from close people, a person begins to perceive a new identity as natural and inalienable. nine0003

  1. A new definition of "love"

The aggressors introduce new rules of relationships and define the components of "love". If the victim does not follow the new order of manifestation of love feelings, then he immediately turns into an "egoist". The aggressor can sometimes show good intentions, thereby confusing the partner, who begins to think that he is really behaving selfishly[3].

Maxim Chekmarev believes that the motives that guide the aggressors may be different. For example, hyper-responsibility and hyper-guardianship, when the very right of another to autonomy is impossible due to the fact that the aggressor has already taken total responsibility for the partner and is afraid when he carries out or has the risk of carrying out independent actions. This may be a concept in which the relationship is tied to obedience or, for example, an acute fear of losing a partner, which makes you go to extreme measures (in this case, the motives are the same as if you want to bewitch your lover). nine0003

In general, experts believe that people who manipulate others use prospecticide as a means to achieve their life goals.

How to help people who are victims of prospecticide

As in the case of other types of similar psychological abuse, getting out of such a situation is always a difficult task. Many victims experience emotional trauma as a result of being under constant control.

Graham-Kevan draws on the study of Stockholm Syndrome to draw parallels between the two phenomena. nine0003

"There is no indication that the victims are in need of special, long-term psychological treatment," notes the professor. In the short term, victims may begin to blame themselves for everything as a result of their depressive states.

Nonjudgmental awareness and logical behavior therapy can help victims deal with indecision and anguish.”

Such methods help patients suffering from Stockholm syndrome and may possibly be effective also for victims of prospecticide[4]. nine0003

However, do not forget about the second side. Psychologist Maxim Chekmarev notes:

“In any relationship, both sides will have to be dealt with, since violations of the attachment system will take place in both. The aggressor will need to discover the ability to be on an equal footing with anyone, clarify and heal their own deepest fears, develop the ability to see the other person as a subject, not an object. It is important for the victim to go from the ability to submit and lose himself for the sake of maintaining a relationship to the ability to build relationships that value the autonomy and uniqueness of a partner. In both cases, this is a reconstructive psychotherapeutic work, since we are dealing with personality disorders. nine0003

Thus, emotional manipulation remains a serious problem, and if you are even for a moment worried about the psychological state of your personal relationships, then this is the first sign that something is really wrong with them.


[1] "Perspecticide: What you need to know about this type of emotional abuse in a relationship" / Xposé, 18th Oct 17.

[2] "Manipulative people brainwash their partners using something called 'perspecticide' – here are the signs it is happening to you” / Independent, 15th Oct 17.

[3] Is your partner emotionally manipulating you? 6 signs you may be a victim of Perspecticide" /

[4] "Perspecticide: What you need to know about this type of emotional abuse in a relationship" /

Cover: Francisco Goya, Monk Talking to a Woman (1824).

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