In a Controlling Relationship? Here’s What You Can Do

A woman who's in a controlling relationship, looking outside with her head in her arms and thinking.

It’s good to be loved, but there is such a thing as someone who holds on a little too tight. Possessive behavior is unhealthy and can do emotional, mental, and physical harm to a marriage or relationship.

Your possessive partner may feel like they’re trying to protect your relationship by being clingy or jealous. But the truth is, controlling behaviors will only damage a once healthy relationship and send you both toward counseling.

You should never excuse your partner or spouse from domestic violence or possessive, frightening behavior.

Here are the top six signs that you’re in a controlling relationship and what you can do about it.

Signs Your Partner is Possessive
As people on the outside looking in, your friends and family may already be wary of your partner’s behavior. Yet, a possessive partner will resort to subtle manipulations to keep you under their control. This may make it difficult for you to see the signs of a controlling relationship when you’re on the receiving end of the abuse.

Confused about where your spouse ranks when it comes to domestic violence or possessive behavior? Here are the most common signs to look out for:

Unhealthy jealousy.
It’s normal for couples to experience mild forms of jealousy in a relationship. But unhealthy jealousy may cause your partner to take your phone from you or get aggressive when someone flirts with you, and will stifle your independence.

Constant appeasing.
No matter what you’re doing, your spouse expects you to drop everything to follow their command.

Controlling behavior.
A partner will use controlling behavior to try and keep you all to themselves. They may often guilt you into spending time with them over friends and family. They may even openly try and alienate you from others who love you.

Cyber and physical stalking.
Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? Possessive partners may log in to your social media accounts, snoop on your phone, or even follow you when you’re out of the house.

Constant disrespect.
Dragging down your self-worth is a common tactic of possessive partners. They’re often paranoid and disrespectful to your personal space and wishes.

Threats and violence.
When your spouse doesn’t get what they want or you’re having a disagreement, they resort to physical violence or abusive speech.

Advice for Dealing with a Possessive Partner

It’s never easy to be with someone who is always trying to control you. Whether your partner is aware of their dangerous ways or they’re simply holding on too tight because of past mistakes in their lives, this unnerving behavior needs to stop.

If your partner is overbearing and possessive, here are a few things you can do:

Build trust.
A partner may be acting possessive unintentionally. Not because they want to control you, but because they’re jealous or insecure about themselves. One way you can help your partner feel more secure in your relationship is by building trust.

By being open and honest about your whereabouts and being accountable to your word, your partner will see there’s no reason to hold on to you so tightly.

Communicate clearly.
Communication is always beneficial for healthy, happy relationships. You and your partner need to talk openly about what’s bothering you. Perhaps your partner is controlling and they don’t even know it. Talk about their actions and explain honestly how they’re affecting you.

If your partner is exhibiting behaviors you don’t like or appreciate, you need to be clear with them about the changes you need to see before going forward with the relationship.

Encourage marriage counseling.
Solid advice for dealing with a controlling relationship is to attend counseling. There you and your spouse will be able to open up the lines of communication and see what is really going on in your relationship.

Your counselor can pinpoint the true root of your partner’s jealous or controlling behavior and give appropriate advice on how to correct those issues of insecurity.

Be patient.
If you’re not experiencing domestic violence but rather, your partner is dealing with severe insecurities, be patient. Counseling can help both you and your partner learn how to be better people and bring out the best in each other.

It may be frustrating to be with someone who’s always worried that you’re going to leave, but change is not going to happen overnight. So long as you’re in a safe situation, trust the process. Change is not going to happen overnight.

Create a Strategic Plan to Leave an Abusive Partner

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, it takes a victim of abuse seven tries to leave their partner before they’re successful. This is often due to manipulative behavior, fear, or domestic violence. In fact, statistics show that women in abusive relationships are most at risk when they’re leaving their partner.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reveals that 10 million people each year are physically abused by an intimate partner. If you are in an abusive, possessive relationship, here’s how you can leave safely.

Assess the danger.
Has your partner ever been physically violent before? Knowing this will help you understand the danger you may face when you leave.

Identify safety zones.
Can you take refuge outside of town, in a women’s shelter, or with a trusted friend or family member? You must have a safe retreat planned before you leave.

Utilize your phone.
When leaving your possessive or dangerous partner, have your phone ready to call 911. Inform trusted friends or family that you’re planning to leave, in case anything suspicious happens. You can also download domestic violence apps for help.

There are a lot of degrees of ‘control’ in a controlling relationship. Some can be worked through but many can’t. You should never excuse your partner or spouse from domestic violence or possessive, frightening behavior.

If you are in an abusive relationship or a domestic violence situation, it’s in your best interest to remove yourself from that relationship. You can call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text at 1-800-787-3224.

Rachael Pace

Relationship Expert

Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.

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