Have you ever had a friend who suddenly disappears off the social scene, changes their appearance, or gives up their goals and unique personality traits, at the beginning of a relationship? Most likely, they’ve been caught in the snare of a controlling guy.
Dating someone with control issues can begin with seemingly insignificant details, which make you feel minor irritation. When left to run wild, however, those details can cause emotional abuse, all for the benefit of feeding a guy’s need for domination.
To help you enter relationships with your eyes wide open, here are 7 early warning signs of a controlling guy.
1. He Comes on Strong
Controlling guys will often immediately come on strong, which can be very flattering initially, but is a common sign of their need for control. Feelings, especially for men, develop over time, yet a controlling man will often make you feel as if he’s falling for you straight away, by saying all the right things and investing a huge amount of attention into every detail about you.
In a short amount of time you feel like you’re the center of his universe, and usually, that’s your red flag. Controlling men know what to say to lure you in and, before you know it, you’re caught in their net (‘caught’ being the operative word).
2. Your Time is His Time
Controlling guys quickly, and with great skill, try to make you feel as if anything you do, other than things that include them, is a disruption to the life you have together.
Unfortunately, these ‘disruptions’ are often your family, friends, hobbies, or anything else that equates to your life as an individual. When a controlling man feels threatened, he may try to make you feel bad about your choices or passively-aggressively make you feel guilty about doing something that doesn’t include him.
It’s flattering when someone feels and expresses slight disappointment when you tell them you’ve made previous plans; it’s quite the opposite when they hit you with the cold shoulder because of it, try to talk you out of your plans or create a sob story as to why you should be with them instead.
3. He Lacks a Social Life
Having a fantastic social life is rarely something a controlling person can do successfully.
If he never mentions his mates, recent social gatherings, group activities, or anything to do with others, it’s a red flag.
This is because control issues stem from feelings of being threatened and ‘out of control’. Having a good group of mates with spontaneous social activities means putting yourself out there and trusting in people.
Controlling men are rarely secure enough to do this, so they’d rather just have you, and only you, because (they think) a singular relationship is easier to control than a bunch of ‘messy’ friendships with people who’ll behave however they want.
4. He Keeps Constant Tabs on You
Controlling guys can seem oh so caring to begin with. They’re always concerned about you, that you’re safe and made it to where you said you’d be. The attention is enamoring. But it doesn’t take long before this behavior crosses a threshold where it moves into unhealthy.
Soon, his ‘caring’ texts become insistent calls. You start to anticipate them and having to explain yourself, so you decide, rather than deal with the drama of staying out a bit longer, you’ll just make sure you’re home on time.
Little by little, your confidence, and your feelings of freedom and choice in your own life, diminish. You start to live by his schedule rather than your own, and not risk the drama of an innocent night out with the girls or meeting up with that old guy friend of yours. If you don’t pull the plug at this point, things spiral out of control. You’ll be left completely dependent on him, your wings clipped, any confidence you had in yourself eroded away. All taken from you by a controlling guy so he never has to face his own deep seated insecurities.
5. He’s Charmingly Insistent
It can be flattering if a guy puts in the effort to suggest something off the menu for you or buys you something to wear. However, if you say no to his suggestion and he becomes insistent, especially with the attitude he knows what’s best for you, he’s a controlling guy.
This controlling guy will often ‘charmingly’ give you a backhanded compliment about the outfit you’re wearing as you leave for a night out with the girls, something along the lines of, “you look hot, but don’t you think that skirt’s too short?”
Although you may have been wearing a short skirt when you met him, (and he loved it) faced with the threat of other men loving it, he now feels entitled to influence the way you dress. This isn’t just a red flag; it’s a sign to run for the hills.
6. He Behaves Like a Director
If a man gives you the feeling he wants to ‘direct’ you, rather than connect with you, he has control issues. It’s one thing to be with a man who’s decisive and knows what he wants, but a controlling man will take this a step further by constantly ‘suggesting’ you go certain places, eat certain things, wear certain clothes and see or not see certain people, regardless of your opinion.
If you have to explain, defend, or expand on your ideas and decisions constantly to get him to understand your way of thinking, you’re under the influence of a controlling man. A man who wants to connect with you will be curious, open-minded, and possibly enthralled by your uniqueness, enhancing mutual understanding, rather than pushing his own agenda.
7. Other Men Are Off Limits
Quickly, a controlling man will take a stand on the other men in your life. If you’re friends with your ex, a controlling man will see this as a threat, rather than a sign of an emotionally mature person. If you regularly hang out with male friends, a controlling man will show his insecurity by questioning you, checking up on you when you’re not with him, and possibly even (gasp) going through your phone.
Considering we only have the choice of male or female people to hang out with, chances are we will all have friends of the opposite sex. This is healthy and necessary for balance in our lives. A controlling man doesn’t see it this way, even if he has his own female friends, because he can’t deal with the perceived competition from other men.
Issues of control always stem from an emotional imbalance, whether it be insecurity, an inability to foster self-love, or an unhealthy need for perfection. It’s important to take note of the early warning signs, but it’s even more essential to be aware, at all times, of how a guy makes you feel.
Anyone who makes you feel self-doubt, guilt, or that you constantly have to second-guess your own decisions to see their point of view is not interested in your happiness or self-growth. They’re not interested in you, beyond what they want to make of you. Connecting with another person means to integrate with curiosity, joy, and wonder for what makes both of you unique.
This uniqueness, which we all possess, is to be celebrated, not squashed under the hefty weight of emotional control issues. When you celebrate your own precious individuality and know you hold the keys to your own happiness, you’ll never give them away to someone who only wants to use them to lock you up.