Relationships are an integral part of who we are. When we are in love, all is right with the world. When we're happy, it appears that our health is at it's best and at times when our relationships suffer, it appears that these are the times that our health also suffers.
It is safe to assume that most of us are involved in relationships to some degree, whether it is with family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors or our significant other. But for the sake of this post I will address relationships of a romantic nature.
Most of us have similar expectations from our relationships. You desire your significant other to be happy, you appreciate that person for whom they are; faults and all, you show your love by being supportive, and you’d give anything to see them happy.
However, no matter how much we desire our relationship to work, sometimes we must face the fact that all relationships are not healthy for us. It is common that at the beginning of a relationship, everyone is on their best behavior, but over a period of time a person's true self emerges. And you find yourself asking "How did I end up with this selfish, angry, controlling person?"
Some signs may have even been present from the beginning. Outbursts of anger when someone cut them off in traffic; talking down to or about people who might work with or around them; displaying a lack of patience and irritability over the most trivial things.
Initially, this hostility may have been directed at others but gradually you become the source of the controller's anger.
Control is a form of abuse used by the abuser to keep the victim in line so that the abuser is always in ‘charge’. In many cases the person with the controlling behavior can’t see that they are controlling, and will continue to deny that they are the problem.
Women who fear that they are being controlled by the man in her life will appear so unsure if what she is experiencing is actually control. She may struggle to find the right words to describe what may sound insignificant to some but to others it's clearly controlling behavior.
"He yells and uses profanity if I place the toilet paper on the roll over, instead of under; if I make too much noise when I wash dishes; or when the volume on the television is too loud. He even tries to control what I watch on television" She then asks, "Am I going crazy and imagining that his behavior is wrong?"
I know firsthand that any person in this position is not crazy, or imagining that this behavior is unacceptable. I know because I've lived with a man who displayed similar dominant, controlling behavior. Nothing I did was ever good enough. He found faults in anything and it appeared that everything about me irritated him. Nothing was ever good enough. I could walk through the house in my heels and I was making too much noise (granted those same heels were good enough when we were in bed), I was scolded for washing dishes and not shaking the water off the dishes before placing them in the dish tray, and I could even relate when she said she was frequently berated for making too much noise while washing dishes. He would even give me instructions on how to drive as he was sitting in the passenger seat. Nothing I did was ever good enough!
Unhealthy relationships can be toxic to our health and well-being. So the most important thing is learning to recognize the signs to help you identify if you are in an unhealthy, abusive and/or controlling relationship.
Some signs of abuse are obvious. Physical and verbal abuse is easily identified. Mental/emotional abuse can be a little harder to detect. When a person gets in your head and try to damage your self-esteem, it's a whole different level of abuse. In many cases, an abuser may use control or emotional abuse as a tatic to damage self-esteem in order to make him/herself feel more superior.
Signs of a Controlling Relationship!
1) Outbursts of profanity and/or childlike behavior:
A controller has a frightening temper. They may display childlike behavior by throwing temper tantrums to include slamming doors, throwing things, yelling, cursing, possibly using acts of intimidation such as making threats and/or displaying weapons in your presence.
2) Attacking your self-confidence:
They constantly correct your slight mistakes, making you feel “on guard,” unintelligent, and leaving you with the feeling that you are always doing something wrong. They gradually pick apart your self-esteem and leave you walking on eggshells so that you won't do anything to provoke him/her to anger.
3) Sudden changes in personality:
You may be verbally abused, cursed, and threatened over something minor. Suddenly, the next day they become sweet, doing all those little things they did when you started dating. The abuser may say very nasty things about you or those you care about, again chipping away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. Although the abuser apologizes the damage to your self-esteem is already done.
4) It’s "Always" Your Fault:
When a controller yells at you, treats you badly, or embarrass you publicly, it’s somehow your fault. If you are ten minutes late for a date, everything that happens after that is your fault. If they get a ticket for speeding, it's your fault because you were late you are the reason they were speeding in the first place now they pout the rest of the evening.
A controller tells you their anger and misbehavior would not have happened if you had not made some simple mistake, or had not questioned their behavior. A controller never, repeat “never,” takes personal responsibility for their behavior - it’s always the fault of someone else. If they drive like a maniac and try to pull an innocent driver off the highway to assault them, it’s actually the fault of the other driver (not him) as they didn't use a turn signal when they changed lanes. They give you the impression that you had it (anger, yelling, assault) coming and deserved the anger, violence, pouting, or physical display of aggression.
5) Discounted Feelings/Opinions:
A Controller is so self-involved and self-worshiping that the feelings and opinions of others are considered worthless. As the relationship continues and you begin to question what you are feeling or seeing in their behavior, you will be told that your feelings and opinions don’t make sense, they’re silly, and that you are emotionally disturbed to even think of such things. A Controller has no interest in your opinion or your feelings, but they will be disturbed and upset that you dare question their behavior. A Controller is extremely hostile toward criticism and often reacts with anger or rage when their behavior is questioned.
The above examples are a few of many signs that are prevalent when in a controlling relationship. If you are seeing any of these signs it may be time to reevaluate your relationship to figure why you would continue to remain with someone who couldn't possibly love you when they only want to control you!
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