15 Easy But Effective Ways To Set Boundaries With Controlling People

15 Easy But Effective Ways To Set Boundaries With Controlling People

Controlling people can come in the form of a boss, a “friend,” a romantic partner, in-laws, or even our own family. Setting boundaries with them can feel intimidating, but it’s a non-negotiable step in protecting your well-being. Below are some simple but effective strategies to help you assert yourself, regain a sense of control, and set the stage for healthier relationships even with people who try to dominate. You can break free from their influence and prioritize your own happiness, we promise.

1. Know what your boundaries are to begin with.

It’s hard to keep controlling people at bay when you don’t safeguard yourself. Take time to notice your triggers and what makes you uncomfortable and frustrated, PsychCentral suggests. Could it be the tone a coworker uses with you? Is it a specific thing your partner says when you’re late for date night? List out these grievances so you can establish boundaries and recognize when a controlling person has crossed a line.

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2. Be honest about how to best protect yourself.

If you have boundaries but aren’t open and honest about them, people will walk all over them. You owe it to yourself to be direct and honest with others. Speak up for yourself and say what you will and won’t tolerate. Don’t skimp on the details or skirt how you feel. Eventually, this will make your life simpler—emotionally and mentally—in the office, at the in-laws, etc.

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3. Be upfront about your boundaries.


Don’t save the honesty for the aftermath, when controlling people have already manipulated you and disrespected your space. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to put your foot down, but you owe it to yourself and others to be open about what does and doesn’t cross personal lines. The sooner you have these conversations, the more likely you are to save relationships… or at least make difficult people less difficult to be around.

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4. Use the “unfollow” button as needed.

When controlling people in your life come from behind the screen, use the “unfollow” button. This hides their pushy posts from your feed. If you need to take it a step further, block them. This might seem mature, maybe childish, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping rude, inconsiderate, bulldozing people at bay. Social media is meant to connect you to people who encourage you and pour life into you; it’s not a space for you to be bullied and controlled.

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5. Set time limits for unhealthy family members.

Let’s say it’s Christmas and you have to be around your controlling, overbearing grandmother. There’s not much way around the event, but you can set time limits for yourself. If you know you can only tolerate her for two hours, then let your family know you can only be at Christmas dinner for two hours. (If you’re attending a stressful function with a significant other, explain your time limits before arriving so everyone is on the same page.)

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6. If necessary, change jobs.

Happy, smile and portrait of business man in city for professional, corporate and pride. Happiness, confident and career with face of male employee in New York for mindset, opportunity and positive

If your boss is controlling and abuses power to overwork and underpay you, consider looking for a different position at another company. In today’s job market, especially with remote work on the rise, there are plenty of career opportunities out there that may offer better working conditions. Don’t wear yourself out emotionally, mentally, and physically for a boss who doesn’t value your work.

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7. Accept support.

Many of us feel uncomfortable handling conflict, so we often avoid necessary conversations, like boundary-setting. When you have solid friends who will act as a healthy, respectful buffer for you, accept their support. We all need that one vocal friend who isn’t afraid to step up for us and shield us from controlling people.

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8. Do your homework.

Before you dive headfirst into any sort of relationship, job opportunity, etc., do your homework. This might look like talking to someone for several weeks, having actual phone conversations, before going on a date with them. Or, it could mean reaching out to current employees of a specific company before you agree to take a job there. If you recognize anyone with controlling, unhealthy habits, pivot before you feel you’re too deep into a situation.

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9. Define “friendship.”

It’s easy to become friends with someone who is controlling. At first, they seem to just care a lot about what’s best for you, but controlling you is what’s best for their ego. Recognize what makes a true friend and don’t settle for someone who will use your kindness like a doormat. This will save you lots of heartache and stress in the long-run.

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10. Listen to warnings.

If someone you truly know and trust warns you about another person, listen. Save yourself some hurt and frustration by respecting the opinions of the people who care about you. If you’re talking to a guy who has dated 10 women in the past three months, he’s probably the problem. Take heed from those women. If you’re leaving a job interview and an employee discreetly pulls you to the side and says you should find other work, take their words to heart. Other people’s experiences can be your lifeline.

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11. Control your circle of influence.

You have the power to control your circle of influence. You dictate who you allow in and out of your life. It’s hard to be impacted by controlling people if you don’t allow controlling people to influence your life. (Tip: The easiest way to safeguard yourself and your circle is by opening the door of communication with those you trust. Let the people inside your circle be honest about those in your life who aren’t honoring your boundaries.)

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12. Value yourself.

smiling woman riding in car

You set boundaries to protect yourself from controlling people. Why? Because you value yourself. To keep controlling people in place, honor yourself and know why you deserve to remove unhealthy people from your life. Until you actually respect yourself, it will be easy to let others manipulate you.

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13. Walk away from those who don’t deserve to be in your life.

Controlling people are toxic people. Whether they’re lifelong friends or even family members, recognize when you need to walk away. Is this awkward and hard? Sure. But do you deserve to keep controlling people at bay? Absolutely. Consider the negativity and stress these people bring to your day-to-day life, and then consider the freedom and joy you would have without their added pressures.

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14. Get comfortable with alone time.

If you’ve walked away from a controlling person who has been in your life for a long time or was once part of your day-to-day routine, it can seem lonely to be apart from them. Nonetheless, get comfortable with alone time. Take the space to process and heal and reaffirm why having boundaries is healthy for you. This might look like rekindling the love of an old hobby, like reading or painting or going for walks. Whatever it may be, find ways to be content with yourself.

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15. Stick to your boundaries.

If you get lonely, it’s easy to retract your boundaries and dive back into an unhealthy relationship. If you refuse to tolerate controlling behavior, then refuse to tolerate controlling behavior for the long run. You’ll thank yourself down the road.

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Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.