My Ex Tried To Control My Life—These Are The 12 Signs I Missed

He was charming, sweet, and so caring. He seemed like a great boyfriend… until I started noticing that something was up. He wasn’t kind, he was controlling—and it took me months of dating to notice these 12 signs that I had to GTFO.

  1. He gave me advice when I didn’t ask for it. I’d tell him what I was thinking of doing and he would give me advice on how to go about doing it even though I never asked him. It was like he was always preempting me, coming across as caring when he was really just trying to controlling my future actions.
  2. He mansplained a lot. He would tell me how things worked as though he was a parent telling a child how to think and learn things. It was so insulting, but I never thought it was controlling behavior… until he’d use his mansplaining to criticize me, saying things like, “You don’t understand that because you’re not using your head.”
  3. He criticized me for small things. He always found things to criticize me about. It could be something small like how I’d done my makeup or how clumsy I was. He’d say it in a joking way or quickly say he was joking when I got upset, but I didn’t realize he was just trying to bust my self-esteem. It was working on a subconscious level, though, and definitely made me feel like crap.
  4. He criticized my friends. He wouldn’t do this in a blunt or obvious way, but he would always have negative things to say about my friends. Sadly, he was really convincing when doing this because I started to believe him. When he started criticizing my family members, that’s when I realized that he was just trying to bring down the people in my life that I valued.
  5. He made me feel guiltyI was feeling guilty around the guy all the time and could never figure out why. It was only after the relationship that I realized he was always making me feel like I’d done something wrong and that I should feel sorry about something. He didn’t even have to say anything to make me feel incompetent—even just his vibe was making me feel unworthy.
  6. He missed me when I wasn’t with him. I used to think it was so sweet that he loved spending time with me so much that he’d get upset when I wasn’t around, but looking back, he was acting like a toddler throwing a tantrum! He would act up when he didn’t get his way. It definitely wasn’t cute or romantic.
  7. He tried to protect me from everything. You’d think I was a hopeless, clueless woman if you looked at the way he was always trying to protect me. He’d tell me to be careful when going outside without a jacket and to watch the road when I was driving. WTF?
  8. He followed his own rules. If he wanted to go out with his friends, that was cool, but if I wanted to go out with mine, he’d have a problem with it. It was crazy! He just didn’t seem to notice or care about what I wanted. It was one set of rules for him and another for me.
  9. He acted vulnerable and insecure. This would really throw me, making me think he was just a sensitive guy when really, he was being super manipulative. When I was getting ready to travel for work, he’d look all teary-eyed 0r moody. When he got jealous about my platonic male friends, he’d later say he was just so scared of losing me. Please. He was just trying to control me, and his crocodile tears were the perfect way for him to do that.
  10. He would micromanage me. I didn’t realize he was doing this for the longest time. But it’s the classic move of abusers: they try to control all the little details of their partner’s lives. For example, he’d make sure that I texted him whenever I left the house and reached my destination, then text him halfway into the outing or work function. He acted like I had to do this so that he could be aware of where I was to keep me safe, but after a while, I realized he was micromanaging me. It was his way of having a say in all aspects of my life. It was sick.
  11. He was never at fault. This could’ve been seen as a sign he was just a jerk, but it was also controlling. See, he’d always find fault with me but never take any blame for things he’d done. He’d try to control situations and people’s perceptions of them so that he could always come out winning—and I could always be at fault for things I didn’t even do.
  12. He regularly mentioned how popular he was with women. Quite a few times, he’d tell me stories about his exes and he always made it seem like he was surrounded by amazing women who were interested in him. It used to affect my self-confidence. He just wanted me to think that he was desirable and could find someone else at the drop of a hat. Because of this, I was expected to try jump through hoops to keep him interested. Screw that.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.