15 Sneaky Signs Someone Is Trying To Control You — Don’t Let Them!

15 Sneaky Signs Someone Is Trying To Control You — Don’t Let Them!

While it’s sweet when someone wants the best for you and feels protective over you, this can cross into toxic territory pretty quickly.

provided by iStock

There’s a thin line between being caring and controlling, and if any of the following things are happening, the person in question in your life is in the latter category. It’s important to act quickly and nip this in the bud ASAP.

1. They isolate you from friends and family.

provided by Shutterstock

According to Healthline, controlling person might subtly (or not so subtly) discourage you from seeing your loved ones. They might make snide comments about your friends, complain when you make plans, or even create drama to keep you away. They could also try to convince you that your friends and family don’t have your best interests at heart. This isolation can make you more dependent on them and less likely to seek outside support, leaving you feeling lonely and vulnerable.

2. They monitor your phone and social media.

provided by iStock

Demanding to know your passwords, checking your messages, or constantly asking who you’re talking to online are all signs of a controlling partner. They might accuse you of hiding something or being unfaithful. Healthy relationships are built on trust, not surveillance, and this behavior is a major invasion of privacy.

3. They criticize your appearance or choices.

provided by iStock

Controlling people often use criticism to undermine your confidence and make you feel bad about yourself. They might pick apart your clothes, body, or hobbies, making you question your own judgment and taste. This constant negativity can wear you down and make you feel like you’re never good enough.

4. They make all the decisions.

couple having lunch at restaurant

provided by iStock

Whether it’s what to eat for dinner or where to go on vacation, a controlling person wants to be in charge of everything. They might dismiss your opinions or preferences, making you feel like your voice doesn’t matter. This can leave you feeling powerless and resentful.

5. They gaslight you.

couple having serious convo on couch

provided by iStock

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where someone makes you doubt your own sanity or memory. They might deny saying or doing things, blame you for their behavior, or make you feel like you’re overreacting. This can leave you feeling confused, anxious, and unsure of yourself, making it harder to trust your own perceptions.

6. They have a short temper and are prone to outbursts.

ex moved oniStock/mixmike
Couple having a serious quarrel outside

While everyone gets angry sometimes, controlling people often have a quick temper and use it to intimidate or scare you. Their anger might be disproportionate to the situation, leaving you walking on eggshells to avoid triggering them. This constant fear can be emotionally draining and make you feel like you’re always one wrong move away from a confrontation.

7. They make you feel guilty or ashamed for spending time on yourself.

Young couple eating together at home

provided by iStock

Do they guilt trip you for wanting to hang out with friends, pursue your hobbies, or simply take some time for self-care? A controlling person might make you feel like your needs are selfish or unimportant, even implying that you don’t care about them if you prioritize your own well-being. This can leave you feeling guilty and obligated to put their needs above your own.

8. They use threats or ultimatums.

couple arguing at cafe

provided by iStock

This is a major red flag. Whether it’s threatening to leave you, hurt themselves, or harm someone you love, using threats to control your behavior is never okay. This is a serious form of emotional abuse and should not be tolerated. It’s important to seek support and prioritize your safety if you’re experiencing this type of behavior.

9. They belittle your accomplishments or dismiss your feelings.

Loving couple embracing on cold floor

provided by iStock

A controlling person might downplay your successes or mock your feelings, making you feel insignificant and invalidated. They might minimize your achievements or tell you that you’re being too sensitive. This constant negativity can chip away at your self-esteem and make you doubt your own worth.

10. They blame you for their problems or mistakes.

provided by Shutterstock

Instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, a controlling person might shift the blame onto you. They might accuse you of provoking them or causing their unhappiness, making you feel responsible for their issues. This can leave you feeling guilty and burdened, even for things that are completely out of your control.

11. They give you the silent treatment.

provided by Shutterstock

Using silence as a weapon to punish or control you is a manipulative tactic. It can leave you feeling anxious and desperate to appease them, giving them more power over your emotions. This can create a cycle of emotional manipulation where you’re constantly trying to avoid their disapproval.

12. They’re excessively jealous and possessive.

provided by Shutterstock

A healthy dose of jealousy is normal in any relationship, but controlling people often take it to an extreme. They might accuse you of flirting with other people, demand to know where you are at all times, or even try to limit your contact with other people. This can be suffocating and make you feel like you’re constantly under suspicion.

13. They try to change you.

provided by Shutterstock

A controlling person might try to mold you into their ideal partner, criticizing your interests, appearance, or even your values. They might pressure you to change your behavior to suit their preferences, rather than accepting you for who you are. This can lead to a loss of identity and make you feel like you have to compromise your true self to please them.

14. They make you feel like you can’t do anything right.

provided by iStock

No matter how hard you try, a controlling person always seems to find something to criticize. This constant negativity can destroy your confidence and make you doubt your own abilities, even for things you’re usually good at. It can feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells, trying to avoid their disapproval.

15. They use love and affection as a bargaining chip.

frustrated woman with boyfriend in bed

provided by iStock

A controlling person might withhold affection or act coldly when you don’t do what they want, Psych Central warns. This can make you feel like you have to earn their love and approval through compliance, leading to a power imbalance in the relationship. It can also create a sense of emotional dependency, where you feel like you need their validation to feel good about yourself.

provided by iStock
Harper Stanley graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School in NYC in 2006 with a degree in Media Studies and Literature and Critical Analysis. After graduating, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic before moving to the UK to work for the London Review of Books.

When she's not waxing poetic about literature, she's writing articles about dating, relationships, and other women's lifestyle topics to help make their lives better. While shocking, she really has somehow managed to avoid joining any social media apps — a fact she's slightly smug about.