Bookmark and Share

What should I do if my boyfriend is controlling?

When you try to pull away from a controlling relationship, you'll discover that possessive guys have all kinds of tricks to make you stay. For example:

1. He might try to detach you from all your loved ones so that you'll have nobody but him. You'll think you have nowhere else to go but back to him.
2. When you want to leave he may become sweet as can be, which is what you've been waiting for. That way, you won't want to leave him while he's being so nice. You want to believe that he has changed. But don't be fooled. It won't last any longer than his last sweet mood swing.
3. •He may be verbally abusive, making you feel unlovable. His goal is to make you feel as if no one else would want you.
4. •He may use guilt to keep you on leash, making you feel like he'd die without you.
5. He may try to rush engagement. His talk of "forever" gets you to dream about the future and forget about the present problems.
6. When all else fails, he may threaten you or your loved ones, hoping you will stay out of fear. In other words, he's like an abusive dog-owner who threatens his puppy with a rolled-up newspaper: "Stay!"

In all of these cases, he is trying to stay in control, at your expense.

So, where is all this "control freak" behavior coming from? Odds are, he's insecure. Even if he appears cocky and assertive, it's covering up a total lack of confidence. A confident man is not afraid that you'll talk to friends (male or female) or spend time with your family. A confident man knows that his love for you does not need to hide from the truth. But, insecure guys will try to make you feel insecure, so that they can control you. Confident people make others confident. Insecure people try to make others insecure.

Do yourself a favor and don't feel sorry for him. He's not a victim. He chooses how he wants to act. What's sad is that a girl may fall for these tricks and repeatedly go back to an abusive or controlling relationship. She may gravitate towards strong-willed guys because she lacks self-esteem. If she does not know her identity, he'll give her one. As one young woman said, "After I got over him, which took a pretty long time, I realized what I was looking so hard for before I met him: myself."

If you're finding it hard to get away from the relationship, make yourself a "control freak calendar." Here's how to do it: Get a blank calendar, and write down each time he's controlling, possessive, jealous, or abusive. Girls often go back to dead-end relationships, because they "forget" how bad he is. Having a written record of his behavior will keep this amnesia from happening. Don't do sexual stuff with him, either, since the oxytocin produced by a woman's brain during sexual intercourse will bond you to him, increase your trust of him, make you less critical of him, and will impair your memory of bad experiences regarding him. Therefore, take the sexual stuff out, so that you can see more clearly.

Then, take a look at the calendar after a few weeks, and listen to your gut. I'd bet you've been ignoring it for some time. Don't lie to yourself, ignore the problems, rationalize the relationship, or pretend that it will be better tomorrow. Likewise, don't cling to him because he "needs" you or because you don't want to be without a boyfriend. You may fear abandonment and you may struggle with self-doubt. We're all afraid of being alone, but perhaps the thing you fear the most-not having a boyfriend-may be the very thing that will give you the independence you need in order to find real love.

Like him, you are not a victim. Don't make excuses for him. Don't try to rescue him. You can't change his behavior, but you can change yours. Get out. If he says he can't live without you, then he doesn't need a girlfriend. He needs a therapist.

For tips on how to end an unhealthy relationship, check out some of our Q and A's on breaking up, here (Then, scroll down).