Lifestyle: How to tell if your partner is a control freak

Entertainment of Monday, 24 October 2016

Source: Women’s Health Magazine

2016-10-24

Control FreakFile photo

In a perfect world, you could control everything. Your commute would be traffic-free, your partner would do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it, and Nick Viall would not be on The Bachelor. But that’s not how things work—and most of us are well aware of this.

Unfortunately, some people aren’t. And while it’s totally understandable that your S.O. is pissed when you don’t text him back and he legit needs to get in touch with you, too much possessive, controlling behavior is a sign of a bigger problem.

Why Control Freaks Freak Out

According to Brandy Engler, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist specializing in relationships, control issues are typically due to an underlying insecuritythat a person will be abandoned or cheated on. “They feel a lack of trust and safety—and will project this on to their partner,” she says.

But controlling behavior exists on a spectrum, Engler says. It can be triggered by a mild insecurity or by a legitimate mental illness like borderline personality disorder (a disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning, according to the National Institute of Mental Health).

On the low end of the spectrum, controlling behavior can manifest itself as actions that feels suffocating—like, your partner checking your phone or computer, needing to know where you are at all times, and acting suspicious of your friends, co-workers, or even family members. But in severe cases, it can lead to abusiveness.

What It Looks Like

People with control issues “may come off as demanding for attention and connection in an overbearing way,” Engler says. “They act like they have the right to be in touch with you at all times and know your personal info.” They may also get angry when they think you’re acting distant or don’t allow them to check your phone. Their control freakiness can also manifest itself in angry outbursts that are overly dramatic, she says.

Some men with control issues are passionate and will heap tons of attention on you, which probably feels great at first. But when you start to feel that they’re needy and demanding and begin to pull away, they will start to seek more attention or control over you, says Engler. “If you don’t comply they may devalue you—become emotionally insulting or, at worst, physically abusive to themselves or you,” she says.

What to Do Next

If your S.O. seems more needy than other people you’ve dated, they could just have insecurity issues that can be addressed with the help of therapy. But if it seems like he won’t trust you no matter what, it’s deeper than that. “This is an underlying issue that you can’t heal,” Engler says.

If your guy seems like a total control freak, don’t comply with his demands. “Do not let him check your phone or computer—it enables him,” Engler says. Ditto for restricting time with your family and friends, or anything else that you know isn’t right. It’s important to set boundaries for the amount of contact that feels right for you.

If insecurity seems to be at the root of the behavior, know that it’s not your fault, and show support for your partner’s abandonment anxiety by suggesting therapy. If your S.O. decides to actually seek therapy, that’s a sign that he’s willing to work on things. If not, you have to think long and hard about whether this is behavior you can—and should—live with.

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