Mandy Kloppers

Subtle signs of control in a relationship

Many of us know the overt signs of abuse. Behaviour such as someone telling you outright what you can and can’t do is pretty obvious. Subtle signs of control are harder to spot but I am going to list them in this blog post. I have dealt with countless manipulators and controlling people over the years, personally and professionally and have a very good idea when controlling behaviour is at play.

Subtle signs of control

Emotional blackmail

Some one who plays on your emotions, making you feel guilty if you don’t do what they want is emotionally blackmailing you. Example: If you love me, you’ll do it. If you cared you would do this for me.

Creating a debt you’re beholden to

“Look what I’ve done for you”. Their offers and ‘kindness’ come with a price. Nothing is unconditional.

Subtle comments to keep you insecure in the relationship

When someone subtley criticizes you or focuses on your weaknesses – they way you speak or dress etc. this is a warning sign.

Conditional acceptance

You only feel loved or receive positive behaviour if you do what they want you to.

Selfish behaviour where your needs appear less important

Egocentrism is a nasty habit that can suffocate a relationship. Do you feel you need to keep the other person happy all the time?

Constant disclosure

They want to know where you are all the time, they expect you to return their calls as quickly as possible. You are not allowed any privacy.

Not respecting your independence

Your independence threatens them, the more reliant you are on them, the better they like it.

Making you earn trust

You’re guilty until proved innocent.

Manipulation with statements such as: “it’s for your own good”

They try to hide their control of you by twisting their real intentions into a so-called benefit for you.

Thwarting your dreams/ambitions to keep you dependent on them

They will point out your weaknesses but they won’t support you to be the best you can be. That’s way too threatening to them. They will decide the ‘ceiling’ you can reach – that is, the one they feel comfortable with.

Unwillingness to hear your point of view

Deflection is commonly used. They twsit everything around and cleverly put the blame back on you.

Refusing to listen to any discussions over their behaviour

Again, deflection is used. You may comment on how they didn’t call you when they were late and instead of dealing woth that issue, they will immediately focus on a time when you did it and turn the focus back on to you. They can’t deal with any type of negative feedback.

Deflection (never/rarely their fault)

Yep, they rarely take responsibility for their behaviour. They will find a way to punish you for any perceived error on your part – silent treatment, criticisms, anger, shouting…you will never please them unless you make them the centre of your universe.

Mandy X

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