Ways to Tell a Man is Too Controlling

September 10, 2011  |  
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Even the most independent and assertive woman occasionally wants to play the damsel in distress to a strong man who wants to sweep her off of her feet and save her day.  Nonetheless, there are times when that protection can turn perilous if you’re dating a man who looks at you less as his partner and more as his property.

The following red flags could mean your man is playing a game of puppet master:

1. Isolates you from family and friends.

The relationship turns serious and the first thing he wants to do is move you miles away from everything you know. If your man seems annoyed that you talk to your mom or best friend once a day, repeatedly insults them or doesn’t relay messages they have for you he could be trying to drive a wedge so that you can devote all of your time to him.  Friends and family are outside of the relationship and armed with the ability to see red flags that aren’t visible through the rose-colored love lenses you’re rocking.  Any good man understands that his woman can balance family ties AND her love life.

2. Routinely checks your phone and your social networks.

I personally think certain things should be left separate in a relationship like Facebook profiles and cell phones; it just leaves too much room for misinterpretation.  A casual glance at an inbox can quickly turn into an obsessive routine search to solidify unreasonable suspicion.   When a man feels the need to keep tabs on everything you do socially, it doesn’t mean he loves you so much he has to know about every detail of your life, it means he doesn’t trust you or himself.

3. Tells you how to dress and chooses your attire.

You may have gotten his attention in the club with your red freakum dress, but now he makes it a point to keep you in jeans and a hoodie.  When a man is secure with himself and his situation, he has no need to feel threatened by his woman’s beauty or by others who compliment it. Not letting his lady leave the house in a satin bonnet is understandable, but he shouldn’t be your personal stylist either.

4. Becomes irate when you forget to “check-in.

“Checking-In” can be a normal part of a relationship just to support each other through the day and let one another know you’re safe, but if he’s blowing up your phone and cussing out your voicemail because you forgot to call at 5:15 on the dot. Low-jacks are for stolen vehicles, not for love.

5. Has uncontrolled fits of rage when things don’t go according to plan.

He’s the guy who goes beyond flipping out on the driver that cut him off; he’s jumping out at red lights with a baseball bat.  Forget that party you’re planning because he doesn’t like surprises; they make him appear as if he doesn’t have complete control.  Lack of anger management skills is not Hot it’s scary, and it could possibly be a matter of time before he stops swinging at Ms. Daisy and starts swinging at you.

6. Calls or texts incessantly.

A healthy relationship is one of balance meaning that both partners have interests outside of the relationship.  As much as you think you may want it to, his whole world shouldn’t revolve around you.
Texting 90 times a day and calling twice as much makes a girl wonder: Where does he find the time? Making your inbox go nuts is not passion; it’s obsession.

7. You have to ask him for “permission”.

The only people you should be asking permission from are your parents and legal authorities.  As an adult you have the right to make your own decisions and conduct your life as you see fit.  Factoring in the concerns of your partner is one thing, but asking to be allowed to have a girls’ night is just something that a woman in a relationship shouldn’t have to do.

8. He doesn’t factor in your opinion.

Taking charge and planning a date can be romantic, but he should also be regularly inviting your opinion on where to go, how to spend money if you have common expenses, and general expectations in the relationship.

9. You’re not only his top priority, but his only priority.

I’ve always felt that men who don’t have a few close friends were a little sketchy.  As I mentioned before, if he doesn’t have any other interests or hobbies outside of the relationship he might be a bit questionable.  Investing all of his energy, time and emotion into you and you alone places an unrealistic level of responsibility on your part and could turn ugly if things ever go sour.

10. He’s unrealistically jealous.

Getting a little jealous when he sees you smile when a Trey Songz video comes on is one thing, but flipping out at the clerk in the convenience store because he compliments you is completely another.  Just because two people are in a relationship, doesn’t mean they don’t have eyes and it’s healthy to be attracted to other people as long as you don’t disrespect your partner in any way.  When two people are secure with them selves and trust one another, they don’t feel the need to run their relationship like a dictatorship.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.


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  • Wolf hunter

    Given that a few of those examples are correct, do not try to put the blame on men. The game has changed and men are aware, women are acting more and like men everyday, thirsty and looking for men to compliment them, eyeball them and maybe even a a little bit more! Ha ha but seriously when u find a good women u go to all lengths to try to make it work and try to remove things that would In the future hurt you or your relationship… Alot of you women don’t know this but women and men cannot be friends! Lol i mean they could but that is only because they are attracted to that person, or in the past had some type of emotional feeling towards them, you ever seen a handsome man with ugly or fat girls that are friends?? I mean best friends ? Rarely to hell no cus that guy knows he is not attracted to her in any shape way or form. Guys like to have girls a s friends that could lead to something in the future and trust me i know the guys do nothing but talk lol. The only reason guys want to be ur friends women is because u might have something they want or is attracted to. So enuff with all this jealousy and overprotective Mumbo jumbo if men weren’t dogs and women werent turning into thirsty animals lol this article would not exist!

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  • Danajoym

    My boyfriend is CONTROLLING. After getting out of a 16 year marriage with a total narcissist, the first guy I date and end up living with, is a controlling freak. He was so charming. We moved in together after knowing each other for 2 months. We have been together almost 2 years now. He is a truck driver and is gone Sunday through Thursday. I used to take every tuesday off to spend with my adult daughter. Spa days, restaurants, shopping. I have quit the last couple of months but no more. He gets so upset. Why can’t I wait until he is home? He doesn’t really want a facial. If my cell phone rings more than a few times, he says “What were you doing?” very accusingly. One time, in the mall, my cell phone rang only twice and stopped. I was freaked. My daughter was like, “Uh-Oh!”. Damn. I was taking a shower once and I didn’t hear the phone. Mad, mad, mad. I told him to get me a waterproof one. Every week I have to hear about the guy I smiled at when we were at Applebees a year and a half ago. It was only a polite response back. I have finally figured out he will never change. I kept talking about trust, etc but to no avail. He even was talking to a friend I had for 10 years (not any more) behind my back, who knows how long, to get “information” about me. Wow! Was I hurt. Supposedly, I am a drunk. I am not allowed to go with my daughter to eat and have drinks but it is ok when he is home for us to have drinks with dinner. My daughter’s birthday was January 24th. We were at a Mediterranean buffet and he called me while we were eating. I had to sweet talk him into not being mad. “It’s her birthday”. “Please. Can you just tell her Happy Birthday?”. And, God forbid, we went to the mall afterward so I could buy her something. That was a problem, too. He comes home this Thursday night. He can sleep on the couch until he gets an apartment. Finally free. Why does it always take me so long?

  • V

    I'm a smart, attractive 26 year old working professional. I had a very loving and supportive upbringing, and I was raised to have very high self esteem and the utmost confidence in myself. Then during what was a very tumultuous year in my family, I got involved with a guy who had a great facade going. We dated for over a year when I seriously began thinking, "how did I let this happen?" I found myself depressed and crying all the time, and slowly (not even realizing it myself) spending less time with him. He exhibited about eight out of ten traits this author listed and it wasn't until it was glaring me in the face that I noticed things had gone terribly awry. The scrutiny, the verbal abuse, the immense jealousy of me spending time with ANY friends (esp. the males), the multiple forms of communication through the day not being enough for him until finally he shook me and pushed me twice. Everything leading up to it, I let slide, thinking he's really a very good person and we're just from different cultures and he's adapting, and -insert excuse here-. This is never okay and I advise anyone that suspects they are in a similar relationship to heed the warning signs the author has presented and GET OUT. You never know what this may escalate to. Be assured that while you may blame yourself, think some things are your fault, he's really a good guy deep down- YOU DESERVE BETTER.

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  • avasixty

    oh…and playing nice never works, it will just fuel the fire and keep you in an abusive situation longer. Tonight, begin organizing your belongings, getting things in order. And be prepared to lose mutual friends that he may be able to convince or get to before you. If they are not supportive of your safety then they never were your friends. Friends come and go, this life is no dress rehearsal. Best of luck to you, see you on the other side!

  • avasixty

    Abusers are manipulative and conniving, cunning and oddly intruiguing to those on the outside of the relationship. Those who walk/run/escape are more survivors than victims, the victims never live to tell their stories.
    That said, "Helpless" create and escape plan. Begin by erasing browser histories and changing online/bank passwords. Tell no one but those you trust that you plan to leave and have a close friend, male preferably, on hand to help you leave. If you have a pet, place it somewhere first and then remove important items like passport, id, bills, diplomas-ship them to your momma, this is when you need her or an aunty who can stash them. The next step is to simply leave, abusers do not deserve explanation, they've convinved you that you need to check in with them all the time….run! And never look back. You may be tempted and even see that sweet person you once fell in love with, but that dark place is just around the corner without proper therapy, get away from an abuser. Its not ok in our private lives which is why there are laws to protect us. Be safe and by all means, contact the national domestic violence hotline, they can help you, they helped me!

  • nursedred

    @msknowitall the reason this happens hasn’t got a thing to do with the women in these situations. It starts so insidiously that most of them don’t notice they’re being controlled or abused until they get into first scary argument. Notice also the very first thing the controlling man does is isolate their partner so they are far away from help. You need to be really cautious of a man who wants to marry you within months of meeting you. Not too long ago (about 30 years) the domestic violence rate for married women was 50%. Its the men believing that once a woman is ‘yours’ she’s property that you can do anything with and most of those men who are that way realize that its almost impossible to convince any modern women to live like that so initially they’re very sweet generous and charming. Its important to remember that initially he acts in no way ‘weird’. The women come from all walks of life and remember any woman can find herself in an abusive situation even confident assertive ones with other options. Usually by the time he does something crazy she’s married pregnant and living 3000 miles from anybody she knows. Basically trapped. The lucky ones get advanced warning in the form of him flipping out early on BEFORE they get in too deep

  • Msknowitall

    The real question is why would you allow someone to control you to that extend. The problem might not be him/her it may be you.Granted the world is full of millions "weird" people and normal people. You just choose to be with the "weird" one. You may have self-esteem issues, afraid to be single syndrome, you may be extremely submissive, desperate for a man syndrome, or you just have some type of undiagnosed psychological condition that you are unaware of. Work on you! If i ever sense, just sensing i have a controlling man in my presence, it's over-no explanations required and no second chances. Yes, i'm ruthless, but that's what happens when you are fully aware of your high worth and value to world and settling is not an option!

    • Janet

      You said it "you are fully aware of your high worth and value to world and settling is not an option", some people are not fully aware to no fault of their own. People tend to mimic what they see. Childhood upbringing or the lack of positive relationships can play a crucial role in decision making especially as it relates to male-female relationships. Kudos to you for getting it right, now help others identify the pit falls, so that they can do the same. Being ruthless is one thing, but restoring is another.

    • Danajoym

      You are so wrong. Sometimes, these men are cunning and hide things until you are involved. The problem is, with your philosophy, if someone shows even a little bit of a controlling behavior, you dont stay. Everyone has something they feel adamant about, it’s determining when that over the top behavior starts. Would you leave someone because they insist you do all the grocery shopping or whatever? I bet you are alone.

  • Sha Sha

    I stupidly married someone like this also but this was my second marriage and I got out because I had grown sons. 'Nuf said!!

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  • NayNay

    Coming from someone who was in an abusive relationship for 3 years this article is dead on. We think him being so "attentive" and wanting to be around us 24/7 is cute in the beginning but its really not. A man needs his own life it should not revolve around you at all times. Please be on the lookout for these signs ladies!

  • usewhatuhave

    @helpless….dont be scared, you have more strength than u think u have… And the farther away from him u get the stronger you will feel… Getting away from him is going to be like playing chess… You have to be calculated and creative and please do not be afraid to get the police involved if u are afraid for your life…. Play nice until you find somewhere else to go just to keep the peace… And when u get a chance to get away you better run… Im talking from experience, i was in an abusive marriage for ten years…

  • If he tells you to call him Ike Turner


    Sounds like serious undermining. Undermining behaviors like this do anything but build us up and make us feel better and safer. Rather these actions are meant to make us feel as insignificant, jealous and hateful as the perpetrator. You’ve heard of “each one, teach one?” Well, it definitely applies when it comes to sharing pain and negativity. Please believe: underminers build up their own spirit by breaking ours down.

    Read more about it at:

  • helpless:(

    I felt like this article was talking to me. I’ve been in a 3yr relationship with someone just like that. I don’t love him anymore. I want out!!! I just don’t know how to break it down to him without awaking his rage n violence. He’s never hit me but has been very close n gets very verbally abusive when he’s angry. I haven’t been the same person ever since I’ve been with him, physically n mentally. I feel so helpless n lonely…

    • NayNay

      Packing your stuff an just leaving with no notice is the best thing to do. Leave a note. You never know what he could do if your told him you were leaving. It may be cold but you have to protect yourself.

      • guest

        and SCREW the note too…btw…lol

    • Sha Sha

      @NayNay, I agree 100%! And if possible go to a place where there is a male relative that can take up for you. Abusive and controlling men are cowards and rarely have the balls to stand up to another man!

    • JON P

      look up narcisist . Your boyfriend might have that trait 🙁

    • Bren

      I was with a man for 9 years….he was very controlling. He would mark the dishwashing liquid bottle with a black marker, to see how much I used (and i bought it) same with the laundry det. He would stand at the bedroom window/ with the window up…and watch and tell me how to hang the clothes out…..lol….He would talk about how I would mow the lawn…He would tell me when I cooked (every day) that well this is good, if you had put more so in so in it. he would tell me how many sheets of toilet tissue I needed to use each time, I could never take a bath in the bath tub…..it took too much water…he would time me when I took a shower. I’m from the south! He was a yankee. His first wife left him.and years later I truly understood the reason why…..He was a controlling Jackass…lol.  I trusted him with watching my 15 year old daughter/ while I worked a all night shift. Until the day social service showed up at my door. That was it!!!  come to find out he was verbally abusing me daughter/ and she had tried to kill herself.  I could never go in her room at night/ to have mom /daughter talk…..He was sooo jealous….When I would go to my parents house ..100 miles away…..I was allowed to stay about too hours…..
      I was not allowed to wash dishes….that was my daughters job…but yet he would stand behind her, and tell her how to wash them….how much water she should use…..He would get pissed off…if I pick my daughter up from school. She was not allowed to play sports….because I would have to go get her….He would get pissed off if she got a phone call from friends at school that was NOT allowed….After social service thing…..I said >>OH HELL NO….I moved out. Its been too years now…..I moved on….I met somone else and we are still together/married<<He has 3 grown kids….and after being with him..(in a NORMAL) relationship….I truly realize was a screwed up relationship I had before…..From what friends have told me….he is now an acholic/and drug abuse from the other…and alone. HELL no one can live like that………ITS not normal…..There was a show on DR. Phil….just like the situation I an my daughter were in….just like it……Dr Phil…told the mother…that that man had to go…..lol….
      After I told my parents about social service…my father was out for blood….THEY HATE him. And was upset with me for not holding my ground at the time….But its all fine now….they love my new husband….And my new husband is very good to everyone. So I have only one regret…I wasted all those years on the other……but I'm happy now…..thats all that matters…..So good luck…

  • Chica55

    Bullseye to 6 of them……damn

  • Falicita

    This article could go for both men and women. I knew I personally had control issues and didn't know how controlling I was until my husband pointed it out to me. Great article.

    • girliusmaximus

      I'll cop to that myself… Independent and in control, hard to let me guy be part of the relationship… Had to scale back a bit

    • Janet

      I agree too, I had an ex point out to me how controlling I was. I think part of it stems from me being a mom and having to control certain things in the household so my children don't get "off the chain". Balance was definitely needed.

  • Anthony

    @team / christe lol


  • Christielove1468

    LOL!!@ Team Nymphis

  • Team nymphis

    or if you’re chained up in his basement…hold on a sec I’ll be right back. “it rubs the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again” ok I’m back.now what were we talkin about?

    • Shay


    • SoTrue

      Can someone explain the joke? I seriously dont get it

    • girliusmaximus

      Lol. That is funny