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1 of 15, TN ? MARCH 26: African-American couple embrace with passion and kissing in a nightclub on a Saturday night in South Memphis, Tennessee on March 26, 1983. The club or bar is “Red’s Lounge” and a venue for Delta Blues music. Bottles of beverages including beer and Coca-Cola are on the table. (Photo by Nathan Benn/Corbis via Getty Images)

If you’ve had the misfortunate of falling into a relationship with a controlling, possessive, and critical partner, and then the strength to extricate yourself from that relationship (and it requires a lot of strength because those men don’t let go easily) then you know life is never quite the same again. You approach dating and new relationships with a lot of caution. You see interactions with potential partners through a new lens. When you’ve escaped the living hell that is a relationship with a controlling man, you never, ever want to go back. Many women would even say they were lucky to have the experience because it made them forever stronger. But, some women never get out of those situations so I wouldn’t advise going and tracking one down for the growing experience—you may never escape. Here is how life changes forever after having a controlling partner.

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Your social life must be respected

You will not put up with a man who asks you to change plans you already had, in order to see him. You won’t accept anything less than a man who is happy you have a life outside of him and respects it.

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You won’t take notes on your behavior

If a man tries to say anything about you dressing too provocatively, being too flirty with other men, being too loud, drinking too much, being too rowdy, or anything about being “too much”—you bounce immediately.

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You have a zero-tolerance policy on jealousy

You know that where there is a lit bit of jealousy, there is a lot more to come. So if a man you’ve just started dating insinuates that you were flirting with someone else, or that you shouldn’t hang out with other men, you end things right there and then. Or at least you tell him you won’t tolerate that, and see how he responds.

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You don’t excuse a mean word

You also know that good, stable, kind men don’t say mean things to women—not even one little mean thing. You know that if a man lets one nasty comment slip, that’s just the tip of the iceberg if you stay, so you leave.

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You avoid men who pursue you when you’re down

You know now that only controlling, possessive men pursue women who are clearly down on their luck, insecure, or depressed. You avoid men who clearly want you when you’re vulnerable and weak.


You lay it all out there—your flaws and quirks

On first dates, you don’t conceal any of your quirks or flaws. You lay it all out there. If you’re dealing with a man who wants a toned down, demure, submissive woman, you’d like to filter him out now.


You don’t put up with tantrums

You don’t go running to a man anymore because he says he’s a little mad at you about something, or who just pulls away with no explanation. That’s what controlling men do; it’s emotional abuse. And you won’t tolerate it.


You don’t apologize if you don’t have to

More on that last note, you don’t apologize if you haven’t done something wrong. If a man gets angry with you because you hugged a male friend or didn’t text for three hours, you say, “That’s your sh*t that you have to own. I didn’t do anything wrong and am not going to apologize.”

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You insist on taking things slow

If a man tries to rush you into a relationship, you won’t have it. You know those are the men who turn out to be possessive.

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You listen to your friends

When you were with that controlling guy, your friends tried to warn you, and you didn’t listen. Now, if your friends have any concerns about a guy you’re dating, your ears perk up and you pay attention.

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You’re always worried about your friends

You’re extra concerned about your female friends falling into a controlling relationship. You’re very wary of new men they bring around, and you observe them carefully before accepting them.

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You’re wary of too much attention/flattery

You also bail if a guy pays you too much attention and flattery in the beginning. Calling to compliment you and send you gifts every day is how controlling men hook you in the beginning.

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You require full disclosure of their history

Controlling, possessive men tend to have relationships that ended explosively—possibly with restraining orders and blowout public fights. So, they’ll be vague about past relationships. That’s why you explicitly require new men to be open with you about how their last relationships ended, so you can watch out for guys who are sketchy around the topic.

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You say whatever is on your mind

You don’t filter your thoughts. If something a guy says rubs you the wrong way, you address it immediately, regardless of whether or not that’ll scare him off.

You bring new guys around your male friends

Your male buddies can sniff out a man who has anger and jealousy issues right away. So if you think you like a guy, you bring him around your male friends right away so they can assess him.

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