#StayWoke: Signs You May Be In A Toxic, Controlling Relationship
One of the hardest parts about being in an emotionally manipulative relationship is identifying the signs. A lot of people who fall victim in these controlling relationships end up immersed in the unhealthy behaviors before they even recognize it’s happening. Certain unhealthy behaviors can be misinterpreted as “bossy” when they are really abusive.
“It’s more than just being bossy,” Lisa A. Fontes, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychology at UMass-Amherst and author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship told MensHealth.
“It’s really dominating another person, taking over their life, and no one should be subjected to that.”
Awareness plus action is the only way to free yourself from the hold an emotional abuser can have on your life.
Here are some ways to recognize if you are caught up in a controlling relationship:
A manipulative partner may use harsh ultimatums to keep you away from your friends and loved ones. Fontes explained a controlling individual may employ this tactic because “when a person is deprived of contact with others, they lose a certain amount of power and resources.” Watch out for language like, “You’ll never have access to the children again if you don’t do X or stay with me or put up with this thing that I want.”
Don’t get fooled into thinking crazy jealousy is cute. Denise Hines, Ph.D., a research associate professor in psychology at Clark University told MensHealth, “We hear from men who say they’re out at a restaurant or party and their wife or girlfriend won’t let them talk to other women.” Continuing, “Some men describe ‘keeping their head down’ when out to avoid giving the impression of interest.”
That is definitely a red flag.
“We have these cultural myths that jealousy is a sign of love, that spending all of one’s time is required in a loving relationship, that romance is giving up everything for love, and these ideas are kind of traps,” Fontes explained.
We all want our romantic partners to push us to be our best selves, but this can be done through encouraging words, not nit-picking ad nauseam.
“Perspecticide is a form of breaking down another person within a relationship so that they lose their perspective, and that can include incessant or very harsh criticism,” Fontes describes.
“If it’s back and forth, then it’s probably not a controlling relationship, but if the criticism is all in one direction from one person to another, then it may be.”