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a controlling boyfriend

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I had a brief phase in which I kept winding up with controlling men. I dated one for nine months in a serious way, introducing him to my family, meeting his family, and going on several trips with him. His controlling tendencies became frightening. I’m pretty happy-go-lucky, social, and friendly – traits that bothered him to no end as he saw me as flirtatious with others and emotionally unfaithful just for having male friends or even just talking to other men. So I stopped hanging out with male friends if he wasn’t present. And then, I stopped hanging out with them at all. Then I stopped going out with female friends, because my going to bars made him uncomfortable. I started turning down jobs – great opportunities – that would require me to work in a close capacity with other men. Slowly but surely, my world became smaller, just to appease him. And it became clear that I couldn’t get small enough for him: his control issues were eating me alive. It was hard to get out of that relationship, as controlling men don’t just let you leave. I blocked him on every front, and he’d just get new phone numbers to call me from. I mostly knew how to spot controlling men after that, but there were a few more times in my life when they came around. Looking back, I realize I was going through similar phases and exhibiting common behaviors during those times. Controlling men don’t just come out of nowhere. Here are the reasons you might be attracting them.

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Control feels like love

First let’s talk about why having a controlling man want you feels good at first. Control can feel like love. It’s not love – far from it – but it can feel like it. When a man tries to control you by telling you how to behave and what to do with your life, it’s almost like he just really cares about you. Almost. Whereas you may have dealt with lots of aloof, emotionally unavailable men who really didn’t care what you did, a controlling man can feel like a nice change – at first.

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You’re impatient to find real love

Developing a real bond with somebody takes time. We aren’t supposed to care deeply for everyone we meet, right away. But if you’ve been craving a serious relationship and that strong attachment for many years, and it hasn’t come, you may have run out of the patience to develop that in a healthy, (read: slow), natural way with somebody. Then a controlling man comes around and wants to be all in your life, all the time, right away. It’s appealing when you’re tired of waiting to grow a relationship slowly.

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You’re an amazing listener

Controlling men are drawn to good listeners like moths to a flame. Controlling men are usually narcissistic. Think about it: they believe so strongly that they know what’s best for others that they feel entitled to taking over their partners’ lives. So, yeah, they think quite highly of themselves. Good listeners appear to think highly of them, too, and they feel, “Great, we have that in common. We both think I’m incredible.”

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You find reasons to agree

You may be the personality type that likes to find common ground with others, and aims to find things you can agree on. You’re just trying to make nice, enjoy yourself, and help everybody get along. But some people read that as weak. And, furthermore, controlling men can see that as you following everything they say. They love that in a woman.


You feign interest to be polite

Being very polite and doing whatever it takes to let an interaction run smoothly can come off as being a doormat. Perhaps you do this by pretending to be interested in whatever your dates are talking about. It would feel rude to change the subject, all because you aren’t interested in it. They’re interested, so you try to care. To the controlling man, when you enthusiastically listen to and ask questions about all of his hobbies, this feels like, “Oh, this woman will let me run the show.”

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You let friends walk all over you

If you have a pattern of letting others in your life walk all over you, like your friends, controlling men will find you. In their twisted, narcissistic way, they’ll tell themselves, “This woman lets her friends walk all over her. I need to save her from them. I’ll just tell her what to do, and who to befriend, to save her from herself.” But then he’s just walking all over you, too.

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Or you lack friends

If you lack friends because you just moved to a new city, or because you’re shy, or because you don’t put enough effort into your social circle, you’ll likely attract controlling men. These type of men love women who will have no life outside the relationship. They want to be your whole world, and they like that you won’t have any friends around to get in your ear and say, “I think your boyfriend is bad for you.” Nobody is looking out for you when you don’t have close friends.

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You don’t assert yourself in work

Maybe you don’t go after what you want in work. You’re always hard on yourself. You list off the reasons you would never get that promotion or that person would never take you seriously. You let coworkers walk all over you, and make you do their work. This is also attractive to a controlling man as he sees that you won’t be building some career that takes all your attention aka takes your attention away from him.

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You don’t walk at the first red flag

You like to give people the benefit of the doubt. So if a date loses his temper with you on the first date, or seems to be possessive after barely knowing you, you tell yourself he was having an off day. You tell yourself you hope somebody would be understanding if they caught you in poor form like that. So you don’t walk after that first red flag. Then it turns out that there’s a whole field of them.

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You hate rejecting men

You hate rejecting people. You feel so sorry for them. It feels terrible to tell someone, “I don’t want to see you again” if that person seems to like you. So you’ll continue to go out with a man, so long as he keeps asking you out. Better men may sense that you aren’t into them, and let you off the hook. But the controlling man likes that you clearly won’t extract yourself from the situation, and he keeps coming back. He takes advantage of your inability to turn him down. He doesn’t mind that you’re only there because you’re too weak to leave.

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You’re very empathetic

You’re deeply empathetic. This is a wonderful quality. It’s a power, really, but you have to learn to use it wisely.  Sometimes our own powers are dangerous to ourselves. Empathetic people often attract those who want to take advantage of them, walk all over them, control them – you get it. You’ll need to learn to hone this power to use it for good, but not let others use it against you.

You ask for the opinion of others

You often ask others what they think of literally anything. You can’t get dressed for work or a party without FaceTiming three friends and asking for their opinion on your outfit. You can’t prepare a presentation without asking for several people to critique it, first. And you take everyone’s opinions into account. Controlling men see this and think, “Oh she’s desperate for outside approval. She’s perfect for me.”

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You’re too forgiving

You’re very forgiving. It all ties in with not walking away at that first red flag. You don’t listen to your gut, which may be telling you “This guy is bad news get out of here.” Instead, you listen to the guy, who is apologizing for taking a sharp tone with you out of nowhere. You feel if someone asks for forgiveness, that they deserve it. And, maybe they do. But they don’t also necessarily deserve your companionship.

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You get steamrolled in conversation

You let people interrupt you all of the time. You’ll let men do this on dates. You’ll let men talk the entire date, without letting you get in two words. If you and a date start talking at the same time, you always concede and insist he go ahead. Controlling men love this trait in a woman.

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You’re a chameleon

You will sort of take on whatever interests and lifestyles and behaviors your boyfriends have. You feel it’s just easier that way. You’re generally happy doing anything so you figure it’s just easier to do what your boyfriend wants to do, than to push for your thing. Quickly, you morph into the female version of your boyfriends and, you guessed it, controlling men are all about that.

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