Does your partner constantly put words in your mouth? Disrespects you in front of other people? Wants to conform your actions to their will?
Maybe they do something more subtle like make comments on your clothing choices or bring up things they don’t like about your friends and family in a way that implies you should reconsider your relationships with them.
Sound familiar? Some of these things can look like advice and care but often, they’re not so well-intentioned.
There’s a difference between someone showing you respect and letting yourself be controlled.
Respect doesn’t compromise your personal freedom. Control, on the other hand, wants to restrict it.
Respect is saying, I understand our stances are different, I disagree with your decision so feel differently but it is your choice to make.
Control is saying, You can’t do that because it’s not good for you, you should do it my way.
However, there are many different views when it comes to this topic. For example, partners can have different ideas about what showing respect is.
One partner can perceive leaving clothes scattered everywhere around the house as a sign of disrespect while someone else might take that as an attempt to control them.
One partner can perceive a lack of words of affirmation or praise as a sign of disrespect and someone else might find it strange that anyone needs such affirmations.
This is why understanding is so important. First, we must understand what respect means to the other person and then we must find a way to implement that in the relationship.
Without respect, there’s no close relationship.
A few of the most common controlling behavioral patterns that might be disguised as either concern or asking for respect are the following:
Isolation from the other people in your life, so your friends and your family. As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the biggest signs of a truly controlling partner.
They might do it subtly because it will be disguised as a concern but what they actually do is strip you of support that isn’t them.
It’s easier to control a person when there’s nobody they can go to or trust.
Conditions. Crazy conditions are another way of controlling a person. “I would love you so much more if you (fill in the blank).”
Using guilt can also be easily used in this manner, especially in a way that they do something very extra and grand for you and then accuse you of being ungrateful and selfish if you don’t consent to doing something they ask of you.
Constant criticism. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how toxic this behavior is, especially because it starts as ‘help’ to make you a better person or something similar.
If you’re getting criticized for everything you do all the time, that’s abuse. People with low confidence are especially prone to believing that something’s wrong with them while they’re just being themselves.
This can leave enormous emotional scars on a person.
Threats of any kind. There’s no place for threats in a healthy relationship. From threats to deprive you of something basic to threats to leave you without a home or kids and suchlike.
Snooping around and jealousy. This one is self-explanatory. It shows a lack of trust and it violates the other person’s boundaries.
Belittling and ridicule. If your partner shames you or ridicules you because of your opinions and views, for example on a religious, cultural or political matter, that’s very wrong and shouldn’t be thought of as normal.
It’s okay to have a discussion and to disagree but it’s not okay to bully another person just because you have different views.
It’s generally relatively easy to tell apart controlling behavior and asking for respect based on how you feel doing something. You shouldn’t ignore your gut feelings.
There should always be a sense of peace and contentment behind everything, even if you disagree with something.
If you constantly feel scared, hurt or embarrassed then something has to change. You need to learn to set boundaries and communicate them to your partner.
Respect is vital for any relationship and that’s why it needs to be clearly addressed without holding back, as does behavior that makes you uncomfortable.