Controlling relationships are as toxic and abusive as the physical ones, but instead of clear signs of abuse, controlling often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Control freaks have mastered their manipulation tools so much that they actually appear as love. These are some of the most common ways they disguise their manipulation.

1. Doing things only for your good

He bought you that skin tight dress because he knows how good you’d look in it—once you lose weight. He threw out all the snacks from the house because he wanted to make it easier for you to control yourself. He cancelled all of your plans, so you get to rest. But not once did he check with you if you’re okay with that. Not once did he ask if you want him to do those things. Instead, he’s doing as he pleases, manipulating you into fitting into his mold of the perfect woman he has in his head.

2. Making decisions so you wouldn’t have to worry – isolation

You can’t remember when was the last time you decided where you’re going on a date? Or if you did, all you decided was the clothes you’d wear, but still with his help? You can’t remember when was the last time you get to spend the all-girls night? When was the last time you spent some time with your family? He’s the only one you see—the only one you get to spend your time with. Somehow, you ended up isolated not knowing how. You ended up having only him to rely on, without even realizing you lost the support of your friends and family.

3. He apologies, but never changes

Every time he comments on you, every time his words bring you down, he apologies. Every time his temper blows up, his emotions flicker and you end up being the one who’s hurt, he apologies. But he does nothing to change. You hear excuses and promises all the time, but hearing is one thing and seeing completely the other. He gives you enough hope that he’ll change, but takes away your self-esteem at the same time. He gives you enough love to fight for, but not enough to actually feel loved.

4. Somehow, you’re always to blame

Even if you believe you did everything right, he finds something you did wrong. And even when you have no idea what you have done, he finds a way to blame it on you. “You sighed and it killed the mood. You took too long to come home. I had to eat pizza again.” And worst part is, you feel guilty because there was traffic. You feel guilty because you sighed. You feel guilty even though you did nothing wrong, even though you did your best. Once he breaks you, he owns you, and that’s all he’s after with guilt tripping.

 

Wind covering woman's face

5. Showering you with attention

When you’re at the early stages of the relationship, his constant calling is cute. His constant attention is amazing. Feeling loved and needed, after so long, feels so good. Having someone to care of every single second of your day, after being starved of love by your friends and family, feels just right. But control freaks tend to learn every bit of you—every trauma, every dream, every hope and every passion—using it against you later on. He’s showering you with attention to control your free time, to control what you do and how you do it. He showers you with attention, just so you could feel guilty once you want to leave.

6. “You’re great, but not great enough”

“I love you, but you could try better. This is an amazing evening, but if you did this like that, it would’ve been better. You look amazing, but you’d look even better if you would lose a few pounds.” No matter how hard you try, no matter how much of an effort you put into things, it’s simply not enough. He slowly undermines everything you do, until you lose all of your self-esteem. This way he can completely control you because soon you’ll look only for his advice and ‘words of wisdom’.

7. Drowning you in passion

He can’t keep his hands off of you; he wants to touch you all the time. When you’re out, he’s rushing you home, when you’re home, he won’t let you leave the house. Kissing, hugging and cuddling all the time. He’s drowning you in passion, but slowly taking away your freedom. Instead of going to the movies, you’re home. Instead of talking to random people in the bar, you’re only talking to him. Instead of learning new things, exploring and traveling, you’re locked up in this little universe he created for you two and somehow, you don’t even feel like leaving it, believing it’s a universe of love.

8. Taking care of you – all the time

He buys you food, he cooks you dinners, he does anything he can think off for you, just so he can be sure you’ll never leave him. After all, how could you leave someone who takes care of you? How could you leave someone who showers you with attention and drowns you in passion? How could you ever leave someone like him? Just because you feel trapped, just because you don’t feel like yourself anymore, because you lack contact with other people, those are not good enough reasons to leave him, right? They are. If there’s any doubt in you about your relationship, about your feelings or your sanity, take your time, distance yourself from your relationship and try to see if it’s worth staying in it. If you’re still not sure, then it’s simply not worth it.

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