When you see a woman who is dealing with a narcissist who is ruining her life, you think to yourself: What is she doing with him?
You wonder how come she couldn’t see the red flags and how she could have been so foolish to believe this guy’s lies.
Well, even though most of us assume otherwise, the truth is that signs of a controlling boyfriend are easy to miss at first.
All manipulative people, including him, hide their true colors until they get under your skin and get you dragged into a toxic relationship with them – one that you can’t get out of without difficulty.
Well, that’s why we’re here – to save you from an awful fate all those tricked girls had to experience.
We’re here to help you open your eyes through these 18 early warning signs of a controlling boyfriend many girls sadly don’t notice in time.
1. He criticizes everything you do
One of the first signs that you’re dealing with a controlling person is your boyfriend’s constant critique.
Let’s be real here: When there is true love involved, your partner shouldn’t lie to you, telling you that everything is going smoothly and that you’re making all the right decisions, even though that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, those who are your real friends will call you out on your actions. They will tell you when you did something wrong; they will point out your mistakes in time.
This especially goes for your life partner. He should be the one to spill you the harsh truth directly in the eye, even if it’s the last thing you want to hear.
Yes, that often includes criticism. This is the man who wants to see you becoming a better person, and he has the full right to tell you his opinion and be honest about your behavior and actions.
However, it is completely different if your entire, obviously-controlling relationship is based on this guy criticizing your every move and word.
In that case, he is certainly not trying to help you improve or influence you in a good way; he is doing his best to put you down.
This guy has to make a nasty comment about every little thing in your life. He doesn’t like the way you look, dress, talk, behave, walk, eat, smell…
Most of the time, you feel attacked by him. In fact, after a while, you even become scared of doing anything because you know what kind of reaction you can expect from him.
He humiliates your education, your world views are not right, you don’t make enough money, you’re not pretty enough, and the list goes on. Sounds familiar?
Well, if so, one thing is clear: This man is doing all of this intentionally. He wants you to feel as bad as possible about yourself so he can control you with more ease.
2. He emotionally blackmails you
Whoever’s experienced emotional blackmail knows how painful and devastating it is to go through.
In fact, the problem with it is that you have a hard time identifying it and understanding that you’re actually being blackmailed.
Of course, once you do, it is usually too late. You’re already trapped in an endless circle of torture, and you need a lot of time, energy, and effort to get yourself out of there.
So, what is emotional blackmail, really? It is actually a technique in which manipulative people (in your case, your controlling partner) use the feelings you have for them or your own sense of conscience against you.
It usually starts with simple demands, which later on turn into threats once you don’t answer them positively.
For example, if your boyfriend emotionally blackmails you, he may threaten to leave you unless you do things his way – unless you listen to him.
He’ll probably make it clear that he’ll stop loving you unless you obey him. However, things don’t always end at this.
In fact, many emotional blackmailers go a step further. They threaten to do something to themselves or even take their own life if you’re the one who walks away from them or does something they don’t agree with.
Sounds horrible, I know. The worst part is that in the beginning, you really believe them and struggle with these awful guilt trips.
Even if you doubt that their threats are actually real, there is always that tiny, deep voice inside of your head, wondering “what if?”
What if he really does what he promised? Would you be able to live with yourself if this man harms himself when you leave him?
So, you end up staying with him or doing exactly what he told you to do out of fear.
If this is something you’re going through, be aware that this man knows you. He knows your vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and is using them in his favor.
3. He isolates you from everyone
Here is the most common sign of a controlling boyfriend: isolation. Every guy who tries to control and manipulate you will do his best to make you cut ties with everyone around you.
You might think that he is doing this because he loves you so much and wants to have you just for himself. However, that is just a deception he wants you to believe.
Please, don’t feel flattered when a guy tries to control your social and family life. He is doing it because, this way, it’s easier for him to control you.
All of this starts with him not liking your friends and family members. Of course, these are your people and he is under no obligation to fancy them, but he should certainly respect them.
Nevertheless, before you know it, his opinions and attitudes towards your loved ones start to affect you as well.
You might not see it at first, but after a while, you notice that you’re growing apart from them and that adopting your boyfriend’s views.
Naturally, this guy never tells you about his final intentions. Instead, he makes you think that he is trying to open your eyes.
He doesn’t want you going out at night and coming home late because he is worried about your health.
He wants you to stop hanging out with that particular crowd because they are a bad influence on you who are absolutely perfect.
Every time you go out without him, he makes sure to ruin it for you. He is angry or depressed afterward or calls you in the middle of your friend date because he has an emergency only you can help him with.
Consequently, you lose the will to spend free time with other people because you know the outcome and the fuss that awaits when you see him.
Or your friends get tired of this behavior and they’re the ones who end up cutting you off.
Besides, all of a sudden, nobody around you is good enough. Your friends are potential backstabbers you shouldn’t trust and are only jealous of you, and your family never appreciated you enough.
Basically, nobody really cares about you. In fact, he is the only one who truly loves you and wants to save you from all of these bad people in your surroundings.
However, the truth is that he is the bad guy in the story. He wants to isolate you so he can control you with more ease.
It’s actually pretty simple. If you have no one to talk to, the controlling person can brainwash you into believing whatever he wants.
You have no best friends to tell you that your relationship is not healthy, and make you question his moves and behavior towards you.
Also, when you’re fully isolated from the rest of the world, it will be much harder for you to leave him. You have no one to turn to, no one to support you, and you become completely dependent on him.
4. He makes fun of you
Every girl likes a guy who can make her smile, and you’re no exception. You enjoy starting a new relationship with a boyfriend who can make you cry from laughter.
Besides, humor is an important part of every relationship, including romantic ones. It chases away negativity, brings optimism, and unites a couple.
This is all true as long as we’re talking about healthy humor. The way your boyfriend jokes with you is everything but that.
Instead, most of the time, his jokes are intended to hurt you. They’re inappropriate and inadequate.
He is sarcastic and ironic. However, he’s not like that to other people, so it is pretty obvious that his jokes are actually a mask for the insults directed towards you – that this is personal.
To be honest, this man is actually making fun of you. He is not trying to be funny and certainly not doing his best to make you laugh.
In fact, whenever he’s joking, he’s actually humiliating you. He points out your flaws and ridicules you.
The worst part is that he especially loves doing this when you two are surrounded by others. It’s like he sadistically enjoys everyone laughing at you.
He uses every opportunity he gets to use your deepest wounds and darkest secrets against you. This man knows your insecurities and uses them as a foundation for his jokes.
He mocks you and embarrasses you all the time. Basically, this guy is bullying you and there is nothing you’re doing about it.
Even when you confront him about his behavior and tell him straightforwardly that you don’t feel comfortable when he jokes like this, making fun of your sensitivity.
He tells you that he is only goofing around, that he isn’t trying to hurt your feelings, that you should chill and toughen up a little.
5. He is paranoid about your fidelity
When you first start a new relationship, you’ll probably find this guy’s jealousy kind of cute. You’ll be happy that this man you’ve just met is obviously head over heels for you and wants you all for himself.
In fact, most girls find jealousy cute in the later stages of their romantic relationship. They see it as proof of their partner’s enormous love for them.
After all, this man is clearly afraid of losing you. In fact, if he couldn’t care less whether or not you leave him and trade him for someone else, it can be a warning sign that he doesn’t care about you either.
Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between healthy jealousy and possessive jealousy. When you have a controlling boyfriend, he terrorizes you with the latter.
This man is not only jealous, he is paranoid about your fidelity. He sees every guy near you as a potential threat and someone you could be fooling around with behind his back.
At first, you felt flattered by this. But after a while, you yourself see it as a huge problem.
Your boyfriend doesn’t allow you to have guy friends. He makes a big fuss when he sees that you’re talking with your male friends or coworkers, and accuses each one of them of being in love with you.
He literally follows your eyes to see where and who you’re looking at. He accuses you of flirting with the guy at the supermarket, the hotel reception, and every other man you have any contact with whatsoever.
It is more than obvious that this man has zero trust in you. He assumes that you would be unfaithful to him at the first chance you get, when that is actually the last thing on your mind.
He questions your morals and is convinced that you would replace him with any other guy.
6. He is obsessed with your ex-boyfriends
And that’s not the worst. Your boyfriend is not only jealous of other men who are present in your life now, he is also fighting with you about your past.
This man can’t seem to accept that you had a life before him. He is obsessed with each one of your previous relationships and ex-boyfriends.
He wants to know every single detail of everything you did before him.
Not only that, he lives in a constant state of paranoia that you’ll go back to one of your exes – that he is nothing more than a rebound – despite the fact that you two have been together for ages.
He tortures you by demanding you tell him every little thing about your relationships before him. Then, once he finds out everything he wants to know, he uses it against you and rubs it all straight in your face.
This guy is actually comparing himself with all of your exes. He wants to make sure that you’ve never loved anyone the way you love him.
He is a narcissist who seeks constant validation. He wants you to confirm to him that he is the only one for you, that all of your previous boyfriends were mistakes, and that none of them meant anything to you.
You can’t even think of staying on friendly terms with any of your exes. Your boyfriend goes crazy even when he sees you greeting them in the street or following them on social media.
7. He leaves you in debt
The problem with controlling people is that they never appear to be that way at first glance. On the contrary, controlling men usually present themselves as too good to be true at first.
When you first met your boyfriend, you thought all of your dreams finally came true and couldn’t dream of finding yourself in a controlling relationship.
You couldn’t believe that you were so lucky to meet a man as perfect as him.
He was romantic, gave you attention, did you favors, and was there for you, no matter what. This man even bought you presents and offered you his help even when you didn’t ask him to do so.
Naturally, you thought of him as your gift from heaven. You were convinced that he was doing all of this because of his kind heart and the depth of his emotions for you.
However, all of it was actually just a part of his bigger plan in which he had the intention to manipulate you.
Your boyfriend did chores on your behalf, lent you money, gave you advice, and solved all of your problems just so he could leave you in debt.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about any kind of material debt here. I’m talking about emotional debt this control freak imposed upon you.
As time has gone on, you can’t seem to repay this man for everything he’s done for you. He constantly reminds you of all the good things you owe him and puts you on endless guilt trips.
It is obvious his intentions were never sincere. He never gave you anything from the goodness of his heart, otherwise he wouldn’t be using every opportunity he gets to rub it in your face.
He expects your eternal gratitude. It’s like you should allow him to treat you the way he wants just for the sake of all of the favors he’s done for you.
Even though you should definitely appreciate his sacrifices, it’s important to remember that you never asked him for anything. Basically, you owe him nothing.
Leaving you in debt is one of this man’s ways to control and emotionally blackmail you. By doing this, he is making sure you’ll never leave him.
8. He is very insecure
Another one of the early signs of a controlling boyfriend is his insecurity, which is also common for narcissists (which he probably is).
This is actually common for all manipulative and toxic people, as well as for control freaks.
Even though they appear to be self-confident, deep down, they’re actually struggling with deep issues the world knows nothing about.
To the casual eye, you don’t notice that this man is insecure. He will carefully hide his traumas and weaknesses, and he’ll never expose his vulnerabilities in front of you.
You’ll probably see him as this alpha male and tough guy. In fact, you’ll be proud of his dominance and think that you’ve finally found yourself a real man.
However, as time goes by, you’ll realize the devastating truth. You’ll see that this guy actually has deeply rooted self-esteem problems, which he projects onto you.
Your boyfriend is actually intimidated by you. He thinks that you’re a better person than him. Deep down, he thinks he doesn’t deserve you.
So instead of working on himself in order to become better and worthy of your love, he does something completely different.
He puts all efforts into dragging you down to his level, since it’s the only way for him not to feel inferior.
He wants to destroy your confidence and turn you into an insecure woman, because only then can he feel like your equal.
Also, he lives in constant fear that you’ll eventually break up with him.
He is terrified that sooner or later you’ll discover his true colors, realize that you can do better, see that he is not enough for you, and walk away from this relationship.
Basically, your boyfriend thinks that he has to manipulate you into staying with him. He assumes that you would never be his girlfriend voluntarily and that he simply must control you if he doesn’t want to lose you.
9. His love is conditional
There is no doubt in one thing: True love is, among other things, unconditional. It has nothing to do with your background, education, finances, or other things.
When you love someone, you love them no matter what.
You’re ready to accept this person at their worst, you love them despite their bad sides, you love their imperfections, and you’d support and stand by them against the entire world.
This kind of love can’t be destroyed by anything or anyone. It is eternal and everlasting.
However, these words can’t describe the love your boyfriend feels for you, can they? In fact, this guy’s love is actually conditional.
First of all, this man doesn’t love you when you’re not up to his standards. He doesn’t act like he loves you when you’re not perfect and he certainly doesn’t love your flaws.
He can’t stand you when you’re feeling down or going through some hardships. He is nowhere to be found when you’re nervous, depressed, or in any kind of pain.
Also, another red flag signaling unhealthy love are conditions he straightforwardly puts to you. He wants you to do everything his way, so he manipulates you into listening to him.
For example, if he doesn’t want you to go out with your friends tonight, he threatens to cancel the date plans you two have for tomorrow night if you disobey him and see your friends despite his wishes.
If you don’t stop wearing short skirts he explicitly forbids you to wear, he’ll stop being nice to your parents and siblings.
Most importantly: if you don’t do everything his way, he’ll stop loving you.
Well, let me tell you one thing: If love is real, there is absolutely nothing the other person can do for your emotions to die out. Therefore, this is nothing but an attempt to control you.
10. He expects you to blindly follow his lead
According to this man, you should do as he says and have no right to make your own decisions.
He is the one who knows what’s best for you, the one who will show you the way, and the one who is doing everything for your own good.
He is the smarter, wiser, and more competent one. He is the person you should listen to and whose example you should follow.
In fact, most of the time, this man doesn’t act like your boyfriend or romantic partner. He doesn’t treat you as his girlfriend, but as his daughter he should raise and parent.
Your boyfriend doesn’t want equality in your relationship. In fact, he expects you to always be one step behind him.
He wants you to see him as your savior and the light at the end of the tunnel. Not only that, he also convinces you that you couldn’t make it without him in life and that you need him to function properly.
He can’t accept that there are times when you disagree with him, that you have some opinions and attitudes that differ from his, and that you don’t follow him blindly through life.
He doesn’t want you to have your own judgment-making skills, which have nothing to do with him. He doesn’t allow you to make your own decisions and wants to become your leader and the only guidance you need.
11. He complains about being emotionally neglected
When there is real love involved, you have this uncontrollable urge to spend all of your free time with them.
As much affection and attention this person gives you, you always want more and feel like you could never get enough of this special someone.
However, as soon as this infatuation passes, you realize that under these terms, you’re headed towards a toxic relationship.
You continue loving your romantic partner, but you become aware that the two of you are separate individuals and that him not giving you undivided attention for a moment doesn’t necessarily have to mean that he stopped loving you.
Nevertheless, no matter how much effort you put into your boyfriend, he constantly complains about the lack of emotions and attention he’s been getting from you.
He tells you that he feels emotionally neglected and alone every time you get engaged in a single activity that doesn’t include him.
At first, he represents himself as this lonely, deserted, poor man whom you don’t love enough. However, after a while, you’ll realize that this is actually a part of that isolation process we already talked about.
This man is a master manipulator, don’t forget that. Besides, he is your long term boyfriend, so it is natural that he knows the core of your being.
Therefore, he counts on you feeling guilty for making him feel the way he tells you he does. He’s counting on you cutting off more and more people so you can give him all the attention you need.
He is deliberately destroying all of your get-togethers, hobbies, and interests that don’t include him.
He knows that the next time, for example, someone asks you out, you’ll say “no” because it’s the only way to prevent the consequences of him complaining.
And before you know it, you’ll lose all of your contacts and be stuck with only him.
12. He nags about your finances
When you are married or living together with your boyfriend, it’s natural that you share expenses. You split the rent and bills, and agree on other bills.
However, even in that case scenario, you should have some money for yourself. After all, you shouldn’t be in a situation where you ask your husband for pocket money, like you are a little child.
This is especially true if you have your own source of income.
Nevertheless, even if you’re a stay-at-home wife or mum, you’re doing your part of the job by taking care of the household, so you deserve to have some money as well.
However, you’re in neither of these situations. We’re talking about your partner here.
It means that you two probably don’t live together or share a wallet. You earn your own money and he does the same.
You don’t go around asking him to feed you or to buy you things. You don’t expect him to financially support you.
Nevertheless, despite all of this, your boyfriend nags about your finances. He is upset when you spend money on something he wouldn’t, when you don’t save enough, or when you buy something he thinks you don’t need.
It’s one thing if you’re financially irresponsible and he is just giving you advice. After all, he is supposed to share his life with you and he doesn’t want to do it with a woman who doesn’t know how to handle money.
However, these are not your boyfriend’s motives. The truth is this guy can’t stand the fact that you’re financially independent and self-sufficient, and don’t need his help when it comes to money.
Besides, he would be delighted if you stopped working. No, he is not telling you to quit your job once you’re married because he wants to take care of you and spare you the hard work.
He is doing it because it would be another way to control you. After all, if you have no money, you have less possibility to complain.
You have nowhere to go if you choose to break up with him. You can’t move an inch without him knowing it. And just like that, he has full control over all aspects of your life.
13. He blameshifts
As it was already stated, one of the early warning signs of a controlling boyfriend is the fact that he plays with your conscience.
This man knows you too well. He knows how to play with your mental health, which alone is enough sign of an unhealthy relationship and not real love.
According to him, he’s never to blame for anything bad in your relationship. Even when he makes a mistake and admits it, somehow he manages to turn the tables.
So, you end up being the one who provoked him to treat you badly, or he was only paying you back for something you did ages ago.
Basically, whenever something goes wrong or downhill, it’s always your fault. There’s no scenario in which this controlling guy takes his share of responsibility and you receive amnesty from guilt.
At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you’re always the one who apologizes, begs for his forgiveness, and can’t sleep peacefully because of her mistakes.
14. He stalks you
We already concluded that your boyfriend is insanely jealous. However, things don’t end there. The fact is, this controlling guy also in way stalks you.
It all started with your social media profiles. For as long as you can remember, he’s been so obsessed with your activity there and wondering who you’ve been texting or chatting with.
He always questions your likes, the details of your direct messages, your followers and friends on social media. Whenever you post something, he wonders if it’s actually a subliminal message to some other man.
He constantly checks your online status and whether you read his text messages or not. If you don’t reply to him in seconds, chaos ensues.
He uses different techniques to try and get to the bottom of all of your online activity. You’ve caught him snooping around on your phone and laptop, looking for text messages and search history more than once.
Your boyfriend would be the happiest person in the world if you shared all of your passwords with him.
Nevertheless, that’s not something you want to agree upon, which he finds extremely suspicious and sees as a red flag that you must be hiding something.
However, his stalking practices don’t end with social media only. In fact, he follows you around in real life as well.
It’s not just that he knows your habits by heart. He also demands that you text him every time you change location and regularly inform him of your whereabouts.
No, he’s not doing it because he worries about your well-being. He’s not doing it because he is attentive or scared for your safety.
He does it so he can use that information against you – so he can stalk you with more ease.
Whenever you go out without him, he “accidentally” shows up at the place he knows you’re at. When you go shopping with your girlfriends, he just so happened to be “passing through” that mall you’re in.
When you’re on your lunch break, he makes sure you don’t spend it with your male coworkers.
In fact, that’s “coincidentally” the exact time in which he can take some time off from work, so he’d be more than happy to keep you company.
Of course, whenever you confront your boyfriend about this behavior, he tries to convince you that you’re imagining things. It’s just mere coincidence and you’re blowing it all out of proportion.
You might not want to admit it, but this type of behavior is sick and potentially dangerous. This guy is jumping out of the bush and acting like a sociopath.
15. He thinks he is always right
A controlling man doesn’t only want to control your actions, body, and life. The worst part is that he will do his best to control your emotions, thoughts, heart, and mind as well.
Therefore, according to him, you always have to agree with everything he says or does. He is always right and you’re always wrong – end of discussion.
He is trying to brainwash you into thinking that he is the most intelligent person in this world. No matter what, he always knows what he’s doing and your function in life is to nod your head to everything he says.
Basically, this man doesn’t let you have an opinion of your own. You have to think with his brain, adopt his attitudes, and follow his moral values.
16. He gives you no privacy
When you’re in a relationship, you and your boyfriend become one. You’re united and if you plan something serious, you go through life hand in hand as best friends, confidants, and partners in crime.
However, that doesn’t mean you lose your right to privacy the moment you become someone’s girlfriend or still don’t have your own life.
You can spend your entire life beside this man, yet you’re still two separate individuals and no romantic relationship can erase that.
The problem with your partner is that he doesn’t give you any privacy or free time – and that is one of the signs of a controlling BF. He wants to know every little detail of your life, including your past.
In fact, he gets angry when you keep secrets from him that are not connected to you but other people. He expects you to talk to him about everything your best friends and family members tell you.
You can’t do anything without having to inform him first. You have no right to personal time and space.
He doesn’t get that sometimes you have the need to be alone with yourself, that you don’t have the urge to spend every second of your life with him, and that it doesn’t mean your need for personal time and space is a red flag that you don’t love him anymore.
You’re monitored 24/7 and all that’s left is for this man to physically enter your brain and inhabit your thoughts as well – something he would definitely do if he had the chance to.
17. He wants to change everything about you
When a man really loves you, he accepts you with all of your imperfections. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that this man will enjoy your mood swings, nervousness, and other unflattering parts of your personality.
However, he will love them because they make you, you. You wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for these parts too.
Most importantly, when a man really loves you, he won’t try to change you. He will be your inspiration to be a better person, yet he will never modify the essence of your personality.
A loving man will never try to reshape you to fit his standards. He will never try to break your spirit or kill the person you were before you met him.
He doesn’t see you as a project but as a human being made of flesh and blood. He is not in love with your potential and the woman he could make out of you, but with exactly who you are.
Conversely, your boyfriend is doing all he can to change you, and that is an early warning of an unhealthy relationship.
He obviously can’t come to terms with the fact that there are some parts of your personality he has no impact on and, most importantly, can’t control.
18. He is abusive
Controlling relationships are also often abusive relationships. However, when people hear the words “abusive partner,” they automatically think about physical abuse: punches, slaps, hits, and domestic violence in general.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of forms of abuse besides this physical abuse, including psychological and emotional abuse.
What I’m trying to tell you is that your boyfriend doesn’t have to physically hurt you in order to be classified as an abusive partner, even though one of the most common signs of a controlling boyfriend is also violence.
You see, when a weak guy like him doesn’t get what he wants, he resorts to abusive practices. He can’t accept that he hasn’t managed to control you fully, so he loses his nerve and flips out completely.
A man like this doesn’t have the necessary strength to argue with you in a mature way. He doesn’t have the capacity to fight against his own urges.
Your controlling partner is not a rational human being. He is a manipulator and an animal who will become dangerous in the future – if that hasn’t happened already.