How To Deal With Controlling Partners

controlling partner

Having a controlling partner can dull any relationship. Their need for always being right and always wanting things to go their own way can diminish your importance and make you feel smaller. From deciding where you eat to deciding what you wear to dinner parties, a controlling partner wants to be the center of the circus and also run the show.

If you are ever feeling stifled in a relationship or feel like you are not being heard, you need to ask yourself one pertinent question: Is my partner controlling?

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How To Deal With A Controlling Person

Human life is centered on six basic necessities: certainty, variety, growth, love (or connection), significance and contribution. Of these, certainty comes first and control is nothing but a manifestation of the same. Because we need certainty all the time, we tend to exercise control over anything and everything to establish more certainty in life.

If things are certain, then they are secure. If they are secure, everything is safe. This tendency, however, can quickly turn your partner into a controlling partner. What’s more obvious is the general anxiety around the idea of love.

But is it truly the anxiety around love, or is it the anxiety of coping with feeling lonely, of being abandoned, of seeing a parental pattern repeating itself (say a divorce or a separation)? Whatever the reasons may be, there is no excuse to have to deal with a controlling spouse.

A controlling partner can get to your gut and drive you absolutely insane. Have you noticed signs of a controlling partner? If you have, that is a good thing. It is necessary to learn how to deal with them quickly before things get out of hand. Here are a few ways to deal with a controlling partner:

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1. Stay calm instead of being defensive

If you have a controlling spouse, the most easily available tool that they will use is aggression (sometimes coupled with criticism). Most of these people who constantly want to micromanage and control are people who feel and believe that they are being controlled. Or the ones who feel unsafe about the fact things are not in their control.

They are insecure and stuck at a younger age where they must have felt unsafe because they didn’t have control of someone or of the situation (it could even be an abusive parent for all that we know). So, if you respond with aggression or defense too, they will never see your point, because internally and subconsciously they will feel more unsafe.

As a result, they would try to exercise more control with anger and domination. So understand that their story of control didn’t start with you, and stay calm, no matter what.

signs of a controlling partner- stay calm
Stay calm when dealing with your partner’s controlling behavior

2. Ask open-ended questions to a controlling partner

Instead of telling them directly that they are dominating and controlling, ask them what happens when you don’t do certain things that they’d want you to do, when you don’t get their perspective, when someone else is thought to be right instead of them. Ask them, how do they feel?

Most of these controlling people don’t even know that they are controlling. For them, it’s only a coping mechanism. If you’re confused how to deal with a controlling husband, talk to them directly.

Ask them, what is their worst fear if people don’t do/behave/live according to their wishes, when the world doesn’t move according to how they want. Doing this will actually help them by making them aware of the root of their issue.

Related Reading: My husband acted very liberated but tried to control all aspects of my life

3. Set boundaries and consequences

Once you have made them aware of their behavior and where the behavior stems from, and most importantly what it does to you, tell them that there will be certain non-negotiable points within the relationship. If you have confirmed signs of a controlling relationship, you must gather courage and take the situation into your own hands.

For example, they cannot stop you from going out with your friends, they cannot tell you to wear or not wear what they deem fit or unfit, they cannot tell you how to do your job better. And once the boundaries are set, also set up consequences.

A controlling partner is also often not aware when they get controlling. It must be a process by which they have survived for the longest period of their lives. So that’s their natural way of being. Hence you will have to put a stop and tell them that the moment they cross the non-negotiable points, they will be met with such and such consequences.

couple dynamics

4. Become aware of your existence

Write it down for yourself, that no matter how symbiotic a relationship is or how codependent one partner could be on the other, the center of your happiness and being should be inside you and not outside. Therefore, stand on your own feet and try to be as less dependent on your controlling partner as possible.

The less you are dependent on them, the less they will be able to ask favors from you, demand out of you and make you do things that you don’t want to do. Be absolutely aware of your free will and that you can exercise it at any moment you want. Show him that he is dating an independent woman. Or show her that you’re perfectly capable of getting by on your own.

There is no obligation to follow, although the illusion of it might be created by your partner because many times in the past you have followed them. But that pattern can stop the moment you become aware of your free will.

5. If nothing works out, turn the tables on a controlling partner

Once in a while, it might be a good idea to let them have a taste of their own medicine. Sometimes, boundaries may not work and consequences may not work – don’t lose your cool. Go back to point number 1. Find out your own calm ways by which you can exert your control over them.

Use orders, demands and favors. Find out things they don’t like and subtly express to them that you’d want that thing done. And see their reaction. If they snap, then (again without losing your calm) remind them of their behavior.

Putting up with a controlling partner is not easy. It can chip away at your individuality and independence. Learning to assert yourself is the only way to level the playing field.


1. What are the signs of a controlling partner?

If they try to make decisions for you, frequently disagree with your opinions and get angry when things do not go their way, these are signs of a controlling partner.

2. What makes a partner controlling?

It could have to do with their upbringing and gaps in how they were raised. They might also be very jealous and insecure which could make them controlling.

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