Many of us picture the typical schoolyard bully when we think of a controlling person.
Unhealthy and dangerous patterns aren't always obvious.
We might imagine someone who aggressively commands others to do what they want. Controlling people show up in all areas of life — co-workers, bosses, friendsfamily, and even strangers. A controlling person will attempt to undermine your confidence by making jabs at you in private or public. Demanding your attention constantly and gradually isolating you from friends and family is a method of control. They keep tabs on every little favor. They might also go out of their way to appear overly generous as a way to keep you indebted to them.
What is controlling behavior?
They underplay your experience by lying or accusing you of being overly sensitive. You start second-guessing yourself all the time.
Say you suspect a close friend of spreading false rumors about you. If you had a big win at work, a controlling person might immediately change the subject and sulk about something that upset them that day to regain your attention. They may also sabotage your relationships with others as a way to have a leg up on you.
For example, they might take screen shots of your private texts without permission and send them to others. Someone exerting excessive control may constantly act superior and try to undermine your reputation. At work, this can look like a co-worker who always interrupts you during a meeting to state their own opinion or a boss who disdainfully talks down to you in front of your peers.
You're always quick to criticize.
Just kidding! If you find yourself relating to the above s, take a moment to be honest with yourself about the situation and assess whether these controlling patterns have become abusive. Ask yourself if the person is controlling your freedom and autonomy. Do you feel trapped, dominated, and fearful all the time? Are you concerned for your safety?
You dictate what your partner does, who they're friends with, and more.
All of these are clear red flags that the behavior has turned into coercive controla form of domestic violence. Feeling free to be yourself is one of the most important aspects of your identity and self-worth.
No romantic relationship, friendship, or working relationship should make you feel small or unsafe. Cindy Lamothe is a freelance journalist based in Guatemala.
She writes often about the intersections between health, wellness, and the science of human behavior. Find her at cindylamothe.
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