10 Early Signs Of A Controlling Man

Get expert help figuring out whether the man you’re dating is controlling or if his behaviors indicate something else. Click here to chat online to someone right now.

If your man makes you feel small, humiliated, embarrassed, and full of self-doubt, you’re probably dating a controlling man.

He will make you question your decision-making abilities. He’ll damage your self-esteem, and he’ll isolate you from other people in your life.

A relationship with him could have serious consequences for your mental health. Once you fully commit, it will likely be difficult to get away from him and heal from the hurt.

That’s why it’s crucial to identify the red flags as soon as possible and prevent getting into a relationship that could do more harm than good.

A relationship with a controlling man is unhealthy and often abusive. So, you should pay attention to the red flags early on in the relationship. Don’t wait to fall in love with this man when you’ll start to justify his controlling behavior.

Keep your eyes open for minor details that indicate that you’re dating a controlling man. Here are some of the early signs to look for:

1. He demands all of your time and energy.

When you dedicate your time to your friends, family, and hobbies, this guy will get passive-aggressive and make you feel guilty about it. It will seem like you’re somehow damaging your relationship with him by spending some of your free time on other things in your life.

Women who date a controlling man often end up with no life outside of the relationship. He will try to isolate you from your friends and family and stop you from practicing your hobbies.

It might seem flattering that your boyfriend wants to spend so much time with you, but he really just doesn’t want you to spend time with anyone else. It is easier for him to control you when he’s around you. Plus, if you only spend time with him, no one else will be able to influence you.

Maybe he tells you that he doesn’t like your friends and family and tries to push you away from them. Your partner doesn’t have to like your other loved ones, but he should respect them and at least try to get along with them.

Instead, your man is forbidding you from spending time with some of your friends that he considers to be bad influences. When you do get a chance to hang out with your friends, he phones you and demands to know all the details.

Or, he creates a crisis so that you have to ditch your friends to be with him. He wants you to depend entirely on him, and you’ll end up having no one else to call for help or advice.

2. He doesn’t have friends.

Controlling people rarely have a great social life. It is easier to control one romantic relationship than to navigate numerous friendships. In addition, control issues often stem from the feeling of being out of control and threatened.

Your man is too insecure to put himself out there and trust spontaneous people that he has no power over. He would rather have only one person in his life, the person that he can entirely control.

So, if your man never talks about friends, social events, and group activities, it might indicate that he is controlling. Even though loners aren’t necessarily controlling, controlling people rarely have a rich social life.

Look for other signs besides this one to identify a controlling man, but be cautious even if it’s the only sign he shows. A person’s lack of friendships may be beyond their control, but often personality problems cause people to lose friends.

Not everyone has close friends that they can rely on, but most people have some sort of social life. If they don’t, they likely have some issues to work out.

3. He constantly checks up on you.

At first, this guy might seem very thoughtful and caring. After all, he always thinks about you, and he’s concerned about what you’re doing. He wants to make sure that you’re safe and that you’ve gotten to where you were going.

This kind of attention can be flattering, and in normal situations, it would be a good sign. However, with a controlling guy, this behavior soon becomes unhealthy. His caring calls turn into you having to explain yourself to him.

Since he’s constantly keeping tabs on you, you’ll start avoiding doing certain things just to sidestep the drama that they cause. So, instead of going out and having fun, you’ll go home early so that your boyfriend doesn’t get upset because you stayed out late.

Think about this: does he want to know that you got home safely, or is he controlling you through calls and messages?

If you start feeling like your freedom is limited and you can’t make choices that you normally would, you’re with a controlling man. Your confidence will drop too, and you’ll start thinking that you must ask for his permission whenever you want to do something.

You will start adjusting your schedule to his. You’ll start avoiding spending time with your friends so you don’t cause problems in your relationship.

If you don’t get out of the relationship at this point, things will only get worse. You’ll end up being entirely dependent on the controlling man. In the end, you could have such fragile confidence that you feel unable to leave the toxic relationship.

4. He tells you what you can and can’t do.

If a man buys you a dress to wear on your date and orders food from the menu for you, it would normally be considered a romantic gesture. However, what if you don’t want him to do these things and you reject his suggestions?

A man who made a romantic gesture would let you wear and order whatever you want if you don’t like that he does it for you. On the other hand, a controlling man would insist that you do what he says. A man can suggest that you do or don’t do something, but he shouldn’t keep insisting if you decline.

A controlling man is likely to tell you what you can and can’t wear, and this is a huge red flag. He might make backhanded compliments about your clothes that make you choose to wear something else.

If you are suddenly worrying that your skirt is too short or your top is too revealing, but you never worried about that before, he is influencing you. Are your clothes really inappropriate when you have worn them a thousand times before and it never crossed your mind that you shouldn’t? Until he told you that they’re inappropriate…

When a man tries to tell you what you can and can’t wear, run for the hills. He is allowed to make comments and suggestions, but he is not allowed to insist that you do what he says.

5. He wants to change you.

A controlling man doesn’t make suggestions, he makes demands disguised as suggestions. He will tell you who to see, what to eat, where to go, what to wear, and what to do. Your opinions won’t matter to him and he’ll insist that you need to change.

You’ll have to defend and explain your decisions and ideas, and this is the warning sign to run. If you don’t, he’ll push you to change into someone that you never wanted to be in the first place.

People change in healthy relationships too, but they change because they want to do it. They are working to become the person that they want to be, not who their partner demands.

A good partner inspires and motivates you to grow and improve. They give you support and encourage you to chase after your dreams.

However, they don’t try to make you change into someone you’re not. They don’t force you to fit into their image of the perfect person. Instead, they motivate you to find the version of yourself that you consider perfect. They love you for who you are and cherish your uniqueness.

If you get into a relationship with a controlling man, he’ll keep trying to change you. You’ll never be good enough for him no matter how hard you try to be who he wants you to be.

6. He is jealous and possessive.

Controlling men are insecure, and they perceive all other men as competition. So, your boyfriend won’t like your friends of the opposite sex.

He’ll question you, check up on you constantly when you’re with them, and even forbid you from seeing them.

He is jealous and possessive, so he might even go through your phone looking for proof of your infidelity. He’ll never believe that you’re loyal to him, and he’ll keep questioning your loyalty.

Self-doubt and guilt are normal when you’re dating a controlling man, but that’s why you shouldn’t date him.

He will be jealous of the men from your past too. So, if you talk to him about your exes, he’ll consider them a threat. He’ll think that you’ll go back to your ex or assume that he’s just a rebound to you.

If you’re even friends with your ex, your controlling boyfriend will never be able to trust that you’re not cheating on him. His jealousy is one of the reasons why he’ll try to isolate you from everyone, especially other men.

A controlling man will constantly accuse you of being unfaithful to him even if you did nothing to deserve it.

7. He constantly criticizes you.

If the guy you are dating continuously puts you down and criticizes everything you do or say, he is probably controlling. His nasty comments will negatively influence your self-esteem, and your confidence will drop.

He wants you to think poorly of yourself; then you’ll believe you can’t find anyone better than him…So he’ll get to control you forever.

He will exaggerate your flaws, make mean jokes about you in public, and criticize the way you talk and dress. When you do something right, he’ll never acknowledge it. So, you’ll feel like you’re never doing anything right.

He wants you to feel that way because it makes it easier for him to control you. If you have low self-esteem, you are more likely to keep letting him manipulate you, and that’s exactly what he wants. So, he intentionally puts you down and harms your self-esteem.

8. He doesn’t respect your privacy.

You need to give up on your privacy to be with a controlling man. He’ll leave you with no free time and he’ll snoop around due to the lack of trust. If you keep anything a secret, he’ll get extremely mad at you, even if the secret has nothing to do with him.

He wants to know everything about your life and everyone you spend time with. A controlling man doesn’t understand the concept of private space and time. He won’t let you have any privacy, and he’ll probably snoop around your phone, computer, and social media profiles.

You’ll constantly have to tell him where you’ve been, what you did, and with whom, even if you were just visiting your family for dinner.

He’ll have jealous outbursts if there was any chance that another man was near you when you were away from him. You won’t be allowed to have a life outside of the relationship or keep some things to yourself because he won’t respect your privacy.

9. His love is conditional.

Love should be unconditional, and your man should love you with all your imperfections. A controlling man can’t do this. He’ll try to change you so that you fit his standards, but he won’t really love you even if you manage to do that.

He won’t show you love by being there for you when you’re feeling down. He’ll order you around, and you’ll need to obey in the hope to win his love. A relationship like that is very unhealthy.

When a man makes you think that you have to earn and deserve his love by doing what he says, run for the hills. Love should be given freely, not earned.

You might even hear him say how you don’t deserve his love when you do something wrong. In reality, he is incapable of truly loving another person.

10. He is abusive.

Controlling people are often manipulative and abusive. They might not abuse you in the physical sense, but you are likely to experience psychological and emotional abuse.

Insecure men resort to abuse to boost their egos and make their partners feel inferior. He will gaslight you, put you down, and give you the silent treatment, but these are just some of the abusive things that he could do.

The point is that he’ll use his words and actions to hurt you, not to make you feel loved, and you should never be with a man like that.

He’ll always blame you for everything. Even if you confront him about it, he’ll tell you that it’s all your fault. He’ll make you think that you somehow made him abuse you and deserved to be abused.

This is the biggest red flag that there is. It is your sign to run away and save yourself from a controlling man. If you stay with him, your mental health will suffer the consequences.

Getting away from a controlling man can be harder than it seems. He’ll try to keep you around with everything he’s got, and your damaged self-esteem won’t let you believe that you deserve better.

In addition, since he’ll isolate you from your other loved ones, you won’t be able to find help if you do try to get away from him. Which is why the sooner you can spot the signs and pull away from the relationship, the better.

You definitely deserve a healthy relationship. So don’t settle for someone manipulative and controlling. Talk to a therapist to get help with leaving a potentially abusive relationship.

If you have already suffered abuse, a therapist can help you heal and stay away from toxic men in the future. Most importantly, they’ll be able to remind you of all the reasons why you shouldn’t go back to the controlling man once you finally get away from him.

So, talk to someone now and recognize the signs early on in the relationship, before it gets more difficult to leave and heal.

Still not sure whether this guy is toxic and controlling or just a little keen or overbearing? It’s not an easy situation to be in, and it might be all the more difficult if you don’t have anyone to talk to about it. Talking to someone is a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

We really recommend you speak to an experienced relationship expert rather than a friend or family member. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can listen to you and offer well-considered advice to help you figure out what this man’s behavior signifies and what you should do about the early relationship you have with him.

A good place to get help is the website Relationship Hero – here, you’ll be able to connect with a relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to figure this out yourself, not all behaviors are obvious and sometimes there may be other things going on.

Too many people get stuck in relationships that aren’t good for them because they simply cannot identify healthy from unhealthy signs. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to an expert. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

You may also like:

ATTENTION PLEASE: Our brand new YouTube channel is live. You'd be mad not to subscribe to it and click the bell icon to get notifications when new videos go live. What are you waiting for?

This page contains affiliate links. I receive a commission if you choose to purchase anything after clicking on them.

About Author

Ana Vakos enjoys writing about love and all the problems that come with it. Everyone has experiences with love, and everyone needs dating advice, so giving these topics more attention and spreading the word means a lot to her.