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15 signs you’re a helicopter partner (and need to take a step back)

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You might have heard of a helicopter parent, but have you heard of a helicopter partner?

If you struggle with balance in your relationship and you’re always micromanaging your partner, you might be a helicopter partner without even realizing it.

A helicopter partner finds it difficult to have equality in a relationship because they need to be in control of everything.

They can’t let go and allow their partner to make decisions and they need to have sight of everything their partner does.

It’s not a fair or fun existence for the partner on the receiving end who often feels trapped and controlled.

And it doesn’t do much good for the helicopter partner either. 

If alarm bells are ringing, read on for 15 signs you may be a helicopter partner:

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you identify where your helicopter tendencies come from and work to reduce them. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

1. You don’t trust your partner to make decisions without you.

Relationships are built on compromise and trust.

If you never let your partner make decisions, you’re showing them you don’t trust their judgment and you aren’t willing to compromise on what you want for their sake.

Perhaps you think you know a better way of doing something. Maybe they approach situations in a different way to you.

Or perhaps they’ve disappointed you in the past by making poor decisions.

This can make it hard to step back and let your partner take charge.

But they are a grown adult and should be able to make decisions without your input, especially if it’s something that doesn’t involve or have any bearing on you.

When you make them consult with you about every little thing, you treat them like a child, with you the parent in this relationship.

They are supposed to be your equal and shouldn’t have to get your permission before something is decided unless it significantly affects your family life.

You need to give your partner space to make their own decisions and try not to manage everything they do.

Trust that they will make choices with the best intentions whether you’re around to advise them or not.

2. You re-do everything your partner does.

This could be cleaning the house, wrapping a present, making dinner, or even dressing a child, etc.

If you often find yourself re-doing something your partner has already finished, it’s a sign you’re a helicopter partner.

By doing this, you’re showing your partner that despite their best efforts, you think you can do better.

You’re putting them down by showing them that however hard they try, they aren’t as good as you.

Criticizing their work will discourage them from offering to do things in the future and it’ll eventually knock down their self-confidence.

So be aware of your actions and the negative long-term effects they could have, both for you and them.

3. You remind your partner of everything they need to do.

A helicopter partner can’t let go, not even for a minute, and when they aren’t nagging their partner to do something, they’re reminding them of something they should have already done.

If you can’t give your partner a break, it’s likely you’re being a helicopter partner and need to allow them some downtime before it’s too late.

You aren’t trusting that your partner can function without your reminders and you’re expecting them to work to your timeline rather than their own.

And it’s counterproductive, because the more you nag, the less likely your partner will want to help.

So, make both your lives more enjoyable and leave them to get on with it on their own.

4. You want to know where your partner is all the time.

Do you always have to be with your partner when they’re out?

If you’re not together, do you find yourself calling or messaging them and getting annoyed if they don’t respond quick enough?

If you can’t bear not knowing where they are or what they’re doing, you need to recognize that you’re trying to control them.

You need to understand where your control issues come from. What is stopping you from trusting your partner when they’re away from you? Is it them? Or you?

Either way, it’s not healthy for either of you, and you need to accept that you can’t know and be part of their movements 24/7.

5. You struggle when your partner needs space.

Everyone, no matter how happy they are in a relationship, needs space from their partner sometimes.

It’s healthy to have time to sit with your thoughts, put yourself first, and enjoy hobbies or friendships for yourself rather than sharing them with a partner.

Even if you don’t understand why your partner needs their own time, it’s not up to you to make it difficult for them to take it.

You need to stop trying to control your partner and support them in what makes them happy.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder for a reason. Stopping your partner from having time away from you isn’t going to bring you closer, it’s just going to build resentment and push you further apart.

6. You see your partner as a project.

If you see your partner as someone you can shape into the person you want them to be, it means you aren’t satisfied with them as they are.

It’s also a sign you’re trying to control the relationship and bend it to your will.

This might work for you, but you can bet it’s making your partner miserable.

Your partner isn’t a child you need to teach and guide, and they aren’t a canvas on which to create your ideal mate.

They are a person in their own right and trying to make them into something or someone they aren’t will only end up crushing their spirit and stifling their individuality.

And it’s likely you won’t be satisfied with the result anyway.

7. You nag your partner on all devices.

Helicopter partners don’t just badger their partner in person, they use whatever means are available to send them passive-aggressive reminders too.

That might be via WhatsApp, email, or even publicly tagging them in Facebook memes.

It’s a way of staying in control of your relationship by inserting yourself into your partner’s day using modern technology to remind them of things you think are the priority.

You’re trying to keep yourself and your wants at the front of their mind without considering their own needs.

You’re keeping them on an inescapable leash that they neither want nor deserve.

8. You don’t consider your partner’s priorities.

Let’s be honest, you probably think your priorities are more important than your partners.

This is classic helicopter partnering. 

You don’t think about what might be important to your partner.

You see your needs as the priority, and you think you know best.

You do everything possible to make sure that what you want from them is at the top of their to-do list because nothing else is as important in your eyes.

9. Your partner’s free time is your free time.

If your partner has some free time, you expect them to use it in a way you would choose and not for their own agenda.

You can’t understand why they would want to use their time to do anything other than what you’ve suggested, because you think your priorities are the priorities for both of you.

You find it hard to see them use their free time for anything other than what you think they should be doing. It’s a waste of time in your mind.

So you try to fill their ‘free’ time with things you want to do.

After all, their time off isn’t really theirs, it’s yours.

10. Your partner’s hobbies aren’t as important as your needs.

If you see your partner choosing to enjoy a hobby when there is something else you want from them, you see it as an indulgent waste of time.

If you’re a helicopter partner, for you, the needs of your relationship and yourself come above any recreational activities.

You can’t understand why your partner would prioritize their fun before making sure everything you need is covered.

11. You comment on your partner all the time.

You just can’t help yourself when it comes to making comments about your partner.

From what they wear to how they clean the house, you have to say something, and it’s usually negative.

You feel compelled to tell them how it could be done better or remind them of everything else yet to be finished.

You assert your dominance over them by making passive-aggressive or snide remarks about what they are doing at every opportunity.

You find it hard to just leave them alone without making some sort of comment.

You don’t see it as a criticism though, in your mind, you’re ‘just trying to be helpful’.

12. You manage your partner’s social life.

You always know where your partner is and what they’re doing because you manage their social life for them.

When it comes to interacting with others when you are out together, it’s you who does all the talking.

You fill up the calendar with social dates and manage your partner’s free time as if it were yours.

As a helicopter partner, there isn’t a social event that your partner is planning to go to that you haven’t already considered and set up for them.

And if they do manage to slip out without you, you check up on them regularly until they return.

13. You restrict where your partner goes without you.

If your partner does get the chance to go out somewhere alone, it’s either approved by you or they’re going to pay for it later.

You need to have control over their social calendar, and if your partner is out and you don’t know where you’ll make your feelings about it known.

You make life so uncomfortable that it becomes easier for them to do what you want, rather than go out unannounced again.

It’s likely you’re not doing this on purpose. Your need to be in charge means you feel happier and more secure when you know exactly where your partner is.

But at what cost to your relationship in the long run?

14. You can’t let your partner fail.

In the same way you would when you see a child about to make a mistake, you find it hard to let your partner figure things out for themselves.

If you think you know a way of doing something ‘better’, you step in to do it for them.

But letting people fail allows them to learn for themselves, and not giving someone this chance means you’ll forever be the expert and authority rather than an equal.

As a helicopter partner, this is probably exactly how you like it.

Rather than letting your partner find out for themselves that they need to plan ahead or use their time better, you always step in to take charge and prevent them slipping up.

It probably gives you a sense of superiority and purpose, which is hard to let go of.

But if you want a happy relationship, you’ve got to allow your partner to be a grown-up and figure things out on their own.

Not only are you preventing them from learning and growing, but eventually you’ll become so overwhelmed with your mental load trying to manage for the both of you.

15. You do things for your partner that they can do themselves.

If you’re a helicopter partner, you’ll often find yourself doing things that your partner is more than capable of just because you want it done faster or in a way you prefer.

Not only is this extremely irritating for your partner, who will feel invalidated and patronized, but you’ll eventually find yourself resentful that you’re doing too much, even though it’s not your partner’s fault.

To have a happier and healthier relationship don’t nag your partner and treat them like they’re incapable of things you know they can do.

You’re both adults and until you can learn to rely on each other you won’t know how solid your relationship is.


Although helicopter partnering can have negative consequences, it doesn’t usually come from a bad place.

It’s unlikely that you intentionally want to make your partner’s life difficult. Your actions probably come from a good place of wanting to help.

But if you want your relationship to work you need to make sure your partner feels respected and treated as an equal, not a child.

So, if you spot any of these signs in yourself, try to be more self-aware and notice when your love and care for them is turning from helpful to harmful.

Are you a helicopter partner who wants to pull back on their need to control or manage everything?

Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it.

Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.

They can help you figure out where this need for control comes from and offer specific advice to help you overcome it.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix.

And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through in their relationships without ever being able to resolve the issues that affect them. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.