I found the article below my list on the web at the WikiHow site. I've read it through and recognize both AXBF and me in the descriptions of controlling people. Right now I am working on setting healthy boundaries so for this read-through, I was looking for things that indicate I was controlled by AXBF. Later, I plan to post how I control others. I want to work on both recognizing and avoiding controlling people, and recognizing and changing my controlling behavior.
Indications from the article that AXBF is a controlling person (controlled me) are:
1. I felt suffocated, confused and distressed.
2. He has a very forceful personality, and I felt I was not allowed to just be myself in the relationship.
3. He is moody and talked to anyone who would listen about how he was wronged by his AXW. He blames everyone and everything but himself for the bad things that happen in his life.
4. He is not capable of understanding or accepting the word "no." I tried to tell him many times I did not want him to move in, did not want to shack up, did not want to live together, but he moved in anyway.
5. He would not allow me to be alone or do my own thing. Wherever I was, he would text, call, and email me obsessively. I often found myself altering my own personality and plans to fit his.
6. He constantly ignored what I said.
7. He expected me to change my plans to accommodate his and his children's plans. When I stopped doing that, he lost interest.
8. In difficult situations, mutual decision-making, and issues of responsibility, he ignores what the other person is saying and just does what he wants, or looks to his children to decide.
9. Nothing is ever his fault. He does not accept responsibility for his difficulties. Nor does he do anything to change.
10. He manipulates others by lying. I have heard him lie to his children in order to get them to do what he wants, and I have heard him lie to co-workers in order to build himself up in their eyes.
11. He often demeans and criticizes other people, especially their looks.
12. He has NO friends. Only fellow drug and alcohol abusers.
13. He abuses his positions of power. He steals from his employer and steals from retailers by buying something, using it or replacing it with something else, and then returning it to the store. http://www.wikihow.com/Recognize-a-Controlling-Person:
Those who try to control other people are, simply put, neither nice nor respectful. While a controlling personality belongs to someone who probably has deeper issues, such as codependency, narcissism, sociopathic tendencies or just sheer stubbornness, none of these negative traits should be shouldered by you. Controlling people are selfish at the core, immature at heart and likely to put the brakes on your leading a fulfilling life if you're in constant close proximity to them.
In order to spare yourself getting too entangled with a controlling personality, or to awaken yourself to the fact that the controlling person is the one with the problem and not you, here are some tried and tested ways to help you recognize a controlling person and respond accordingly.
[[Category:Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions]]
== Steps ==
# Consider how you feel around the people in your life before all else. Do you have any relationships in which you feel suffocated, bossed around, confused or distressed, or just plain fed up with being told what to do a lot of the time (and feeling very guilty that you keep giving in)? Is there someone in your life around whom you feel you have to tiptoe and be super careful to mollify or not anger? Do you know someone who seems to have "buttons" for going off at you at the simplest of things you say or do, often without rhyme or reason? If you feel that any of these situations have a ring of familiarity to them, then you may be dealing with a controlling person. In which case, read on.
#*Controlling people can be both male and female; both romantic and platonic. Be just as wary of a jealous friend who hates your significant other as you are of your significant other, especially if your friend is unhappy with his/her romances.
#*Just because someone has a forceful personality doesn't make them a controlling personality. The test is: "Do they allow you to be yourself, or do they unduly influence your behavior". You should know this instinctively.
#*Distinguish people with strong boundary issues from controlling people by testing their reactions to other topics. If someone always blows up if they're touched without warning but doesn't react in a controlling way if you wear your hair different or lose weight or gain weight, etc., that is a boundary issue. Other people's personal choices such as changing religion, coming out gay or transgender, dieting, grooming or exercise are boundary issues. Even if you think you're right and they're wrong, someone who's sensitive on any of these subjects is holding a boundary when it's about what they do with their life and how they are treated. It's when they start telling you who you are, what to wear, think, feel and do that they're being controlling.
#*Don't feel too bad if you discover that you are sometimes controlling with other people in your life, especially if you grew up with a controlling parent. On a deep level, whatever you grew up with feels "normal" and it takes work to stop treating others the way you were treated. It's a big part of recovery to break the pattern in yourself. If you notice it at the time, it helps to back up and apologize to the person whose boundaries you crossed. This can save healthier friendships and relationships in your life.
# Look for moodiness. Moodiness is a key signal of a controlling person, precisely because those with moody personalities tend to be mulling over perceived hurts and injustices that have happened to them personally and seek to remedy their internal pain and improve their situation by controlling others. What better than having someone else run at your beck and call and having another person accepting blame or being afraid when you don't want to delve deeper into fixing your own source of pain?
#*Moody people tend to sulk or cast a pall of gloom right in the middle of a moment of happiness.
#*Narcissists will often throw a hissy fit when inadequate attention is being paid to them and their needs. This is a manipulative way of controlling that can be hard to say no to because the person will often say they are in pain/upset/hurting and the like, trying to make the other person feel bad for them.
# Suspect any person who has a temper and uses it often. Frequent temper outbursts, especially those accompanied by bullying (the coward trying to control others) or threats (easier to shout out dire warnings of potential harm to ''you'' than to investigate their own internal source of harm) are a sign of a controlling personality type. Temper outbursts often happen when you disagree with them (however lightheartedly or kindly) or don't do exactly what they want you to do (which can be difficult to glean sometimes, as many controlling people expect you to be able to "read their mind"). In their minds, you are challenging their authority over you when you either disagree with them or don't comply with their wishes.
#*Coupled with moodiness, the moody temper-throwing person can be a real handful because you ''never'' know where you stand with this misfortunate person. Unfortunately, their inability to handle and work through their anger or resentment can be taken out on you as physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse. Never put up with a person harming you; it is ''not'' your fault that they hurt inside; sadly, it is more likely that someone else in their youth behaved the same way toward them and they're perpetuating a bad cycle.
# Think about how this person reacts to being asked normal questions. Questions can reveal several things in terms of a controlling person when they respond in a frustrated or condescending way:
#*As already alluded to, a controlling person thinks that you can read their mind. If you ask basic questions about what to do together, where to go, what they want, etc., they can become easily frustrated because they expected you to have all of their needs thoroughly accounted for and placed ahead in priority over yours. Questions mean a decision still needs to be made, when the controlling person thinks the decision has already been made, all about them and for their convenience.
#*Controlling people often assume that they understand how you think, even when they actually don't. They may become frustrated because their constructed image of you is at odds with what you say.
#*Questions can irritate a controlling person because they would rather be in control of the questioning, not anybody else.
#*Questions can verify for a controlling type of person that the questioner is in need of guidance and control because they don't know the answer. This may actually become worse over time because the controller is seeking to have the controlled person second guess his or her own decision-making abilities.
# Listen for compliments. It is often the case that people with control issues are not very good at giving sincere compliments. They do not want you to feel good about yourself because it may take away control and draw attention away from them. Compliments, when given, are backhanded, snarky and actually point out some flaw or defect in the other person.
#*For example: Cassie is Maya's best source of feeling good about herself and she likes bossing Cassie around. So, Maya often tells Cassie that she is a good friend but never agrees to call her her best friend even though Cassie often refers to Maya as her BFF; in this way, Maya holds out the possibility but never confirms it. Cassie has a great body but Maya is annoyed by the attention that the boys give her, so Maya constantly tells Cassie that while she has a nice enough body, she shouldn't flaunt her looks because the boys are already talking about her behind her back.
#*Watch out if you are very attractive and the controlling person isn't very attractive. In this situation, it is possible for a controlling person to make your life miserable. Your looks will become a handicap in a controlling relationship, for they will will probably have a jealousy problem and will do their utmost to reduce your confidence in your appearance. For example, a mother may be threatened by her daughter's youth and try to make her daughter feel dowdy and frumpy, even assisting this by choosing her clothes or limiting her ability to choose them or wear make up, etc. Compliments rarely happen in the situation where the unattractive controlling person feels threatened by the other person's attractiveness; if anything, reminders of your flaws will be far more likely.
#*A controlling person may try to control the way you dress and speak, or they may even criticize your opinion.
# Be wary of any person who seems incapable of understanding or accepting the word "no." Controlling or not, this person is a problem but coupled with controlling tendencies, and you're bound to be walked all over. This person will tend to insist until they wear you down and make you give in, changing your firm no to a weak yes, and leaving you feeling guilt-ridden and ashamed of yourself. Remember that it is your right to make decisions, including ones that are in the negative and that refuse to do what this person asks.
# Consider what happens when you want to be yourself or do your own thing. Do you often find yourself ''altering your own personality, plans or views to fit someone else's'', even if you are usually a strong person? If so, you might have been dealing with a controlling person. In terms of yourself, here are some key pointers to being in the position of getting controlled:
#* Does the person ignore, underplay or override your own experience or expressions of your own feelings? Controllers '''attempt to define your reality'''. If you say you're tired and the person says you're not, that's a good sign he or she is a controlling person.
#* Do you often find yourself expected to change your plans for this person? Let's say you have your day all planned out, and then you receive a phone call from a friend, and you tell them your plans. The person wants to join in with your plans, with the exception that your time doesn't work well for them, or maybe that isn't the place they want to go. The next thing that you know, your plans have totally changed. You end up seeing a movie that you didn't care to see, at a time that you didn't really care to go.
# Review how this person sees difficult situations, mutual decision-making or issues of responsibility. It is in these areas that you can truly spot the controlling person at full throttle. Unlike a highly opinionated person (who can be a pain in their own right but isn't seeking to control, just air their own opinions loudly), a controlling person lacks the ability to tolerate or accept differences between the two of you. Indeed, a controlling person is always seeking ways to change some part of your core traits or personality, reshaping you as part of their feeble attempt to control the world around them. While it could be said that relationships are not democracies, neither are they dictatorships. It is important to seek a balance you're comfortable with within any relationship and the ability to compromise, tolerate, be flexible and give and take both ways is essential to healthy relationships.
#*Most people who are controlling always throw in the argument the words, "you are the problem", or "you have a problem." Nothing is ever their fault.
#*Controlling people often have difficulty dealing with problems objectively and will manipulate the conversation to ''blame others'' when their own mistakes are pointed out. When this happens, end the discussion without allowing the controlling person to successfully shift their blame to you and/or credit away from you or others.
#*If you really love this person, the "bind" they've got you in can be even more difficult to both see and escape from because your love keeps trying to excuse their behavior.
#*Controlling people often demean or criticize others as a means of building themselves up and appearing superior and in control. In fact, a controlling person is easy to spot from the constant monologue about how rotten, stupid, evil, ridiculous, annoying, etc. everyone else is (presumably they're never any of these things).
# Look at what happens around your other relationships. When the controlling person is around your friends and supporters, watch out. The controlling person will often try to cause trouble between you and your friends, spreading rumors, attempting to create divisions (divide and conquer) and will even tell lies (exaggerations to be kinder) about you to them or about them to you, to try to break your attachment to them. The ultimate aim is to isolate you from others so that they can have you all to themselves, inside the reality they're trying to weave for you. Stay alert; any attempt to remove or downgrade your friends or supporters from your life is a red flag.
#*Avoid conversations about interactions, mutual interests and friendships/relationships where you are in the controller's presence. You know it will set them off and if you need to give the impression you're a hermit in their presence, then it is better than having your support network ripped to shreds by snide and uncaring comments.
# Check out this person's own personal friendships. Controlling people often do not have close friends, and rarely are friends with others who are more attractive, intelligent, or well-liked than themselves. They tend to be jealous of popular, successful people, and will criticize those held in high-regard by others. A lack of close friends may be one additional sign of their inability to tolerate others and their need to control relationships tightly.
#*Relationships and friendships are not built on who is in control. They are mutual interactions based on shared give and take and always seeking balance.
# Watch for abuse of administrative or social power, including when there are shared rights. A controlling person tends to keep up social and legal connections (such as threats of litigation, divorce, manipulating marriage, roommate tenancy contracts, shared cell phone plans, misuse of shared credit and similar contracts) –– especially if administrative rights are included. Even in social networks, one may block and unblock a person rather than delete the connection, as another attempt to control a difficult or failed relationship.
#* Suspect excessive generosity from a controlling personality as an attempt to impress and control you. By seeming to give you lots of things, so that you always feel like you're benefiting in some way, you end up feeling as if you owe them something, perhaps even long term. They then use that obligation you feel towards them to control you.
=== Freeing yourself from a controlling personality ===
# Trust your feelings and try to be honest with yourself. If you see these symptoms in another person and you're feeling rotten around them, it's time to face up to removing them from your life or dealing with them differently. And be kind to yourself. This isn't the time for berating yourself for being stupid enough to fall for a controlling person's antics; a controlling relationship can creep up on you unawares, cloaked in an initial interest in you and a seeming care for you which turns from all sweetness and roses into manipulative knife-twisting once the controller realizes you're "caught."
#*The stronger a person that you are, the harder a controlling person will work to tear you down. It's like an ego trip for them. In other words, this is a backhanded compliment to you, that you are actually a strong and caring person targeted by a conniving individual who aspires to have your traits but hasn't got the courage.
#*Don't be afraid to reach out to others you trust for your emotional needs. This will allow you to gain a more healthy perspective about your life, as well as force you to seek out your own individuality and independence away from this person. Do not provide an explanation to this person for your need for these changes. That will only invoke more attempts at control since they will know what you're up to and their manipulations will prevail. Just make the changes.
# Be prepared to have to set limits, to firmly make and uphold your point. Expect words like "do this", "surely, you'd have to agree with this", "if you leave, then...", "you need to...", etc. When you hear these sorts of words, don't yield your boundaries.
#*Don't be surprised by reactions to your removing yourself from their sphere of control. When controlling personalities sense loss of control, they may psychologically induce physical problems such as back or stomach pain, headache, grief/tears, fainting or hives. This is simply a way of gaining control of the situation again by grasping for the attention, sympathy and concern of others. By all means drop them off at the doctor's if you're concerned (a good way of sussing out their hypochondriac tendencies) but don't fall for it as a means to staying to do their bidding.
#*Controlling people are very [[Recognize a Manipulative or Controlling Relationship|manipulative]], whatever the reason behind their need to control. They will not like it when you try to stand up for yourself about something that is important to you. Always try to stay calm in conflicted conversations and do not lose your cool. Keep in mind that they probably will because you are challenging their control. End conversations immediately –– if they start to get verbally violent –– either by leaving or saying goodbye and hanging up the phone.
# Expect to need to liberate your mind within such a relationship, without explaining what you are doing or how. You know that this person has controlling needs but you don't need to turn them into an accomplice in "fix the controller". Not only can you never "fix" another person unless they're willing to change, explaining yourself will only bring about more manipulation. Remember at all times that the problem of control is theirs and not yours –– except to work around and work on your own goals, and obviously common goals. Avoid playing or mentioning the control game (not telling what you are up to), in order to avoid sore points or arguing over control issues. In this way, peace and togetherness may be possible on minor, or agreeable issues.
# Be trustworthy (fair and honest) but keep your views closed away from this fact twisting, web spinning manipulator. The controller often wants to obligate you to volunteer personal information or to answer to questions on minor issues that seem to be fishing for your bad experiences, weaknesses or failings. This information is likely to be used to persuade or play mind games with you at a later date (they have a very long memory for information discovered on such fishing expeditions).
# Decide to distance yourself and when possible avoid this person that you believe to be attempting to control you. You may even decide to cut them out of your life but this can be impossible if they're family, a loved one or a work colleague. Some coping approaches include:
#* Keeping all interactions short and sweet. As with anyone who bugs you. Where this is not possible, proceed to the next step.
#* Avoid mingling, fusing and confusing individual rights and choices, or unreasonably fostering their tendency to exert control over you. This person wants to finesse or direct your decisions away from your own desires for educational, lifestyle, career objectives, etc. By not accepting and appreciating your points of view unless you agree completely, they deny your personhood. Turn this around by simply stating that you appreciate their input but that this is how things are going to be for you and go ahead and do or be the things that represent you.
# Have compassionate detachment. While it is important to be compassionate, it is also important to be detached and to let go of this person's attitudes, issues and problems. They're not yours and you don't need to (and don't deserve to) shoulder their burden. It is the role of every human being to learn how to make our better sides shine forth and excusing someone's controlling behavior because they've had a rough life or whatever else simply continues enabling what is essentially very bad behavior that is hurting them as much as it is hurting you. Through compassionate detachment, you can care about them as a person without involving your own emotions and staying entangled in their web.
#*Read some books on detachment. It is not something you can learn overnight and you will fail a lot trying to learn it. However, you will also learn it with practice and the more you practice detachment, the more you will discover freedom and will learn how to let others be without seeking to rescue, save or prop them up. Although it's not easy, it's easier than being an emotional slave to someone else all your life.
== Tips ==
*If you are a person who likes to control others, step back and take a long look at the stress that you may be causing someone else while you are breaking down your own mental health/happiness.
*If you are being isolated or pushed into spending time with only "their" family and friends, that can show a lack of respect for your feelings or wants.
*It is likely that a controlling person plays head games, in order to hide this major fault that they have.
*Special note: there is a big difference between being in control of one's self, and trying to control other people. Having good self-esteem is a good thing, the other isn't.
*If you are a strong, secure person, you may over time start to feel a bit weird about how you can never be correct in much of anything around this person, especially if it is a topic that the person feels confident of knowing. Listen to these feelings; they are there to guide you. If you don't listen to them now, in a decade or so you might be a former shadow of the person you were supposed to become. Don't let that happen to you.
*Real dependence attracts codependents. If you are disabled or have chronic financial trouble or other major life problems that need help, you will almost inevitably wind up depending on some controlling people for survival needs. Disentangling yourself from them if they are in charge of your benefits or medical care can take a lot of work. Document everything and seek the same services or assistance from healthier people. In at least some places a service like Adult Protective Services can intervene when social service workers, medical people or home care workers are controlling and limiting your life beyond what your original problems cause.
*Disability should be taken into account. Some disabled people may always change their plans or be unable to keep up with things you want to do. If they say "no" to a lot of things and suggest other things you may not enjoy, look at the reasons why. Test the friendship by bringing up issues that are clearly your own choices - hair, clothing, opinions that have nothing to do with them. Since many people have chemical allergies to various scents and perfumes, if someone asks you not to use a certain shampoo or even not use scents when visiting them, that's a physical boundary issue rather than an opinion of your perfume unless they tell you that you HAVE to use the scent of their choice instead.
== Warnings ==
*The longer that you allow other people to control you, the weaker you may become. In time, this weaker self may become your new personality and it can be dreamlike to remember your former strong self.
*If you find yourself changing your interests to those of the other person or giving up former hobbies or friends, you are probably in a controlling relationship.
*Remember: we teach people how to treat us. If you find yourself constantly "giving in" to the other person on things that matter to you, then you are not being yourself but are being controlled.
*Set firm boundary lines of what is and isn't acceptable to you when dealing with a controlling person. They will push these limits to test you. Stay firm and don't back down.
*Watch for people who try to play on the emotional side of you to gain your trust early in the friendship. Things such as telling you what a hard life they had because they were bullied six years ago, but they feel they can only trust you and tell you this; trying to get you to tell them your bad experiences. Then after they find out what others have said or done to hurt you, they'll bring it up constantly like: "How did you feel when you were cheated on? Don't you think that you did something to deserve it?" They will seem sincere and caring at first, but then they bring it up and use it to subtly insult you until you agree with them. This is sort of a mind game, influencing you to think of yourself the way they want you to. You will often find yourself feeling upset, angry and deflated after a conversation and then they will try to persuade you to do other things they know you don't like. You can tell the difference between this and healthy sharing because after sharing mutual painful experiences, both people usually come away feeling better and feeling understood. When it's not like that, look for the controlling person mind games.
* Controlling people will often feign kindness to obtain the things they want. Never let the "nice" behaviour fool you, just ignore them and move on.