In my years as a psychologist and advice columnist, I’ve long ago learned that stereotypes don’t apply when it involves controlling partners. Toxic relationships can creep up on almost anyone. Behavior control by the partner knows no boundaries – often people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status dominate relationships, playing either role.
Many folks visualize a controlling partner together who openly berates everyone in their path, is physically aggressive or constantly makes overt threats or ultimatums. We picture the grumpy bully who belittles every server he or she encounters or commands their partner the way to dress from head to toe. While those signs are indeed troubling, there are many additional signs which may show up quite differently.
Some controlling partners are acting out of a way of emotional fragility and heightened vulnerability, and should perhaps show traits of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. Controlling people use an entire arsenal of tools to dominate their partners—whether they or their partners realize what’s happening or not.
Sometimes, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the one that’s being controlled believes that they’re the villain, or that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner “puts up” with them. Whether controlling behavior results in more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it’s not a healthy situation.
If you notice quite a few of those signs within your relationship or your partner, take it seriously. (If you’re concerned for your safety or want to find out more about possibly abusive relationship patterns, visit thehotline.org.)
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