7 July 2002

Are You Living With A Control Freak?

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Does your man organise surprise weekends away for you, pay at restaurants and order you taxis when you go round to a friend's house? If the answer is yes, then that dream relationship might be fast turning into your worst nightmare – you could be living with a control freak!

Some people are just driven to control the people they go out with. It can be in varying degrees and comes in many ways. Some are subtle or overprotective; others go as far as vetting friends or even resort to mental and physical abuse.

“When I first met David I thought he was an absolute doll, he was so caring. He hated me taking public transport late at night and would always pick me up, no matter what time,” explained Chris, 26. “Then he started trying to dictate what I wore. I hated me in tight jeans, for example, because he said it was putting everything on display. It got to the point were he'd even order my food in a restaurant”.

In the end Chris could not take any more and left, David was devastated and ended up having a breakdown. He is now working part-time and getting counselling. He now realises that fear had much to do with his controlling behaviour. He was terrified of Chris leaving and felt dependent on him. When he did the downward spiral set in, but David was lucky enough to realise it and get help.

Some kinds of controlling behaviour are totally obvious, such as withholding money and not allowing access to certain friends. It is pure bully tactics. Such abusive and controlling behaviour is easy to spot. But it is the more subtle controlling tactics you need to watch out for.

One of the commonest types of controlling behaviour is that of ‘over caring'. “Michael booked the holidays, paid the bills, decided on home décor, did the supermarket shopping, really I didn't have a decision to make and neither was I asked for one,” said Graham, 47. “I woke up one morning and felt so utterly dependent, I was incapable if managing my life”. Graham eventually split up with Michael – they'd been in a relationship for ten years. He now lives alone and is still struggling to get his self-confidence back.

Also be aware of the person who really is just too good to be true. Martha, 34, learnt the hard way. “When I met Justine we seemed to just click, she was interested in absolutely everything I did. She liked the same music, same bars and even took up sailing – my big passion,” she explained. “Then she started tagging along everywhere I went, I was being suffocated. The attention I had initially adored I grew to despise and her with it”.

The kind of control freak Martha met takes far longer to understand. You continually ask yourself “Why am I so mad at this person when they care so much for me and want to protect me”? You don’t understand why you loved being the princess in the relationship and now you hate it. You question yourself, but in reality you’ve woken up to the fact that you are being controlled.

It isn't all bad news, however. Control freaks really can change their spots. Most people who use controlling behaviour wish they could stop. Helping change their behaviour or getting help in terms of counselling is a positive step forward. If it has gone too far – there is only one way – out!

Control freak warning signs:

1. Does he always want to be on his own with you and constantly complains about how tedious your friends are?

2. Is he jealous and possessive?

3. Does he tell you what to wear?

4. Does he always blame you when things go wrong? Is it always your fault when you have an argument?

5. Do you feel more insecure than you used to?

6. Have you made huge sacrifices for him? Moved because of his career, for example.

7. Does he have mood swings? Do you always work out how you can keep him happy and stop him boiling over?

8. His he adorable socially, but abusive and critical in private?

9. Does he intimidate you?

10. Do you feel totally dependent on him and unable to run your own life?