My Boyfriend is a Control Freak

by Cay Crow, M.A., LPC, AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist

Black haired man with his finger out yelling at the camera

How To Deal With a Controlling Boyfriend

Dear Cay:

I really need some help. My boyfriend and I have been dating for three months. He was wonderful when we first started dating. He brought me flowers and did all sorts of romantic things. He literally swept me off my feet. He started talking about marriage just a few weeks after we met. I told him that I wasn't ready to get married. When I tell him that I want to slow down, he pouts in a childish way. He calls me at work several times a day. He sulks and withdraws when I spend time with my friends or family. Whenever he is around my friends, he makes them feel like they are intruding on our time together. He tries to recruit my family into talking with me about marriage. When we are out together, he begins almost every sentence with, "When we get married…" If I try to talk with him about his behavior, he turns the situation around as if it is my fault. He says if I would treat him as a priority in my life, he wouldn't feel so insecure. I don't understand this guy.

Dating a bulldozer

Common Behaviors of Controlling People

Dear Dating a bulldozer:

Most of your boyfriend’s behavior indicates an attempt to control you. He doesn't hear your side of the marriage situation because it does not agree with what he wants. He brings up marriage in public or with your family as a form of manipulation. Anyone who disregards what you have to say (e.g. "NO") is trying to control you. The whirlwind beginning and premature discussion of commitment are also warning signs. Controlling people don't see others for who they are, they see people only in relation to themselves. I suspect that in your boyfriend's mind, you are an extension of his self-esteem. If he can marry you, he feels that he can possess you and thereby feel better about himself for landing such a prize. Another warning sign is his desire to distance and/or isolate you from your family and friends. He makes you pay emotionally each time you want to see people who have been a part of your life long before he was around. The purpose of the pouting and withdrawing is also manipulation; he hopes that you will choose him over your support system. This is also a man who doesn't take responsibility for his own behavior. You try to talk with him about his behavior and he makes it your fault! Once again, that is manipulation. The next potential problem that could arise in your relationship is verbal abuse. He already disregards your thoughts, your friends and your family, I fear he will eventually disregard anything you want at the expense of his own desires for you. I strongly recommend that you read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker in order to further understand the dynamics of your boyfriend's behavior; then you can make an informed decision as to whether to continue the relationship or not. And do not assume that your boyfriend will change; people tell you who they are through their behavior. Listen to what his behavior tells you.


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