How to cope with a controlling person

How to cope with a controlling person

That insufferable person who micromanages and treats you like you’re completely incompetent. No one else is allowed to have ideas; your judgment isn’t trusted, and your contributions aren’t appreciated.

A control freak in the workplace is a totally toxic, confidence and happiness-killing distraction no one needs.

But you can’t change them.

In fact, trying to change a control freak -to make them respect you, appreciate you, or even just stop being such an overbearing nuisance in your life–will make you crazy. It’s an exercise in futility.

They’re constantly going to be disapproving of how you do things. Even if you try to do things their way, you won’t live up to a control freak’s standards. So, step one: accept that you cannot change a control freak. What’s left to do?

The control freak in your workplace is an enormous, immovable obstacle. You can’t get rid of it, so you’re going to have to learn to go around it. Here’s how.

1. Recognize when you’re being worked over.

Patricia Evans, author of Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand and Deal with People Who Try to Control You, told BBC it’s “crucial to listen for ways a controlling person tries to enter your mind and dictate your reality.”

In her book, she demonstrated ways in which a control freak will get inside your head and throw you off your game. For example, they might say, “Here, I’ll finish the report. We all know formatting isn’t your strong point.”

“We?” You wonder. When did I screw up a report? Man, they were talking about it? Who is WE anyway?

Stop. Control freaks love, love, love to get inside your head like this. Stop giving them the pleasure of succeeding.

2. Don’t try to control a control freak.

Talk about paddling upstream. trying to assert control over someone determined to retain it is pointless.

In her 2011 book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, Dr. Judith Orloff advises, “Be healthily assertive rather than controlling. Stay confident and refuse to play the victim. Most important, always take a consistent, targeted approach.”

Control freaks love a good power struggle; playing into it never ends well.

3. Perfect your “scratched record” technique.

If you feel like talking to the control freak in your life is like talking to a brick wall, it’s not your imagination. They’ve already decided how things are going to go; you’re just window dressing. UK counselor Barbara Baker says control freaks are master of arguing. Your ideas and opinions simply get lost in their clever rhetoric.

Don’t take the bait.

Instead, she says, “Keep it simple. Employ the ‘scratched record’ technique: state and restate what you believe, feel or need.”

Other ways you can outsmart the control freak in your life:

  • Try to understand what drives their controlling behavior — are they fearful of their own failure, or perhaps power hungry? You don’t have to accept it, but knowing what motivates them can help you figure out how to deal with each new aggression.
  • Keep a neutral gaze, expression and tone of voice when speaking with them. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
  • Make it clear that you’re committed to working with them, but let them know your boundaries and that they’re non-negotiable.

Finally, move on if it’s unbearable. Your life is too short and precious to live miserably under the thumb of an unrepentant control freak. If you feel that your safety, security dignity, self-worth, health or happiness are threatened, you need to seriously ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Do you work with a control freak? How do you cope? Share your comments below.

No one should have to fit someone else's reality. There's a way out.

If someone defines you, even in subtle ways, they are pretending to know the unknowable. There is a quality of fantasy to their words and sometimes to their actions. Even so, they are usually unaware of the fact that they are playing “let’s pretend.” They fool themselves and sometimes others into thinking that what they are saying is true or that what they are doing is right. When people “make up” your reality—as if they were you—they are trying to control you, even when they don’t realize it. —Evans, Patricia (2009), Controlling People (p. 58). Adams Media.

How to cope with a controlling person

Control is a big problem in relationships—romantic, professional, familial, friendship. When people control you, they “make up” your reality, as Evans puts it. They don’t respect you the way you are. They want to change you, make you different, more similar to the image they have or want to have of you. They want to make you fit their reality, so they don’t have to face the fact that their reality may be wrong.

Control can be ever so subtle, hidden behind the pretense of help, advice, a suggestion, or a joke. But it is none of those things—it is a conscious or subconscious attempt to rip out your soul and put in a new one: The one they created.

If you recognize controlling people and stand up to them, then the controller loses. He or she fails to replace your inner self with the one they created.

The problem is: Most people do not know how to recognize controlling people. Why? Because most controllers are expert, and subtle in their approaches. They have refined their techniques over many years, and they take over your life when you least expect it. And then the real you is gone, or at least hidden away. It can take some people years to rediscover their true selves after leaving a controller’s orbit.

Evans asks us to consider the following case of a controlling husband:

At a farmer’s market on a recent Saturday morning in a nearby town, I stood in line behind a well-dressed elderly couple waiting to buy corn. When their turn came I heard the woman ask for two dozen ears of corn. They were being sold at three ears for a dollar. She handed over two ten-dollar bills. When she received her change, she expressed surprise because it included one of the ten-dollar bills. “Wow! I didn’t think I’d get this much back for twenty-four ears,” she said, laughing. “Guess it’s too early in the morning to figure it.” Suddenly everyone’s attention was riveted on the man with her, as he shouted angrily, “She can’t even count the goddamn change!” The woman, seemingly as shocked by his roaring declaration as were the bystanders, was silent. But she seemed stunned. [. ] As I thought about the incident, I found it most significant that the husband [. ] pretended that his wife couldn’t count change and acted as if that “fact” appalled and infuriated him. Moreover, it seemed as if he were restricted in some way from finding out if what appalled him might not be true. —Evans (2009), Controlling People (p. 103).

A grumpy husband, a Saturday morning at a farmer’s market. “Poor woman,” we might think. But most of us fail to realize that her husband wasn’t just a little grumpy. He had long ago replaced the inner self of his wife with his own fantasy of someone who couldn’t even count the change.

Controllers are hard to spot and can turn the tables on you. As Evans points out, “when a Controller hears a plea such as, ‘Please don’t talk to me like that,’ the Controller will usually say something like, ‘I don’t need to be attacked like that,’ or, incredibly, ‘You’re trying to control me,’ or, ‘I don’t know why you have to start a fight just when everything’s going fine.’” (Evans 2009. Controlling People, p. 128).

Or they might make up excuses for their behavior: “It was well meant”; “I was just giving you some advice”; “If you want to accomplish all the things you say you do, then you really ought to think about how you behave”; “If I don’t tell you, no one else will”; “Come on, I was just kidding.”

People who are under the spell of a controller are often just that—under a spell. They may start believing the story the controller tells them, and then they can no longer find themselves within the collection of illusions that he or she has installed in them.

Still, waking up from the spell and finding one’s true self can be done, if one is willing and courageous enough to find his or her own boundaries and find a way to separate reality from fiction.

As Evans puts it:

If they are willing, the Spellbound can awake from their dream world by seeing the spell for what it is, and by remembering how they fell under it. By courageously facing their separateness and trusting in their true connectedness, they can find the strength to stand on their own two feet, apart from the other. If they accept the reality of their interconnectedness as well as the reality of their separateness, they can, with this two-fold awareness, begin to render possible what had before seemed impossible. They can break the spell’s influence over them. And they can bring awareness to others. —Evans (2009), Controlling People (p. 251).

Berit “Brit” Brogaard is the author of On Romantic Love

Learning how to stop being controlling is essential to maintaining not only your own sense of peace with life, but also your professional and personal relationships . If you’ve already determined that you are being controlling in your life, you’re ready to begin the process of letting go of control. While learning how to be less controlling requires both diligence and courage, the fulfillment you’ll find in letting go is well worth the effort.

Signs of controlling behavior

Do you suspect that you might be controlling or that you might be in a relationship with a controlling personality? Before you can discover how to stop being controlling , you need to identify and admit your controlling tendencies. Here are a few of the most common signs of controlling behavior :

A need to be the center of attention

Controlling people are demanding of your time, attention and love. They insist on constantly being together, which slowly isolates you from friends and family. They may show jealous behavior like interrogating you about where you’re going or who you’ve seen. They will also downplay your accomplishments and find a way to make everything about them, creating drama in your life.


Life is never perfect. In fact, as Tony says, “Perfection is the lowest standard in the world, because if you’re trying to be perfect, you know you can’t be. So what you really have is a standard you can never achieve.” One key to how to not be controlling is to trade your expectations for appreciation . Be grateful for your life the way it is, not the way you insist it must be.


This seems like one of the most obvious signs of controlling behavior, but the truth is that lying is often subtle. Controlling people will lie to you about your own reality, getting you to doubt yourself and your emotions. They also lie to themselves. If you find that what others tell you doesn’t match up with your own perception of reality, it might be because you’re controlling.

Inability to accept “no.”

Controlling people often have trouble setting healthy boundaries in relationships . They won’t take no for an answer. If you’ve specifically asked them not to do something, they’ll do it anyway. If you don’t want to partake in their plans, they’ll pressure you. Are you this person in your friend group?

Shift your focus to what you can control: your life

How to stop being controlling

To stop controlling behavior , you must figure out the deeper reasons that are driving it. There are many factors that contribute to why we are the way we are , but with the right knowledge and strategies, we can take control of our thoughts, actions and lives.

1. Reprogram your mind

One of Tony ’s core principles is that you can reprogram your mind , which in turn reprograms your behaviors. Instead of letting your unexamined mindset run the show, letting go of control requires examining the limiting beliefs that are driving your behavior. Be intentional about your thoughts and question whether or not they are serving you.

For example, the next time you feel anxious or catch yourself wondering how to be less controlling , take a few minutes to assess the situation. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? What about this situation is making me feel nervous? Think of your inquiries as a brainstorming session in which you are not judging anything that comes to mind. Be kind to yourself and be honest. As you learn to be mindful about your thoughts and reactions, you’ll become more self-aware , which will help you in letting go of control.

How to cope with a controlling person

2. Learn to get your needs met

How to cope with a controlling person

The need for a feeling of certainty in life is so elemental to the human experience that it is actually one of our S ix H uman N eeds . When we do not get our needs met, including the need for security, we learn to get those needs met through unhealthy means like wanting to control everything around us. Such strategies might seem to work for a while since they create the temporary illusion of safety.

As time goes on, you will begin to notice that if you don’t learn how to stop being controlling , your attempts at control will begin to control you. You need to learn to let go of the past so it stops causing anxiety in the present. You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude and approach to life.

3. Educate yourself about anxiety and how to manage it

Rather than falling back on control as a defense against uncertainty , learn all you can about the fear that is driving you to micromanage. You might read books about how to not be controlling or talk with a therapist. Knowledge is power and as you become more informed, you’ll be better able to identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and replace them with healthier ones.

4. Assess whether your efforts at control are effective

When you find yourself wondering how to stop being controlling , ask yourself, “Are my efforts at control making a lasting difference?” For example, suppose you have been calling your unemployed sister every week to see if she’s found a job. Rather than continue the weekly phone calls, ask yourself if your interference is actually helping your sister find employment. If the answer is yes (and your sister enjoys the weekly calls), keep calling. If the answer is no – stop calling. By bringing self-awareness to your behavior you invite greater sensitivity into your interactions with others and with yourself.

How to cope with a controlling person

5. Get an outside perspective

Instead of approaching letting go of control through your own isolated efforts, enlist the support of a trusted friend or therapist. Pick someone with whom you have a strong relationship , and ask for their input on ways in which you are being controlling. By getting an outside perspective, you’re able to identify and change unconscious behaviors stemming from your perfectionism.

6. Ban control-oriented language from your vocabulary

How to cope with a controlling person

When you change your words, you change your life . Learning how to be less controlling requires recognizing the role of language. Learn to recognize the language you use to exercise control – for example, couching unsolicited advice in seemingly benign language (like “have you ever tried…”) or criticizing a friend’s perspective on any given subject.

Ask supportive friends to bring these behaviors to your attention as they arise. Recognize that, while it can be tempting to give others advice, the best way to love someone is unconditionally, which means refraining from attempting to change them.

Altering your language takes courage, and you must commend yourself for learning how to not be controlling . Consistent practice will pay off, and you’ll become more aware of when you’re unconsciously aiming to change or fix others.

Ready to stop controlling behavior once and for all?

Transform your mindset and master your emotions with Re-Awaken the Giant Within , a free ebook packed with Tony’s top tips and strategies.

Sherri Gordon is a published author and a bullying prevention expert. She's also a contributor to and the former editor of Columbia Parent, with countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

Not every friendship is a healthy friendship. In fact, sometimes your friend might really be a bully masquerading as your friend, especially if they are trying to control and manipulate you.

While this can be painful to recognize, don't feel bad if you discover this is your situation. Likely, you're a kind and generous person who accepts people for who they are. The important thing is that you recognize the signs that your friend doesn't respect you and move on.

The best friendships are healthy and rewarding relationships. In these friendships, you not only bring out the best in one another, but you also enjoy spending time together and appreciate one another's differences.

Other times, relationships can be unhealthy and might include people who are fake friends. These relationships may start out looking like true friendship, but as time goes on, it can be draining to be friends with someone who tries to control or manipulate you, which is when it’s important to learn how to tell the difference between healthy friendships and unhealthy friendships.

When people who claim to care about you are controlling and manipulative, this is abusive behavior—the epitome of bullying.

Remember, controlling people want to deceive you into believing that they are your friend and that they have your best interests at heart. But in reality, the relationship is based on their attempt to control you—not on mutual respect.

When it comes to identifying a controlling person in your life, it's important to recognize the key behaviors of controlling people early so that you can end the relationship. Here are the top six characteristics of overbearing friends.

They Are Demanding

If someone places unreasonable demands on you and expects you to put everything aside when they need you, that is controlling behavior. They also may demand that you spend all your free time with them. Controlling people may even try to control what you wear, what classes you take, and who you date.

This type of controlling behavior is not healthy friendship behavior. In healthy friendships, a friend respects your right to make your own decisions and is not threatened by the fact that you might do things differently. Controlling friends, on the other hand, may accuse you of not being a good friend when you do not meet their demands.

If you feel like you are not in control of your own decisions in the friendship, then this is an unhealthy friendship.

They Lack Respect

If your friend doesn’t respect you, makes fun of you, undermines your perceptions, or engages in name-calling, take notice. This is not a healthy friendship. Healthy friends respect one another and build each other up. They also are encouraging and supportive.

Another red flag signaling an unhealthy relationship is when the person tells you how you should feel rather than accepting your true feelings. Likewise, controlling people may accuse you of being too sensitive, especially when they make jokes at your expense. And they may even accuse you of being selfish if you communicate what you want or need, especially if it doesn’t meet their agenda.

Do not be deceived. This is not healthy. Not only are you in control of your emotions and feelings, but your friend should be respectful of how you feel even if they disagree.

If you are being ridiculed for feeling the way you do, that is a sign of an unhealthy, controlling friendship.

They Act Superior and Entitled

When someone expects or demands special treatment in a relationship, that is a sign of controlling behavior. They also may use sarcasm when speaking with you, and they might act as if they are always right—that they know best and are smarter.

Controlling friends may talk down to you or be condescending and rude. They may even tell you that your opinions are stupid or don’t make sense. In a healthy friendship, you treat one another as equals and value your differences. Likewise, you are kind and supportive of one another.

If your friend communicates that you are inferior in some way, this is unhealthy.

They Create Drama

Sometimes, controlling people will start arguments for the sake of arguing. In other words, they simply like to take the opposite position. They may also display drastic mood changes or have sudden emotional outbursts.

In general, they feed off of drama and will look to make a normal conflict or disagreement into a huge offense. They may also enjoy rumor spreading and gossiping. Meanwhile, in a healthy friendship, you might argue but it’s done in a respectful way without trying to hurt the other person.

While disagreements are normal in a healthy friendship, if you feel like there is always an issue that needs to be dealt with in your relationship, this could be a sign that your friend is prone to creating drama. And while this behavior may not seem controlling, it's often a tactic used to keep you off balance and feeling insecure in the relationship.

When someone seems to always be stirring something up, this is not healthy behavior.

They Are Manipulative

Manipulative people use your compassion, values, fears, and other hot buttons to control you or the situation. They also may try to manipulate and control you by making you feel guilty in order to get you to do what they want.

Sometimes controlling people will even try to use your generosity and compassion to take advantage of you. But in a healthy friendship, your friend will value the kind and giving side of your personality without trying to use it to benefit them in some way.

Another sign of a controlling and abusive friend is that they have a tendency to exaggerate your flaws and humiliate you in public. It may feel like they want to make you look bad—even if they play it off as a joke. Remember, a good friend would never want you to be embarrassed.

A friend who regularly makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrasses you is not a true friend.

They Isolate You

Controlling people often attempt to control who your other friends are. They may also want complete control over who you spend time with and may even take your phone, read your texts and e-mails, and listen to your voicemail messages.

In a healthy relationship, a friend will respect your privacy and not read your personal messages. They also will honor the fact that you have other friends and obligations and, as as a result, will be understanding when you cannot spend time together. In fact, spending time with different types of people is healthy for your relationship.

But controlling people usually feel insecure and threatened when you have other friends or when you spend time with your family. So they might criticize you, your other friends, and your family members. They may even try to sabotage those relationships or use peer pressure to get you to do what they want.

Controlling people may look for ways to manipulate you into spending all your time with them and get angry when you have other friends.

A Word From Verywell

Cutting ties with a controlling friend can be tricky and may even expose you to more bullying before it gets better. Let someone you trust know about the challenges you are facing so that they can help you end the relationship in a safe and healthy way.

Remember, it may be hard at first to break ties with a controlling person, but with healthy boundaries and assertiveness, you can move on and find friends who respect who you are.

Controlling behavior can come from just about anyone in your life. It could be your boss, a family member, a friend, or even your partner. Controlling people are all around.

We most commonly hear about controlling husbands and controlling relationships. Although controlling behavior can feel extra traumatic in romantic relationships, any person in your life can control you in a harmful way. And they can be a man or a woman.

It is a mark of courage to recognize the signs of controlling behavior, and an act of bravery to respond appropriately.

Chat about what you’re going through anonymously, here.

What is controlling behavior?

Controlling behavior is when one person expects, compels, or requires others to cater to their own needs — even at others’ expense. The controlling person targets an individual and dominates them in an unhealthy, self-serving manner.

Who falls victim to controlling people?

Controlling people often prey upon those they’re closest to, taking advantage of others’ introversion, submissive tendencies, or simple good faith.

Being manipulated, used, or controlled by another person can lead to a number of harmful effects. Some may be so subtle, that you don’t realize until you’re cemented into a toxic, controlling relationship with your friend, coworker, or partner.

Controlling people tend to prey on the kindest folks they can find.

Other effects are all-consuming, and can even lead to shame for ‘allowing’ yourself to be controlled. Remember it is not at all your fault. Controlling people tend to prey on the kindest folks they can find.

If you’re being controlled by another person, you may experience any of the following:

  • Damaged confidence and sense of self
  • Difficulty taking action
  • Fear of being without the person who controls you
  • Depression, anxiety, the works… , especially if the control is prolonged or coupled with other types of abuse

Subtle signs of controlling behavior:

Remember to be cautious when you see even small signs of controlling behavior. A controlling husband, wife, partner, or friend may try to maintain plausible deniability, so that it’s easier to gaslight you that they aren’t mistreating you.

Some of the more subtle signs of control can be:

  • Giving or seeking more attention than usual.
  • Threatening you with ultimatums.
  • Putting you down when things don’t go their way.
  • Using banter as a disguise for underlying criticism in the presence of family and friends.
  • Making you feel unworthy or worthless.

If it happened once, it was probably for a reason, and the person will probably want to use you again.

When these more subtle signs become constant, and repetitive, or form a pattern, then it is high time to take action — either by speaking up, setting boundaries, distancing yourself through techniques like grey rocking, or exiting the relationship.

What causes controlling behavior?

There are various reasons why some people try to control others, and sometimes these are difficult to figure out.

Some potential causes of controlling behavior are: low self-esteem; being micromanaged or controlled by someone else; traumatic past experiences; a need to feel in-control; or a need to feel ‘above’ someone else..

None of these have to do with you, the victim of inappropriate control. But if you want to preserve a relationship with someone who controls you, consider whether they might be able to work on any of the above influences.

Common ways people control others:

No one controlling relationship is worse than the other – they are all equally bad!

“Control and manipulation are not love; the outcome is a life of imprisonment ultimately leading to deep-rooted feelings of resentment.” ― Ken Poirot

Some controlling behaviors can be recognized easily while others take time to manifest. When the following examples below become repetitive and form into a habit – it has become a controlling relationship.

Psychological manipulation

Psychological manipulation is a broad spectrum of mental and emotional abuse, and its damaging effects can be long lasting.

Have you ever had to tell someone you don’t like playing mind games? Well, this may be how it all starts, as somewhat of a joke between two people.

Psychological manipulation can show as one or many of (but not limited to) the following:

  • intense jealousy
  • isolating you from friends and family
  • judging how you speak
  • the silent treatment
  • constant criticism
  • guilt trips
  • emotional blackmail
  • intimidation

Physical control or abuse

Often, the person being controlled will turn a blind eye or not acknowledge controlling behaviors. That’s understandable. But in the case of physical abuse, the control may have started without your realizing it – as the other person just crossing a number of subtle fine lines.

It’s not always as obvious as punches and bruises. Getting beaten up is not the only form of physical abuse, even though it is the most common. Physical control can also look like restrictions on travel, the clothes you wear, or who you see.

The controlling person in your life may start by asking where you’re going, then by restricting where and when you leave the house. Eventually you find yourself physically isolated and in fear of violence should you decide to meet up with a friend or just go for a walk.

You may be threatened or coerced into sex, or they may gaslight you into thinking it was your idea, even though you don’t want it. These are examples of controlling behavior using physical abuse – or even just the threat of it – as a weapon.

Controlling husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and partners can all be physically controlling and abusive. Both men and women can commit this behavior.

Financial exploitation

Financial abuse can come from two directions.

First, a controlling person may find ways to cut off your autonomy so you become financially dependent on them; they might ask you to change jobs or even leave work. This ensures that everything you do with a financial implication, goes through them.

The second, alternative manifestation is equally restrictive. They might focus all financial responsibilities on you where you are the only one contributing to the couple’s or family’s finances.

In both situations, it can become almost impossible for you to leave the relationship due to the financial burdens in your name.

“A bird cannot love freely when caged.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Not all these signs will clearly mean that someone is trying to control you. Controlling behavior exists on a spectrum, from unconscious or accidental control, to full-blown, intentional abuse.

There might be just one of the signs above, or other signs not mentioned. So the best way to move forward is to trust your gut. Notice the signs and keep them in mind. Proceed cautiously.

If you find yourself in a controlling situation, always ask yourself: “Is this truly what I want and am I doing it of my own free will?”

If your answer’s a NO, then remove yourself from the circumstances and talk about the situation with someone, in a safe place like here.

All of us have friends in our lives who always try to get their way. They want us to do exactly what they say and get mad when we do otherwise. Most of the time, we oblige just because we do not want to escalate things but there comes the point when we can no longer bear being told what to do all the time. It’s not that we do not love spending time with them anymore, but it is just that there is a part of their behavior that they need to change.

How to cope with a controlling person

Do you have a similar kind of person in your friend circle? Do you know how to deal with such personalities? No? Well, then no worries as we are going to tell you How to deal with a Controlling Friend. Here are some tips.

#1. Avoid Reacting To Their Behavior

One thing that all controlling friend have in common is that they are always seeking reaction to their behavior and they do not respond well to criticism or resistance as well. For instance, if you get aggressive or mad at them for telling you what to do all the time, they backfire. Therefore, the best thing you can do when your friend is trying to control you is avoiding giving them any sort of reaction.

How to cope with a controlling person

#2. Try Empathizing With Them

While there are no excuses for behaving badly with your friend, it can be helpful for you to try to see where they are coming from. There may be underlying emotional issues that have turned your friend into a control freak, and understanding these can help you zero in on the best way to address their need for control. The origin of their controlling nature could be an overpowering parent or anxiety . Their nature could also be a result of a background that values certain behaviors.

#3. Never Get Into An Argument

Controlling friend love power struggles and never give up in an argument even when they know that they are on the wrong side. All they want is to rope in someone into an argument and keep it going till that person admits defeat. The feeling of winning is a need that they just can’t get enough of. If you want to keep things calm and poised, never let the discussion get into an argument. Keep listening to them, nod your head, and wait for them to get tired of speaking all the time.

How to cope with a controlling person

#4. State Your Basic Rights

Never forget your rights. We are not talking about the ones you enjoy being the citizen of your country, but the ones that you have while engaging in a dialogue with your friends. These are being addressed with respect, offered the opportunity to express your thoughts, have your separate opinions from the group and chance to say ‘no’ without the guilty feeling.

How to cope with a controlling person

#5. Limit Interactions With Your Controlling Friend

Sometimes, the best way to handle a controlling friend is to create some distance between you and them. If they still haven’t corrected their behavior after you have talked to them about it, then they need to realize that their actions can have consequences and you cannot compromise on your individuality. Hopefully, this will make them aware of their detrimental actions.

How to cope with a controlling person

Control—exerting influence over one’s environment or the actions or behaviors of another person—is sometimes used excessively by those who fear the unpredictable and ambiguous, feel they need to prove themselves, or fear losing control. An incessant need for control may become overwhelming and exhausting, wreaking havoc on relationships, careers, and overall quality of life.

What Can Cause Control Issues?

Control is typically a reaction to the fear of losing control. People who struggle with the need to be in control often fear being at the mercy of others, and this fear may stem from traumatic events that left them feeling helpless and vulnerable. As a result, they many crave control in disproportionate and unhealthy ways. The experience of abuse or neglect, for example, can make people look for ways to regain control of their lives, and sometimes victims lash out at other people in their lives.

The need for control drives people to turn to the external world in order to find things they can control. They may be compelled to micromanage and orchestrate the actions and behaviors of others, or maintain rigid rules regarding routine, diet, or cleanliness and order. For instance, people who are physically or psychologically abusive inflict pain on loved ones in the form of ridicule, isolation, restrictions, or physical or sexual assault, because they themselves are in pain, though this pain is often deeply buried and unacknowledged.

Control issues may be related to:

    or abusive life experiences
    A lack of trust

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Symptoms and Types of Control Issues

There are myriad ways in which people might attempt to control their environment, themselves, or others. People exert power over others in intimate relationships, workplace settings, families, and other social groups.

Examples of exerting control over others:

  • Micromanagement
  • Keeping a person from seeing or talking to loved ones or friends
  • Dishonesty
  • Over-protective or helicopter parenting
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, bullying, or taunting

Examples of controlling self or environment:

Someone who struggles with a need for control may experience shame, anxiety, stress, depression, and a host of other mental health concerns.

How Can Psychotherapy Help?

Addressing control issues in therapy involves unraveling the source of the need for control. The client and therapist work together to address the underlying fear, emotions, or anxiety, and develop coping strategies. This process of increasing self-awareness can help a person begin relinquishing the need for control.

Therapy can help a person identify the self-protective nature of the need for control. Perhaps the person’s parents were absent or emotionally unavailable in childhood, or maybe his or her childhood home was not a place of stability. Emotional or physical instability and a lack of choices or autonomy can lead a person to seek control over other aspects of life. Recognizing and addressing this source of distress will help the person cultivate self-compassion and embrace that part of the self that needs protection.

When you’re going through a tough time and everything seems out of your control, you might feel like screaming in your car, or be wondering what you did to deserve this, or thinking that it will never get better… any of this sound familiar?

It turns out, though, that a more helpful way to cope with things that are out of our control is to practise acceptance. Instead of seeing ourselves as victims or our situation as negative, acceptance makes us feel empowered about the things we can do.

What’s the deal with acceptance?

Accepting something that’s shitty doesn’t mean you’re giving it a big thumbs-up. You accept your friends for who they are. You know you’re not responsible for their actions, and you defs can’t control them, so when they do things you don’t agree with, you mostly just get over it.

It’s the same when you’re going through a hard time in life. Things can happen that are totally out of your control – whether it’s a relationship break-up, the drought or the death of someone you’re close to.

It’s normal to feel sad, angry and srsly pissed off. The thing is, if you refuse to accept these things and stay angry, it can just lead to more hurt and upset. If you can manage to accept that this is what’s happening right now, your mind can focus on what you can do to make things better.

One thing’s for sure, acceptance ain’t easy. Think about something you’ve been struggling with, and give these three tips a go to see if you can come to accept it.

1. Imagine what a role model or admired friend would do in the same situation

It’s normal to be upset if you don’t score that job you’ve applied for. But sometimes we get so caught up in being upset, we lose sight of the actual situation. We can judge ourselves super-harshly in ways we would never judge a friend.

A more helpful response is to try giving yourself the advice you might give a friend. What would you tell them to help them out? Would you judge them or accept them? If you’d accept them, try using that acceptance on yourself and treat yourself as your own good friend.

2. Write down your thoughts

Stress can make us think negative thoughts about ourselves. These might be things like ‘I always say the wrong thing’, or ‘I suck at this’. Once you’re thinking these things about yourself, it’s easy to think even more negative thoughts and to focus on all the bad stuff.

It’s important to understand that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts may come into your head for a whole bunch of reasons. By accepting that thoughts aren’t facts, they lose some of their power to upset us.

Try writing down the words that are going through your head, especially when you’re in a tough situation. Then read them back as if someone else had written them. This can help you to realise that your thoughts aren’t you, and to accept them for what they are: just thoughts.

When you’re going through a break-up, it might feel like your heart is actually breaking in two. We’ve all been there, thinking stuff like ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m going to end up living with my cats’. Writing these thoughts down acknowledges that they are simply thoughts. You can even try reframing them with ‘I just had the thought that…’ beforehand. ‘I just had the thought that I’m not good enough’ is less upsetting and more truthful than the thought itself.

3. Talk to others about how you’re feeling

It’s normal to feel all the feels (grief, sadness, anger, anxiety) when you’re faced with stress. Sometimes you can make it worse by judging yourself for feeling these emotions. We might think, ‘I should be happy all the time’, or ‘If I’m sad, something’s wrong with me’. It’s not super-surprising that this makes us feel even worse.

Talking to friends, family, or anyone else you feel comfortable with can help you feel less alone and that somebody else gets it.

It can be hard to start talking. You might be afraid that saying the thoughts aloud will make them real, or that the other person won’t understand. Often, though, once you start opening up, you realise that it’s totally fine to talk about what’s on your mind. In fact, it might be a relief for the other person, too, because they might be feeling something similar. Realising that other people are going through the same thing can help us feel like our emotions are normal, valid and okay to feel.

We’ve got two choices when something bad and out of our control happens to us. We can struggle with it and suffer because we can’t control it, or we can accept it and move on. Acceptance is something worth practising, like a musical instrument or playing sport. The better you get at it through practice, the easier you’ll find it when something bad happens, and the better you’ll feel.

HomeBlog How To Handle Controlling And Aggressive People

How To Handle Controlling And Aggressive People

In a perfect world, none of us would ever have to deal with difficult people—but unfortunately, we all do. They may be co-workers we see at work, acquaintances who are friends with our friends, or even family members we’ll have to see at get-togethers and holiday parties. Sometimes these people just have strong personalities, and sometimes their behavior is indicative of underlying mental issues.

On the surface, controlling and aggressive people may come across as hostile, demanding, confrontational and possibly even emotionally abusive. They are not pleasant to be around, but with some intelligent communication you can learn to cope with these people and even earn their respect. If there is a period of time coming up, such as the holidays, where you will have to be around controlling people, ask your psychiatrist at a counseling center for tips on how to stay rational in their presence.

Most controlling people fall into one of these categories:

  • The condescending controller. These people have an answer for everything, including any objecting you might make. They believe their knowledge, expertise and logic are infallible.
  • The deceptive controller. These people will belittle others, spread rumors, omit facts and mislead others in order to maintain control. They are good at protesting when confronted.
  • The volatile controller. These people are the more aggressive controllers—if they don’t get what they want, they lose their tempers.
  • The passive-aggressive controller. They control by saying yes when they mean no or by playing the victim.

Here are some tips for dealing with aggressive and controlling people:

1. Consider why you comply. Is it easier to take the path of least resistance and give controlling people what they want? If you feel as if your strings are being pulled, think about who is pulling them and why. If you have been giving in, ask yourself why.

2. Maintain your composure. One of the most common characteristics of aggressive and controlling people is deliberately upsetting you in order to push your buttons and create an advantage over you. This puts you in a position of being controlled. The best way to break the pattern is to keep your cool. The less reactive you are, the better your judgment will be.

3. Believe in your abilities. These people will try to undermine your confidence. People who lack self-confidence typically will not question someone else’s authoritative stance. Remind yourself of your strengths.

4. Depersonalize. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment. Imagine what it is like from their side. This is an effective coping strategy. It takes practice, so if you deal with a controller on a regular basis, seek help from behavioral health services.

5. Set consequences. When an aggressive, controlling person repeatedly violates your boundaries, set consequences. The ability to identify and assert consequences is one of the most important skills you can muster to “stand down” a difficult person. Let them know you will not be intimidated.

Many of us feel most comfortable when we think ahead, plan and prepare. But high-achievers, in particular, can fall into the trap of becoming control freaks.

Over time, demanding constant certainty from yourself and others can be tiresome – and frankly – annoying. Perfectionism, anxiety and anger are all associated with a high need for control, which can obviously interfere with your relationships and happiness in a big way.

There’s freedom in letting go. (Image courtesy of Bruce Mars via Pexels)

Bruce Mars via pexels

Although we may rationally know that life is unpredictable and perfection isn’t possible, it can be hard to let go of Type A tendencies . My client, Katie, struggled with this as new manager who was tasked with delegating more. Logically, she knew her teammates were smart and responsible. Yet she found herself constantly checking up on them. She stayed late to re-do their work.

At the root of it, Katie’s inability to relinquish control came down to fear. Like many of us, she used control as a defense mechanism to deal with discomfort and worry. As we worked together, Katie learned to favor resiliency over certainty and control. She grew to shine in the face of setbacks. More importantly she stopped overfunctioning on behalf of others.

Curbing your inner control freak doesn’t happen overnight. Letting go is a process, but these three steps can help you get started.

  1. Challenge your thinking

Fear causes us think in distorted ways , including catastrophizing (“If this relationship fails, I’ll never recover”) or accepting unnecessary blame (“I screwed up, so I’ll fix it”). Challenging your need for control requires you to replace unhelpful negative thinking with realistic self-talk .

When you find yourself thinking along the lines of:

  • My boss will rip this report to shreds because I made a few typos.
  • One person canceled on the event/party, so now the whole plan is ruined.

Try asking yourself:

  • Is my reaction useful?
  • What others explanations exist [as to why they canceled last minute / my boss is upset]?
  • How would a person who is more easy going respond?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? (spoiler alert: it’s never as bad as you imagine)

Neutralizing negative thoughts helps ease the stress of everyday situations. You’ll find you experience fewer unexpected catastrophes (and freak outs) once you embrace a growth mindset. The only thing we ever fully control is our response to a situation, so by changing the way you talk to yourself, you can arrive at a more balanced perspective.

  1. Take small steps.

Whether you’re managing a project at work or organizing a family trip, you don’t have to relinquish all control at once. Instead, start small. Hand off a single aspect of a project to a colleague. Trust them to do a good job , but know that if they don’t, you can always give feedback and correct the situation. No mistake is irrecoverable . As you see the benefits of collaboration in action, your comfort zone expands. Delegating becomes easier, bit by bit.

At home, begin to ask for help often rather than shouldering all burden yourself. Create a to-don’t list so you can prioritize more effectively. Start saying no to people or responsibilities. When you let go of what’s not working, you make room for a life filled with ease and less difficulty.

  1. Reframe rest as recovery.

Control lovers tend be optimizers . They want to squeeze the maximum amount of productivity out of each and every day. But this can leave you exhausted and burned out. Taking downtime doesn’t make you lazy; it’s essential to do your best work.

Carve out time to play , let loose, and explore. If you struggle with accepting the need for self-care, reframe rest as recovery. It’s well-spent, productive time that’s preparing you for your next big challenge.

As a recovering perfectionist myself , I know how hard it can be to let go of control. But resiliency, unlike control, is liberating mentally and emotionally. When you shed needless worry, you free up time, attention, and focus. You gain confidence that your strongest power comes from within – even if you can’t control other people or outcomes.

How to cope with a controlling person

Fostered and adopted children are often very controlling of their environments and the people within it. It’s often tough to know how to approach the controlling behaviour or even why it exists other than to assume it is simply wilfulness and lack of boundaries.

Examples of controlling behaviour:

  • Dominating play with other children;
  • Parenting behaviour with other children and adults;
  • Intolerance of parental control;
  • Becoming upset, distressed and/or angry at having their control questioned e.g:
    • Not having a choice over what to eat;
    • Enforcement of bedtimes;
    • Extreme distress at hearing “no”.

    Why do fostered and adopted children display controlling behaviour?

    In order to understand the need of developmentally traumatised children to feel in control it is useful to reflect on, and reinterpret, our understanding of the behaviour of babies and toddlers. It is this emotional and relational stage that developmentally traumatised children are frequently stuck in (see theory basics articles).

    Babies and toddlers are instinctively and relentlessly controlling of their parental figures. Parents of newborns sleep when the baby doesn’t need them, eat if and when they get the time and shower when a brief gap in the need for childcare arises. Why are young children so controlling? The answer really is simple; they have to be! If they didn’t do all of those things then they would not get all of their crucial emotional, physical and psychological needs met. Babies have an unconscious, evolutionarily programmed knowledge of what they need to flourish, indeed to survive.

    Yet we don’t view this behaviour in babies as controlling. We generally view it as an expression of need and dependence. Babies do not develop beyond this behaviour from being explicitly taught or being disciplined out of their needs. When such needs have been satisfied by a period of them being predictably and consistently met, the child has a decreasing need to exert their control. Children’s level of controlling behaviour gradually diminishes and throughout middle and later childhood the child is progressively able to meet more and more of their own needs.

    Babies are instinctively controlling because if they weren’t they simply wouldn’t survive. Fascinating new scientific developments are revealing that this survival is not only due to babies’ success in being fed and protected. Evidence is now emerging that attuned, sensitive interactions with parental figures shape brain development and a lack of it may even effect such primitive brain functions as the ability to regulate breathing and the swallow reflex (1). Babies can therefore be physically well looked after yet still be at risk of physical damage, quite apart from the psychological and emotional damage that may be caused.

    So, if babies’ behaviour is inherently controlling yet entirely acceptable and we understand that fostered and adopted children are invariably stalled emotionally and relationally in the baby stage then their controlling behaviour becomes entirely sensible, understandable and, in fact, necessary.

    However, it’s very difficult to understand and respond appropriately to this in children that aren’t babies. It becomes incredibly challenging to empathise with the overwhelming neediness and consequent need to control of a child who can physically assert themselves, come up with attempts at verbal justifications of their “controlling” behaviour (which will inevitably be a defensive response to their own feelings of “badness” for their compulsion to control) and who is so obviously not a baby in a physical sense.

    Another factor to consider when trying to understand the controlling behaviour of fostered and adopted children is the strategies which such children have had to develop in order to get some of their needs met by abusive or neglectful parents (see Attachment Theory page). Many neglected children have had to learn to control their attachment behaviour and responses to their parents in very careful (unconscious) ways in order to get some kind of care from them. This becomes ingrained as an attachment pattern, an implicit way of being that isn’t known or understood, it simply is. Children subjected to active abuse in infancy often develop the very sensible, adaptive strategy of controlling their parents to protect themselves e.g. being smiley and happy to deter aggression.

    Another very significant element is that children have often had to become responsible and therefore very controlling of their siblings in a clumsy, childlike way in order to protect them from violence or to protect themselves from unwanted adult aggression or other abuse.

    Sound familiar? They’re all phrases you’ve likely heard from the notorious control freak in your office. And, while you’ve somehow managed to continue trucking along without snapping, you’re getting dangerously close to the end of your rope.

    Whether you have a control-obsessed boss or a ridiculously overbearing co-worker, we’ve all had to work with someone who has a “my way or the highway” sort of attitude. Of course, dealing with this person isn’t easy—but it’s also pretty much inevitable.

    So, take a deep breath. You definitely can manage to tolerate this person—without constantly clenching your jaw and balling up your fists. Here are five steps that’ll help you not only cope with this controlling colleague, but also get some great work done in the process!

    1. Recognize Pure Intentions

    When you’re dealing with someone who seems to want to micromanage every small detail of every single project, it can be tough to see him or her as anything more than meddling and obnoxious. But, recognizing the positive attributes of this person’s work ethic will make working with him or her at least a little bit easier.

    Let’s face it—this person probably doesn’t behave this way to purposely annoy you or make your job more difficult. Instead, he’s just incredibly passionate about the work he does and wants it to be as polished and professional as it can be. That dedication makes him a great employee—even if his approach is a bit overwhelming and aggravating.

    Of course, while it’s great to recognize and appreciate this control freak’s enthusiasm and drive, that doesn’t mean he or she gets to dictate every part of every project. But, making an effort to accept that his or her motivations are good will make the next steps easier.

    2. Ask Questions

    How do others in your office typically respond to this pushy and controlling colleague? Does anybody ever say anything? Or, does everybody just roll over without ever standing their ground?

    Chances are, if this person is still firing out orders, very few (if any) people in your workplace have made an attempt to refute the demands. So, instead of just accepting this person’s directions and criticisms and then muttering under your breath, it’s time for you to encourage a thoughtful conversation about the course of your project.

    How do you do this? By following up his or her demands with questions. Let’s say your meddling co-worker spies over your shoulder as you’re drafting a report. She immediately jumps in and says, “You’re structuring that report wrong. Do it this way!” Follow up by saying something along the lines of, “I know that we don’t have a standard template in place for these documents. This process works really well for me, but I’d love to hear the benefits of your method.”

    She might be a little taken aback by your forwardness, but she’ll have no option but to explain her reasoning and open up a dialogue about the project. Who knows—she might even have some great ideas you can use. Plus, incorporating a few pieces of her feedback will help to placate her. Bonus!

    3. Voice Your Opinions

    We all know that control freaks tend to think their methods and tactics are superior to everyone else’s. But, you’re still entitled to some self-direction and independence. So, if you flat out disagree with his or her direction, don’t hesitate to speak up.

    If the controlling person you’re dealing with is a co-worker on the same level as you, you’ll likely have an easier time doing this. Explain why you chose the process you’re using—but, don’t feel a need to justify every single one of your choices. That only opens up an entirely new can of worms by making it look like you need a stamp of approval on everything you do. Ultimately, if that piece of the project is yours to work on, you have the right to approach it as you see fit.

    Things get a little trickier if the control freak is your boss, though. Of course, you’re still free to share your ideas and opinions. But it’s probably better to couch them with, “I started doing it this way because…” If your reasoning’s valid and still getting the desired result, it’ll be harder for your boss to respond with, “Well, still, do it my way.” However, your supervisor ultimately has final say on the way you get things done. So, you might just have to suck it up and move forward with his or her instructions.

    4. Avoid Arguing

    Trust me, I know that dealing with a control freak can be a really aggravating experience. And, sometimes he or she winds up so blinded by conviction that a productive, balanced conversation becomes next to impossible.

    But, at all costs, you want to avoid getting into a heated argument. If it becomes obvious that you’re not going to reach any common ground, it’s time to walk away. I don’t need to tell you that screaming over each other will get you nowhere.

    5. Request Mediation

    When it becomes obvious that you’ll just never be able to agree on something, it’s time to enlist some help. If you’re on a level playing field where neither one of you has the upper hand or a final say on the project, you need to approach a superior to mediate the situation.

    Yes, it seems a little childish, and you’d like to avoid this step at all costs. But, if you’re not making any progress, it’s essential. Set a meeting with your boss or supervisor where you and the other employee can each present your case. Then, your manager can decide which method he thinks is best—or even pull pieces from both of your ideas to reach a compromise.

    Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, you need to accept the decision and move forward. So, that means no sticking your tongue out and lording your victory over your co-worker. It also means no under-your-breath muttering if things don’t go your way.

    I’ve totally been there—dealing with your office’s control freak comes with its fair share of battles, headaches, and tense moments. But, it’s definitely still doable. So, take a deep breath, follow these steps, and prepare to handle that person with poise and professionalism.

    *Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D., is a Clinical/Community Psychologist and Psychoanalyst. He is also the author of Irrelationship and Relationship Sanity.*

    When one is hurt by the world—initially by our parents or caretaking environment—it is a natural human reaction to try to control our external environment. Having a controlling personality is not considered to be a personality disorder; however, contemporary psychodynamic theory and practice see DMS-V personality disorders as being environmental as opposed to purely psychiatric (biological and physiological) conditions. In that sense, a personality disorder is designed defensively to control the environment, and in a social sense, other people are the environment. That quality itself is a central ingredient in a person who may have a controlling personality.

    Each personality disorder could, under a particular lens, match up with someone’s controlling personality. We can take a look at how might that control manifests in various major personality disorders:

    Borderline: Environmental Control

    The individual with borderline personality will control the environment by creating constant disruption, perceiving it (you, me, whomever) in one instance as all good and the next as all bad. Distortions in the experience of self and others put the control in the hands of the borderline condition and person, and as a particular relationship continues, the borderline disordered person is more than capable of controlling others largely because those others are attempting to decrease the reactions of said borderline. This can look—and be—very control freakish.

    Narcissistic: Perception Control

    The narcissistic person controls his or her perceptions and experiences of self and others by cutting themselves off from relating to others (through an inability to empathize) and thereby limits the value of others… thereby not exposing her or himself to hurt or disappointment. By limiting the value of others, through self-focus/absorption, the narcissist limits her or his investment in others and so controls the impact of the inevitable abandonment and rejection, which the narcissist tends to repeat.

    Paranoid: Environmental and Perception Control

    Symptoms of paranoid personality disorder include chronic, pervasive distrust of other people; suspicion of being deceived or exploited by others, including friends, family, and partners; angry outbursts in response to deception; and cold, secretive, or jealous behavior. This controls not only one’s perception of others, it “controls” the environment (other people) by having them take the perceptions of the paranoid person less seriously—which can create a vicious cycle where the paranoid person is indeed treated with less respect and perhaps even more animosity or even apathy.

    Obsessive-Compulsive: Anxiety Control

    The obsessive-compulsive personality is characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control of relationships. The individual controls her or his anxiety by shifting it into her or his thinking (obsessive) and then acting it out (compulsion). In this way, anxiety bypasses awareness and is played out in behavior.

    In each case, having a controlling personality is a factor—a symptom—but not the disorder itself. The personality disorder can be seen as an attempt at controlling the environment. When whatever factors are accounted for (social/interpersonal/actual), it very well may be the case that a personality disorder is the remnant of coping mechanisms one needed to survive one’s early development. Tending towards a controlling personality is often a central part of that attempt: as it is an attempt to control what feels like an out-of-control and unsafe world.

    Control issues refer to an overarching theme in a person’s character rather than a specific disorder. People with control issues feel the need to maintain power over nearly every aspect of their life, including personal and romantic relationships, family dynamics, and events in the workplace.

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    How to cope with a controlling person


    • Being depressed or upset when not in control
    • Attention seeking behavior
    • Throwing a tantrum to manipulate others
    • Becoming upset when asked basic questions
    • Inability to accept the word “no”
    • Expecting everyone to bend to their will
    • Abuse of power


    A potential cause of control issues is a failure to set or maintain boundaries. Controlling people expect others to do what they want and never express interest in another person’s needs. Other theories hold that a controlling person had some sort of childhood experiences that cause them to irrationally fear instability or unpredictability. To compensate, they attempt to control all variables and remove uncertainty.


    It will be extremely difficult to confront a person with long term control issues and show them this side of their personality. A first step might be helping the person to relieve stress and reach a place where they can relax. It is more likely that the issues are rooted in past experiences that need to be discussed and reconciled. This is best done through psychotherapy with a trained therapist who can be sensitive to the client’s needs while also challenging them to confront their issues.

    We Can Help

    Open Path’s therapists offer beneficial services that encourage insight, self-reflection, and healthy coping mechanisms. Our therapists furnish a supportive environment, providing healthy outlooks and understanding.

    Interested in seeing one of our therapists for an affordable rate? Start your search here.

    How to cope with a controlling person

    There is a very fine line of difference between caring and controlling making it very difficult to distinguish between the two. While caring arises from a sense of selflessness and love, controlling usually starts with feelings of insecurity and resentment.

    Let me share a story which will help you in differentiating between the two. A middle-aged couple visited a psychiatrist for a relationship counseling. In the course of the consultation, they starting fighting unaffected by the doctor’s presence. The upset husband turned to the doctor and said, ” See Doctor, I care so much for her and this is what I receive in return.” His wife replied angrily, “He doesn’t care, he just controls”.

    In this story, you can see that the care from one person was perceived as control by another.

    This raises the question what is care and how it is different from control and how can we identify them?

    How to cope with a controlling person

    Herein I am attaching another story to help you reach the answer. A father had a heated argument with his teenage daughter over some disciplinary issue. The argument leads to the exchange of harsh words leaving both of them teary. After a while, as the emotions settled, both of them felt sorry and conveyed their apologies to each other. The daughter hugged her father and said, “Papa the reason you got upset in the first place was not that I did something wrong, you got upset because I didn’t follow your instructions.

    This is the difference we need to figure out. The father was left stunned by his daughter’s mature thinking. He realized what he was thinking as care was actually control which lead to the conflict.

    When we really care for someone, instead of getting angry with that person we would look for different ways to help them.

    While care expresses love, control expresses ego.

    Control cuts….care connects

    Control hurts….care heals

    So continue caring for people you love but without controlling them because most often people are not wrong they are just different.

    How to cope with a controlling person

    This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

    We campaigned and succeeded in making coercive control a criminal offence. This has marked a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse. But now we want to make sure that everyone understands what it is.

    Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action. Experts like Evan Stark liken coercive control to being taken hostage. As he says: “the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.”

    How do you know if this is happening to you?

    Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

    • Isolating you from friends and family
    • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
    • Monitoring your time
    • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
    • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
    • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
    • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
    • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
    • Controlling your finances
    • Making threats or intimidating you

    You can read more in this article we wrote for The Telegraph

    Statistics on coercive control

    • There were 17,616 offences of coercive control recorded by the police in the year ending March 2019, compared with 9,053 in the year ending March 2018. (ONS, 2019).
    • The CPS Case Information System recorded 1,177 offences of coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where a prosecution commenced at magistrates’ cour ts in the year ending March 2019 . 97% of defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour in the year ending December 2018 were male. (ONS, 2019).
    • Analysis of Merseyside Police domestic abuse data found that 95% of coercive control victims were women and 74% of perpetrators were men. 76% of coercive control cases happened within an intimate partner context. The study found that common abusive behaviours used in coercive control included “…use of technology (such as phone trackers, controlling social media usage, barrage of text messages or monitoring phone usage), sexual coercion, monitoring behaviours, isolation, threats, financial abuse, deprivation (depriving access to support) and physical violence (63% of coercive control cases featured reports of physical violence).” (Barlow et al, 2018)
    • One study of data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales found that women are far more likely than men to be victims of abuse that involves ongoing degradation and frightening threats – two key elements of coercive control. (Myhill, 2015)

    Read our blogs on coercive control

    Sentences for coercive control must reflect the severity of the crime

    10th August 2017

    Hilary Fisher, Women’s Aid Director of Research, Policy and Campaigns comments on the recent case of Harley Smith who was convicted of coercive control. “Women’s Aid urgently calls for sentences for coercive control to reflect the severity of the crime and to hold perpetrators accountable, not only to ensure that justice is done but to also improving survivors’ confidence in the criminal justice system and to send a clear message that coercive control is unacceptable and that this crime is taken seriously.” Read more

    Coercive Control: One Year On

    Thursday 29th December 2016

    Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “The number of convictions is worryingly low – especially as we know that the vast majority of women experiencing domestic abuse are victims of coercive control. If we can increase the convictions for coercive control, and recognise patterns of perpetrator behaviour – such as those revealed by the Femicide Census – it will have an enormous impact on the reduction of domestic abuse.” Read more

    I f you’ve ever felt like something is off in a close relationship or casual encounter—you’re being pressured, controlled or even feel like you’re questioning yourself more than usual—it could be manipulation.

    “Manipulation is an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want and need in a direct way,” says Sharie Stines, a California-based therapist who specializes in abuse and toxic relationships. “People who are trying to manipulate others are trying to control others.”

    There are many different forms of manipulation, ranging from a pushy salesperson to an emotionally abusive partner—and some behaviors are easier to spot than others.

    Here, experts explain the telltale signs that you could be the subject of manipulation.

    You feel fear, obligation and guilt

    Manipulative behavior involves three factors, according to Stines: fear, obligation and guilt. “When you are being manipulated by someone you are being psychologically coerced into doing something you probably don’t really want to do,” she says. You might feel scared to do it, obligated to do it, or guilty about not doing it.

    She points to two common manipulators: “the bully” and “the victim.” A bully makes you feel fearful and might use aggression, threats and intimidation to control you, she says. The victim engenders a feeling of guilt in their target. “The victim usually acts hurt,” Stine says. But while manipulators often play the victim, the reality is that they are the ones who have caused the problem, she adds.

    A person who is targeted by manipulators who play the victim often try to help the manipulator in order to stop feeling guilty, Stines says. Targets of this kind of manipulation often feel responsible for helping the victim by doing whatever they can to stop their suffering.

    You’re questioning yourself

    The term “gaslighting” is often used to identify manipulation that gets people to question themselves, their reality, memory or thoughts. A manipulative person might twist what you say and make it about them, hijack the conversation or make you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you’re not quite sure you have, according to Stines.

    If you’re being gaslighted, you might feel a false sense of guilt or defensiveness—like you failed completely or must have done something wrong when, in reality, that’s not the case, according to Stines.

    “Manipulators blame,” she says. “They don’t take responsibility.”

    There are strings attached

    “If a favor is not done for you just because, then it isn’t ‘for fun and for free,’” says Stines. “If there are strings attached, then manipulation is occurring.”

    Stines refers to one type of manipulator as ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’ This person might be helpful and do a lot of favors for other people. “It is very confusing because you don’t realize anything negative is going on,” she says. “But, on the other hand, with every good deed, there is a string attached—an expectation.” If you don’t meet the manipulator’s expectation, you will be made out to be ungrateful, Stines says.

    In fact, exploiting the norms and expectations of reciprocity is one of the most common forms of manipulation, says Jay Olson, a doctoral researcher studying manipulation at McGill University.

    A salesperson, for example, might make it seem like because he or she gave you a deal, you should buy the product. In a relationship, a partner might buy you flowers then request something in return. “These tactics work because they abuse social norms,” says Olson. “It’s normal to reciprocate favors, but even when someone does one insincerely, we often still feel compelled to reciprocate and comply.”

    You notice the ‘foot-in-the-door’ and ‘door-in-the-face’ techniques

    Often, manipulators try one of two tactics, says Olson. The first is the foot-in-the-door technique, in which someone starts with a small and reasonable request—like, do you have the time?—which then leads into a larger request—like I need $10 for a taxi. “This is commonly used in street scams,” Olson says.

    The door-in-the-face technique is the opposite—it involves someone making a big request, having it rejected, then making a smaller one, Olson explains.

    Someone doing contract work, for example, may ask you for a large sum of money up front, and then after you decline, will ask for a smaller amount, he says. This works because, following the larger request, the smaller appeal seems reasonable comparatively, Olson says.

    What to do if you think you’re being manipulated

    How you react to manipulation depends in large part on what kind of manipulation you’re facing.

    If you think you or someone you know is in a manipulative or even abusive relationship, experts suggest seeking treatment from a therapist or help from organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. A good support group can help, too, says Stines. “People in toxic relationships need to hear counterpoints somewhere. They are conditioned to think the interactions are normal. Someone needs to help them break out of that assumption.”

    For other forms of manipulation, Stines suggests trying to not allow the manipulative behavior to affect you personally. “Use the motto, ‘Observe don’t absorb,’” she notes. After all: “We aren’t responsible for anyone else’s feelings.”

    Often, establishing boundaries can play an important role in keeping manipulation at bay. “People who manipulate have lousy boundaries,” Stines says. “You have your own volitional experience as a human being and you need to know where you end and the other person begins. Manipulators often have either boundaries that are too rigid or enmeshed boundaries.”

    In a manipulative situation, it can also help to delay your response, according to Olson. For example, refrain from signing a contract at first glance, don’t make a large purchase without thinking it through and avoid making major relationship decisions the first time they’re brought up, he suggests. “’Sleeping on it’” is often the best solution to avoid being manipulated,” Olson adds.

    How to cope with a controlling person

    Whenever I see her now, he tags along and cuts the meeting short. Recently, she left me to attend a party alone because he didn’t want her to go. I know he also calls her home early from work events and makes snarky comments. I’m seriously worried about her, but how do I tell her? Can you tell me how to recognise a controlling partner and what actions to take?’

    A: ‘You are right to be worried,’ says Mary Fenwick. ‘What you describe is potentially coercion under a new UK law.’ The new law means it is an offence to carry out patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in a relationship, and recognises this form of abuse as potentially more harmful than a single act of violence.

    The types of behaviours covered by the law include monitoring a person’s time, isolating a partner, controlling aspects of their life or repeatedly degrading their self-worth.

    The first challenge is finding space so you can talk. ‘Is there a way of creating an activity that wouldn’t involve her fiancé?’ asks Fenwick. ‘A special date just for you two – a spa day, wedding dress shopping or trying out hair and make-up?’

    To have better conversation, you need to handle your words with care. ‘Sharing your concerns with her in a critical way could make her defensive and less likely to open up,’ says Galbraith. ‘Show her you care by asking her how she feels about her relationship in a supportive and non-judgemental way. It is often through providing the space for someone to discuss their issues, through empathising, offering genuine concern and listening non-judgementally, that we can empower others to make changes in their lives.’

    ‘Try to ensure she does most of the talking, so you’re not another person telling her what to do,’ says Fenwick. ‘She needs to know what genuine concern feels like.’

    Be aware that your friend may have no worries at all. ‘Sometimes, in the excitement of getting engaged, we don’t notice this kind of behaviour from a partner,’ says Barbara Bloomfield. ‘We think they’re so in love with us that they can’t bear to be apart.’ And, as Galbraith points out, ‘She may be aware that her fiancé is controlling, but she has decided to accept it by agreeing to marry him.’

    But if you have real concerns, do speak up. ‘She could really welcome someone to talk to,’ says Galbraith.

    ‘She may value your honesty and if she’s having doubts, this could be the conversation that helps her to reflect,’ says Bloomfield. ‘If this is indeed an abusive relationship, helping her to see this will be an invaluable gift.’

    If your concerns don’t pass, then Fenwick suggests looking for external support. ‘The National Domestic Violence Helpline is there for friends and family who want to support a suspected victim. They would help you to work out a conversation with your friend, which can be pretty direct, like, “I’m worried about you because…”’

    How to cope with a controlling person

    Controlling relationships can be destructive to individuals in many ways. These patterns of behavior may lead to social isolation or damage a person’s self esteem. In severe cases, controlling behavior can eventually culminate in emotional and/or physical abuse.

    According to, a controlling pattern of behavior may be subtle at first but then begin to occur more frequently, getting worse over time. If the situation has not yet escalated into other kinds of abuse, it still may be possible to improve the relationship, but only if you are willing to take immediate action.

    Examine the relationship closely to determine whether the other person is totally controlling or only tries to control certain situations. It may help to keep a journal for a couple of weeks detailing all of your activities together. This can give you a better idea of who makes most of the decisions and how frequently the controlling behavior occurs.

    Evaluate your feelings. Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable in the company of your own friends or if you must ask the permission of your partner. It’s a sign of trouble if your partner tries to stop you from seeing your family members and friends or tries to control where you go.

    Talk to your partner about your feelings. It could be that he is unaware of how you feel. The Institute for Marital Healing suggests discussing the behavior in a calm manner. Tell your partner that his behavior is disrespectful and you do not deserve to be treated in that way. If you feel afraid to discuss your relationship, this could be a sign that the partnership is not a healthy one.

    Take more control of the relationship by making some of the decisions about what the two of you do together. Think independently for yourself and begin making plans again with your own friends. Look for your partner’s reaction each time you take a stand. If he overreacts each time, you may have to think about ending the relationship for good.

    Get the opinions of other people. Your friends and family members may be able to offer some helpful advice. If you and your partner are unable to work out your problems alone, consider going to a therapist. A professional counselor will observe your interactions and then recommend ways to help break the pattern of controlling behavior.