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Escaping the Control of a Controlling Man
Are you being controlled by your husband or boyfriend? Here are examples of controlling male behavior:
• He always decides what you both do and when you both do it.
• He never agrees to do anything with you when you want to do it.
• He always benefits from everything he does for you or he just doesn’t do it.
• He expects you to do all the “dirty work” in the relationship; like cleaning, cooking and other menial chores.
• He never shares a hobby or passion with you that you enjoy.
• He never likes what you like.
Does this sound like familiar behavior?
Controlling men are controlling in ways that are not always obvious to women who get involved with them. They do not order women around in a “controlling manner.” To the contrary, they often come across like helpless victims who just want you to take care of them. Once you understand the dynamic of a controlling man’s control over you, you will recognize when you are being “set up” to be controlled, and this will give you the power to get out from under a controlling man’s grip.
Controlling men have a huge sense of entitlement about the way they believe women should treat them. They expect women to be subservient to them. That’s the only reason they have a woman in their life. To them, every woman exists on earth for the sole purpose of catering to them. Every controlling man believes one thing about women: they are superior to them.
A controlling man’s goal in a relationship is to be the sole benefactor of all the “good relationship perks” and never the one who has to deal with any of the bad stuff, like doing household chores or going to a restaurant they don’t like. But, if going to his choice of restaurant was the worst thing to deal with, being with a controlling man could be “bearable”.
Unfortunately, what starts out as his always picking the restaurant you eat at becomes his denying you a choice about anything you do in the relationship, and then, ultimately, in your life. Slowly over time, you become more unable to live your life the way you want to, because when you do, he makes you feel miserable.
Yes, it’s best to avoid getting involved with a controlling man in the first place, but that’s very difficult for a woman who was controlled by a parent in her childhood. The best advice I can give any woman who believes she is in a relationship with a controlling man is to realize how she got into the mess and what exactly is happening to her. Many women do not realize the level of control they are being subjected to in their relationship with a controlling man, and how devastating it is to their self worth as a person.
Controlling men have certain core beliefs about women that are “mottos they live by”. These beliefs can be summed up as follows:
1) You are to do as I say, not as I do.
2) You must be subservient to me physically, mentally, and emotionally.
3) All you do must benefit me or else you are a selfish person.
4) Whatever you want or desire is to be denied, ignored, disagreed with or disliked by me.
5) You deserve no personal space or personal time.
6) Whatever you possess must be of use to me or I won’t buy it for you or like it if you buy it for yourself.
7) My ideas and opinions are right, your ideas and opinions are wrong and I will never accept them or agree with them.
8) You must always ask my permission to do anything that is your idea.
9) You are here in my life to do everything I ask you to do for me. But I never have to do anything you ask me to do for you.
10) I must approve how all the money is to be spent in the relationship and you are to obey my decision.
11) Your body is my possession.
12) I am superior to you and you better never talk to me or act in any way that makes me feel I’m not. You can never criticize me about anything.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. These core beliefs are so appalling, how can any woman actually be in a relationship with a man who treats her this way? Unfortunately, many women are in this kind of abusive relationship with a man because of how the control happens.
A controlling man does not blatantly show you his core beliefs at the beginning of a relationship. At first, he gives in to what you want from time to time. When a conflict erupts because he refuses to do something you ask him to do, and he becomes angry because you complain about it, his anger passes quickly. He may even apologize to you for being “selfish”. This is just a ploy to get you hooked into the relationship and to slowly make you give in to him. As time goes on, there is less give and more take from him, until his control over you increases to the point of it being unbearable.
A controlling man cunningly camouflages his ulterior motive of control over you with behavior that makes him look like a helpless, innocent victim of life. By the time you realize that your husband or boyfriend is controlling you, you’ve probably been controlled by him for quite awhile, and feel as if you’ve been put under a “hypnotic spell” of control. All you can do is ask yourself is, “How did I let him do this to me?”
Most likely, you will try to talk sense to him about how his behavior has become “too selfish”. But there is no compromise with a controlling man. You are either subservient to him or you get out of the relationship because he will make your life miserable if you don’t cater to him. You simply exist to please him, and if you please him he will be loving and wonderful to you. But if you don’t please him, he will torture you with anger and silence.
Control with Excuses and Lies
A controlling man uses a veil of excuses to get a woman to be subservient to him. These excuses always make him look helpless on the surface, but they are all pretenses used to relieve him of any responsibility in the relationship. These excuses support his core belief of his superiority over you, and are used to manipulate you into catering to him.
Be forewarned: If you do not accept the lie/pretense/excuse he is giving you to accept how he wants things to be, you will pay the price. What is the price? He will withdraw his love, attack your character, and throw in some hostile anger or a day of silence just to finish you off. In other words: Play by his rules and you won’t be subjected to his abusive anger.
These are the basic excuses/lies/pretenses a controlling man uses to get a woman to be subservient to him and to get out of doing anything that does not cater to his selfish needs and desires:
1) “I am afraid to be alone” (often used so you won’t go out socially and live an independent life from him)
2) “I believe you are cheating on me” or “I believe you don’t love me” or “I know you want to be with another man” (also used so you don’t do anything without him)
3) “I am overworked with exhaustion” (often used to get out of doing any chore you ask him to do)
4) “I am upset because I feel hated, disliked, abused by others” (often used if you need him to focus on doing something for you)
5) “I’m too busy” (often used if you want him to do something for you or go somewhere)
6) “I can’t deal with doing that” (often used to get out of doing something on a permanent basis that he doesn’t want to do; he usually has some “traumatic past experience recall” that makes him incapable of helping you)
7) “I forgot” (used whenever you ask him to do something for you in the future – this is his trump card excuse because it gets him out of doing almost anything you ask him to do)
8) “I never heard you say that” or “I don’t recall you ever mentioning it” (often used as denial to admitting you are right about any advice you give him or used to get out of any obligation to you)
9) “I can’t afford it” (often used to keep you from doing anything you want to do or to keep him from spending money on you )
10) “I need you” or “I can’t face life/live without you” (often used to justify treating your body like an object. He always means “your body” when he says “you” in this way)
Here is a look at a controlling man’s core beliefs in more detail:
Do as I say, not as I do
Let’s say you notice he never bothers to clean the dishes when you cook but he expects you to cleanup after he cooks. So you mention to him that you’d like him to do the cleanup after you cook. Sounds like fair give and take in a relationship, right? But he will never do that because doing the dishes does not benefit him and you are put on earth to cater to him, remember?
So you ask him to do the dishes, and explain to him, as if he is a child, “It’s only fair, after all, I do the dishes when you cook.”
Most likely he will either pretend not to hear you, or he will find an excuse as to why he can’t do them: he’ll be too tired or busy or the “doing the dishes” brings back a childhood trauma with his mother. If you pressure him to do the dishes, he might even say he will and just never bother doing them. When you remind him about his empty promise to do them, he’ll snap at you angrily and say “I told you I’d do them, didn’t I? I’ll get around to it.” But he’ll never get around to it. And if he does, he won’t talk to you all night. He warned you with his exhaustion excuse/lie/pretense that he didn’t want to do them and you should have known what would happen if you didn’t accept the excuse. Now you have his anger to deal with.
So, being a woman and being raised to do the dishes in your parent’s household and realizing that it’s not worth the aggravation of his irritable anger, especially after you just had such a nice dinner together (because you catered to him by cooking), you’ll probably breakdown and do the dishes. And you’ll never ask him to do them again when you cook dinner. It is too painful for you to experience his anger and it brings back memories from your childhood of what happened whenever you wanted something that “inconvenienced” your parent. We’ll talk about that later.
And so the control begins. First it’s his refusal to do the dishes (although he doesn’t really refuse, he just never gets around to it), next it’s his refusal to see a movie you want to see (although he doesn’t really refuse, he just rather see his movie choice), after that it’s not picking something up at the supermarket (although he doesn’t refuse to get it, he just “forgets to get it”), and so on and so on. He’ll never do anything you ask him to do. He’ll come up with excuse after excuse; the memory loss excuse or the exhaustion excuse. He’ll always have some shallow excuse. And if you give him any trouble about accepting his “excuse”, you will always deal with his anger or silence.
At the beginning of your relationship, you want to believe his “memory lapse” excuse because you want to believe he is a considerate person, deep down inside. But in time, after he forgets every single thing you ask him to do, you will realize that his “memory lapse” is just the excuse he always uses to avoid doing anything for you. Yes, he doesn’t remember anything you ask him to do, because he really doesn’t care about doing anything for you. It never serves his purpose to be the one catering to you.
Of course, you can be sure of the fact that he expects you to do whatever he asks of you, whenever he asks you to do it. There will be a long list of requests, from menial chores to sex on demand; and if you aren’t catering to him at the “drop of a hat”, you can be sure you’ll have his anger to deal with. And don’t even think of using the “memory lapse” excuse with him. He will accuse you of “never doing anything he ever asks you to do”, and rage at you about being selfish. It will be futile to discuss the situation with him because doing so will only escalate things into a full blown out fight.
He will ultimately take a simple act of “you not doing one thing he asks of you” and turn it into your defiance of him. He will accuse you of not loving him and wanting to end the relationship/marriage. His extreme reaction to your resistance to doing whatever he asks of you, regardless of how justifiable that resistance is, will be so emotionally painful to deal with, that you will ultimately give in to doing whatever he asks of you, just to maintain your sanity. And this is how he gets total control over you. You will fear his anger.
You Must Always Ask His Permission
It won’t be long before you wise up and realize that, in order to get him to do something, you must ask him it in a way that sounds like you are asking his permission. Yes, you must act like you are the child and he is the parent. Of course, this is not a healthy way to have a relationship with a partner, but it is the only way to survive emotionally with a controlling man. No matter how important your request is, he will either use memory loss as an excuse for not doing it or completely deny the fact that you asked him to do it. But, if you ask him in a way that makes it sound like your asking permission, “Is it okay if we do ‘such and such’ today?”, he may actually agree to do it. Otherwise, don’t hold your breath about him ever doing anything you ask him to do.
You Deserve No Personal Time
If he does reluctantly agree to do something you want to do, you may ultimately never do it because he will never be ready to do it in the time frame you want to do it in. “If she waits long enough, she’ll probably give up on the idea of going there.” That’s his logic. He will often come up with all kinds of things he needs to do or needs you to do for him that stand in the way of you going somewhere on time together. A controlling man always controls your time by never being ready whenever you want him to do something. So don’t even think of being the one to suggest going somewhere with him, unless you are okay with waiting around for him to finally be ready to go there, hours later. Another way he will control your time is with impatience about waiting for you. He will call you 20 times in an hour if you don’t return his phone call right away. A controlling man can never be inconvenienced by you.
You Deserve No Personal Space
If you do stand up for your right to live your life doing things you enjoy doing without him, as is your right, he will make you feel miserable about being independent by accusing you of not loving him and wanting to be with another man. Yes, he will use the “You don’t love me, you want to be with someone else” a.k.a. “I fear you’re cheating on me” jealousy pretense.
He will drain all the fun out of any independent activity you do with your friends or just do by yourself without him. He’ll dump a lot of guilt on you, if you plan to go anywhere without him. And he will never give you his blessing to go off on your own, if it’s doing something you enjoy doing.
He will cry; he will call you constantly; he will wait up all hours for you to come home; and do anything else he can do to ruin the pleasure of the experience. He will accuse you of wearing a fragrance to meet some guy you are secretly having an affair with, just when you’re going to the library without him. He’ll make you crazy with his absurd insecurity, and it will all be a ploy to get you to give up living an independent life. That’s right, he isn’t really afraid you found another man, he just wants to control your every move.
Whatever You Want is to Be “Denied, Disagreed with, Disliked or Ignored” By Me
A controlling man will never enjoy doing what you enjoy doing. In my controlling man relationship, anything I suggested doing, he never wanted to do. Even if it was something he liked doing; he refused to do it when I wanted to do it. I was never allowed to plan our day together on the weekends. Bike riding, eating pizza out; you name it; if I suggested doing it, he was too exhausted or not interested in doing it. And if he did reluctantly agree to go somewhere I suggested, he gave me the silent treatment or started an argument about something I said or did. He made sure the experience was as unpleasant as possible for me so I’d always think twice about suggesting doing something I wanted to do in the future.
That’s just how a relationship with a controlling man is, whatever you like he won’t like and whatever he likes you better learn to like. The more significant your request is to you, the more he will not want to do it.
Your Double Life
Eventually, just to survive as a human being and not be subjected to his abusive anger whenever he doesn’t get his way, you live two lives: your life with him when you cater to his tastes and desires and your life without him when you cater to your own tastes and desires behind his back. It becomes easier for you to secretly enjoy the life you really want to have, than to endure his company doing things with you that he doesn’t want to do. A controlling man will ruin any pleasure you have when you do something you enjoy doing.
Of course, if he wants to do something and suggests doing it and you go along and do it, which you inevitably always do, he won’t be difficult or moody. That’s the only time you both actually can be together without conflict, even though the experience will be an empty, unfulfilling one for you. And he will always want to do the things he knows you dislike. If you go along and muster up a positive outlook doing these things every time you are together, you will probably have a tolerable time together. But living a double life is like living no life at all:
You can never be happy living a life that is in complete denial about being who you are.
You can never be happy living a life never doing what you enjoy doing without feeling guilty or constantly being subjected to someone’s disapproval and lack of support.
A caring, nurturing relationship with a man is about supporting each other’s interests and giving each other freedom to be who you want to be.
I Will Determine How All the Money is Spent
A controlling man will always control you with money. Money to him is the ultimate form of control over you. If you want him to pay for something, he won’t be able to afford it. Of course, if he wants something, he will always have the money to pay for it. But he will make sure he can never afford to pay for anything you want. This is his way of controlling every activity you do together and undermining your self esteem.
A controlling man never agrees to buy you the gift you want; go the restaurant or supermarket you want to go to, or save up for the kitchen renovation you want. He must always dictate where and how money is being spent in the relationship.
“No problem,” you’ll tell yourself, “I’ll just pay for the restaurant and this way he’ll have to give in and do what I want to do occasionally.” This should work, in theory, but a controlling man must control how all the money is spent in the relationship, so he feels superior to you. He will never be okay with you paying to do anything that’s your choice, because then you have an equal say in things. If you attempt to do this, and he does go, he won’t talk with you the entire time.
If he ever does spend money on you (besides on your birthday or a holiday when he deems it appropriate), he will usually give you something that he can use as well. He will give you a household gift that supports your subservience to him, like pots and pans for cooking his meals. And if he can’t, the purchase will ultimately benefit him because he will keep tabs on how much he has spent and make sure you pay him back one way or another. A controlling man is never generous with his money. There are always strings attached to anything a controlling man gives you if his money is being spent. To get a thoughtful gift for no reason other than the fact that he cares about you is not on his agenda. Everything he does that involves money has its purpose, and that purpose is always to benefit him.
Your Body is My Possession
One of the most fundamental ways a controlling man controls a woman is by treating her body as his possession. He will either use sex to control you by demanding it constantly, or he will use sex to control you by always denying it.
If you want sex, he will never want it. If you don’t want sex, he will always want it. And if he always wants it, he will never give you personal space when it comes to your body. He will expect you to cater to him and be available at the drop of a hat to satisfy him. You will start to feel like a used car that just doesn’t want to get up and go anymore. But don’t deny him sex if he wants it, because if you do, he will accuse you of cheating on him or not loving him and that will bring on the silent treatment; his emotional punishment.
Yes, it is emotional blackmail to have your body held hostage under his need to control you. And there are times it’s easier to give in, then to have to deal with an entire night of his cold, withdrawn anger.
The Beginning of Control: Life with Mom and Dad
If you are experiencing this kind of relationship with a man, you are probably at the point of wondering, “Why did he ever appeal to me? Why didn’t I see the signs?”
Most likely, you did realize he was selfish and incapable of giving to you in a selfless, authentically loving way. But most women who become emotionally involved with controlling men have had one or both parents controlling their lives as children. There is a familiar sense of comfort being around men like this when a parent has treated you the same way for so many years of your life.
This kind of control starts with a parent who doesn’t acknowledge their daughter as an individual with interests outside their own interests. They will forget to do something their daughter asks them to do, like pick up their favorite doughnut at the bakery or pick them up at the right time from an after school activity. They will always deny their daughter the right to choose anything she wants for herself, whether it’s a snack or home baked treat (the parent will bake a dessert they want to eat for themselves), the clothes she wears, how her room is decorated, the way she wears her hair, the toys she owns, or the food she eats for dinner. They will always claim to forget whatever is asked of them, but their daughter will know that the simple truth is that their parent just didn’t care about their request because they didn’t care enough about their needs and desires. A parent like this never buys their daughter something special that matters to her; they buy her something they would want for themselves.
When a girl is treated this way by a parent, there is a core part of her that feels undervalued and unloved and it is very painful.
Control with Criticism and Rage
Children of controlling parents cannot voice any dissatisfaction about their life without being verbally abused with hostility from their parent. They are denied a basic right to express their needs and desires and to let their feelings be known when they feel neglected.
When a daughter expresses feelings of dissatisfaction about being ignored by a controlling parent, the parent denies this behavior with excuses, claiming “memory lapse” or saying they were “too busy” to remember what she asked for. If the child doesn’t accept the shallow excuse, and continues complaining, she is made to feel shame about being unhappy and accused of being an unappreciative, disrespectful, mean child. Criticism is the enemy of a controlling parent. They do not want to be made to feel they are insensitive and uncaring, even though they are acting that way when it comes to fulfilling their daughter’s basic desires as an individual.
In a healthy parent/child relationship, the parent calmly discusses a child’s complaints with her and is open to negotiation about what she wants. The child is never made to fear expressing her feelings of neglect. Her parent validates her need to be heard and acknowledged as a human being. She does not make her feel guilty about wanting a voice in how she lives her life because her parent cares about pleasing her.
This is the foundation of a healthy adult relationship as well. But unfortunately, in a relationship with a controlling man, love is a word that is only equivalent to “needing to be catered to.”
Take Control of Your Life
If you are in this kind of relationship with a controlling man, you must see the truth about it, as difficult and painful as that may be. He is controlling you with his mood of silence, his victim mentality, his fear of losing you to another man, his “memory loss” and other tactics to make you fear his anger and become subservient to him. You must believe you deserve better from a male partner in your life. You must leave this kind of controlling relationship.
Accepting this truth about your relationship isn’t easy, but it’s so important to have a life that is authentically your own, and to stop fearing anger and character assassination every time you dare to be your own person and stand up to someone who is degrading your sense of self worth. A controlling man will tell you you’re selfish to want something that inconveniences him. A controlling man will make you feel guilty about enjoying those things that give you pleasure in life. A controlling man will use your body like he owns it. There is no way to avoid facing this truth about being with a controlling man: He is toxic to your happiness in life.
Yes, leaving this kind of controlling relationship is the only way out because discussing your feelings or problems with him won’t work. Your feelings about the way he treats you have no place in a relationship built on a foundation of control. It is emotionally painful to end this kind of relationship because it forces you to come to terms with your parental upbringing and feelings of being emotionally neglected as a child, but in time you will come to realize that it is the only way you can feel good about being who you truly are.
So how do you end it? You simply stop doing things for him. You stop being his servant making life easy for him. If you stop doing things, he will not want you around. This is the cold, hard truth. Yes, he will degrade you and insult you and yell and scream, but in the end, you will come out a free woman; licking your emotional wounds and free.
You must end a relationship with a man that treats you this way. There is no other option. You deserve to be free of his control and live your life your way. There is a life of happiness waiting for you that is yours to embrace. So go there and be free.
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