Trust your gut.
One of my friend recently came out of a very bad relationship with one of the most controlling people I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. It took a long time for her to even realize that he was as controlling as he actually was. She'd just say, "He does it because he cares about me."
I understand that the two can look similar at times. The difference between caring and controlling is that one still allows you to make the final decision — and the other one will guilt, pressure, or even threaten you until you choose what he wants you to choose.
Not sure if he's a controller or just really caring? Look for these signs.
1. He talks down to you and tells you that he's doing things for your best interest.
Does he regularly tell you that you're not capable of making your own decisions? You are a grown woman. You were, and still are, FINE without his guidance in your life. Him telling you what to do with the excuse of "your best interest" is controlling behavior — and it's never in your best interest.
2. He sometimes acts like you're a puppy.
Many puppy trainers will swat puppies if they eat the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. If a guy literally pulls away food from you, or gives you a swat on the hand when you grab for a dress you want, it's time to get out. He's a controller, and he's an abuser, too.
This is not caring. If he cared about you, he'd still provide you with the things you need to feel happy and safe. A guy who literally withdraws affection, refuses to talk to you, or potentially cuts you off from money is a guy who is looking to control you. Run, girl! This is a very bad sign!
4. You honestly don't feel as happy as you used to be with him.
This often is a sign that it's actually controlling behavior that you're experiencing, rather than caring behavior.
5. He keeps cutting you off from your friends.
This is one of the most overt indicators of an abusers. Abusers begin their control cycle by convincing their victims to stop talking to friends and family. Sometimes, they even go so far as to personally step in and ruin relationships with others. If you notice this in your relationship, leave him immediately. It could save your life.
6. The things he controls really don't make much of a difference in life.
If he's trying to control the little things in the relationship, it's a sign that he wants to move onto bigger things. This isn't caring. This is controlling.
7. He doesn't listen to you.
A guy who cares is a guy who listens. If he steamrolls you, tells you what you think, and won't listen to your side, he's a controlling, abusive person who's gaslighting you.
8. He tells you he's doing this to "improve you."
Here's a good hint: in a caring relationship, you don't try to "improve" your significant other. You're not a house. You're not a car. You don't need work to be acceptable.
9. You find yourself second-guessing your judgement.
Not a good sign, sweetie. Not a good sign. Take this as the YourTango hint to leave this guy, because he's messing with your mind and controlling you by making you feel useless.
10. People have warned you that he's controlling and that they don't like the way he treats you.
Listen to them! They are trying to save you from a controlling douchebag!
11. You walk on eggshells around your man or you're worried about what he'll think about every little thing.
This is a sign that you're being controlled by a guy. If what he was doing was really about caring, you wouldn't find yourself walking around on egg shells. Instead, you'd be comfortable talking to him about what's bothering you, what you did, and how you feel.
12. If you think about it, the dynamic between you and him is really skewed.
It's not normal to be in a relationship where he has all the power. If you notice him being in control of everything, with you constantly pleading and wheedling to get your way, there's something wrong.
13. He guilts you.
No, no, and no! Not only is this very manipulative behavior, but it's also a sign that you need to leave. You should never feel bad about doing something the way you enjoy doing it!
14. He's done scary gestures or threatened you if you don't do what he says.
This. Is. Abuse. This is not "caring." If he does extreme gestures like faking divorce papers, taking your ring off, breaking your things, or threatening to kill himself, it's not caring. It's abuse — and real bad abuse, too.
15. You honestly don't like the way it feels.
Listen to your feelings. If you feel uneasy about his way of "caring," it isn't really caring — it's being controlled.