For people who grew up in homes with very controlling or abusive parents, it can be difficult to distinguish between control and concern in dating relationships. Women and men with a history of love addiction often have the same problem.
One way to differentiate between controlling behavior and concern is to take a close look at the specific situation. Extreme reactions to inocent mistakes are a sure sign of control.
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There are several early warning signs of a controlling partner. Watch for these tell-tale indicators that the person you're dating is not merely concerned; he's controlling and potentially abusive:
1. He constantly sends you text messages. Everyone loves to text and stay in touch. When the text messages become intrusive, abusive and demanding this is not just concern it is abuse.
2. He insists you do everything together all the time. Controlling people need to manage your life and they don't want you to do anything without their knowledge. The way to control that is to be with you at all times.
3. You can't have friends or family around. Controlling people want to keep you all to themselves. While these may seem romantic and intimate, it is a clear way to isolate you from people that can help and support you in getting out of the relationship.
4. He is easily offended by innocent mistakes. You forget to call and say you are running late or you forget that you promised to go to a movie, and your partner responds with extreme anger, hurt or bitterness. Life happens and people make mistakes and forget. Controlling people see everything as an attempt to hurt them, and they resent even minor slights or mistakes way out of proportion.
5. He disapproves of your clothing. A partner has the right to like or dislike what you wear. Unless it is overly revealing or completely inappropriate, they should respect your choice even if it is not their favorite. However, if they demand you wear certain clothing or not wear particular items that are appropriate you have a controlling partner on your hands.
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Watch for these early signs of control in your relationship. Counseling can help to deal with these issues before they become a greater problem or even rise to the level of abuse.
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