theindiechicks, love and sex advice, relationship advice, how to spot a controlling man, is my boyfriend controlling,getting out of a controlling relationship

Signs of a Controlling Man: 9 Red Flags

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Chrystal Rose

When Chrystal isn't writing and performing her President & COO duties for The Indie Chicks, she's running her very own marketing company, Dollhouse Marketing. She's a total travel junkie, health/fitness fanatic, mommy to a couple of furbabies and a Girl Scout Troop leader. Helping people, especially women is one of the things she loves the most so feel free to contact her via email or any of her social media outlets.

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I was sitting in my car when “Love the way you lie” came on the radio. I’d never heard it before but every word felt like a razorblade tearing at the fibers of my heart. Every hair on my body stood on end and I suddenly, involuntarily, without warning, burst into tears. The break up had been almost an entire year before, but those angry and sad words flashed me right back to my relationship with an incredibly controlling man, Abaddon. If you’ve read my book, then you know the hell I went through with him. I’m tired of hearing people say that a woman is “stupid” for falling for a controlling guy or “an idiot” for staying with him. The signs of a controlling man aren’t obvious and it’s not like they’re just your run-of-the-mill douchebags. They are systematic, calculated and manipulative.

You can be an ultra-confident, badass woman and still fall prey, I know this, because it happened to me.

Red Flag 1: He Attaches to You Quickly

When I met Abaddon he did and said all the right things. He paid incredible attention to the tiniest of details and I felt like he actually cared about what I had to say. It was so easy to fall for him, especially because he made it clear he was falling for me.

“I feel like the brightest star has fallen by my side,” Finally, here was a man that recognized my worth, right off the bat. He built me up on a pedestal, told me he loved me and wanted to be with me forever. Hooked.

Caution Flag: In most circumstances, feelings, especially for men, develop over time. These controlling guys invent feelings because they know it’s what they need to display in order to lure you in.

Red Flag 2: He Asks, Then Tells

In the beginning Abaddon would ask me small things to change that I didn’t see as a big deal, then he’d up the stakes a bit until finally he was telling me what I could and couldn’t do.

“Hey babe, that skirt is kind of short. Do you mind wearing shorts under it?” became “You’re not fucking wearing that, go change.”

When we as humans say yes to simple requests, and continue to say yes as the stakes are raised, we’re more likely to continue saying yes. Intrinsically, after having said yes to someone so many times we feel like we can no longer tell them no.

Caution Flag: Controlling men are smart and aren’t going to start making demands right off the bat. Protect yourself by saying no to things in the beginning that you don’t see a point in changing.

Red Flag 3: Where Did Everyone Go?

A major sign of a controlling man, is that he will isolate you from friends, family and pretty much anyone who isn’t them. None of my friends liked Abaddon, (neither did my family) so he didn’t like them. Which meant I wasn’t really “allowed” to see them often. Usually he decided a friend was a “whore” and a “bad influence” and that was that.

Caution Flag: If your friends and especially your family don’t like him—scrap him. They know and care about you and can clearly sense that there’s something off about this guy.

Red Flag 4: Hobbies? What Hobbies?

If you suddenly find yourself no longer doing the things you enjoy or care about because your “quality time together will suffer” you’re probably being controlled. It’s difficult for him to keep you on a short leash if you’re always running off to yoga or tennis practice.

When I told Abaddon that I wanted to volunteer to teach illiterate adults to read, he made it seem like I was going to be dating another man and said that it would take away from our relationship.

Caution Flag: In a healthy relationship, both people should have hobbies, interests and activities outside from each other. Period. Being up each other’s asses doesn’t mean you love each other more than other couples who have lives outside of their love.

continue reading on page 2…

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  • http://awesomelyunprepared.com/ KezUnprepared

    Fantastic post. I can relate. I’ve been there. I hope this helps someone else.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thanks Kez, I really hope so too!

  • Ashley Sapp

    I thankfully have never had to deal with a controlling man in this way. I did date someone that was emotionally abusive and had me questioning my worth. Instead of telling me what to do, he’d guilt me. He was bipolar, so he very much did the hot/cold thing with me, and I felt if I could somehow just help him, things would be better. They never were. Eventually, you have to take a good, true look at what is going on with you and your relationship. If you’re upset, and you’re upset because of the way you’re being treated constantly, it’s time to move on. Much easier said than done, but with posts like this one, I think women will have an easier time recognizing the signs. I am glad you were able to see this for yourself, Chrystal, and that you’re willing to share your difficult experiences so that you may help others through theirs! Thank you for writing!

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thanks Ashley,

      I was lucky to realize he’d never change and that I couldn’t change him. Fortunately, I was also smart enough to get far, faaaarrrr away from him after the break up so when he came “knocking on my door” two weeks later, telling me he loved me and missed me I couldn’t get weak and return to him. It’s such a dark hole and I’m so grateful I was able to get away and not repeat it.

  • Victoria

    OMG, why did he do that with the chip?! What was his excuse? Fun? Ugh!!!!!! While reading this article of yours, I felt sick in my stomach because I can relate and i would like, too, to tell all the girls who are currently dating this kind of monster to break free!!! My monster used to tell me to who I can and can not talk to, wanted to check my phone contacts and while we were dating I went out alone with my GIRL best friend only ONCE!!! But of course this one time, he kept calling and calling and calling and when I was fed up and told him “Hey would you mind letting us talk?!!! I am with her but I am talking more to you!”, he snapped and said “I am breaking up with you and I am coming right there to give you your things!!!” Fucking crazy asshole! He also wanted me to marry him and our relationship was only fucking 3 months old!!! Of course I was stupid enough to continue this shitty relationship and then one day, when I couldn’t take his shit anymore I told him that I can’t stand him anymore and that he is crazy and… guessed what… he slapped me! I never saw him again!!! I changed my phone number, blocked him on facebook, im and everywhere possible and wished him the worst. He will never find true love, or plain love, because he is totally mental. The only difference is that he was like a sex maniac, he wanted sex ALL THE TIME, and I think psychologically that meant that he didn’t want to be “away” from me, he wanted all of me, as much as he could. I feel sooo sorry for spending my time with this piece of shit and even though many years have passed I still feel disgusted when I think about that relationship. I can still remember the horror and terror when I was missing a call from him and going under interrogation and “You are cheating on me!” bullshit!!!!! Ugh!!! Now, I am with an amazing man, caring, loving and above all… cool!!! Girls, do not be afraid to leave them, you WILL find love, this is not love!

    • Chrystal Rose

      Victoria! I’m soooo proud of you for getting away from that and finding someone who is worthy of your heart.

      He didn’t have an excuse for the chip, just that he was “joking.” He got mad that I started to cry, obviously because he knew he was an asshole for doing it.

      As women I think we internalize everything like we are the reason they’re acting like this rather than see that this is the way they are, and they’ll never, ever change. They aren’t capable of real love, they have no clue what that even is. All they know is possession and destruction of another human being. That’s why in the book and in the article I call him Abaddon which in Greek means “Ruination, the Destroyer.”

      • Victoria

        Oh I didn’t know that and I am Greek, this is very interesting! Thank you for your kind words and I totally agree with you, they do not know what real love means. They only care about their ego. I am proud of you, too!! :-)

  • Jewels

    I know that this article will help others and I’m so glad that you wrote it, though it breaks my heart that you had to go through this. It’s always painful to read about somebody experiencing something like this, more so when it’s a person you care about. I can’t imagine this kind of horror.

    I am lucky to have never had to deal with more than minor head games. Guys that push away and then pull you back. I think we all have. I never once considered it an emotionally abusive relationship, it was just me being naive and allowing it. When push comes to shove people will treat you how you allow them to treat you. This is NOT to say that serious emotional, and physical abuse is to blame. I am just saying that for me, personally, those mind games people play when dating never once registered as abusive even though the other party knew what they were doing was hurting me.

    I’m proud of you for speaking up and telling your story in more detail for our readers because you help people when you let yourself be vulnerable.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thank you Jewels. It’s definitely important for me to be vulnerable with our readers because I want them to know I’m coming from a place where I’d love to help.

      I’ve definitely played mind games and had them attempted to be played with me for sure. These men are just pros, I’ve seen it happen to others too and it’s just a complete dismantling you usually don’t see coming. Terrifying to think that I was barely a shadow of who I am now. But I am grateful for the experience because the rebuild is that much stronger.

      xo

  • http://theindiechicks.com/ Chiara Mazzucco

    Damn girl, NAILED it. Each and every one, minus the sex one, was Boy A. Holy shit. I just want to fucking run to you and hug you. I am sharing this with the world and I am so proud to have you be a part of this team. You are completely worthy of inspiring women in this world. Fuck. So many of these go by unnoticed and they happen in such disguise that we never know until we’re under. Boy A would push me against the wall and be like, “Why are you scared? I’ve never hit you, I’d never hit you.” Meanwhile it’d take weeks for the bruise to disappear. It’s such a mindfuck. And the rest of the world looks in and says, “What’s her problem? Why doesn’t she just LEAVE?”

    • Chrystal Rose

      Chiara that all means SO much to me you have no idea. I want to strip down in front of all our readers because like you–my past is just riddled with pain but I managed to take command of my life and decide that I’m not only going to be a total badass but I’m going to help others achieve the same.

      The sex thing was just an example of the way he tore apart my confidence. I think it was because I’m a very sexual person and it was just one more way he could exhibit his control over me. “You’re a nympho and we’re going to fix that.” I’m sure if I’d felt mediocre about sex he would have forced it upon me. I guess I got lucky there.

      I hate that you went through that especially before you were able to were essentially able to even know yourself. You were caught at a time when you believe nothing but the best in people, because you haven’t learned otherwise. Such a young age, I’m SO proud of you that you broke free. Hell I was a grown ass woman, it took me awhile to realize that because I’d never come across a guy like him before so there weren’t technical red flags yet, more like gray ones– all I had to do was paint them after and remember for next time.

      We’re soul mates <3

  • http://joannerambling.wordpress.com/ Jo-Anne

    Yes yes yes you are spot on……………

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thank you for reading Jo-Anne <3

  • Ashten@alwaysashten

    Knowing you went through something like this makes me so sad, Chrystal. I, like Chiara, want to hug you. I think it’s amazing how you allow yourself to be so vulnerable with your writing and how you use it to help empower and uplift others. I am so lucky to know you! <3

    • Chrystal Rose

      Don’t be sad Ashten, but I’ll take the hug!

      Thank you so much for your sweet words :) I’ve found in writing you need to put it all out there, your heart on a plate and essentially tell the world, “Stab it if you don’t like it.”

      This made me who I am today, it stripped away the worst parts of me and helped me to build the best. I wouldn’t take this back for anything. In fact I’d love to thank him!

  • Delcers

    o man! This is so amazing! Thank you so much for being so open and honest, and putting this out here for all of us other girls who have ever been in this position.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thank you! I really would love to help prevent others from having to go through it.

  • A

    What bothers me so much is when other people see this abuse and do nothing to stop it. I know a kind and sweet girl who is dating such a phony. He’s so mean to her and both of them share a mutual “best friend” who knows how mean he can be to her but makes excuses for him. It’s not right. Yet she goes on and on saying “he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her.” Other things he does? Flirts with other women right in front of her. Keep these articles coming maybe they’ll empower other women in situations like this.

    • Chrystal Rose

      I totally agree. It’s a damn shame jerks like this have excuses made for them, when they are an excuse of a man in the first place.

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  • Ashley McDonald

    Such an informational article…and also very scary. The hot cheese chip is what freaked me out the most. So sorry you had to go through a relationship like that.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Thank you Ashley! Yeah he was just a mean guy. My sister witnessing it was the worst part. She was just like, open-mouthed. I’m very glad it happened because I might have never discovered how truly badass I really am ;)

  • Lyn

    I have an 18 year old daughter who I feel is in a relationship that is unhealthy. Many of the signs you shared are evident to me , but not to her. What can I do to help her ?

    • Aprill Ann

      My mom told me he would knock my teeth in. I wonder if I’d still be alive if she hadn’t. The women’s crisis center and two friends get the rest of the credit.

      Give her this article.

      Make sure she has a key to the house and car buried outside. She may be left without keys. She can bury escape money. The crisis center will be the most help.

    • Chrystal Rose

      It sucks so much because I know that I didn’t listen to anything anyone told me. In fact I pushed everyone away that had a negative view on him– and I purposefully didn’t tell my mother a thing so she wouldn’t hate him too.

      All you can do is love her and be there for her. Support her as much as you can as bad as you think he is. She’ll run away further if you are negative about him. So be there for her and she’ll open up, ask her questions so that she has to actually say the words out loud. If she’s with a guy like this, she needs you more than you realize.

    • Englishgirl23

      i had to call the sate on mine because she was drugged out and not taking care of my granddaughter. It took that to get her to leave her x.Now she wont speak to me and has an order on me.She was so angry that i was no longer going to support her behavior.I advise you cut her off completely .And if there’s kids involved call the state to check the home etc. If no kids you have to tell her to try consoling and be patient.I have walked away from my oldest child many times over the year.Each time she played victim and made me out to be crazy.We all must live and learn from our mistakes.Those around us can pray and step back when it becomes to much. Dedicate your time to a hobby or your work etc. Do not become your childs door mat.Also you are and never will be their friend.If you dont separate that it will cause a lot of friction.The child or young adult will act out even more.You must nbe a rock steady and unmovable.I am hapt to say my other 3 children ages 12 15 20 are wonderful kids who do not drink etc. I hope someday my oldest finds herself again. Until then i am not in her life no matter how hard things get.I will not do a thing to help her.She has to grow up and realize she was wrong .To top it off im now having health issues.I worry my oldest will not have the chance to say mom im sorry… Each decision we make is a choice we make as children and adults.You can be a good parent , but in the end they make their own mistakes.
      good luck!

  • Aprill Ann

    WONDERFUL ARTICLE. My mom told me “he is going to knock your teeth out.” That’s when I decided I had to do something. I knew she was right.

    It isn’t easy. But it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so glad you got away.

    If you’re reading this wondering if you need to leave, GO. Find your local women’s crisis center and get help planning the day you’ll leave if you’re afraid. They can help.

    He may do more than knock your teeth out.

    • Chrystal Rose

      I’m SO glad you listened to your mom. I kept a lot of our relationship secret from my mother because I didn’t want her to see what was really going on. She only knew at the end. Mothers really do know best.

  • Roar

    Dated a control freak before and I had to break up with him 3 times before it was actually over and he still didn’t immediately stop the behaviors. I blatantly told him about what he was doing and now he admits he was crazy but I’m not sure if he actually changed because I still see it in him.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Are you still with him?

      I think those guys are incapable of change, only good at covering their true selves up.

  • Kelsa

    The changes come so subtly and often times you are left feeling confused, angry at yourself and unstable. You question everything about yourself and pretty soon you find yourself trying to make it up to him. He will blame you for everything that is wrong with him, your relationship, his life, his faults – if this is familiar “I wouldn’t act like this if you didn’t do that” then get out now! I broke up with my controlling ex more times than I can count, the master of manipulation reeled me back in every time, he actually had me thinking that he was a kind soul and a good man for taking ME back!! The final straw came when he held me prisoner in my own home, took away all means of communication and spent the night screaming, pushing, shoving and interrogating me. I knew I had to end it for good. Now the stalking and intimidation has started. Ladies, I implore you, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it but you just know something’s not right – walk away. Immediately. You are not a “psycho bitch” for doing so. You are smart, strong and courageous.

    • Chrystal Rose

      “I wouldn’t act like this if you didn’t do that” Ahhhhh. Story of our relationship. I was SO convinced there was something wrong with ME when he was the sociopath. Good luck girl and I’m so glad you got away. <3

  • Jacqueline

    I am in this situation. Saying it’s difficult to get out of is an understatement. I’ve come close to leaving, well actually I have left, twice, but somehow am reeled back in. I have too much faith and compassion. It’s almost like I feel sorry for HIM. wtf?! Because I know he has been hurt and that’s why he is the way he is. Nevertheless, thats no excuse for his behaviour but it seems to be what pulls me back, its the guilt I feel at “abandoning” him. I am in so deep and just want out. I’m miserable almost all the time, except for the few “good” times, but even those are tinged with unhappiness, partly because I know how short-lived they are. The process of leaving is hard. I wish I could just wake up and be moved out and on my own. It’s the dividing of belongings, the packing of things, especially when his dog, who I love, watches me. No matter how much I try to remind myself of the reasons I need to leave, I can’t seem to take that final step. It’s like I’m waiting for something huge to happen to motivate me to just pick up and go. And believe me, there have been PLENTY of opportunities. I despise him when he’s drunk. He’s mean, arrogant, domineering, disrespectful. He breaks and ruins so much of my stuff. The way he acts and the things he says make me look at him and go “who ARE you?” I barely have a life of my own. Dont hang out with friends. Can’t wear what I want. He even got mad that I got a massage from a woman. AND he got mad when I got a pedicure! Why? Because there’s lesbians out there willing to take advantage of someone as “naive” as me. That’s what he said. Unbelievable. That’s just the tip of the ice berg. How, oh HOW, do I get myself out of this. It sounds so much easier than it actually is. I never would have thought it would be so difficult.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Jaqueline– My heart hurts so much for you, it really does, because I know exactly what you’re going through. Whenever other women tell me things like this, it truly feels like we were with the same guy.

      You know you need to leave and you know you are miserable. It’s a matter of WHEN you will be sick of it and decide that you truly deserve happiness and that he is INCAPABLE of it. Yes, men like this are incapable of being happy, and the sadness and hurt he’s displaying isn’t real.

      What does he do when you are sad and hurt? Does he feel guilty? Doubt it.

      I know you’re waiting for “the perfect time” and “something huge” so you can justify pulling the trigger– but I promise you, it’s not worth waiting for. Your life is on hold and it needs to begin NOW. Without him. I can’t even begin to describe all the amazing things that have happened in my life since packing up and leaving him for good. You can do it, I know you can. Gather up every ounce of strength you have, muster up whatever bit of self-love is left, look at that girl in the mirror and tell her she deserves better. Then give it to her.

      Feel free to email me, no one should have to deal with this bullshit on their own <3

    • Englishgirl23

      your not alone i too have been there and many others male and female.mine left me about 7 weeks ago. After we had a big fight.He let me move back in.No he told me i moved myself back in.I then threw the remote at his precious tv. For years id tolerated his dumb addictions spending money on things fir himself and for my boys.But us girls my daughter and me took a back seat.Every time i spent money which was my money in anything i was a bad person. He is a typical good guy type who attaches himself quickly to one.The faster the attach themselves in the beginning the easier it is to control you.After all the put you on a pedestal giving you materialistic things usually combined with lots of affection. They wear the mask of the innocent sheep very well.When you finally see whats underneath your in to deep.So how do you walk away? How will you feel when you finally get him out of your life?AMAZING THATS HOW YOU’LL FEEL!!!!!ITS LIKE BEING BORN AGAIN.!!So walk away and be strong. You’ll be amazed of what life is like without a peter pan type man in it,

  • JustFine

    Thanks for sharing, such deep, difficult stuff in such plain language. The cheese-chip incident reminded me, 30 years later, of when my “boyfriend” once pulled my chair out from under me when I was about to sit down, at a party in a roomful of people. I was wearing a dress and I landed flat on my ass with him standing over me, laughing. No one in the room did anything about it (maybe they were too much in shock). I’m now in my 50s and I still feel the humiliation of that moment. That’s how strong the effects are, ladies. And that’s how important it is to know you’re not alone. Unfortunately my young-adult daughter is now in a relationship with a controller and it’s so difficult to witness. I’m doing what I can by reminding her of how worthy she is, that this is not her fault, etc. Your article will help her too, to know that she’s not alone, that she CAN and WILL terminate the relationship, and….that she’s a born badass!

  • Kittyhawk Flight

    I’m here reading this because I still question if it was me or him that is crazy. I got out 2 years ago and I am still gun shy about getting involved. Still processing all the death by 1000 tiny cuts. I had friends warn me he was going to hit me. It didn’t get to that point but the emotional and mental toll was enough to keep me guessing for years. Thank you for spelling it all out in plain English. From here on he is one mean, sneaky, and rotten bastard.

  • I ran

    Thank you. I left my soon to be ex husband a month ago. My daughter and I moved halfway across the country to get away from him. It doesn’t get better regardless if what they say….controllers do not change. They may ease up just enough to keep you from leaving but it never stops. I didn’t think it could happen to me because I was “tough”. They figure out quickly where you are the most vulnerable and use it. After the first big fight where your thinking what the hell is this even about….LEAVE. RUN. and never look back.