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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Red Flag 5: He Murders Your Confidence

When a man starts out off the bat showering you with love and praise, it’s easy to feel even more confident than before. Unfortunately, when he starts picking you apart that confidence can sail right out the window and splatter all over the sidewalk.

After about 4-6 months with Abaddon our sex life begin to dwindle. It wasn’t long before we were only doing it once a month, if that. When we did have sex he acted as though he were doing me a favor. In fact, he’d hardly touch me at all, for any reason. I was convinced there was something wrong with me. That I was unattractive to him or that I was just undesirable in general. That, amongst other things, chipped away at the confidence I once had in myself.

Caution Flag: A good man wants you to feel good about yourself. Period. Any man that puts you down or tries to make you feel bad about yourself needs to go. 

Red Flag 6: Oh Hello, Mr. Hyde

Does he flip back and forth between being cold and sweet? Are you miserable mostly, considering a break-up and then suddenly that amazing, loving guy is back making you believe that he’s still there somewhere? I used to believe that if I could stop fucking up and upsetting him, I’d get that guy back. For some reason, no matter how hard I tried or how “good” I was, he never came back.

Newsflash (Screw the caution flag): That guy is NOT coming back in fact, I hate to break it to you but he never existed. A controlling man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Once you see what’s underneath, that’s what you’re going to get.

Red Flag 7: Love Hurts

Has he put his hands on you? Be honest with yourself here. While he hadn’t outright punched me (yet), Abaddon would violently grab me, shove me, pull my hair and bruise me. One time, in front of my sister he shoved a chip with hot cheese into my mouth and burnt the shit out of it. I cried while he laughed and then got angry at me. Wtf??

Caution Flag: Any man that physically hurts you on purpose, is a man you should walk away from. This isn’t just a sign of a controlling man, it leaves the door open for physical abuse. The more you tolerate it, the more it will escalate. 

Red Flag 8: Hey, You’re a Crazy Bitch…

I’m a pretty even keeled girl and I tend to dish out trust rather than forcing people to earn it. With Abaddon, I felt crazy. Just nuts. I was paranoid like he was off cheating every time he left the house. I checked up on him every chance I had. I’d never acted that way before.

Caution Flag: If he’s making you question your sanity like no one else ever has, this is a sign he’s controlling you without you even realizing it.

Red Flag 9: Excuse Me?

You know that friend who is always complaing about what a douche her boyfriend is but when you suggest she break up with him, she switches gears? You know, “Oh you just don’t know him like I do. He’s actually really sweet. He’s not that bad, I’m just having a bad day. Blah, blah, blahhhhh.”

Caution Flag: When you’re in deep you’ll defend the very person that’s making you miserable. Even worse, it’s more like you’re trying to convince yourself, rather than who you’re defending him to.

If I can help one woman realize that she’s dating a controlling man, or break free from one, then this was more than worth sharing.

Do these signs of a controlling man sound similar to what you’re going through or went through? Have you ever dated a control freak? How did you break free? 

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  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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,

    • T

      I completely understand. I feel the same way and the man I was with is exactly the same way as the one you just described. I don’t live with him but it is hard to stop myself from having anything to do with him. no one understands why I stick around if clearly he is bad news for me.

      • Chrystal Rose

        I understand why you stick around. Hopefully you can break free and allow yourself to find happiness.

  • 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!

    • Chrystal Rose

      I will never understand how someone can openly humiliate someone they claim to love. That is such an obvious sign right there. I’m sorry for your daughter but I really hope she doesn’t have to learn the hard way.

  • 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.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Yes he is– but you shouldn’t punish yourself for how he treated you. The best thing I did was wear my heart on my sleeve when meeting new men. I kept an eye out for the signs/red flags of course but I knew that being afraid was allowing him to continue to control me. There was NO WAY I was going to let that happen.

  • 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.

    • Chrystal Rose

      Absolutely– I’m SO glad and proud of you for getting away. I know how hard that decision must have been.

    • .Crustal

      It seems if something works people will use it against u again & again, children will do it. True Controllers to me just seem like grown up spoiled brats – they half to get there way and there selfish & don’t have much of a real heart or real healthy emotions. – this coming from a life long psychology lover though!… But in understandable words – it’s great to stay completely away from someone you feel you just can’t live with in a way you want to! :) life sucks as it is already sometimes! Right? I hope u find someone u both know you can trust 100% and is a fun & like a best friend to u & your daughter first before anything ;) aloha

  • Nicole Matthys

    Thanks for writing this article. I just broke up with my boyfriend of several months. Everything was great at first, he was extremely attentive and considerate, I knew I was the centre of his world and that was a nice, secure feeling and I had strong feelings for him too. There were subtle signs that he was the kind of person who liked to have his way, but they weren’t hugely impacting me, especially since I still had my own life and only saw him a few times a week. We had some inter-denominational differences (Catholic/Protestant – I am Protestant), and I showed openness to Catholicism, but overall was always struggling all the time with how we would work things out in the future because I loved my upbringing and faith too. I never made any promises. I knew I didn’t want to lose my identity, but I was trying to make connections and be open because I loved him. Over time, I realized he was not putting in the same effort at all and he was always negative about Protestantism and never seemed to want to have an open discussion but minimized everything to simply praying and trusting in God. I continued to express concerns over the last couple of weeks, and then we had a massive fight Sunday and everything became clear to me. I saw that my life would be hell in the future, and all of the other little things flew to the surface too that I had been noting (i.e. cheap, opinionated, not generous materially). I broke up with him on Tuesday, and he viciously attacked me (even though I just made it about my long-term happiness), and this only further confirmed I made the right decision and what his true colours were, and that my life would only get worse over time. I am a very strong woman, and I can concur with you Chrystal that the signs are not always clear, and love blinds for a time too. I will be more careful in the future for these signs, and will look for a very different kind of man in my life. One who is gentle, big-hearted, open, and who does not have a subtle, strategic way of getting what he wants that you realize over time is all about control/manipulation.

  • .Crustal

    Please read!!! “Everyone” – every man is & wants to be controlling & dominant period!….. That’s a man & part of his desires -
    “The deference in if he will use that desire for good or evil”, is based off of – how you react to – everything & how his parents acting – as his brain was starting to develop in early years & just starting to grow!!! Bottom line – learn to be extremely firm with men just like they are the wild child & you are the mother that is extremely strict & dishes out consequences! Also respect & clear communication & giving a lot of personal space is all things that need to be always involved to any working relationship! :) & learn how his parents were growing up! & how he felt about it. This will give you all a clearer image I would I guess of how is mind & caricature works in many different ways!! P.s. No one is flawless ever!… So just think about what’s safe & what you want out of your time each & everyday! A best friend of a man? Or something more like a jerk that keeps bugging you? What is it?