How To Deal With Controlling Men

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated January 02, 2019

Reviewer Christy B.

Women who live under the influence of controlling men face a serious challenge to their mental health and well-being. Self-control is one thing. It can be a valuable tool we use to accomplish great things. When we control ourselves despite our occasional self-destructive impulses, we can work towards having, doing, and being what makes us happy in the long run.


However, if you've ever had to deal with someone else trying to control you, you've been faced with a loss of control within yourself as you gave in to what someone else wanted. You do have options, though. If a man is controlling your life, you don't have to sit back and let it happen. You can take charge of your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviors. It all starts with gaining a fresh perspective.

1. Understand Controlling Personality Types

Before you can deal with controlling men, it helps to understand what they're doing and why they're doing it. A person who tries to control you most likely has a controlling personality type (there is no official clinical diagnosis for controlling personalities). How do we define controlling personality? The answer may be more complex than you think.

Why Do Men Try to Control You?

A person with a controlling personality typically suffers from high levels of anxiety. However, instead of addressing this problem directly and learning to overcome it, they attempt to solve their problem by controlling every aspect of their lives, including people.

Is Controlling Others a Personality Disorder?

There is no entry for 'controlling personality disorder' in the DSM-5. Perhaps that will come soon. The 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used in the psychological professions says this about personality disorders:

'The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits.'

While controlling personality hasn't been listed in the DSM-5 so far, it's easy to see why it might eventually be added. After all, controlling others is a mentally unhealthy mindset that tends to last for the long-term. It might not be a problem at work, but controlling men usually do have problems in relationships. Experts will decide whether controlling personality disorder will be added to the list. However, there are some other diagnoses that often have controlling tendencies, these include Narcissism and Antisocial Personality Disorder, both are associated with a lack of empathy for others and bad tempers. Many controlling people often have substance abuse issues and problems with impulse control and anger management. For now, it's enough to know that people who control others to relieve their anxiety have their problems.


  1. Recognize the Part of You That Accepts Another's Control

Have you ever wondered why you allow yourself to be controlled by someone else? It might be hard for you to imagine why you let it happen, especially if you're in control of other areas of your life or when you aren't with the controlling person. There are many very understandable reasons why letting someone else control you might seem okay at first.

For example, you might allow someone to control you because you feel they know more than you do, are more experienced or logical or are in some way better than you. If this is the case, what you need to recognize is that even if that's true in certain aspects, you're a valuable person in your right and deserve to control your destiny.

Or, you might do it for love. Controlling men often make great displays of loving their partners. On some level, it might be true. What they love may be an idealized image of you. Whenever you step out of that persona, they feel a strong need to push you back into it. Because you believe their professed love is real, it can be very hard to fight their control.

  1. Take Back Responsibility for Your Life

Another reason you might allow yourself to be controlled is that it might seem so easy to let someone else make decisions for you. Decision-making can be a difficult thing, and there are so many choices to make every day.

If you decide for yourself, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. You might have to say you were wrong, at least to yourself. You might feel you have to punish yourself for your mistake. Here's something to remember, though. You may let yourself off the hook if someone else is the one to make the decision, but letting them decide was a decision in itself. You still have to live with the consequences even if you don't want to take responsibility.

When you take responsibility for yourself, you're in a better position to gain control of your life. By increasing your awareness of the impact of your decision not to decide, you can learn to value the power you have when you do what seems right to you.

  1. Decide Whether You Need or Want Controlling Men in Your Life

You might be in a position that allows you to avoid the influence of controlling men. However, most people can't escape all those situations. Maybe you have a job you love but a boss who controls your every move. You might want to stay in your marriage but not want to be controlled anymore. If you want to be fully engaged in the world, you just might have to deal with controlling men at one time or another.

The good news is that you don't have to hide out or isolate yourself to regain control of your life. When you understand the problem and know how to deal with it, you can control yourself even when others try to undermine your power.

  1. Know What You Want Out of Life

It's easy to lose track of what you want when you're accustomed to letting others control you. You may even come to believe that you want what they want. Since no two people are exactly alike, it's extremely unlikely that you always want exactly what someone else wants. So, the first step towards getting the life you want might be to find out what kind of life that would be.


Journaling can help you discover your long-buried dreams and desires. Or, if you've never completely lost sight of your vision, you can use journaling to define it more exactly. Once you know what's most important to you as an individual, find out more about that important thing. If education is important to you, go to a university and find out what's available to you. If having a particular job is what you want, do research to find out what qualifications you need to do it. Actively start pursuing what you want, and it will become more real to you.

  1. Learn and Practice Assertiveness

You know what you're up against. You know what you want. Now, you need to stand your ground with the person trying to control you. The special skill called 'assertiveness' helps you stand firm in your beliefs about what is right for you. Anyone can learn to be assertive. You just need someone to explain the techniques for you and guide you as you begin to practice it. A therapist is typically the best-equipped to help you with this.


  1. Set Healthy Boundaries

When you don't set healthy boundaries, it's easy to be controlled by someone else. Setting boundaries is another difficult skill you'll have to master if you want to avoid being pushed around by controlling men. A basic understanding of where their rightful control stops and yours begins is crucial for becoming your own healthy, happy person. Then, with your recently-acquired assertiveness skills, you can enforce that boundary.

  1. Honor the Truth of Who You Are

Remember that letting someone control you is giving in to their idea of who you should be. Within you, there's an independent truth of what you are. That person isn't less than or irrelevant. It's a valuable part of the world. Nurture that inner self and allow it to be what it is. Certainly, most of us still have work to do to become the person we ultimately want to be. However, at each step along the way, honoring our inner truth at that moment helps build our strength so we can reach our highest potential.


  1. Find Joy in Successfully Managing Your Own Life

Earlier, we discussed the responsibility that comes with controlling your own life. Managing yourself can be so much more than that, though. Thinking, saying, and behaving in the way that is right for you at any given moment can bring a kind of peace and happiness to your life that letting someone else rule you never will. So, when you make a good decision, allow yourself to feel happy about it. When you live up to your expectations, enjoy the moment. In those times when things don't turn out like you'd hoped, cherish the opportunity to learn from your experiences. When you do, you'll be so happy you chose to start this journey.

  1. Keep Improving Your Mental Health Day by Day

Mental health is not a static thing. Life changes. We change. We face new challenges within ourselves and from the world around us. A therapist can help you discover your power and work towards claiming it. Licensed counselors at are available when and where you need help as you work toward removing yourself from the control of others.

When we actively engage with the world on our terms, we can rise above the interference of controlling men. We can be who we truly are in the healthiest way possible. And, when that happens, we make the world a better place for ourselves.

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