How To Stay Safe When Dealing With Controlling Men
By: Joy Youell
Updated September 16, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Christy B.
Controlling men in relationships are complex and often difficult, but also present an opportunity to grow self-acceptance, assertion, and confidence.
Using power to face controlling men can set you free. Peace of mind and happiness can be found when you learn how to navigate relationships with controlling men.
Handling Controlling Men
People who live under the influence of controlling men face a serious challenge to their mental health and wellbeing. Self-control can be a valuable tool in situations with controlling men. When we control ourselves, we can work toward having, doing, and being what makes us happy in the long run.
Dealing with someone trying to control you often means facing a loss of control within yourself. But remember that you always have options. It can feel overwhelming to contradict or even leave someone you love, but whatever your ultimate decision, you can begin by taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviors.
1. Understand Controlling Personality Types
Before you can deal with controlling men, it helps to understand what they're doing and why. A person who tries to control you most likely has a controlling personality type. While there is no official clinical diagnosis for controlling personalities, there are many identifiable traits and disorders that may play a role in this behavior.
Why Do Men Try to Control You?
Managing Editor of Psych Central and mental health expert Sarah Newman explains that people with control issues may be narcissists and are most commonly motivated by fear. A person with a controlling personality typically suffers from high levels of anxiety. 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?
"Controlling personality disorder" is not (yet) a recognized condition, but all mental health professionals would agree that controlling others is an unhealthy mindset, and can be a symptom of other disorders, such as narcissism and antisocial personality disorder. Both are associated with a lack of empathy and bad tempers. Many controlling people often have substance abuse issues, problems with impulse control, and anger management issues as well.
2. 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 understand, especially if you're in control of other areas of your life. But there are 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 are somehow better than you. If this is the case, recognize that you're a valuable person and deserve to control your own life.
Some people allow others to control them because they are blinded by love. Controlling men often make great romantic displays. On some level, their expressions might reflect genuine feelings, but they may love 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.
3. 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 difficult-there are so many choices to make every day. And if you make your own decisions, you have to live with the consequences. Your decision might be wrong.
Realize that letting someone else decide for you is itself a decision. When you take ownership of life decisions, you're in a better position to gain control of your life.
4. 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, but some 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 be controlled anymore. If you want to be fully engaged in the world, it's best to learn coping mechanisms for addressing these situations.
The good news is that you don't have to 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.
5. 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 you want what they want. But because no two people are exactly alike, it's extremely unlikely that your wants will align perfectly with another's. So the first step toward 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 it. If education is important to you, visit a university and find out what's available. If a specific job is what you want, research the qualifications you need to obtain it. Actively start pursuing your goals and it will become more real.
6. 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 who is 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 and guide you. A therapist is typically the best equipped to help you. And BetterHelp has many qualified mental health professionals who can help you in this journey.
7. Set Healthy Boundaries
When you don't set healthy boundaries, it's easy to be controlled. 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.
8. Honor the Truth of Who You Are
Letting someone control you is giving in to their idea of who you should be. Within you, there's an independent truth of who you are, and that person matters. You're 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. 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.
Find Help for Controlling Men with BetterHelp
Seeking mental health support is an important step if you feel controlled by someone else. Pursuing support from a therapist can empower you to be released from a controlling relationship. There's often a history to these relationships and sharing this part of your life and honoring your role in these circumstances is a process that can be greatly enhanced with the support of trained professionals. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Sharon Valentino has helped me through so much! Since we started working together, just a few months ago, I already feel like I have more power and control over my life. I have let go of some very painful things, I have moved away from abusive relationships and really gaining skills and tools I need to keep myself safe and happy. She has taught me that I have the power to control my thoughts, my anxiety, and most of all my company. I really like how direct she is, it helps me get grounded and connect to myself. I can't wait to see where I am after working with her a year!!!"
"Dr. McCune has helped me so much already in a short time! I feel like my life is spiraling out of control and she reminds me that all is well and I can get through it with her support. She is truly a blessing in my life!"
Find Joy in Successfully Managing Your Own Life
Mental health is not a static thing. As you move through life, you'll face new challenges within yourself and from the world around you. A therapist can help you discover your power and work toward claiming it. Licensed counselors at BetterHelp are available when and where you need them 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 everyone. Take the first step today.
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