In many cases, signs of an unhealthy relationship are easy to recognize. However, some signs of a controlling relationship are brushed off as simple cases of jealousy or overprotectiveness. While small doses of jealousy are normal, consistent patterns of jealousy and over possessiveness should not play a part in the day-to-day of a relationship. Here are five possible signs you may encounter if you’re in a controlling relationship.
1. Your SO guilts you when you go out
Wanting to go out and enjoy the company of your friends is completely normal. Everyone deserves to relieve some stress after a long week of school and work. If your SO consistently makes you feel bad for wanting to go out with your friends, that demonstrates a lack of trust and an unhealthy amount of jealousy.
Jamie Long, a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University, says her ex-boyfriend’s excessive guilt caused her to lose a lot of friends. “Even if I let him know who I was going with and where we would be, he would still become irate,” she says. “It came to a point where my friends didn’t ask me to come out with them anymore because they knew my boyfriend would essentially forbid me from going.”
Trust is at the foundation of every healthy relationship. Although sacrifices have to be made on each end of a relationship, giving up your entire social life shouldn’t be one of the sacrifices you are forced to make.
2. Your privacy is consistently being invaded
Being open and honest in a relationship is always beneficial, but you both deserve some degree of privacy. Your partner doesn’t need to know every text exchange between you and your bestie or why you texted another guy or girl asking for notes.
Ximena Maldonado, a freshman at the University of Arizona, believes that it’s unnecessary to go through your SO’s belongings, especially if you haven’t given them a reason to not trust you. “At first it was little behaviors like looking over my shoulder when I was texting,” she says. “However, it progressed to him trying to convince me that he needed to have his thumbprint in my phone. He would always refer to how his ex-girlfriend hurt him, and he just wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
You shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of your SO’s exes or be made to feel guilty if you haven’t done anything wrong.
3. Double standards are an issue
Mistakes are bound to be made in a relationship. However, you may find your mistakes are amplified and zeroed in on between you and your SO if they’re controlling. If they were to make the same mistake you do, they are defensive and expect forgiveness.
In addition, if you make a mistake, your SO may not give you a chance to speak or explain yourself. They will already presume you as guilty.
“I was in a relationship where it was not problematic if his female friends texted him, but if I so much as received a Snapchat or text from one of my guy friends, it was WWIII,” Alana Rutherford, a senior at the University of Central Florida, says. “I would be accused of flirting with these guys, even if there was no proof to back up what he was saying.”
If your SO cannot recognize their mistakes, but punishes your for what they think is a mistake, their ego and jealousy may be a toxic mixture to the relationship.
4. They want all of your attention
It’s good to consider your SO your best friend. Depending on your circumstances, maybe you spend the majority of your free time with your SO. On the other hand, it’s definitely not a requirement. If you feel as if you want your space, that shouldn’t be up for debate.
Abbey Williams, a sophomore at the University of Wyoming, recalls her best friend being parented by her boyfriend. “One of my good friends used to get ‘in trouble’ with her boyfriend if she was hanging out with anyone that wasn’t him,” she says. “Even it was her best friend she’s known for years. Everyone should have other friends, hobbies and just time to be with their girls.”
You are entitled to work toward goals and involve yourself in activities that don’t involve your SO. Being the best version of you will only strengthen the relationship as a whole.
5. Your SO belittles your beliefs
Perhaps it’s politics, religion, school or a hobby that you hold close to your heart. A controlling partner may belittle how you feel about certain topics, especially when you have differing opinions on the topic. They want to retain power in the relationship and consistently be considered “right.”
While it’s perfectly acceptable to have differences of opinion and have constructive conversations about these differences, it should never come to a point where your SO makes you feel dumb for believing a certain way.
Kristina*, a junior at Kennesaw State University, endured a relationship where her beliefs were constantly shunned. “I knew from the beginning we had differing political and religious opinions,” she says. “But over time, is became overbearing. He would always brag about having the more logical or smarter opinion and put me down for mine. This caused more problems than necessary, such as arguing instead of having educated conversations.”
Whatever you believe, know that it’s not anyone’s place to judge you for your beliefs.
If you find that many of these signs resonate with you, you may need to take a step back from the relationship. If you partner is unwilling to address these problems with you, that may be another reason to consider if the relationship is beneficial to all parties. You should not lose your sense of independence, nor be under constant fire and surveillance.
*Name has been changed