Signs Of Manipulation And Control In Relationships
SAFE International specializes in teaching self defense to high school age students. This is an age when many teens are just beginning to learn about relationships. Sadly, one of the topics I have had to address at times is how one may manipulate or control the other person in the relationship. This topic can be addressed from the point of either gender, but since we primarily teach young women, I will speak from their perspective because I have heard hundreds of stories from young women on how their boyfriends were possessive or controlling, leaving many with little self-esteem or confidence, if and when their relationship ended.
One of the statistics that is often quoted is that 57 – 75% of the time you will be attacked by someone you know. Now, while manipulating or controlling a person is still not the same as attacking someone, often the behaviour of someone who will manipulate and control can be a sign of worsening future behaviours or actions. There are a number of signs that may indicate a boyfriend or potential boyfriend is trying to control you, and/or not respecting you.
1) Does he ever ask you to do something to which you respond “no” but he does not seem to hear or understand the word “no”? I once heard this from Gavin De Becker (author) who is an excellent source on this topic. He said that if you tell someone “no” and they ignore you, they are trying to control you. The word “no” is a complete sentence and does not require an explanation.
2) Does he make you feel guilty for not accepting his request ? Have you ever had a boyfriend say “If you loved me you would do it ?” It should actually be the opposite in which he says “I won’t do that because I love you”. If you give into guilt, you have just taught him that making you feel guilty is an effective way to keep you.
3) Does he persistently phone or text you? If someone is constantly texting and calling you, always wanting to know where you are, this is a sign of control. Or if they are saying “I called you at this time, where were you, who were you with ?” Constantly demanding to know where you are is a big red flag of control.
4) Does he constantly ask you out on dates, again not accepting the word “no”? If you tell a guy no to a date and he wants an explanation, be sure to tell him the word “no” is your answer. Some guys expect a reason which you are not required to give. I once had a student tell me that a guy in school asked her out over and over for several months. She finally thought “Wow, this guy must really like me”. She went out on a date with this young gentleman at which time he gave her a cell phone and a pager and told her that they were for her personal safety. That is a huge warning sign of someone wanting to control you never mind that he asked her out everyday for months after she continued to say, “NO”!
5) Are you having to ask permission to go out with your friends? Is the person monitoring your cell phone texts, calls, or your activity on social media. These are all indications of someone who is trying to control you. Often these actions may seem very small at first, but often will increase in frequency and intensity as the relationship grows. For many on the receiving end of this abuse, it will be their friends who will first notice it. And often the abuser will try to alienate one from their friends to maintain that control.
There are many more signs of controlling behaviour which are also a form of verbal or physical abuse, but I wanted to point out just a few of the many I have heard from the teenage women SAFE International has taught over the past 21 plus years.
I have also included a video that addresses some of the points I have already mentioned along with some additional signs of emotional abuse many may face whether they are dating or are already married. Again, all these signs are relevant regardless of gender.