How to Manage Controlling People

controlling people Jul 15, 2021

If you haven’t already, there will most likely be a time in your life when you encounter a controlling person. They may be the coworker that has a strict schedule and never deviates, or an abusive individual that keeps you from your friends and family. Regardless of the circumstance, cultivating and maintaining these relationships can become challenging if you’re unaware of the warning signs or how to respond to them. 

Someone who is controlling has often felt like things were out of reach in their life or messy and the only way to feel safe and secure is to control situations and people around them. This person is often insecure and has learned this behavior by watching their parents. Although there are healthy aspects to being in control of your life, it starts to become toxic once you develop tunnel vision and refuse to take anyone else’s opinions. 


What Are The Signs of a Controlling Person? 

There are many causes for a person to become controlling and different levels to those who have these tendencies. These are some warning signs to look out for that may start to become unhealthy and toxic in a relationship. 


1. They like routine 

This person has a routine and sticks to it. It’s their way or the highway and having a strict schedule is important to them. It provides them with a “roadmap” of what their day needs to look like and helps them feel more secure as they go about their daily life. 


2. They can be critical of other people and how they live 

Controlling people often feel like their way is the only correct way. If they have a certain lifestyle, others around them should also be that way and can be judgmental to those who don’t adhere to the “rules” of how they should be. 


3. They love giving advice when no one asked for it or needed it 

Typically, you’ll see someone that likes to be in control give advice when it wasn’t needed or asked for. They put themselves on a pedestal and think that the best thing that they could do for you is let you know what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. 


4. Passive-aggressive

Being passive-aggressive is something this individual will do to cut you down, and make you feel like you owe them something. Being passive-aggressive is a method they can use to ensure that they feel better than you and empower themselves. It’s their way of making sure you follow what they say and get into your mind. 


5. Feel upset when things don’t go their way 

Although we may all feel upset when things don’t go our way, the difference between healthy individuals and those who are unhealthy is they do not know how to control this emotion and will become irate, frustrated, and take it out on everyone who is around them. 


6. They’re a perfectionist and organized 

Since this person most likely felt out of control the majority of their life, being overly organized or a “perfectionist” is their way of keeping the ball in their court. They want everything to be in its place, and everything has an order that it needs to be done in. This is often associated with some OCD tendencies.  


7. They have a “Type A” personality and have trouble relaxing 

More often than not, controlling people have anxiety which means they will have trouble relaxing. They may feel like something needs to be done or have something on the back of their mind that needs to be done to the point where they can’t get their mind to focus on anything else. 


How To Respond 

Responding to someone who is controlling is just as important as understanding the warning signs. Maining healthy boundaries and keeping the lines of communication open are essential to making a relationship with a controlling person work. Try to understand your traits that are unhealthy as well and be prepared to hear these things from your partner that they would like you to change. Validating them and how they feel will give them the confidence to be more open to hearing about their behaviors that are affecting you. 


You have to understand what ways they are controlling 

Pay attention to the way they control and what they are controlling about. How do these things involve you? Does it get to the point where you can’t do anything or talk to anyone? Communicate these things to your partner to help them see your side of the situation. Try to work on one thing at a time, instead of everything at once. When focusing on just one aspect of their controlling behavior that may be affecting you the most, it’s more manageable to fix the situation. 


Set strong boundaries, always

If you’re typically a passive person this may be hard for you at first. As you start to set up or enforce your boundaries, the person you’re in this relationship with won’t like it and friction will happen. It’s important to communicate the right way of what your boundaries are and approach it with a loving and calm tone. Remain consistent in your efforts for the best results in this person respecting what you want. 


Don’t deal with the back and forth drama

Be respectful to one another when trying to figure out the best way to move forward and think about what you would like to see out of the relationship. When asking them to change their behaviors, make sure they understand that they will not get better unless they want to get better and change for themselves. The same goes for you, you will not see a positive change until you acknowledge your unhealthy traits and work on things for yourself. 

Understand that changes like this don’t happen overnight and it will take work on both sides to see real improvement in the relationship and the qualities each person has. Fostering a communicative and healthy environment will make things much smoother and help in the overall transition from unhealthy to healthy and functional.