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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    Red Flags: How to Recognize and Manage a Controlling Girlfriend in a New Relationship

    Perhaps you’ve been seeing someone interesting and you feel like all the stars have aligned, until you realize your companion is controlling and possessive far too quickly. Relationships have a way of revealing the darker parts of our psyche which can send us into a frenzy of panic and discomfort. Red flags and warning signs can appear in any new relationship – both healthy and toxic – and understanding the significance of each symbol can make a big difference when it comes to your mental health and well-being.

    Though conversations surrounding controlling behavior are often limited to the context of abuse, exhibitory behavior goes hand-in-hand with possessiveness and insecurity. When we understand the concept of how a controlling girlfriend might manifest in a relationship, it’s easier to assess where our own boundaries are and decide whether to stay out or face the challenges of trying to make the relationship work.

    The first red flag will certainly surface in the communication arena. A controlling girlfriend will take the role of domination and authority, often times leaving their partner dismayed. There will be a wide range of verbal cues displayed even in the earliest stages of a relationship that demonstrate her need for control. She might begin with broaching the topics of marriage, family planning and vacations before even getting to know one another. This sudden leap or jump ahead could leave her partner feeling lost, confused and unsure.

    When the controlling girlfriend begins to use subtle manipulation tactics to sway decisions, this should be taken as a firm warning sign. She may try to guilt trip through sarcasm or flat-out lying. For instance, if her partner chooses not to hang out with her on a given night, he might second guess himself and wonder if he missed an opportunity. His confusion can be attributed to the fact that she hasn’t yet revealed her need for control, instead choosing to display a false sense of willingness and openness.

    An exaggerated need for recognition should also be an indicator that something isn't quite right. There are times when all attention must be diverted to the girlfriend, regardless of other concerns and commitments. She may even demand that compliments and positive reinforcement come in great abundance and unlimited supply. If her partner fails to provide this, consequences and guilt trips follow. When a person is excessively demanding and expects you to put them before all else, it’s best to take this as the warning sign that this kind of behavior is sure to escalate.

    To tackle such a challenging posture within the relationship, it is best to take things slowly and make small changes. Though being honest sometimes merits resentment, it is important to address the issue head-on and identify the red flags that lay beneath the surface. This conversation should be taken seriously and ensure mutual respect. There’s no need to rush into solutions, but rather begin with an open dialogue to express your doubts, worries and feelings about the situation.

    In addition to talking things out, it’s essential to make time for yourself during these moments of confusion and doubt. It’s important to remember that no matter what, your mental health and well-being come first. Spend time with acquaintances to get perspective on the relationship, indulge in hobbies that increase self-esteem, take long walks and create space for yourself away from the emotions of the relationship.

    It’s understandable to be afraid of losing a relationship in its early stages, however, it’s best to approach romantic relationships with caution. Take your time and observe the red flags, including a dull sense of urgency, domination and manipulation, then, if necessary, make the decision to walk away.

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