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What does "controlling" behavior actually look like?

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It's a term that gets used a lot, but I'm interested in people's own impressions and experiences.


I seem to be in the post-breakup phase where I'm finally able to see some of the problems with my ex's behavior (rather than just focusing on what I did wrong). There are two examples that strike me as controlling: 1) he was very judgmental about my friends, e.g. one of my best friends has a very different political orientation from my own and even though he'd never met her, he'd often say things like "why would you even want to be friends with someone like that? You have nothing in common." Of course, we had plenty in common, just not our political views. 2) whenever I did anything non-work-oriented he'd tell me I was wasting my time and not serious enough about my work. We were in a long-distance relationship and when we were actually together we certainly had fun together so maybe he was just a little jealous. Or he thought that the fact that I cared about other things as well as work (unlike him) made us incompatible.


Anyway, I'm mainly just curious as to what other people think constitutes controlling behavior. Thanks!

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to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command


When they think they are in a position to make decisions for you. He was overstepping his boundaries, in my opinion. I'd never talk bad to my boyfriend about one of his friends. If his friend is out of line, I trust him to know it. But, it is simply not my place to bad mouth his friends.

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I would call those behaviors controlling and I would agree with you that it seems as if he was jealous of your life outside of him. That's probably why he tried to make those parts of your life seem so mundane to begin with. Eventually, he would have probably tried to cut you off from those parts of your life. Seems to be the pattern with a lot of controlling men.

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By definition, I would suppose it's any behaviour that attempts to interfere with their partners free will. In reality though, when you say someone is controlling, it's normally referring to an excessive extent. I wouldn't say your ex was not controlling; he merely expressed an opinion different from yours. Weather he was a bit rude in his expression is another debate.

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Are you younger than him? What are the ages in this case and are either of you in school?


Based on what you said I don't think it was controlling. Not overly supportive of your fun, a little critical, but not controlling. If he were controlling he'd tell you that you can't hang out with that friend and if you do he'd give you a consequence. Just because he doesn't like something you do or is trying to look out for you or the relationship doesn't mean he's controlling. It's that excessive, commanding behavior that is controlling in my opinion.


I ask about the ages, because maybe you guys just had different ideas of life at the time being. He was focused on work and it sounds like you were interested in more friends time right now.


I've been on his side of a long distance relationship in the past. I cannot speak for him, but I can speak for how it made me act and that long distance relationships are HARD.


I handled my own situation horribly at the time, but maybe his thought process is similar. I was focused on a career, making money and doing everything I could so we could be together and have a normal relationship. She was getting involved with school and her social group was expanding. So in my mind at the time, I saw her out having fun with whoever, whenever, while I was busting my ass. I was not jealous of her success and growing. I was jealous that she was always doing stuff with friends and co-workers; Stuff that WE couldn't even do that because of the distance. To see her spending quality time with other people, when we had distance between us and could only do something as simple as going out to eat when we saw each other ate away at me.


Looking back I needed to relax and spend more time on my own life and not so much on trying to close our distance by working hard and neglecting the rest of my life. So, I'm not defending his behavior, but maybe that's part of his problem too.

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In my opinion, if he's not trying to change your behavior and only stating his opinion, it isn't controlling. If he is trying to change your behavior, it is controlling. That simple.


But by making those comments, his goal was for her to limit her contact with her friends.


"Why are you even friends with him?"

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If he didn't say "I don't want you spending time with that friend", then I don't consider it controlling.


People judge each other all the time and are entitled to their opinions. It doesn't necessarily mean he was putting demands on her - so what if he didn't like the friend, as long as she did, it shouldn't make any difference what he thought.


No "demand", no control. Some people are more vocal about their opinions than others.

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