How do you break free from a relationship that is controlling and codependent? Whether you’re dealing with love addiction or feelings of powerlessness, you can break free. These tips will help you unshackle the bonds and find the freedom you want. If you are being controlled in a relationship, your mind, body, spirit and soul is suffocating.
“I’ve been in this relationship for 7 years,” says Tammy on How to Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend. “We have a 2 year old son. In the past he cheated on me (a lot). Now he is faithful and I’m sooo over him. I keep telling myself if I had a job that could allow me to pay rent on my own then I would break it off. I also sit and think about everything I need him for. I don’t like for him to touch me and his presence annoys me. I just feel if my life was in a better place he wouldn’t even be in it. I NEED HELP!!!!!!!”
Here’s the most important thing to remember about getting away from a controlling man or relationship: you have more power than he does. You may think and feel that he has all the power, but the truth is that you have more. You may give your boyfriend or husband power – and you may even think you’re addicted to love – but he can’t take your power away from you.
Unless, of course, you let him.
How to Break Free From a Relationship That Controls You
How much power have you given this relationship? If you want to take it back, you will break free from the control it has over you.
Is money keeping you from doing what you want? If you don’t think that you can leave a man who controls and manipulates you, read How to Get Money to Leave Your Husband. Financial independence is one of the most precious, valuable gifts you could ever give yourself.
First, retrace your steps…how did you lose yourself?
It took time, didn’t it? Possibly months, probably years. We don’t lose ourselves overnight. It’s slow and insidious, this losing of self. It’s gradual, like the erosion of rock over time. Since it took time to lose yourself, it’ll take time to learn how to find yourself again. Give yourself time to grieve the bad thing that happened to you, whether it was a breakup, a divorce, or a death. Remember that finding yourself doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that involves your heart, mind, and soul.
Being aware of how you lost yourself will help you find yourself again. Who hurt you? What started this separation from yourself? How did you contribute to your loss of self?
1. Be clear on how you gave your power away
Why are you still in this relationship? Focus on yourself, not your boyfriend or husband. He can’t steal your power, he can’t force you to be addicted to love, and he can’t make you stay in a relationship. If you think he has the ability to control you, then you have given him that power. Good news! Even if there is something in you that is drawn to addictive love or controlling relationships, you can break free.
Read books like Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love. Talk to a counselor; even just one session can help you figure things out. If you’ve been thinking about breaking free from this controlling relationship for a long time but you keep falling back into old patterns, try different ways to loosen the bonds.
2. Find a “go to” person
Ask your friend, sister, therapist or someone you trust to be your “go to” person. Then, when you feel yourself falling back into your old relationship patterns, call your “go to person” instead. She will help you remember why you need to walk away from this controlling relationship and how happy and healthy you will be! You just need to find ways to get through the hardest first stage of breaking up.
Maybe you keep thinking the relationship or your partner will change. Things will get better, you think, and your boyfriend or husband won’t be so controlling. How long have you been hoping this? Talk about it with your “go to” person — but only once. Don’t fall into the trap of ruminating and obsessing about his controlling behavior. Talk it out, air out the cobwebs, and decide that this relationship no longer has the power to control you.
3. Focus on one area of your life at a time
There isn’t one specific list of questions that will help you learn how to find yourself. Why? Because it depends on what part of yourself is lost. Sometimes you need help finding yourself professionally, to figure out what career path to take or what the most meaningful job is. Other times you need to learn how to find yourself personally because you got lost in a relationship that was unhealthy. You might need help finding yourself physically because you’ve gained too much weight and are literally weighed down.
Healthy relationships with people are an important part of breaking free from a controlling relationship, but you can explore happier, lighter ways to heal! For instance, listening to the best songs for broken hearts can be an important part of leaving a controlling relationship. Taking art classes and expressing yourself creatively can help — you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Learning how to dance for exercise or self-expression (dance therapy) can help you heal from addictive love.
If you’re not sure what controlling love is, read 7 Signs of Addictive Relationships.
4. Every morning, renew your resolve to break free
I love this inspiration from C.S. Lewis:
“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”
Is this a tip on how to break free from a controlling relationship? Yes, because freedom involves regaining your power and finding yourself again. This world is noisy, overstimulating, and demanding your attention. Click here, go there, do this, buy that!!! The world – and possibly the man you’re in a relationship with – doesn’t want you to learn how to find yourself. The world – and this man – wants to own you. That is why you need to remember who you are and why you were created.
5. Focus on getting physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy
Taking care of yourself means staying away from the carton of ice cream (a classic way to heal from breaking up with someone). Instead, stay in the “sweat zone.” Don’t give up on your fitness routine — you need to nourish your body with exercise, food, and sleep. When you’re getting over a controlling relationship, you need to stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually strong.
Cleanse your life: out with the old, in with the new. To find freedom from a controlling relationship, you need to cleanse your life. This means putting, throwing, or giving away everything that your ex gave you or left behind. Deal with everything that you accumulated as a couple, or that reminds you of your ex. This tip serves a double purpose: you’ll declutter you home at the same time.
If this has been an ongoing struggle for you, read 3 Ways to Cope With an “On Again Off Again” Relationship.
6. Shake your life up!
Take a scuba diving class, go on a singles cruise, or join a hiking club in your city. Do something unexpected, something you’ve always wanted to do but were too busy or scared to try. Find ways to meet new people and expand your horizons — it will increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. And, the better you feel about yourself, the easier it will be to walk away from a controlling relationship.
You may not be able to afford a trip to Maui or Belize, but you might be able to take a day trip to a nearby city or town. Getting out of your every day surroundings is a great way to walk away from controlling relationships and addictive love because it pulls you out of your normal life! A vacation can challenge you to take risks and reach outside your comfort zone, which will make you feel good (in the long run).
7. Dare greatly
Read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. When we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena – whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Or, leaving a man you don’t love anymore.
How do you feel, what do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts – big and little – below.