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8 Signs of Controlling Men

If you’re wondering if he’s manipulating you, then you might be picking up on these signs of controlling men. Sometimes the manipulation is obvious, other times it’s subtle.

Signs of Controlling MenThese signs of controlling men are from Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This is a must-read relationship book for all couples, because it teaches how to set and maintain personal boundaries and respect those of their partners. Boundaries are difficult to understand without clear guidance, which this book offers.




Here are a few obvious signs of controlling men, from a reader’s comment on How to Deal With a Control Freak. “My dad bullies, manipulates, and controls my mom to the point where she couldn’t even watch tv,” says Anon. “He used to bash her heaps when no one was around. When people were around he was a charmer. My mom couldn’t have any friends because he threatened to hurt her.” These are the more obvious signs of controlling men….but often, the signs aren’t so clear. In this post I share the less obvious signs that you’re being controlled by a man.

8 Signs of Controlling Men

If you’re searching for signs of controlling men, chances are good that you’re in a relationship with someone who is manipulative or passive aggressive. Maybe your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, but you’re ignoring your instincts because you love him.

Don’t ignore the red flags, because they’ll only get worse.

He doesn’t respect when you say “no”

If he doesn’t accept your answer when you don’t want to do something – if he tries to change your mind or disregard your feelings – then he’s trying to control you. In a healthy relationship, your partner respects your choices. He doesn’t ignore you, bully you, or push you into doing things you don’t want to do.

He responds poorly to your choices

One of the most common signs of controlling men is “accepting” your decisions, but acting out against them. Sometimes this is passive aggressive behavior. For instance, he may accept your decision to go back to school, but he doesn’t offer any emotional or practical support. He may even sabotage your decision by spending money or distracting you when you should be studying.

He accuses you of not caring about him

“When the wife chooses to do something the husband doesn’t like, he will act put out or like a victim,” writes Cloud and Townsend. “Or, he will accuse his wife of not being loving or caring.”

How does your partner respond when you do something he doesn’t agree with or approve of? A classic sign of a controlling man is accusing you of not loving him, of choosing against him, or of not caring about his feelings. He’s trying to manipulate your emotions so you do what he wants.

If your partner controls your money, read How to Be Financially Independent in a Controlling Relationship.

He withholds love

This is one of the most damaging signs of controlling men. He’s attempting to manipulate you if he disconnects emotionally until you change. For instance, he might say he accepts your decision to hang out with your friends but then he gives you the silent treatment. He ignores your texts and phone calls.


This is a powerful, unhealthy way to control you because we were created for love! God created us to need love, to connect with others, to get life from love. When someone withdraws this from us, we lose our foundation and basis for existence.

He constantly attempts to change you

When a decision is made that they don’t like, controlling men make attempt after attempt to change their partner’s mind. A controlling man will argue, wheedle, threaten, and plead until he wears you down. He’s like a child who has learned to keep asking until he gets what he wants!

If you recognize this sign of a controlling man, you may have fallen into a pattern of letting him get his way when he keeps pushing you.

He criticizes you

Some signs of controlling men are very obvious, such as name-calling or critical evaluations of everything you do. Does your partner put you down, call you nasty names, make fun of you, or criticize the things you do? Then he’s not just trying to control or manipulate you. He’s abusing you verbally, emotionally, and mentally.

If you’re ready to leave, read How to Break Free From a Controlling Relationship.

He gets angry

“Often, when one spouse wants something the other doesn’t, the disappointed mate will become angry,” writes Cloud and Townsend in Marriage Boundaries. “Anger is our basic protest against the fact that we are not God and we can’t control reality. Anger can be direct or it can be covert, as in passive aggressive behaviors or sarcastic remarks.”

Signs of Controlling Men

8 Signs of Controlling Men

Anger can involve threats of retaliation. It can also, in extreme situations, become dangerous. If your partner yells, screams, or physically assaults you, call the police. Call a domestic violence helpline. Talk to a counselor. Read books that teach you more about the signs of controlling men.

You deserve better than this. You are lovable, valuable, creative, smart, kind, and beautiful. Don’t let your partner run you into the ground.

He is judgmental

Judging is another sign that he’s trying to control you. Judgmental men have difficulty accepting differences in others, and see the differences as black and white. A related sign of controlling men is misreading your actions and assuming the worst. He condemns you and casts your feelings and opinions aside.

Do recognize yourself in these signs of controlling men? Read How to Feel Better About Yourself.

I welcome your thoughts on these signs of controlling men, but I can’t offer relationship advice. You are welcome to share your experience, though! Writing can be a source of clarity and insight, and help you see what to do in your life.

My prayer is that you find wisdom to recognize the warning signs, courage to do what you need to do, and faith to trust God with your future. May you grow closer to Him, and put your faith in Jesus Christ.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill.





xo

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3 thoughts on “8 Signs of Controlling Men”

  1. I’ve been married 25 years. In the last 5 years or so have I been seeing for the first time these character traits in my spouse, and I think he is a controlling man. I still question myself wondering am I being “too critical, sensitive or needy”? But the emotionally withholding and casting my feelings and opinions aside are the biggest roadblocks for me with him. There are mild actions of the other traits, and most were in the past. He is charming and caring and would do anything for anyone whenever they ask, but I am another story. The greatest divide between us and I am constantly praying to overcome (forgiving is not an issue for me) is our not having children. There have been revelations in the last 5 years of his withholding of fears and issues he had with allowing us to pursue adoption and/or medical intervention to have a family, as well as other hidden feelings and experiences he never shared with me which makes me feel like I don’t even know who he really is or that I am able to trust him. I am not perfect and I have contributed to a hostile environment to even talk because I have been so frustrated and angry we fail to even communicate after being married this long. Any outside perspective or advice on how to cope with a controlling man, I appreciate.

    Btw, we have gotten counseling from Pastors, friends and professionals over the years many times with very little discussion again of what we were advised or encouraged to do. I am in accountability with a small group of women where I receive prayer and counsel, while he attends church and small group, he does not have close friendships or accountability, he goes in spurts of involvement with church and work. Work usually trumps family and church events or is an excuse to bail. We have had many couple friends and individual friends, but that has dwindled down to his work friends, a few couples at church and my virtual past friends on Facebook and only a few close women for me.

  2. Hi Alexis, Please take care of yourself. It’s so important to keep remembering who you are and your worth. If you are in a relationship where your movements, words and comments become upsetting to him and he tears you down, his attacks and mean words could soon become the only words you hear affecting how you feel about yourself and how you feel others see you. It’s helpful to keep track of the conversations, arguments and hurtful situations so you can look at what is real and not what he wants you to believe. Stay strong and God bless!

  3. He is controlling me abusive with words n manipulation. I try to get better with him but he blamed me n I fall for it. He studies me n then constrict me like s cobra