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How to Recognize Signs That Your Boyfriend Is Controlling & Doesn't Want to End the Relationship

By Genevieve Van Wyden ; Updated June 13, 2017

At the beginning of a new romantic relationship, the outlook appears rosy and the couple seems to be in love, with eyes only for each other. At first, the boyfriend praises his girlfriend for who she is. Eventually, he starts to say small, cutting things, catching his girlfriend short--”You don’t know what you want.” She attempts to hold onto her identity, but he continues to chip away at who she is, gradually taking more and more control of her and their relationship.

  1. Look at your boyfriend’s controlling behaviors when he is not with you. Take the time to remember a specific event and take it apart, bit by bit. He wants to isolate you and make you fully dependent on him so he’ll urge you to quit your job or drop out of school, according to “Marie Claire.” In effect, your boyfriend wants to define who you are. Your boyfriend has experienced a psychological disconnection in one of his four psychological functions--sensing, intuiting, feeling and thinking, notes the Tower of Power website.

  2. Assess how you feel about yourself now compared to how you felt about yourself before you met your boyfriend. If you used to feel self-confident and independent, but now you feel worthless and as if you can’t do anything for yourself, your boyfriend has destroyed who you are, writes Help Guide. If your boyfriend yells at you, tells you you’re “stupid or worthless,” or if he calls you names, he has begun to control what you think about yourself. Once he is able to do this, he starts controlling what you can do.

  3. Think of a time when you wanted to do one thing and your boyfriend told you, “You don’t want to do that.” When he does this, he is attempting to define you into his ideal image of who you should be. Because he is psychologically disconnected from one of his functions, he can’t trust in his own intuition, senses, feelings or thoughts. He then has to form a “backward connection,” developing an identity from the outside to his inner being, writes Tower of Power. He is trying to develop a self-image based on what others have. He is trying to establish an identity in the only way he knows how to––by controlling you.

  4. Conduct an experiment, but do so only if your boyfriend is not physically dangerous to you. Make a statement such as, “I feel like eating pizza tonight.” If your boyfriend says, “No, you won’t like it,” respond with, “What?” He should repeat, “No, you won’t like the pizza.” Say, “What?” When you respond with these non-arguments, you are refusing to validate what your boyfriend is telling you, says Tower of Power. At some point during a conversation like this, your boyfriend will realize what you are doing and will tell you to stop.

  5. Make plans to leave your boyfriend. Identify a safe haven, such as a domestic violence shelter or the home of a friend your boyfriend doesn’t know. If you have children, you need to get them out of this kind of atmosphere so they are more safe, says Help Guide. When you decide to leave your boyfriend, you make the fake reality he has constructed weaker, according to Tower of Power. He may not change, but he might begin to recognize what his behavior did to you.

  6. Tip

    Your boyfriend is always in control, even when he is mistreating you. He is making a deliberate decision to control and mistreat you. As you begin to recognize the control, get a friend to back you up. Your boyfriend may try to be more subtle about his control when others are around you, so ask your friend to let you know if she saw anything. Compare notes.


    If your boyfriend begins to make threats of physical violence, leave. Go to the police station and file a report or go to the domestic violence shelter in your community.

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