Knowing the Difference Between Overprotective and Controlling

Relationships are always evolving and changing to go with the flow of how we grow to interact with people. It’s no secret that when relationships start, whether that be a romantic relationship or friendship, the connection is clouded in a haze of newness. The rose-tinted glasses, the honeymoon phase, there are tonnes of different phrases to describe the beginning of relationships.

A natural part of a developing relationship is for one partner to take on a more dominant role. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean that one is in complete control and a healthy relationship involves give and take on both sides and a mutual level of understanding. When we care deeply about someone, it’s natural to want to protect them and prevent harm or upset.

But, sometimes, this protection can turn to control and can result in the inhibition of one half of the partnership’s free will and actions. It’s important to know the difference between protection and control, the latter can be a sign of abuse and could be an indicator for action.

Modern Law attributes controlling behaviour to the personality disorder of narcissism – a sense of self-importance, a hunger for power and a strong sense of entitlement. If you find yourself in a relationship where controlling behaviour is being exhibited, it may be time to take a step back and do an assessment to ensure your relationship is healthy and that your partner isn’t leaning towards controlling tendencies.

There are several signs that a partnership may be leaning towards abusive controlling behaviour, victims of emotional abuse such as this are sometimes living in denial, so it may take a harsh look at the situation to see the true facts.

Here are some signals to look out for:

  1. Excessively asking where you are

Some people may see this as genuine curiosity, or the desire to check that you are ok and safe while not in the company of a significant other, but if the requests for information of your whereabouts come several times a day, it may be becoming obsessive.

  1. Monitoring of social media accounts

It’s natural to have a little look at our partner’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but if someone is monitoring your page constantly and demanding to know the details behind every post and tag, then you’re in danger. Even worse if they ask for passwords so they can see private and direct messages.

  1. They look through your phone

Your phone is your personal property and the contents belong to you and no one else. You may choose to share snippets of this, like photos or games, but giving your partner free access to this because they ask for it is bordering on dangerous behaviour.

  1. Dictating who you spend your time with

If someone is keeping you away from your social circle, it’s a huge red flag for controlling behaviour. It may be done under the guise of wanting to spend more time with you, but a healthy social life comes from interacting with friends, family, and colleagues as well as your partner.

There are so many ways that a person can control your life and being aware of some of them can help to combat behaviours before the pattern gets too ingrained into a natural way of life. Controlling behaviour is not ok and can be classed as emotional abuse or even be a precursor to physical abuse. Know the signs and be aware.

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