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When and How to End a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship

When and How to End a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship

Let's talk about love... Let's hear the painful melody that chimes deep inside your heart. It is not always a fairy tale with a happy ending. Sometimes even while being in a relationship, you can be nursing a broken heart and sadness inside you. Here, we help you judge whether you are in a controlling or manipulative relationship and offer solutions get out of it.
Urvashi Pokharna
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
You know, how difficult it is to get the right relationship advice from someone. I will tell you why it is so difficult, it's because every relationship is different. With similar backdrops, we are all different people and every relationship has two unique hearts who built it. Relationships need work. You want to be happy in it, not loathe it. But, what if no matter how hard you tried or whatever you did to make it better, things just kept falling apart, slipping away from your fingers like sand. You are together, but still apart and there is a throbbing pain of an invisible dagger stabbed right through your heart. It is not always your fault that your relationship isn't as happy as you hoped for it to be. May be, it is the person you are with. Are you sure they love you as much as you do? Do you ever get a sinking feeling when he says 'I love you' or she says 'I will always be there, by your side'? I did. Twice. I fell in love, he made me believe it. I did, only to see it all fall apart the minute I fell in to it. Yes, behind our faces plastered with smiles are broken hearts that may take a lifetime to heal. Yes, I wouldn't be the best person to tell you what's wrong in your relationship. But, my heart has been just as crushed. At least, I can show you both sides of the coin because I was there and I got myself out of it.

Before we start judging if you are in a manipulative or controlling relationship, you need to know how to recognize if you have a problem.

How to Recognize a Manipulative or Controlling Relationship

Sometimes we can over analyze our relationships and see problems that may not exist. Don't blame yourself. If you can correct yourself BEFORE you jeopardize your relationship fighting over imaginary things, it is all fine. If you are confused whether it is all in your head or if something is really wrong, look for signs of a controlling and manipulative relationship.

The Gaze
They often say that when you stare into the eyes of someone you love, you see stars, you get butterflies in your stomach, it is suddenly spring during summer (I don't mean that literally) and the world is pure bliss even with all its problems. But, if you are with someone who did not care for as much as you cared for that one person, stare in to their eyes. A person who is not in to it will be easily distracted, while avoiding eye contact and won't be able to hold it for long or will stare right back without flinching. It is a scientifically proven fact that when we like something we see, our pupils dilate. If he or she means it, notice their pupils dilate. But, if you stare in a dim-lit area, pupils will naturally dilate as a reaction to the lighting. Also, if it's bright and sunny where you are, don't expect their pupils to fight sun and dilate! But, if only true love was so easy to figure out with dilated pupils, we would never be with the wrong person.

Candy coated lips
Do you always hear sweet and flowery words that sound so sweet, honey bees could probably build a hive on his/her mouth? And then, when you have a fight, the words feel like a bee stung your soul. We all have fights in our relationships no matter how much we love the other person. But someone who only wants to manipulate or control you, will try to do that to your thoughts and feelings too. They never back down from a fight. They wait for you to bow down in front of them. They make you beg and cry for it. Tears don't flinch them until it becomes a full-fledged drama he thinks it's time to put an end to. It did not matter if you were dying inside. Because it is the illusion that it is about you. But, you think? Don't you dare excuse this behavior by saying that's how they are! Because deep down inside you know, when you are in love, your ego is not bigger than your love and certainly not more important than the person you care about. But, you bowed down in your fights for love. And after everything is over, he makes you feel so guilty for fighting with him. The most typical thing they all do to prove that they are the good guys is to show some concern towards you and try hard to prove it to you that they mean it. There will be the extra small efforts and the big ones. You were surely on cloud nine thinking you are so lucky to find someone who cares about you so much. Another fight, more tears, some love to patch up. It is a cycle and it goes on and on. It never ends and with the next fight, you will find yourself exactly where you were in the previous fight. In a true relationship, these things happen both ways. Sometimes you falter, sometimes the other one do but you still reconcile both ways.

The Diktat
Have you often felt that what he says or she says is the ultimate decision in your relationship? You never make the rules because you are not allowed. You are carefully and silently compelled to play by them. You do not have a choice because love won't let you leave. And he/she knows it, manipulating your weakness to the fullest. You are gradually reduced to emotional parasite that will fall weak if not feeding on his/her affection. It all starts with little gestures of jealousy to a full-fledged emotional roller coaster of incessant fights and sleepless nights. They keep demanding and you keep giving. You are in love, but not happy. It is a fact hard to accept. All rules are bent only for him/her. You dare not question or you will be scarred verbally or emotionally. Did you notice how distant you have been growing from your friends. Slowly your identity fades away and you become even more emotionally weak and helpless. Everyone warns you but you are way too blindly in love with your dictator.

Winning the Approval
You reach the point where you are ready to go to crazy lengths just to make them stay in your life. But, do you think if your guy or girl loved you just as much, would let you resort to those stupid self-harming antics? No matter how perfect you may be or how many flaws he/she may have, they will always make you feel like you are the one who is inadequate. You start suffering from an inferiority complex that you are not as good for them as you should be. In a bid, to save your relationship, you try harder and do everything you can to make them happy. But, they are never happy because everything you do is either wrong or insufficient. You pine for their approval as you watch them walk out of the door with a devil-may-care attitude. By this point, you are convinced it's all your fault even though there may be no mistake that you really committed. They lured you with promises of love, care and togetherness, but all seems to only be a beautiful dream in a full moon night. You are waiting for it and if you complain, you are told that it is your mistake because your actions were so inadequate it made them angry and they won't give it to you now, may be later.

The Excuses
Did you ever feel that your partner has been acting selfish and putting themselves above you and your relationship. You see no emotions except that of anger or affection. They love you when they want to. You cannot ask for anything because you might just piss them off. You made plans with your girls and when he found it out, he acted so cold that it did not seem like he was actually okay. So you feel guilty yet again, and cancel your plans only to be treated like some side-dish when he hangs out with his friends. On the other hand, she calls you when she needs you. You give her all your support. The minute you need her, she is suddenly too busy and disappears. Worse, she calls you needy and emotionally desperate. It hurts because you never thought it was an issue to fall back for support on each other. You need to stop making excuses for your partner's behavior and attitude towards you. You are only justifying their bad behavior towards you and at the same time, giving false hopes to yourself.

When you recognize these signs of a controlling relationship and truly know it yourself, in your heart, that this a controlling and manipulative relationship after all, it's time to pull the plug on the relationship. Difficult? Yes. But if you thought it was love, making it difficult for you to break up, don't bluff yourself. It would have made your relationship a lot more satisfying, if it were true. But, sometimes, even though you may be truly, madly and deeply in love, it is just not worth carrying emotional scars around. Reality bites but it is better to heal the pain than to suffer when you are absolutely emotionally handicapped.

It is perhaps our need to have love, especially from someone who seems out of reach. As your friends put it, you are a 9 and he/she may be a 5. You cannot see it because it doesn't matter when you are in love. I agree. But, doesn't it matter when who you fall in love with doesn't give you just as much love? Wouldn't you like them to be a 9 on the scale of love? It is often said that when you love someone, do not expect anything and do not ask for anything. I always thought that I would be shallow to leave him just because he does not match up to my good looks, doesn't have a savvy career when I dreamed of a life that I wanted with a family or may lack innumerably in so many other aspects of life. I stayed because I believed he was a good human being who had been done wrong to. If you are in the same boat, I will give you my hand and pull you out. Don't fall for the illusion. A good person cares for everyone, especially someone so important. If he/she didn't care for you now, they never will.

When Should You Put an End to Your Controlling Relationship

Most controlling and manipulative relationships have a tendency to get physically or verbally abusive at some point. If you are in a relationship like that, get out of it as soon as you can. It may not really be love holding you back, but the habit of having your partner around and the fear of independence from being a whole person all by yourself. You get used to it and build a comfort zone so you are unwilling to imagine someone else in that place. It is, in all honesty, your inability to accept your own self. But most of all, if you have to find out the answer, there is no better way to know the truth than to ask your own heart. A partner who is not controlling or manipulative will be comfortable in sharing space with you, will not be secretive, obsessive or won't disrespect you all the time. A relationship is the ultimate culmination of your love in its acceptance and acknowledgment. It means that you shall be together and share all your sorrows and happiness. It definitely does not mean that I will use you for all my needs and never care about yours.

How to Put an End to a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship

Don't fool yourself and get out of it. It is never easy. It's a simple step-by-step plan to end a controlling or manipulative relationship that only needs your strength, will-power and some self-esteem.
  • Before you even hint at separating, you need to accept the breakup yourself, in your heart. If you are not ready for it, you won't be able to break up permanently and will fall deeper in to that trap.
  • Gather all your self-esteem and realize your self-worth. Picture yourself from the time when you were single and had not met your partner. You were so happy, vibrant and stress free. You sure may have had great times with your partner but the bad times are far too many and too difficult to handle.
  • Open up yourself to the possibility of having someone else love you more and treat you the way you deserve to be.
  • You need to accept that you are not happy even though you have given it enough of your time and efforts to work out. Acceptance is self-healing.
  • Don't wait for your partner to change and don't be deterred by any act of affection they show towards you just when you are ready to leave. They all do it to make you stay. Then you get mixed signals and it makes you even more confused than ever. Don't fall for it.
  • It is best to break up in person than an e-mail, phone call or text. It helps address unresolved feelings that you won't carry with you. It will help you attain a closure to all the hurt and pain that you dealt with while being together. It will also give you a chance to express those feelings but without any expectations from your partner this time.
  • When they retaliate from the breakup and try to humiliate you socially, do not react to it. Reacting will only fuel this further and give a chance to a longer conversation. Now we all know what that leads to; either you would get back or be emotionally scarred with bitter relentless words.
  • It's wise to block your now ex off Facebook, spam their texts and block their calls too. Ever heard, "Out of sight, out of mind."?
  • Stop waiting for yourself to get over the breakup. It will be difficult for a while and then it will all fade away. You must initiate and accomplish the breakup. Start socializing with people as soon as you can. Go out with your friends and meet up for a couple of drinks. It gives you a chance to open the wings that were brutally clipped off. Meeting new and interesting people will make you realize what you have been missing on and all hope is not lost. Don't expect to find your soul-mate who sweeps you off your feet as soon as you break up. Take this time to pay attention to your emotional and physical well-being and get back in to the dating world again. The worst thing you could do is close yourself to a relationship and love instead of letting the pain make you emotionally stronger.
What worked for me was talking to my friends about the whole situation and giving myself time to think over it. When I was sure he did not leave me with a better option and I readily accepted the fact that the relationship was practically dead, I stopped referring to him as my boyfriend every time anyone brought him up in a conversation. It mentally prepared me for the big day. Plus, his pathetic attitude helped me stick to my decision. Next thing you know, I was over it much before I realized I was. I finally said, "NO!", to him. What happened to the whole idea of love between a man and a woman? Love, generations ago, was about completing each other and becoming each others strengths. Pardon me, my idea of love and relationships is very old-school. I am still trying to come to terms with the idea of love prevailing in my generation. We all become an emotional mess after a bad relationship(s), but for true love, we must change and try our best to make it work. A selfish person will only care for their own happiness. But, your soulmate always pushes you forward with one hand while keep the other behind your back to catch you before you fall.

We go around the world looking for them. But, look deep inside your heart. It holds the key to all your troubles. Don't lie to it, don't go deaf to what it is saying.
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