“For a control freak, love and the desire to control others are synonymous. Once they lose control over the object of their desire, hostility takes over in full force.” –  Natalya Vorobyova

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The Control Freak can be insidious and very subtle to the extent that you may not notice what is happening until its too late, so here are a few warning signs to look out for from the outset:

• Lots of gifts very early on while appearing to be loving and caring. Your intuition might be warning you that something is not quite right regarding the speed of how things are progressing but you may overlook this because he or she appears to be different from the people you have encountered before;

• Is very attentive and usually phones, emails or texts constantly;

• Wants to move quickly and describes you as his or her ‘soul mate’. Discusses getting engaged, moving in together or marriage;

• Displays jealousy at times, which might stroke your ego when he/she claims this is only due to his or her deep love for you;

• Often claims to know what’s best for you;

• Frequently insists on having things done their way;

• Can be extremely domineering making you feel suffocated;

• You may sometimes feel restricted by his or her rigid sense of order; and,

• Being with him/her sometimes feels like hard work and no fun because it lacks spontaneity.

If you agree with at least two or three of the above, then it’s likely you’re dating a person with controlling tendencies. Answering yes to three or more questions indicates a Control Freak is seeking to violate your emotional freedom.

During the dating stage, or at the beginning of a relationship, they usually idolizes their new partner and wants to be with them all the time, which can be very flattering and appear to be quite normal at first. The Control Freak may insist or even plead to spend more time with you and this strategy to penetrate your defensives might work well as we all enjoy receiving attention: it makes us feel desired and important. Their intense need to be with you 24/7 appears to be motivated by a belief they have finally found their true soul mate and this could entice you into an abusive relationship. Control Freaks often have a pattern of putting their partner on a pedestal at first – until she or he inevitably makes a ‘mistake’, and that’s when the Control Freak will display their displeasure.

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The fallout could be about something trivial but this toxic type demands perfection and can be prone to attacking and belittling a partner for failing to meet their standards in some minor way. Alternatively, they may begin to mention in a concerned manner all the things the Control Freak thinks are ‘wrong’ with you, causing you to question and doubt yourself. They could start to have obsessive concerns regarding your physical health, appearance, finances or relationships with others, but this ‘concern’ is just a covert ploy to begin the process of obtaining and maintaining control.

Dating warning signs as the relationship continues include the following:

• Sensitive and offended if you disagree with his/her opinion;

• Tries to isolate you from friends and family;

• Guilt trips;

• Attempts to change your routines;

• Demands constant updates on your whereabouts and activities;

• Unannounced and unexpected visits;

• Wants to dominate and make all the decisions;

• Begins to isolate you from friends and family;

• Anger issues, temper tantrums and rages;

• Jealousy issues;

• Becomes clear he/she believes you’re their property;

• Seeks revenge and revels in other people’s misfortune;

• Often has history of abuse or violence;

• Failure to compromise;

• Very rigid outlook and behaviour regarding their life and schedule;

• Judgmental; 

• Critical; and,

• Trust issues.

The Control Freak may not exhibit all of these behaviours or characteristics but two or more traits should definitely get your attention!

Author Nigel Beckles Draft Extract: How To Avoid Abusive Relationships: A Guide to Toxic Personalities to be published in 2020