Signs of a controlling woman in a relationship

In this article we talk about emotional abuse, what are the signs of a controlling woman, and what can you do if you think you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. 

Signs of a controlling woman 

Emotional abuse is a highly neglected part of dating violence.

The goal of emotional abuse is generally to achieve control and dominance in a relationship, often linked to a desire to punish or hurt.

Controlling behavior is another form of emotional abuse, which includes behaviors such as jealousy, controlling movement, dominating decisions and expecting obedience, controlling clothing, expecting domestic service (e.g., ironing, etc.), generating insecurity about the relationship, and threatening to end the relationship or to harm him/herself.

Emotional abuse may be experienced by men as well as women in dating and marital relationships, including same-sex relationships.

Sings that are a red flag

Sometimes, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the person who is being controlled actually believes that they themselves are the guilty party, or that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner “puts up” with them.

Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation.

Below you will find a list of signs of a controlling woman, that according to Psychology today, are red flags one should be aware of. 

  1. She isolating you from your friends and family. 

A warning sign of emotional abuse is when your partner gradually isolates you from friends and family. She will also come with great excuses for why you should not visit your family or friends.

For example, “Your best friend does not support our relationship, and if you love me you will stay away from her.

At first, she will be kind to you and she will say she doesn’t care if you spend more time with your family or friends.

In time, you will notice how you will move away from these activities without realizing it.

  1. She constantly criticizes you.

People who are in a healthy relationship will recognize that it is okay to make mistakes from time to time and admit it.

If you have a partner who wants to be right all the time (therefore you are always wrong), this behavior will become abusive in time.

If criticism is part of a constant dynamic within your relationship, it probably is very tough to feel accepted, loved, or validated (Gaslighting).

If every little thing you do could use improvement in your partner’s eyes, then how are you being valued as a true equal, let alone loved unconditionally?

  1. She threatens you. 

It is not unheard of for the partner being controlled to feel stuck in a relationship not out of fear that they themselves will be harmed, but that their partner may self-destruct or harm themselves if they were to leave. 

Other times, a person may be threatened with losing their home, access to their children, or financial support if they leave a controlling or abusive partner (or are left by them).

Whether or not the threats are genuine, it is just another way for the controlling person to get what they want at the expense of their partner.

  1. She is oftentimes spying, snooping, or requiring constant disclosure.

A controlling partner typically feels that they have the right to know more than they actually do.

She might be checking your phone, logging into your email, or constantly tracking your Internet history, and then justifies this by saying they have trust issues.

However, this behavior is a serious violation of personal boundaries. 

  1. She is making you feel like you don’t deserve something good 

Controlling people often want you to feel grateful that you are in a relationship with them.

This creates a dynamic where you will be more willing to work harder and harder to keep them and make them happy—a dream for someone who wants to dominate a relationship.

  1. She is pressuring you towards unhealthy behavior 

Undermining your fitness goals, constantly tempting you with cigarettes when you’ve quit, not respecting your decision to only have one drink rather than three—these are all ways that controlling people can try to thwart your attempts to be a healthier (and stronger) person, according to Psychology Today. 

  1. She makes you doubt yourself 

Often a controlling partner has a way of using you as a armament against yourself, by planting seeds of doubt about whether you’re talented or smart or hard-working enough to make good things happen in your life.

This is another way they can take away your autonomy, making you more beholden to them—and serving their purposes quite nicely.

More about Emotional abuse in a couple

Emotional abuse in a couple involves complementary changes (of attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions) between the two partners, repetitive, as in a vicious circle.

First, there is a break in the emotional connection, which causes the abusive behaviors, and the latter amplifies the physical, spiritual and emotional gap.

Also, the transmission of ambivalent messages creates confusion and instability.

The abuser, from the desire to control, behaves and communicates opposite messages, without giving the possibility of clarification or reposting.

Insults are very common in this type of relationship. Silence, lack of reactions and withdrawal are ways of manipulation and control, in fact transmitting the message that the decision-making power is to the one who adopts these behaviors.

Constant criticism and exaggerated expectations develop in the aggrieved one the feeling of self-confidence.

Emotional blackmail is the strongest form of domination and emotional abuse because it can manifest itself both consciously and unconsciously, including in a seductive way or under the “clothes” of humor.

A controlling woman determines her partner to do what she wants, using his fear, his complexes, the guilt or the love he carries.

 The abuser uses sarcasm in conversations, invalidates the opinions or the ideas of others, treats the other as an inferior.

It can be jealous and very coercive, controls financially; controls the social relations of the partner, reacts explosively to frustrations, limits freedom of decision, limits contact with the family of origin.

But beware: not all abusers are loud and critical. The same emotional abuse can be masked in the form of an individual not involved in the relationship (permanently concerned and distracted by other things), who ignores the contact with the partner, his emotions, desires, and points of view; or a rigid partner, who does not tolerate personality differences.

Most of the time, an abusive relationship begins like any other relationship in which there is flirtation, passion, tenderness, fun.

Impact on the abused person

The abused person feels the loss of love, the manipulation, the control.

With the continuation of the abusive relationship, domination leads to the loss of personal identity, and the intimate connection between the two will be impossible.

Emotional abuse turns the relationship into one of hostility, anger, guilt, shame, confusion.

The abusive relationship destroys trust in oneself and others, which causes individuals to become dependent on the toxic relationship.

There are people who are emotionally abused who do not realize what is happening to them and remain in toxic relationships.

The initial tendency is to deny the seriousness of the acts, and the fears are diverse.

We are talking about: fear of a new beginning; fear of being alone; fear of judgment of others; lack of financial support; the belief that, through love, I can change the other; guilt; fear that, with the separation, one loses and what was good in the relationship; fearing that the abuser will take revenge etc.

All these have their origin in the distortion of the image about their own person, in the lack of self-confidence, in depersonalization.

We can also talk about an abusive cycle.

After each abusive situation, the abuser makes gifts, promises, apologizes, which minimizes, in the abuser’s mind, abusive behavior.

Thus, it creates confusion and ephemeral hopes that things have not gone out of control.

What to do in case of emotional abuse?

First, focus on your own person, not to repair the relationship or the partner’s behavior.

The strongest healing comes from within, integrating one’s own fundamental values ​​into one’s daily life.

Make your physical and mental health a priority! Take care of your needs and ask yourself who you are!

This way, you will feel at the helm of your life, strong, confident, and able to make healthy decisions for yourself.

Then, in the relationship with the other, it is important to take your power back, saying “stop” when the abusive behavior begins.

 When things get dangerous, it is best to go to a place where you are safe. Set limits on criticism and emotional outbursts. 


In this article we talked about what is emotional abuse, what are the signs of a controlling woman, and what can you do if you think you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. 

To summarize, a person should feel free in a relationship, and should not accept controlling behavior under no excuse. 

Understand that while you cannot change the person next to you, your mental health and wellbeing should be a priority. 

Please feel free to leave any comments on the content or questions you may have, in the comments section below. 

FAQ about signs of a controlling woman

What makes a woman controlling?

What makes a woman controlling is related to her self-esteem.

Traumatic past experiences, being controlled by someone else and low self-esteem, are just some of the reasons someone is a controlling person. 

How do you deal with a controlling woman?

In order to deal with a controlling woman, you have to first identify the type of controlling behavior.

Next, recognize the triggers and the patterns, learn how to have an assertive communication, and most importantly, don’t give up. 

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner.

What’s the definition of emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Emotional abuse may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation.

What causes control issues?

There are many factors and circumstances that can cause control issues.

Amongst the most frequent are: traumatic or abusive life experiences; lack of trust; fear of abandonment; low or damaged self-esteem.

What is a controlling person?

A controlling person is someone who needs to have the people around him or her behave in certain ways and not in others.

Making things not the way they are expecting you too, makes them nervous and angry. 


  1.  The Wolf in Your Bed: How to use writing to recover from emotional abuse
  2. Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse
  3. The Gaslighting Recovery Workbook: Healing From Emotional Abuse
  4. Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse
  5. Out of the Fog: Moving From Confusion to Clarity After Narcissistic Abuse
  6. Emotional Abuse: Recovering and Healing from Toxic Relationships, Parents or Coworkers while Avoiding the Victim Mentality


Psychology Today

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