What Do You Do When Your Boyfriend Thinks He Should Always Be in Control?

If a controlling guy won't change, it might be time to end the relationship.
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A controlling boyfriend can leave you feeling isolated, confused and powerless. Perhaps he tells you what to wear or dictates how much time you should spend with friends. Whatever the control issues are in your relationship, if you don't put a stop to them now, they will only get worse. Bring some order to the chaos and some peace of mind for yourself, by setting some ground rules early on.

1 Negotiate Rules

Though setting boundaries at the start of a relationship is preferred, that doesn't mean you can't put your foot down later on. If your boyfriend is making all of the decisions and not letting you have any say -- sit down and have a talk. Negotiate relationship "rules" that both of you must abide by, such as allowing time for outside friends, suggests psychologist Gary Dawe, in the article "Spotting And Dealing With Possessive Controlling Boyfriends/Girlfriends" from his website. Discuss values that the two of you agree upon such as fidelity and honesty. Jealousy and the need for control should be acknowledged as a problem within him, and not a reflection of your behavior.

2 Don't Be a Doormat

It isn't possible to change your boyfriend's need for control, but you can make changes about how you operate in the relationship, says Dawe. Controlling men often choose to be with women who are shy, unsure of themselves, have trouble standing up for themselves and who feel they are responsible for the happiness of others. If your boyfriend sulks after you tell him you want to spend a night out with your girlfriends, don't give in to his controlling ways. Follow through with your plans and stand your ground.

3 Avoid Triggers

A guy who needs to be in control is probably dealing with his own feelings of insecurity or fear of rejection. Control is often a way of dealing with uncertainty and anxiety about situations. For example, if his last girlfriend left him for another guy, he might be very strict about who you can talk to as a way of ensuring it doesn't happen again. Though you should not bend to his need for control, that doesn't mean you can't offer him reassurance and get to know his triggers, says psychiatrist Mark Banschick, in the "Psychology Today" article, "How to Fix a Clingy Relationship." Let him know he is the only guy for you and that your conversations with others are completely innocent.

4 End the Relationship

In some cases, it might be best to end a relationship with a controlling boyfriend, says therapist Marie Hartwell-Walker, in the "Psych Central" article "Signs of a Controlling Guy." If he isn't willing to talk about the problem, doesn't see that there is anything wrong or won't try to make any changes, those are signs that things will not improve. If there are any signs of physical abuse, leaving is imperative. Seek the support of friends and family when ending the relationship. It may take up to six months to see things more clearly and realize that you made the right choice. Give yourself time to mourn the end of the relationship and your feelings for him.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.