The following are signs of a controlling relationship:
1. Flattery – Flattery is different than a compliment – A compliment adds to a person. It builds within you a sense of confidence free from any ulterior motives. Flattery on the other hand is insincere and selfish in its motive – which is simply to gain a greater sense of control. Flattery always deals with comparisons. The flatterer will privately build you up in the process of tearing others around you down.
2. Rejection – In looking at signs of a controlling relationship there is a red flag that I call “conditional acceptance.” An expression of conditional acceptance is calculated rejection. In other words, by expressing rejection toward you, the controller hopes your desire for their acceptance will be strong enough to cause you to change your behavior; resulting in a subtle form of manipulation. True friendship is acceptance, understanding and commitment – regardless of whether or not you do want another person wants you to do.
3. Sense of Indebtedness – Initially it may seem too good to be true – you suddenly have someone in your life that is always there to help just at the right time. Yet, over time it becomes clear the gifts and expressions of generosity have strings attached. By reminding you of all they have done, they create in you an overwhelming sense of indebtedness and obligation.
4. Inordinate loyalty – The controller will always demand loyalty at the expense of your other relationships. They will often find ways to “drive a wedge” between you and the other friends and family members in your life, isolating you from others.
When looking at the signs of a controlling relationship, it is important to ask yourself the following questions: Do you often find the need to explain or defend yourself? Do you find yourself feeling guilty? Do you find yourself apologizing more than you normally would? Do you pretend to agree and go along with things you don’t want to do in order to keep peace? Are you finding yourself isolated from your friends and family? When you are around a specific person, do you often feel frightened or intimidated?
By discovering your sense of worth and value in God’s love, you can find the confidence to not only recognize an abusive relationship, but to break free from its control.
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