The sign he’s controlling you that you won’t recognise

Controlling relationships are unhealthy ones.

No relationship is perfect. Most of them require a lot of heart and a lot of work. But there are some that are worth exiting full stop. The kind of circumstances that gradually pull you under. You don’t realise you’re sinking before you hit rock bottom. These ones are hard to see clearly when you’re in them.

One big tactic of ‘controlling relationships’ (and by that I mean someone actively manipulating your emotions) is not shouting, or locking the door, or telling you what to wear… it’s shutting you out mentally.

It could be:

  • Refusing to talk to you when you need to communicate. That could be not picking up the phone. Storming out or (more subtle) swiftly changing the subject, diverting the conversation and disengaging.
  • Refusing to have physical contact with you so you begin to doubt how beautiful you are.
  • Forbidding you from mentioning something – particularly if it’s that time they really screwed up.

Yes, men like their ‘man cave’ and understanding that they often process emotions better by doing and being left alone are fine. But there is a massive difference between giving someone an appropriate amount of space to get their head together, and someone flatly refusing to comfort you, reassure you or listen to your needs.

If you’ve had the subject changed, cut short, diverted or you’ve simply been told ‘no’ one too many times I’d consider returning the favour and exiting the relationship.

Usually, when you show a readiness to move on when you no longer give your emotional energy to resolving the situation with them, that’s when they seem ready to ‘talk it over’.

This will more often than not be a false start. Don’t be fooled into re-engaging: they don’t want to really listen, they want to see if you’ll keep playing their game.


Hayley x


If you are in an abusive relationship and cannot find the way out, don’t wait. Reach out to the National Domestic Abuse Line on 0808 2000 247.

Back to Blog

Get Honest, Ethical Insights

In Hayley's Dating Minicourse

Simple conversation starters

How to understand men

Where are the quality guys?

Hayley Quinn
Hayley Quinn
  • Learn to love dating with Hayley Quinn’s newsletter, free video courses, and promotional emails. You can unsubscribe easily at any time and we never share your information with third parties. View our Privacy Policy.