Hayley Quinn on the sidewalk standing next to a graffiti

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.

Hayley Quinn

Hayley Quinn is an internationally recognised dating coach and founder of the UK’s largest dating coaching company. She has over 2 Million views on her TED talk and over 100,000 YouTube subscribers.

She is the spokesperson for Match, the biggest online dating platform in the world. She has been featured on BBC1, Sky and Channel 4 and is a regular columnist for Cosmopolitan and a contributor to yahoo!style.

Her first fiction book “The Last First Date” has been published by Harper Collins and her non-fiction book “Do This Not That” (Simon & Schuster) is due for publication in early 2023.

Her goal is to bridge the gap with modern dating and help inspire people to learn to love dating.

Phone: +447517915854
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