Relationships don’t always start out in an unhealthy way, sometimes it gradually happens as each of you ease into a role and sometimes circumstances happen, like stress or depression, and you deal with it by becoming more controlling which you take out on your partner. If you know you’re acting abusive towards your girlfriend or are worried that you’re not treating her right then there are some questions you can ask yourself to try and clarify the situation.
1) Am I verbally or mentally abusive?
Relationships are complicated and you don’t need to physically hit them in order to cause damage, it can also be verbally or mentally. Think of how you speak to your partner and how supportive you are because you may be abusive without realizing it. If you’re always telling her to be quiet, interrupting her when she speaks and put down her ideas then you’re not treating her right. You’re manipulating how she feels and making her feel like she’s inferior to you.
2) Has my girlfriend ever been scared of me?
Even in good relationships it’s possible for a fight to get out of hand and there’s a moment of being scared of your partner but this shouldn’t be an event that happens more than once because you learn from it. You need to be honest with yourself and think of all the times your girlfriend may have been scared of you and what you did to cause her to feel that way. If it was more than a one-time incident and you’re not in couples therapy to deal with your issues then it’s a toxic environment for her. You’re using your temper to control her and make her behave which is something you need to stop doing, even if it means breaking up.
3) Does my girlfriend feel trapped?
Some people feel trapped in relationships because they think no one else will want them or that their partner is going to get upset if they try to leave. This makes them stay and put up with their abusive partner because they don’t see any other way to live. You need to put yourself in your girlfriend’s state of mind and think about how she feels about her freedom. This can be hard to imagine so think about how you treat her and how she acts around you. Does she talk about the future and goals she has or does she quietly go along with what you want? If she feels trapped then you’re controlling has gotten to the point where she’s lost her independence.
4) How will I react if she leaves me?
One of the worst experiences in relationships are the break up and aftermath but people who aren’t controlling towards their partner tend to deal with it in healthier ways. If you act in toxic ways towards your girlfriend then you’re not going to deal with it well if she decides to leave you. Spend some time by yourself and imagine her breaking up with you while paying attention to your thoughts and feelings. It’s one thing to hope to get back together but another to think about pressuring her into staying or doing whatever you can to make her come back to you.
5) Is this how healthy relationships are?
You may not realize you’re controlling towards your girlfriend until you take the time to compare the two of you and other relationships. Look at couples you know and choose a couple that you consider to have a healthy relationship and a couple that has a toxic one. Make a list of the qualities they have then make a list of your relationship traits to see which one you resemble most. This can help you put your relationship into perspective and decide if you need to change anything.
6) Would I be okay with being treated this way?
Relationships have two points of view, yours and hers, and they may be similar or very different. You may think you’re not controlling but she may think you are and isn’t comfortable telling you that. Pay attention to how you treat your girlfriend and think about what it would be like if things were the other way around and she was treating you that way. If it bothers you then it bothers her as well and that’s a big sign you’re behavior is abusive.
7) Why am I being controlling?
If you know or strongly suspect you’re being controlling towards your girlfriend then you need to figure out what is causing this to happen. This may be part of your personality and you’ve acted this way in past relationships or it could be a behavior that you’ve only recently started doing as a way of dealing with stress or depression. Either way you need to find the cause of this and try individual therapy or couples therapy to get your relationship back on track. Getting help for your behavior is also going to help your mental health and improve other relationships you have, like the ones you have with family and friends.
8) Is she looking for a power dynamic?
They see a controlling man as being strong and confident which is what they’re attracted to and will go out with guys who can naturally dominate them. If your girlfriend is this type of person then she’ll do things like accept your behavior and even encourage it by telling you how much she likes it when you look after her or take charge. You need to talk to her and discuss what boundaries you’re okay with so you don’t cross the line into abusive behavior.
9) Am I okay with my behavior?
One of the best ways to gauge how controlling you are is by listening to your inner voice because if you’re doing something that you know is wrong then it’s going to bother you. You need to pay attention to how you act towards your girlfriend and see how it makes you feel. If you feel guilty or bad after saying or doing something to her then you know you need to stop and make some changes so that you can be in a healthier relationship. Only you can change the way you act and being in tune with your thoughts and feelings can help you do this.