How I Stopped Being a Controlling Partner

pissed off girl behind guy

Let’s be honest, no one ever really wants to admit that they’re the problem. However, it’s fairly unrealistic to assume that every relationship that has ever ended badly is solely the other person’s fault. It’s hard to reflect on our own toxic traits, but sometimes it’s an uncomfortable truth we have to face. When I first started dating my current partner, I quickly realized that I had controlling tendencies. This was my first healthy relationship, and although I knew I could trust him, I was setting controlling boundaries due to trauma from past partners. A year and a half later, I’ve learned to let go of these confining habits. Here’s what I’ve learned from my journey so far: 

1. If they want to cheat, they will.

Cheating is a common fear when it comes to relationships, especially if you’ve had unfaithful partners in the past. Once you’ve experienced that kind of pain, you’ll likely go to extreme measures to prevent it from happening again. For me, this meant being resentful when he would go out with the boys, or insisting on frequent texts when we were apart. It was exhausting - for me and for him - to be in a constant state of fear when I didn’t know exactly what he was doing. I eventually realized that he never actually gave me a reason to doubt his loyalty. I was allowing old habits to create new problems in my relationship. At the end of the day, if someone wants to cheat, they will. Although trying to control situations may seem like a safe and rational reaction, it’s only placing a divide between you and your partner. 

2. Know the difference between setting boundaries and being controlling. 

The line between control and boundaries can easily get a little blurry. I used to set strict rules when it came to scenarios I was uncomfortable with, such as hanging with female friends, frequent partying, or even PDA. Rather than discussing why I felt insecure, I would become defensive and shut down his opposing perspective. This ultimately created a dynamic that made him apprehensive to discuss his feelings with me. I eventually had to learn to engage in healthy discussions about situations that made me feel uncomfortable. When I opened up to this, I realized that truly hearing his side often changed my mind about how I felt towards different scenarios. In addition, it gave him the opportunity to provide me reassurance…even when I didn’t know I needed it. Every relationship should come with healthy boundaries that you and your partner set with each other. Just make sure that both of you are given the chance to voice how you feel, so your boundaries can serve as a helpful tool to prevent unnecessary arguments in the future. 

3. You’re only hurting yourself.

It may seem as though having control in your relationship is a way to protect yourself, but it only does the opposite. Not only are you hurting your partner, but you’re also preventing yourself from enjoying your relationship to its fullest potential. When my partner and I first started dating, I didn’t value my own mental health. Since I was constantly trying to control situations, I always felt anxious if things didn’t go my way. Even though my partner was doing everything right, and had no intent to hurt me, I created problems by never allowing myself to simply enjoy the moment. It’s important to remember that your mental health is a priority. If the person you’re dating has not done anything to hurt you or lose your trust, they don’t deserve to be subject to your insecurities. And you don’t deserve to live in a state of fear. You deserve to be happy, and if your control issues are getting in the way of that, it’s time to make a change.

As humans, we are constantly evolving, and it’s never too late to change bad habits. If you feel as though you are a controlling partner, take some time to reflect on why you developed these habits, and how you can correct these mistakes. With a little self love, introspection, and healing, you too can enjoy all of the beautiful parts of a healthy relationship! 

Written by: Emma Cooke 

Instagram: @emmakooke


  • Jason Bennett

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  • tripichick

    so many opportunities for improvement at local library. work on becoming the womyn you want to be. partners can be fun with lots of communication about boundaries and shared interests. bird watching is a low-cost, low-stress hobby.

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