In a controlling relationship, the big question is whether to stay or leave. If you’ve realized you’re in a controlling relationship that’s abusive, reach out for help immediately. You can call, chat, or text this hotline for support.
If there isn’t abuse and you believe your partner is open to adjusting their behavior, Richmond says the first step is to open up a conversation about what’s going on. First, you’ll want to establish a time you can both sit down and talk about what’s been bothering you.
For example, she says, you could say something along the lines of When you text me constantly while I’m out with my friends, I feel like you don’t trust me. When I don’t feel trusted, I feel diminished and like you don’t think I can take care of myself. That really makes me feel like the underdog in this relationship, and like you have more power—and I don’t like feeling powerless.
Licensed therapist Rachel Wright, LMFT, adds that you can also use her AEO framework for structuring the conversation: Acknowledge the issue, explain the emotions, and then offer a solution or request, such as, What I’d really like is that when we’re out with our friends, there isn’t an expectation that we respond to each other super quickly. What do you think?
From there, how they respond will be telling. Do they take accountability and change their behavior? If not, and they continue to disrespect your boundaries, it’s probably best to walk away.