They chip away at your self-esteem using a variety of stealthy tactics.
Here’s a way that controlling people slowly usurp the power in a relationship. They chip away at your self-esteem using a variety of sneaky ways to kill your confidence. One common way is by periodically delivering the “verbal slap” or put-down. It’s a “joke” that puts you in a bad light and leaves third parties questioning your worth as a person.
Again, we do not know and it is not fair of us to say that this is purposeful. Being controlling and self-centered can be something that goes back to an early phase of development which was exacerbated by a social dynamic within the family unit at a young age.
So if this is the dynamic that your controlling partner has come to expect, again they may have no actual awareness that they have a controlling personality or that they are attempting to control you, or anyone at all.
But just because they don’t know that they’re controlling doesn’t mean you should take what they’re dishing out.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how controlling people use put-downs to get you to stay quiet and in the background while handing them all the power.
They make fun of you, and the joke might be just a little bit mean
Controlling people are very good at finding that weakness of yours – your Achilles heel– and turning it against you. This is subtle but powerful, especially if it is used against you over and over in your interactions with each other.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that when you’re over-tired, your driving skills worsen. This week you’ve been working double shifts, and you’re exhausted.
Your controlling partner might pick up on this and wait to seize the opportunity
When you least expect it they might tell a group of people, Jane Doe is an awful driver, she almost killed us last week driving to the grocery store, and then laugh it off.
People generally do not know how to react in these situations, especially when there is a group present. Nobody wants to start an altercation or get into a conflict. So if they hear your partner laughing, they are very likely to just chime in and laugh along, ignoring the awkwardness of the remark and hoping to shift to a less uncomfortable topic.
Of course, everybody makes fun of each other now and then. You may have grown up in a family where it was common to make digs and poke fun. Whether this is controlling behavior or not really depends on the level of meanness behind the remark. If you’re not sure if someone is being mean, study their facial expressions, vocal tone, and body language.
They falsely portray you to others
Another way that a controlling partner might try to get the upper hand is by giving people a false impression of you. They make a statement about you and leave it open-ended, making people scratch their heads and wonder.
Maybe they say something which implies that you have undesirable habits. They could use vague statements to make people associate negative traits such as laziness, promiscuity, a drinking problem, or some other type of behavior or tendency with you.
This would lead people who don’t know you that well to believe that you had personal issues. Those people might then decide that you should not be trusted or entrusted with responsibility, based on what the controlling person said to misguide them. Again, this is done in a social situation where people might be inclined to breeze over details. So you don’t get your chance to explain yourself, and your friends walk away with a bit of confusion and perhaps an uneasy feeling about your character. Again, this is all done on purpose, with the intention of gaining the upper hand in the relationship and becoming a powerful and controlling force against you. If this is happening in your life, be very careful! It’s bound to get worse unless you take action.