Dating older controlling man
It's the common-denominator theme of many a controlling relationship. It's inherent that you will look out for each other, and not bean-count every little time you do something to help the other out. If they can manipulate their partners into feeling a steady stream of guilt about everyday goings-on, then a lot of the controlling person's work is done for them—their partners will gradually try to do whatever they can to not have to feel guilty. Controlling people may come on very strongly in the beginning with seemingly romantic gestures.If your partner always keeps tally of every last interaction within your relationship—whether to hold a grudge, demand a favor in return, or be patted on the back—it could very well be their way of having the upper hand. Often this means relenting and giving up power and their own dissenting opinion within the relationship, which plays right into the controlling person's hands. But upon closer inspection, many of those gestures—extravagant gifts, expectations of serious commitment early on, taking you for luxurious meals or on adventurous outings, letting you have full use of their car or home when they're not there—can be used to control you.While some controlling people like to exert their influence under the radar, many others are openly and chronically argumentative and embrace conflict when they can get it. It's great when our partners can challenge us in interesting discussions and give us new ways of looking at the world.This can be especially true when their partner is more passive and the controlling person is likely to triumph in every disagreement that comes up, just because the partner being controlled is more conflict-avoidant in nature or simply exhausted from the fighting that they've done. It is not great when they make you feel small, silly, or stupid, or they consistently try to change your mind about something important to you that you believe in.For instance, as mentioned, you shouldn't always have to detail your whereabouts for every moment of every day, nor should your partner automatically have the right to access your email or texts or Internet search history. Again, a controlling person is often very skilled at making you feel that you've done something wrong even before you realize what you did.If trust or even civil treatment is viewed as something you need to work up to rather than the default setting of the relationship, the power dynamic in your relationship is off-kilter. You may walk in the door to find them already angry about something that they found, thought about, or decided in your absence.This creates a dynamic where you will be more willing to work harder and harder to keep them and make them happy—a dream for someone who wants to dominate a relationship. Teasing or ridicule that has an uncomfortable undercurrent.Humor and even teasing can be a fundamental mode of interacting within many long-term relationships.
While those signs are indeed troubling, there are many additional signs that might show up quite differently.Openness to new experience is wonderful—but a controlling partner doesn't see it as a two-way street, and only wants you to be and think more like they do. Making you feel you don't "measure up" or are unworthy of them.Whether by subtly making you feel less attractive than they are, constantly reinforcing their professional accomplishments as compared to yours, or even comparing you unfavorably to their exes, controlling people often want you to feel grateful that you are in a relationship with them.Sometimes, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the person who is being controlled actually believes that they themselves are the villain, or that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner "puts up" with them.Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation.
In my years as a psychologist and advice columnist, I've long since learned that stereotypes don't apply when it comes to controlling partners. And controlling behavior on the part of a partner knows no boundaries—people of any age, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status can be in controlling relationships, playing either role.