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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am currently in what I feel is a controlling relationship.

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I am currently in what I feel is a controlling relationship. It seemed wonderful at first but now I see how he has been controlling the relatrionship from the beginning. We are engaged and I am scared, worried, held down be the fear of going forward with marrying him knowing that people don't change just because they get married eventhough he says he will stop being this way. Please advise

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

If you are feeling controlled now before marriage, then you have a reason to feel concerned.

You are right, people do not change after marriage unless they really choose to. If he says he is willing to change after marriage, why not change now? It sounds like he wants to marry you so you will have a harder time leaving the relationship if you need to.

One of the best ways to help yourself is to learn what you can about emotional abuse, which is what controlling behavior is. Here are some resources to help:

The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control by Dorothy McCoy

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

Emotional abuse/controlling behavior is one of the most damaging behaviors in a relationship. It does not leave outside injuries or scars so it is easy to dismiss. But the damage it does is extensive.

An emotionally abused partner learns that she is not important. She cannot have wants, desires or any needs met that aren't controlled by her partner. She learns to minimize herself and think of herself as not important. The abuser will continue to escalate the abuse in an effort to keep his partner under his control. If she should rebel and try to stand up for herself, he punishes her. The control may eventually become so severe that friends, family, jobs and even dressing herself or picking her own hair style are controlled. The abused partner becomes totally under the abusers control, not able to make personal choices of her own. The abuser becomes so fearful of losing control that he takes over his partners life completely.

Once in this type of situation, it is hard to get out. Help is needed through women's shelters, friends, family and counselors. The damage to self esteem and personal space can sometimes take years to repair. The man can also become violent so law enforcement may need to be involved.

Although this is a worse case scenario, it happens more often that not. And predicting how your fiance will act once you are married is impossible. So educating yourself now and deciding based on that information how you want to proceed is the best option possible.

I hope this has helped you,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
How did I get here? In this place of confusion and state of being held? I am a very independent strong willed person, I have given up so much of myself, and now I feel trapped, stuck in place. I have opened an account with him to pay for the wedding, and moved my stuff out of storage into his storage, he even drives my car because his truck was in an accident.

Emotionally abusive relationships can happen to anyone. You are in love and it is hard to tell with all those emotions what is going on. Do not feel you are to blame. Actually, you did a very smart thing by reaching out and asking for help when you began to suspect something was off in the relationship. Most people do not catch on until well into the marriage because it is so hard to see what is happening.

You may want to put the engagement on hold until you feel you have a better understanding of what is going on. Move your share of the money back into your account (don't let him know you are doing this unless you have to to get your money. Then only do it in front of the teller at the bank). Put your storage back where it was before and take your car back (he can get a rental from his insurance company).

Take some time and think things through without him around. He may try to manipulate you by acting very kind towards you, being loving and giving you gifts. But in order to see this clearly, you need to reject that and ask him to respect your need for time. You may also want to see a counselor to give you a neutral perspective on what is going on. And of course you are always welcome to talk to an expert on Just Answer. I would be more than willing to work with you, as anyone here would.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
To do these things means the end of our relationship because he has talked about not taking time apart. To him taking a break or time apart means breaking up. And I would have to let him know about taking my money out of the shared account and that would also mean breaking up to him. The car, same thing. I feel guilty because I agreed to all this and he will definitely blame me for letting things progress to him proposing and me accepting.

If he is telling you that you cannot take a break from the relationship, then he is controlling you. You have no personal choice. He has blocked your actions so you cannot do anything without severe punishment, which is what I mentioned before as a sign of abuse. He has already started the pattern of emotional abuse.

It does not matter who he blames for the break up. If he blames you, so be it. This is only a way to control you and make you feel guilty about making a personal choice. You can always work on your guilt once the relationship is over. But if you marry this man, it may be a lot worse than just guilt that you have to deal with.

This relationship does sound very controlling and abusive. Moving on now would hurt but it would save you from a worse situation in the future.


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