Controlling Personality Characteristics
Are you often frustrated because you didn’t get what you want? Does it seem like your major relationships always seem to have a lot of conflict going on? Do people tell you that you criticize them constantly? Maybe you find yourself constantly wishing you could change someone’s behavior. If you’re already thinking this sounds somewhat familiar you may have a controlling personality. One of the biggest signs is a lot of conflict in many areas of your life. In this article we will looking at controlling personality characteristics. We’ll look at the signs and you can see if this describes you. Or potentially someone you interact with frequently.
What Is A Controlling Personality
This is a fairly simple definition. A controlling personality is not a mental disorder. It’s not something that is an official personality disorder and you won’t find it listed in the DSM 5. Bottom line is a controlling personality is someone who likes to be in control. Even more specifically a controlling personality likes to control other people. They also like to control details and events in their lives. They tend to dominate and control many aspects of the lives of people they live with or are close to. Things such as kids and spouses and sometimes employees.
Many times they can come across as super concerned about you and even overprotective, saying they are just worried about you. They only want the best for you and are trying to help you. Unfortunately their actions don’t really reflect these protective words. As we will see they can also say things that are actually demeaning and cutting, all the while acting like it’s in your best interest.
Like many things there’s quite a few reasons why someone might develop controlling personality characteristics. Here are some of the more common reasons.
Insecurities and Low Self Esteem
A large portion of controlling personality type people are this way to cover up their own insecurities and low self esteem. By being able to control other people it helps them feel more secure and provides them a false sense of high self esteem. Could be they weren’t paid much attention throughout their lives and do whatever they can to make your life revolve around them.
Big Hurt or Loss
Some controlling type personalities get developed to compensate for a big loss or hurt in the past. They can develop a mindset that they won’t let anything else hurt them. One of the best ways to do that in their mind is to take control of things in their lives so nothing will go wrong again.
You knew this would be here. Many times when people were raised by a controlling parent they will tend to become controlling as well. Since they were raised this way they feel it’s the way they should raise they kids or interact with their spouses or others. Even if they don’t agree with how their parents acted and controlled them.
Ego and Pride
Sometime’s being controlling is simply a way for someone to feed their own ego. They feel that if they have the upper hand in a relationship you won’t be able to hurt them or their pride. This could come from being controlled themselves in childhood or another relationship or just because it makes them feel better about themselves. Which basically leads back to low self esteem.
So now let’s look at some specific controlling personality characteristics.
Controlling Personality Characteristics
See if you recognize a fair number of these characteristics in yourself or a close relationship you have such a spouse, significant other, or parent.
- Chronic criticism – A little criticism here and there isn’t a big deal. Heck, I invite constructive criticism from others to help me do my job better. However, if you find you are criticizing others constantly or are in a relationship where every other statement is critical of this, that, and the other thing, that’s a huge red flag.
- Making acceptance or caring conditional – Statements such as “I’d find you more attractive if you lost a little weight and toned up” or “You would be a better husband if you knew how to fix things around the house” are statements that have a controlling sense about them. The underlying theme is you aren’t good enough. You’d be better…..if.
- Ongoing scorecard – All relationships include a give and take of sorts. You provide quality work, your boss pays you. In a marriage or a long term relationship both parties provide something healthy to the other person. Otherwise what’s the point. If you are constantly keeping score of who does what in order to get pats on the back or hold a grudge, it’s a sign you could be controlling.
- Using guilt as a weapon – The better someone is at using guilt to get others to do what they want, the better an emotional manipulator they are. Guilt is a powerful emotion. Someone who is good at controlling others knows how to use someone’s own sense of guilt to get them to do what they want.
- Having an over watchful eye – In a relationship it’s a good thing to be generally aware of what you’re partner is doing. However it’s not good if you feel like you have to know every single detail about what your partner is doing. Demanding to look through someone’s phone or constantly checking their browser history is a sign you are attempting to control someone.
- Presumed guilty – A controlling person has a knack for making you feel guilty even when you have absolutely no reason to. Coming home to find someone angry at you for a reason you didn’t know anything about is a sign of a controlling person. If you actually cared you would have ______ (fill in the blank). This despite you knowing nothing about it until it’s brought up in anger. Another sign this happens a lot is the feeling you are walking on eggshells all the time.
More Controlling Personality Characteristics
Here are several other controlling personality characteristics.
- Teasing with an uncomfortable edge – I like to joke around a fair amount. Give crap to people including my wife and daughters. And they give it back and it all works out fine. Good clean fun. That being said if you are with someone who seems to joke and tease a lot but it seems to go right up the edge of hurting time and time again, that’s not so funny. It’s mean. If you are with someone who “teases” you constantly but there’s almost always a hurtful angle to it, get far far away. This is incredibly toxic.
- Can’t take no for an answer – People who exhibit controlling personality characteristics have a hard time taking no for an answer. They often expect you to put their wants and need ahead of their own. This means your “excuses” aren’t valid and you need to say yes. And if you hold your ground anger typically ensues.
- Quick to react – Controlling personalities are usually very quick to react to things. And this is not a jump up and down for joy type reaction. It’s more like they are quick to angry at things. They seem to have frequent mood swings. Unfortunately many of these mood swings are of the upset nature.
- Lack of empathy – When dealing with a controlling person it often seems like they can’t see your point of view. That’s primarily because a trait of controlling personalities is their lack of empathy. They really do have a hard time seeing a view other than their own.
- Drama King or Queen – Another one of the controlling personality characteristics is drama. As in there appears to be a lot of drama around someone with a controlling personality. The reason is because they create it. They seem to be happier with a lot of drama in their lives. Unfortunately this means a lot of drama for others who interact with them as well.
We’ve run down a fairly good list of controlling personality characteristics. As you might imagine there are others but these represent the big ones. If you know someone like this look into how to deal with them appropriately. I will write a few more articles to follow on this that may be of assistance. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself “that’s me” you might want to take a look at my resources section next. No one likes being around an overly controlling personality.
In good mental health,
A few resources in case you’d like further insight.
The Controlling Husband: What Every Woman Needs to Know – by Dr. Ron Welch
Controlling People: The Paradoxical Nature of Being Human – by Richard S. Marken & Timothy A. Carey
How To Deal With A Controlling Person – by Terrance Williams