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15 Signs of a Controlling Boyfriend

It can be challenging to spot a controlling boyfriend, as you may become used to his behavior or blinded by your love for him.

Esther Evans By Esther Evans Reviewed by Lea Bennet

There are two types of controlling boyfriends: the first type is subtle in their controlling behavior, while the second type is overtly controlling, which may go unnoticed if one is blinded by love or has been in the relationship for a significant amount of time.

He could be controlling you for many different reasons, but it’s most likely that he has trust issues and is probably a very insecure person. Perhaps he was cheated on in the past, and he’s afraid of it happening again, so he acts this way to prevent it.

He’s probably not aware of the things he’s doing to be controlling, and he likely feels it’s normal and completely acceptable to want to know all of these things. However, it’s not. Below, you’ll find the signs that indicate he’s a controlling boyfriend, so you can end the relationship if he is.

1. He makes you share your location with him.

There are very few scenarios where sharing your location is acceptable. For example, in some relationships, partners may share their locations with each other as a safety precaution, depending on their work hours and workplace. Others may choose to share their location to avoid repeatedly being asked, “When will you be home? I’d like to start making dinner.”

However, when you have a controlling boyfriend, he may demand that you share your location with him, without being willing to reciprocate. He will want to know where you are at all times, and if your location is not available to him, he may start a fight over it.

2. You have a curfew.

It’s rare for him to let you go out without him, but if he does, he imposes a curfew on you. He is controlling, but he doesn’t want to appear that way, so he won’t explicitly tell you to come back by a certain time. However, he will get angry if you don’t return home by a specific time.

He will also ask you what time you plan to come back before you leave so that he can hold you accountable for what you said and use it against you if you come home later than expected. If you go out at night, he will wait for you to come home, even if it’s late, but it’s not out of concern for your safety.

3. He checks your phone.

Man checking social media.
One sign that he has a controlling personality is if he is always monitoring your social media activity.

He checks your phone, with or without your permission. He goes through your conversations, even if he has already asked you who you’re talking to. He will do this behind your back, so be alert if you want to catch him doing it. Consider taking your phone with you everywhere, even into the bathroom while you’re showering, and see how he reacts when you come out.

He will likely be restless and ask what you were doing in there. You can take that as a sign that he probably checks your phone while you’re in the shower. You can try this while doing other activities when you would typically leave your phone elsewhere and observe how he behaves.

4. He stalks you on social media.

He knows how many friends and followers you have on your social media accounts, and he also knows how many people you follow. He always pays attention to any new person who follows you or whom you follow, and he even stalks them.

He goes through your messages on social media and keeps track of who is liking and commenting on your photos. If he’s extremely controlling, he may even question you about it to ensure that you’re telling him the truth.

5. He has to know everyone you talk to.

Not only does he have to know whom you’re talking to, but he also has to personally know them or at least be aware of them. He may even get irritated if he discovers that you’re conversing with someone whom you haven’t mentioned to him. If you want to verify that he’s controlling you in this way, try speaking with both men and women a few times, and if his reaction is always the same, you can consider him a controlling boyfriend.

6. He doesn’t let you go out with just anyone.

Just as he needs to know whom you’re talking to, he also needs to know whom you’re going to go out with. He’ll probably be more at ease if they are females, particularly if they are in relationships. He’ll feel like he has less to worry about. You can be sure that he’ll be uncomfortable with you going out with a group of male friends, particularly if they are all single, and even more so if he hasn’t met any of them. Even if they are colleagues, he’ll find it unusual.

7. He always wants to be where you are.

He always wants to accompany you to any gathering you attend, even if you’re just having lunch with your girlfriends. This could work in your favor because other people get to witness how he treats you and how controlling he can be, which you may not see for yourself because you’re blinded by your love and attraction.

It’s important to listen to your friends if they warn you about his behavior because it can be challenging to see things clearly when you’re in the middle of it. But if you want to get out of that situation, you need to be able to recognize and acknowledge the problem. 

8. You feel like you don’t have any privacy.

Privacy becomes a thing of the past when you’re in a controlling relationship. If you haven’t noticed due to all of the previous signs, you no longer have any privacy, and you can’t keep things to yourself. He has to know everything about you, from whom you speak with to whom you spend time with, and the list goes on.

9. He makes you share your passwords.

If he wants to check your messages and social media activity, he will ask for your passwords so that it’s easier for him. He will likely demand that you share your passwords with him if you suspect that he’s controlling, and you’ve been noticing more and more signs. If you’re unsure about his controlling behavior, try changing your passwords and not informing him. Observe how he reacts, and take it from there.

10. You feel like you have to hide things.

Girl sitting on a bench.
Do you constantly feel like you need to hide things from him?

If you feel like you have to hide things from your boyfriend to feel like you still have a say in your life without him, then he’s probably a controlling partner. You shouldn’t have to hide anything from your boyfriend, and details should flow naturally.

You might not share every single thing with him, and that doesn’t imply you’re concealing something; you just don’t think it’s essential to share. However, if you’re going out of your way to hide things, and it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong and actually need to hide it, he’s undoubtedly controlling.

11. He treats you like you’re his property.

He no longer treats you like a human being, and you feel more like an object that belongs to him. You have to ask his permission for every little thing, and he needs to know who you’re with at all times. He’s always around, paying attention to your every move. 

12. He takes advantage of your indecisiveness.

If you’re an indecisive person, he’s going to exploit that and choose what is most convenient for him. If you’re beginning to realize that he’s controlling you, start making your own choices, even if it’s difficult for you. This will catch him off guard and make him feel less powerful.

13. He gets upset when he doesn’t get his way.

He always wants to be the one who chooses what he wants and when he wants it, and if that’s not the case, he becomes upset. He’ll always be convinced that he’s right, even when he’s wrong, and you’ll always be in the wrong, even when you’re actually right.

14. You feel worried when you don’t run something past him.

You’ve gotten so used to being controlled by him that when you don’t run something past him or inform him of a new friend or anything new in your life, you feel worried and anxious. You’re afraid he’s going to be mad at you and you always want to avoid that if possible. If you notice you are feeling this way, you should reconsider being in this relationship. No one should ever feel like this in a healthy relationship.

15. He doesn’t let you have guy friends.

You have very few male friends in your life because he doesn’t allow you to have any male friends. You might be permitted to be friends with his friends, but you cannot have your own male friends. If you had many male friends before your relationship, you will realize that he has made you distance yourself from them, and you are no longer close to them.

Wrapping it up. As challenging as it may be to leave a controlling relationship, you need to be strong, find a way to see things clearly, and leave the relationship. If they’re controlling from the outset, you need to be cautious and get out even quicker because it could get progressively worse. Be mindful of the signs of a controlling boyfriend so that you don’t have to face the consequences of being in such a relationship.

About the Author

Esther Evans Image

Esther Evans is a professional journalist with a passion for music culture, human rights, photography, and writing. Originally from Nashville, TN, she now works from our local office in San Francisco, CA. Esther combines her love of writing and photography to create unique and engaging pieces of content for our readers. With a focus on creating meaningful and viral content, Esther strives to provide readers with articles that they can enjoy, learn from, and share.