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. Controlling people may come on very strongly in the beginning with seemingly romantic gestures.
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.
Or they try to turn you against anyone that you're used to relying on for support besides them.
Their goal is to strip you of your support network, and thus your strength—so that you will be less likely or able to stand up against them whenever they want to "win." 2) Chronic criticism—even if it's 'small' things.
Criticism, like isolation, is also something that can start small.
In fact, someone may try to convince themselves that their partner's criticism of them is warranted, or that their partner is just trying to help them be a better person.
Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation.
If you notice more than a couple of these signs within your relationship or your partner, take it seriously.
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.
Specifically, they create an expectation of you giving something in return, or a sense that you feel beholden to that person because of all they've given you.
This can make it more emotionally and logistically difficult to escape when further warning bells go off.
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.
Many of us visualize a controlling partner as one who openly berates everyone in their path, is physically aggressive, or constantly makes overt threats or ultimatums.