ding a controlling or manipulative relationship can be even harder than being in one. Though you may think that you don’t have the courage to end the relationship or that your partner won’t be able to make it without you — even if he or she hurts you all the time — you won’t be able to start living life on your own terms until you make the break. If you want to truly end the relationship, then you have to prepare in advance, execute your plan, and follow through. The most important part is building up the courage to do it.
Recognize that you’re being controlled. Many controlling or manipulative relationships last far longer than they should because the person who is being controlled or manipulative is in denial about anything being wrong. You may think your partner is just a bit moody or needy when in fact, that person has slowly taken over every aspect of your life. Here are some signs that you’re in a manipulative or controlling relationship:
If you’ve noticed that the person has slowly begun to take over every aspect of your life — from how often you see friends to where you go for dinner — then you’re being controlled.
If the person you’re with has angry or emotional outbursts followed by telling you how much he or she needs you or loves you, then the person is trying to control you with his or her emotions.
If you’ve tried to leave before and the person has threatened violence or even suicide, then you’re being threatened and manipulated.
If the person you’re with is extremely jealous and hates it when you hang out with your friends, especially with people of the opposite gender, and makes it difficult for you to hang out with other people, then you’re being controlled.
If your partner has put you down in front of friends and family, has discouraged you from speaking too much in public, and gives you a scary look that makes you keep quiet, then you’re being controlled.
If you find yourself giving in to your partner time and time again because you’re afraid of how he or she will act if you don’t, then you need to get out of the relationship.
If you’re being pressured to do things you don’t want to do, especially sexually, then you’re being controlled.
If you find yourself desperate to please that person at any cost, then you’ve stopped thinking about yourself.
If the person makes you feel like there’s no way out of the relationship and that you’ll never find someone else who wants you, then you’re being manipulated into staying in the relationship.
Think of all the reasons you need to leave. Once you realize you’re in a controlling or manipulative relationship, you need to start thinking about how much better your life will be when you’re done with it. This will motivate you to leave and to start making a game plan for getting out. Write these reasons down to firmly plant them in your mind, and to make you see that you need to get out ASAP if you want to start enjoying your life again. Here are some reasons why you need to leave:
You can start being your own person again. Write down all of the things you loved doing before the relationship, from grabbing fro-yo with your friends to spending hours taking long walks by yourself, that your partner no longer “lets” you do.
You can start enjoying your other relationships. Remember how you used to hang out with your buddies before your girlfriend stepped in and said every night would be date night? Write down your favorite memories from hanging out with your friends and family and think of all the fun and fulfillment you can have once you start enjoying those again.
Your self-esteem will skyrocket. Right now, your self-worth may be based on how good your partner may make you feel at a given moment, and once you’re out of there, you can assess yourself on your own terms. And if your self-esteem is low because you know you’re letting yourself give in to an emotional or unstable person, you’ll feel better once you stop doing that.
You can stop living in constant fear and anxiety. Instead of worrying about how your significant other will react to something you’ll do or say, you can just enjoy your life.
You can even have a good friend help you generate some reasons — a friend may have an insight into your relationship that you don’t have, and he or she can motivate you to leave.
Plan what you’ll say. You should keep it short and sweet and not leave room for the other person to try to reason with you, to beg you to change your mind, or to promise that he or she will change or do anything you want to stay in the relationship. You don’t have to give a million reasons for why you’re leaving or to list all of the times the person has disappointed you — that will only make things more difficult.
Just say, “This isn’t working for me” or “It’s time to say goodbye,” and give a few more statements, but keep it brief.
There’s no point in being vindictive or accusatory. That will only make your partner more emotionally volatile.
Be as calm as you can when you deliver this news. Don’t yell, cry, or pace around. Keep it almost matter-of-fact, even if you’re hurting inside. If you’re obviously emotional, your partner will see that you can be manipulated.
Once you’ve figure out what you’ll say, you should practice how you’ll say it. This will help you be comfortable with the words.
Plan how you’ll say it. The method of delivery is very important when you’re dealing with an unstable or controlling person. The most important thing to think about is that if the person is at all violent or if you’re truly afraid of how the person will react, then you should give the news in a public place, where you feel safe — bring a friend if necessary.
If you really don’t even want to face the person, just write him or her a note or email. If it’s gotten so bad that you’re afraid to talk face to face, then just get out whatever way you can.
Though once you’ve decided to end the relationship, you should act quickly, give some thought to the timing. Don’t end the relationship after you and/or your partner have been drinking, or in the middle of a very stressful event. Try to pick a time when your partner is likely to be a bit more stable — even if that isn’t saying much.
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Come up with an escape plan. If you live with the person or if you’ve just left a lot of things at his or her place, you should think about how you’ll get back your stuff. You can try to be sneaky and get it out before you break up with the person, so you don’t have to go back after you do it. Have a few friends come and help you get the stuff, whether it’s behind the person’s back or after the break-up. This will make you feel safer and more motivated to leave.
If you do live with the person, you should also find a place to stay before you initiate the break up, so you’re not stranded and tempted to go back.
End the relationship in your mind. Before you say what you have to say, tell yourself that it’s really over and start dealing with the natural mourning that comes after a serious relationship is over. If you start already thinking of yourself as broken up — without telling your significant other — you’ll feel stronger when you say what you have to say because you’ve already made up your mind.