Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Is he controlling or am I just sensitive?

Community Member

My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly 3 years. I used to be scared of him - as in he was quite critical of how I would go about doing certain things for eg how to make dinner. We purchased a second-hand boat and I don't have much experience with boats. Each time we have taken it out I have found him to be bossy, critical (not having much patience when teaching me the ropes) and if I do something 'wrong' he belittles me by saying things such as, 'As per usual, your doing things half-assed'. I'm dreading the day we get our motor boat back from getting fixed, as I don't want to go out in it as each time we've gone out, I've felt so stupid, small and dumb.

The boat has been away for fixing for 3 weeks now, during which time I've resumed training for a 10k fun run and doing yoga. Doing these things has given boosted my self-acceptance and self-esteem....so much so that whenever my boyfriend talks down, gets bossy or insulting towards me, instead of cowering and saying 'I'm sorry', I've gone the other way and have gotten reactionary. My behaviour is now '....and that's another thing I've done wrong' or getting defensive and angry.

My question is, is his behaviour deemed as emotional abuse? Also, how can I find a middle ground for myself - by not allowing his behaviour to dictate how I respond?

38 Replies 38

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Carolyn Rae~

No doubt you have thought of this but it bears repeating as what we think ourselves can sometimes be too easily discarded.

Your reactions up until now were your best judgment at the time, and true, in hindsight you might have handled things differently. However you now do have that experience and also the self-assurance and pride not to go down the same path again. Who knows what would have happened if you had reacted differently. You might not have the hard-won strength you do now. Sometimes things have to come to a head.


Since my last post, issues that my ex have had with me are coming out in to the open, especially since I told him that I won't be talked down to and deserve respect.

As it turns out he has some resentment towards me - in that he was sick of doing all the driving (I've got my learners and have had bad experiences learning to drive as he would be impatient and yell at me); he was sick of doing overtime at work (his choice as he wanted extra money); and after discussing how to fix up my superannuation (ie to start doing voluntary contributions to help build the balance) he wanted me to a) get a better paying job as he felt that he was paying the lions share b) stop doing the voluntary superannuation contributions as he said that it was only me that was going to benefit from that and that I had to put the money instead, in to the joint savings account - so that he can benefit from it as well.

I was told that I'd have to get my license soon or by the end of the year, or else.

He said he had been feeling that way for a while - I guess when I 'stood up' for myself was indeed the last straw for him.

Both of us with resentment. Was never going to be a good ending.

I make my way to and from work, to yoga and the shops by way of my electric bike (he doesn't drive us around all the time - btw he is a truck driver); he probably feels 'used' by me, even though I happen to do most of the housework (due to him being tired at the end of each day); I've taken a driving de-merit point for him so that he can keep his license so that he still has his truck driving job; I guess in the end he feels used and can't see anything but that.

I wanted respect (as outlined above) and he felt used and thought that I thought that he was ripping me off when he told me that he created a temporary bank account and I foolishly asked him if it was in joint names (my reasoning for that was to know what we were both responsible for (in case something happend to one of us and I had to handle the finances.

In my Will I left everything to him to do as he pleases and made him the beneficiary on my superannuation. I told him and showed him that I had done these things, but to no avail. He said that it wasn't about possessions or money.

Hello Carolyn Rae, I've read the comments above, but there are too many wrongs that far outweigh any rights.

It's your decision what you do with your will, but to me, I would be reconsidering what you have done and leaving everything to him. Geoff.

Dear Carolyn Rae;

I've followed this thread with interest and thought I might respond due to my experience with 'bullies' and men who 'parent' their wives or girlfriends.

In your case, it seems classic co-dependent behaviour 'from both of you'. As Croix has accurately stated, 'a specific personality type' could be given to your spouse, but also to you; for every bully there's a victim waiting in the wings.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but the reality of these types of relationships means there can be no positive outcome. His style of communication screams of toxic parenting, and your responses seem like a child who wants their parent's approval. Please correct me if I'm off the mark. I'm only going on what you've presented in your posts.

When you stood up for yourself, he upped the anti so to speak. This is a normal response for a bully. They can't take responsibility for their behaviour so they porn it off to the person closest to them; the one's they 'don't fear or respect'.

'Acting' nice in the presence of your family is also A Typical behaviour. He obviously see's them as authority figures who can affect your choices and thinking. It's all a con and part of his tactics to remain in control..

You haven't said how old you are, but I'm assuming he's much older than you. Even so, abuse is abuse. So where do you go to from here? IMO, you need to look at your own behaviour instead of his. You have NO control over him.

Changing your focus from him to yourself will help you understand the role you play in this situation. Your need to 'please' to avoid his abuse requires courage and conviction to identify, then change. Do you have what it takes?

This whole thread has been about coping with his behaviour and strategies to keep you in line. If you read back over this thread, you'll see how many times you've spoken of your disappointment and need to be accepted as an equal.

Yet, you chose to appoint him as beneficiary of your Super and Will just to prove to him you care. He'll 'always' make you out to be in the wrong and less than him no matter how hard you try Carolyn.

I realise this has probably been very difficult for you to read. I'm sorry if it's made you upset, but when I see these types of situations, I feel it's my duty of care to lay things on the line. My intent is to enlighten you for your safety and well being.

Kind thoughts;


Hi Sez,

Yep, I'm a people pleaser alright.

I've rethought my Will. Have destroyed it as in hindsight I could see how desperate I was behaving. In addition to being a people pleaser, I have a fear of abandonment (the latter came to my consciousness last night).

Nothing is able to be controlled, however I can work on myself and my own issues. 'Standing up' to him took a lot of courage and I guess it's only the start of my development.

I'm 41 and he is 45.

After spending the four days with my family, and feeling and being treated like 'the old me' - a person who is good, kind, caring, smart and capable- gave me the courage to approach him and to say 'no more'.

Hi Carolyn;

What a wonderful post! I feel a bit stupid (and relieved) after everything I wrote. The issue of staying in abusive relationships is close to my heart; both for myself and a family member who stayed with a monster for 35 yrs.

I see posts like yours often and worry about future abuse and the relationship continuing in the same direction. But you've shown how insightful and courageous you are with making decisions that benefit your well being, even though they're very difficult.

Trusting your own judgement is an inspiring quality to have; I applaud you..

Those ah-ha moments of clarity feel pretty awesome hey? Not easy, but freeing none the less. I hope you cope with the next month or so as it can be a bit isolating. I'm glad you have your folks for company and support with any grief that may occur.

Please call in anytime to let us know how things are travelling ok.

Kind thoughts;


Hi Sez,

Your posts (like all posts here) are valuable and help me in my journey.

It's good to know that I've got support (especially when I'm going through a depressive episode.

I'm finding it scary standing up for myself/being assertive because I don't know what the reaction is going to be (classic people pleaser, wanting to be liked by everyone).

All my family are in another city (same state) and they're only a flight away.

Those 'ah ha' moments are great. Especially when I realise that I've paid for a car outright (my car - was going to learn to drive but too many arguments were happening and I stopped trying); helped pay for the small motor boat; diving gear; second car to tow the boat. Now the engine on the boat needs it's gear box replaced and hobbies (such as getting the appropriate license to be able to do target shooting (which includes getting the appropriate safe as required by police in which to store registered firearms) AND then I'm told to earn more money. Doesn't take a genius to work out that no matter how much money I earn, it's likely that it wouldn't have been enough for him. I think it's called not living within one's means.

I'm happy in my job and earn enough to cover the necessities and then some.

I'm all for having hobbies, but when there seems to be a build up of hobbies and one finds themself having to earn more money to cover them (and then wants more hobbies) I start to wonder.

Hi Carolyn;

Wow! You did this all in a few yrs? Seems you've been living someone else's life..

I'm wondering if, being 40, you've been avoiding independence. (By not driving) Being a people pleaser can have underlying issues yeah?

I'm so sorry you're feeling in a depressive state. It does come with the territory unfortunately when choosing 'loss' over dependence; you've left so much behind.

Have you heard from him? How much leave do you have from your job? Can you transfer?

I'm proud of you for taking this really important step.

Take it easy; (Sorry for all the questions)


Hi Sez,

I've not got my drivers license as the public transport (where I used to live) was great. Since being in Townsville, I've got my electric bike which gets me around. I can even do the grocery shopping.

Our lease doesn't end until December 2018 so we're under one roof but not a couple.

He's been having what I term 'dummy spits' since that momentus day whenever he sees that he isn't negatively affecting me. He's not in control and he doesn't like it. To be able to come and go as I please whilst still paying my way is scary but ok.

I can't afford to break my part of the lease. It's a three bedroom house so there is plenty of room. I've got friends places I can stay at if worst case scenerio.

I've got friends here and my job is here so will stay in this town for a while.