10 warning signs your ex is trying to control you (and how to respond)

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Letting go of a relationship that has ended, even when you know it’s for the best, can be one of the most challenging experiences of your life.

It’s natural to want to remain friends with your ex, or be on friendly terms so that you can see each other from time to time and maintain some kind of connection.

But what happens when these relationships turn sour? When your ex starts trying to control you? If you find out that an old partner is trying to manipulate or influence your behaviour in any way, then it’s high time for action.

After all, someone who tries to control you is not interested in having an equal relationship at all.

Here are 10 warning signs your ex is trying to control you and how you should respond to it.

1) Your ex breaks up with you and then immediately wants to get back together

It means that they were never actually interested in breaking up in the first place.

But it’s also possible that they were never actually emotionally available to be in a relationship in the first place.

They may have been trying to control you by getting you to invest time, energy, and emotions into the relationship, only to break up with you when you’re most vulnerable — and then try to reel you back in once you’ve had time to heal.

If you’ve been in this situation, pay attention to the timing of the break-up and the timing of the reconciliation. Is it really possible for them to have been emotionally available for a relationship, break up with you, and then become emotionally available again so quickly?

Don’t immediately jump into their arms.

Unless there are clear signs that they’ve learned their lessons, assured you that they’ll work on their flaws, and shown that they still have genuine care and love for you, you shouldn’t allow them back into your heart so easily.

2) They’re always checking in on you

It may seem like they still care if they’re still constantly checking on you but it could be a sign they want to keep tabs on you.

This could be because:

  • They want to know where you live or work
  • They want to know who you’re spending time with
  • They’re not over you yet

They might also be worried that you’ll find someone better and leave them for good or worried about someone else stealing you away.

So, what do you do?

Well, your friends would tell you not to respond at all. But if you do still feel compelled to reply, make sure to take your time to evaluate your response and keep it light.

You can also be honest and open by laying it on the table to make sure both sides are on the same page.

3) They constantly want to know where you are and who you’re with

It’s normal for exes to want to know where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing.

But beware:

This can become unhealthy if the ex is stalking you on social media posts to see where you are or constantly trying to contact you to track your movements.

This is a red flag that your ex isn’t truly over you and may not be ready to move on.

It is also a form of control and it can be scary and intrusive.

You should let your ex know that it is not okay for them to contact you and that they must respect your wishes.

If this doesn’t work, you should change your number and keep your new phone number private if possible.

Another way to protect yourself from being stalked and harassed by your ex is to not allow them access to your social media.

This might be a hassle but If you start dating someone new, don’t share too much information about your relationship online.

You never know who else might be watching….

This will protect you from unwanted attention and ensure that your ex won’t be able to find out where you are.

If you constantly give in, it can get to the stage where they start to further exercise control over you, which I’ll elaborate on in my next point.

4) You’re being told what to do, where to go, and who to see

This may include telling you what to wear, who you can hang out with, or what you’re allowed to do on social media.

Wanting to know what you are doing and who you are with are still okay, but if they start demanding what you are allowed to do, RUN!

Whether it’s coming from a place of love or a place of control, no one has the right to tell you what to do.

If your ex is doing this and you don’t like it, you should put a stop to it immediately.

You don’t have to justify your actions to your ex and you don’t have to be subjected to their controlling behaviour.

Don’t listen to your ex if they are trying to dictate your behaviour and impose their rules on you.

5) They make constant demands

Exes can be incredibly draining, especially when they are constantly demanding more and more of your time and attention in the relationship.

They might want you to drop everything you’re doing and focus on them instead or even try to manipulate you into being more available to them (which I’ll explain in my next point).

And while this may not be the case with every ex, it’s still important to remember that no one is obligated to do anything they don’t want to.

Yes, it’s hard to say no to someone you have spent most of your time loving.

But if your ex starts making unreasonable demands, consider taking a step back and doing some reality-based thinking.

Maybe there are other ways you can manage things that don’t require you to give up so much of your time or energy?

If you’re able to take care of some of these other issues, then it may be possible for things to work out between you in the long run.

6) They demand to know why you’re not responding

Have your ex called or texted you repeatedly when you take your time to respond?

You’re basically giving them the classic “silent treatment” that we’ve all experienced.

It’s when your ex gets mad because you’re not caring enough to respond to their text, call, or email.

They may accuse you of being distracted, ignoring them, or ignoring their calls.

Admit it.

In a way, this is true — you are ignoring them, and it’s completely fine!

There are a number of reasons why you may not be responding via text, phone, or email.

If you’ve been busy working or taking care of other things, it may be difficult to take the time to respond.

Or perhaps your ex is being unreasonable and demanding, which can make it hard to focus on them.

The truth is that there are times when it doesn’t feel like you want to respond but you’d like to reassure your ex that everything is fine.

You may be afraid that if you don’t say something, they’ll think that something bad is going on.

Just say something like “I’m busy at the moment so I’ll reply later.”

If your ex asks more questions, just leave it at that and end the conversation.

Whatever the reason, don’t feel like you have to justify yourself.

7) Your ex constantly reminds you of your mistakes

In healthy relationships, partners support each other as they work to improve themselves.

They don’t berate each other with constant reminders of past mistakes.

Instead, they understand that everyone makes mistakes, and they’re there to help each other learn and grow from those mistakes.

If your ex constantly reminds you of something you did wrong during the relationship — or even something you did as a child — they may be trying to control you by making you feel inadequate.

Pay attention to the types of mistakes they’re focusing on.

What are they hoping to gain from bringing them up again and again?

Think about that for a minute.

It may be their strategy to keep you feeling insecure or unworthy in order to prevent you from feeling good enough to move on and forget about them.

Learning to ignore them every time they bring it up is the best thing you can do.

Why do I say this? It’s because the more you ask them to quit bringing it up, the more they do.

8) They guilt trip you or try to manipulate your emotions

Some people try to control their exes by trying to manipulate their emotions.

Trying to manipulate your emotions through guilt is a passive-aggressive way of trying to get their way.

It’s also a common tactic they use when they are trying to manipulate you into staying in the relationship.

Although this may make you feel guilty, you need to stay strong and not let these tactics work on you.

They are just trying to sow doubt into your mind and make you feel like there’s no way out of the situation.

Don’t let them!

You should also be wary of any sudden changes in behaviour or mood from your ex.

Your ex could be trying to get your attention in order to get something out of the relationship, even though they claim they want to save it.

9) You feel like you need to have your ex’s approval before making any decisions

This could be an indirect result of them guilt-tripping you.

An unhealthy partner (or ex) wants you to rely on them more than you rely on yourself.

While some people provide input on their partner’s decisions, it becomes controlling when it happens too often.

This can be extremely unsettling because it can lead to feelings of guilt and insecurity.

This feeling is often compounded by the fact that you may not know how your ex will react to certain decisions or actions, which can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

Try to understand that you do not need to seek your ex’s approval to make a decision.

Sure, you can ask for their advice, or simply ask yourself how you feel about an issue.

If you’re unsure of how to proceed, don’t be afraid to take some time to think things through.

You don’t want to be in a relationship where you don’t feel like you can make decisions by yourself.

10) Their behaviour is erratic and unpredictable

An unpredictable ex can be difficult to handle, leaving you feeling helpless and vulnerable.

It’s hard to know what they will do next, and it can feel as though they are unpredictable and inconsistent.

This is because an unpredictable ex is not likely to stick to a set routine.

With their behaviour so unpredictable, it’s all too easy for us to react in the same way – which can be frustrating for both parties involved.

Don’t let this be you.

Despite what you might think, trying to reason with someone who is unstable is not a good idea.

Instead, you should focus on taking care of yourself and think about what you want in your life. As long as you keep strong, you’ll be able to get through this difficult time.

Bottom line

Exes don’t have to be friends but they shouldn’t be trying to control or manipulate you either.

You don’t have to put up with this kind of behaviour.

If you want to break free from their controlling ways, you need to make it clear that you’re not interested in being controlled. You can do this by setting boundaries and ending the relationship if necessary.

You also need to remind yourself that you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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