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How to Manage Controlling Behaviors in Early Dating Relationships

Whenever you meet someone new and start dating, it can be exciting and a little nerve-wracking. You recognize you like the person and want things to go well. However, perhaps you’ve noticed there are times when the person shows some controlling behaviors toward you.

To avoid falling into the trap of becoming accustomed to someone who’s increasingly dominant, use these methods to manage a partner’s controlling behaviors early on in dating relationships:

1. Be open, honest, and clear about your own feelings from Day 1. Decline to take part in activities you prefer to avoid. Tell the truth about what you like and don’t like, even if you aren’t directly asked.

2. State what you’d like to do on a date. Pick the restaurant. Say if you don’t eat a particular kind of food. Consider your feelings and preferences as important as your partner’s.

3. Set clear boundaries. From the start, establish comfortable boundaries. For example, if the person just pops over to your house without calling, it’s appropriate to state, “I’m not comfortable with you coming to my house unannounced. Let’s agree to make plans in advance so we both know what’s going on and can schedule dates accordingly.”

4. Avoid going along with everything just so you won’t rock the boat. If you’re uncomfortable about something, speak up. Part of getting acquainted with someone new is honestly revealing your wishes and needs.

5. If you were less than pleased with the way your new friend behaved in public, remind yourself you’re entitled to your feelings. Think through the situation when you’re alone later and decide what you want to do about the public behavior. Do you want to talk to them about it? Or is their misbehavior a deal-breaker for you?

· Here’s an example: when you met with some of your work friends together, he openly insisted that you not sit beside a male co-worker whom you’ve been friends with for years. He was so insistent that, just to get him to stop his comments, you quickly switched seats.

· When this type of occurrence takes place, the question is “wouldn’t you rather discuss your feelings about his behavior right away so he understands how you feel and can adjust his actions in the future?”

6. Address challenging issues swiftly and tactfully. This way, there’s no question in your new friend’s mind about what you do and do not feel comfortable with.

· If they get angry with your honest expression, that will be your cue to say, “I’m sorry you’re upset but this issue is important to me.” If your new friend cannot accept your feelings about the situation, ponder whether it’s wise to go any further in the relationship.

7. Remind yourself neither person should possess all the power in the relationship. You’re both entitled to your feelings. However, if either of you seem to “rule” the relationship, it’s time to re-consider how you relate to each other. Healthy relationships exhibit a healthy balance of power.

8. If you feel extreme discomfort or fear because of your new friend’s behavior, recognize this may not be a relationship you want to continue. Under no condition should you push away feelings of fear that are well-grounded.

· If someone is even mildly or verbally threatening toward you when you date them, take careful, safe steps to separate yourself from the person.

You can successfully manage controlling behaviors of a new friend in a developing relationship by practicing the above strategies. Many times, your openness and capacity to genuinely express your wants and feelings will quell the other person’s efforts to take complete control.

Trust yourself to address any challenging situations right away to have a healthy, caring, and enjoyable relationship.

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