How to Deal With a Control Freak

Health Balance

If the person you live with is bossy and domineering, has the last say in everything, refuses to listen to you on each and every occasion you try to make your voice heard, controls all the money in the house, and verbally or physically abuses you (or sulks until you submit to him/ her), then this person is a control freak to an extreme extent.  If they are only some of these things; then, there is room for improvement, if and only if they are willing to get help!

Do you know someone who has to dictate and tell everyone how to do things all the time and control everything around them? How can you deal with them and not let them drive you crazy? Here are some steps that really work.


  1. Understand that control freaks are people who are terrified of failure. They can not trust that anyone will do a better job than they will. It is a personality disorder stemming from childhood that can cause misery in the work place and at home. Most “control freaks” are unhappy and insecure people who don’t understand how their words and actions can affect people.

  2. Behave consistently calm and patient with them. Getting angry just doesn’t work. If it is a personal relationship and it has become abusive-get out and leave. Tell them you need a break from them for now and move on in your life. They will not get better until they seek long term therapy. If it is someone in your family just try to stay out of their way. Sometimes it may seem there is just no pleasing the control freak. They will criticize you on everything and it is very hard not to take it personally. It can make you furious and hurt your feelings.The WORST thing you can do is fight with them because it just wastes your time. They will not and can not change without help. This is their deep seated problem not yours. If you’re a teen- try to be agreeable and keep very busy all the time. You can stay away and get out of the house by doing sports or getting really good grades. Tell them you would love to hang out or talk but you are busy with studying, playing, etc. Make up good excuses. Then go out and find really nice people who make you feel good about yourself. Try to have high but realistic goals and achieve them just for YOURSELF. This will also make you happy and content with yourself.

  3. Monitor their anxiety levels. A control freak has no coping skills when they are stressed and that is when they run over people. They believe that no one can do as good of a job at something as they will. They will get bogged down because they have taken too much on for themselves and then strike out. Try to be alert to the mood change and be on your toes.

  4. Running a business with a “control freak” or with someone who is controlled by a control freak is pure misery as they will reject most or all of your ideas. Don’t take it personal-it is not that your ideas are bad but that they did not think of them. Be supportive and positive but understand your voice will not be heard.

  5. Stop suggesting new ideas in the workplace if you are an employee. Just keep agreeing with them to keep the peace and try to keep them from getting worried about your end. You may need to reassure them constantly that they are the “boss” and you value your job. If possible start looking for a new job.

  6. Realize that your life is important. There are always other jobs and other people to have healthy relationships with. If the situation is intolerable, don’t torture yourself and find a way out. No one should be given have the power to “control” your life. It is your life. Don’t forget it. For teens, you have to wait until you are at least 18 years old before you can work and be on your own. Or ask your parents to pay for college if they have the money. Apply to colleges that are out of state.

  7. Choose to forgive. Control freaks are riddled with fears and insecurities that leave them never satisfied and happy. They demand perfection from themselves and we all know that perfection is not easy to achieve if not impossible. You can leave and find happiness for yourself, they may never find peace in their lives.

  8. Start to build your own self esteem. It has most likely taken a hit. Be kind to yourself. If you are under the thumb of a control freak, they might have convinced you that you are worthless to stop you from moving on and leaving them. Don’t believe them for one minute. Control freaks like to make people feel insecure about themselves. Don’t fall for their tricks. Start to distance yourself slowly.

  9. Design a plan to either stay and continue the work/romantic relationship or leave but set a time limit so you will feel you have some control over the matter. If you are living with a control freak, don’t think you can change him, you can not. He might get worse as he gets older


    • Try to avoid getting in a relationship or working for a control freak if possible. There are red flag warnings that the person is one if they need to insist everything be done only their way, find faults constantly in other people, are not able to relax and let other people take charge of a project. They made need to control your every action in a personal relationship. They can be insanely jealous and possessive for no reason.
    • When dating, make sure you look for the signs. Jealousy and guilt can be a way of controlling people. Control freaks are very good at manipulation as well. Keep your eyes and ears open! Look for any signs.
    • Be wary if he or she wants to do everything for you in a relationship. Drive you, shop for you, etc. Test them by telling them you have other plans for a weekend. If they can’t stop calling you and trying to be involved in your life, you have a potential “control freak”. Be warned- you are heading for a disaster.
    • It is more important for a control freak to feel they are right about something than the relationship with you. If it is a boss, just agree with them on the small things even if you don’t. However don’t compromise yourself either by breaking the law or hurting other people. Stand your ground and be the person with morals and values.
    • If you are a teenager and your parent is a control freak-you will have to be very patient and live with it. Try to humor them and get out of the house without ruining your education.
    • They may use emotions to control you eg they may panic about things because this will draw you into their control when you sympathize with them.
    • They may say they care about you and that they only do the things they do because they care, this can make you feel at ease about things and perhaps wonder if you were taking the things they do wrongly (You Are Then Under Their Control).
    • They may make you feel that you are paranoid and indeed it is you with the problem, this can cause your mental wellbeing to be harmed, it is not you with the problem but this tactic may put you off guard which it was designed to do by the controller.
    • Learn how to honestly assess your own strengths and failures, possibly by discussion (privately!) with a third, uninvolved party. Be sure to choose someone who can be trusted with the information, who understands how to deal with similar situations, and knows you well enough to give you accurate feedback. No one is -all- good or -all- bad, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. When you know the truth about yourself (good -or- bad), you won’t be fooled by the control freak’s emotional whims and tactics.


  • Control freaks are very difficult and sometimes even dangerous when they are rejected in a personal relationship. Be very careful in breaking it off with them. If possible, make them break up with you. That way it is their idea and will sit better with them.
  • Record any possible threats they make to you if they won’t let you get out of a relationship. Then go to the Police. Get a restraining order if possible, although this can sometimes be taken as public humiliation by the person you want the restraining order against. Control freaks could also be dangerous if you challenge or they feel that you challenge their control, losing their control is not an option and they may lash out to regain control or they may become agitated or depressed if they are feeling the control slipping away from them. This can sometimes motivate them to seek some sort of revenge against you to regain a feeling of control over the situation. In the case of the other person seeking some sort of violent contact with you, a restraining order will not prevent them from breaking the law if they choose to do so. The Police may not get there in time to help you, but if the Control Freak is not in your house or placing you in a situation where you are in immediate danger, but is merely harassing you, calling the police is a good idea.
  • Move out of town or into a shelter if you feel you are in danger and have no close friends to stay with you. If you do have close friends or family to stay with, it would be wise to make sure that they are able to protect both you and themselves. Ask someone who you feel safe with, and who is willing to stand up to the control freak, and ideally someone who the control freak wouldn’t want to get into a confrontation with (i.e. someone they feel they can’t control).
  • Regardless of personal morals or ideological beliefs, you have a right to preserve your own life, so this is not the time to be shy about firearms or any other weapons as a possibility for self-defense. If you have children that you are running with, you have an obligation to protect them any way you can.
  • Learn how to defend yourself. While not every control freak can be moved to violence, the possibility is there. Be prepared.

Bottom-line:  Try not to get into a relationship with a control freak, whether it is personal or business and if you have, get out of it if you can!  The control issues they have and other issues they create to go along with the need to control are their problems, not yours and are not caused by you, just perhaps agitated by you or your behavior.  Control freaks negatively affect themselves and those around them.  They need professional help and must be willing to change. If not you are sentencing yourself or a world of hurt as long as you stay in the relationship!  Perhaps you need to look into your motivations as well!

WikiHow contributed to this article.

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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