It is said that knowledge is power. That’s right. So if you are aware that you are in a controlling relationship, chances are you want out. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. If it’s just two dates, it might not be as hard to move on from as if it was a 20-year-old marriage. So If you think you are in this scenario and want to learn how to get out of a controlling relationship, this is the guide for you.

A Guide on How to Get Out of A Controlling Relationship

Follow these steps as part of learning how to get out of a controlling relationship:

1.   Figure Out How Safe You Are

The first thing you need to work out when you are learning how to get out of a controlling relationship is to assess how safe you are. Some people may just have to face a few unpleasant words, but no practical reactions. For others, the controlling partner may become a threat to their safety as a result of the breakup. Even a partner who has never been physically violent with you might get pushed over the edge due to their controlling nature, when they feel serious grief and anger over the breakup. The ultimate lack of control makes them feel very insecure. Don’t underestimate or overestimate this, and be realistic when you are considering your controlling partner’s potentially toxic side. You may need to write down your worries, keep in mind you can dial 911 for safety if need be.

2.    Using Whatever Possible, Build Up Your Support System

People who spend a long time in a controlling relations become isolated from friends and family, totally or partially. This happens because of their toxic partner. They disapprove of certain friends and family members and assert control over you by making you cut contact with the important people in your life. Another thing that happens to a lot of people is that internally you become uncomfortable and embarrassed by the troubled relationship, and to compensate for that you tend to show your family you are in a rosy relationship. That’s hardly the case though. You feel ashamed and intimated to tell them the truth about what you are facing.


But you need to do that any way. If you need to change your life, you will have to rebuild your bonding with your friends and family. This is because they will be the ones who will stand by you as you separate your life, finances, emotions, and more from this controlling partner. You will be better off with the breakup if someone has your back; this could be in the form of a dear friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or your sister. You can also add professionals to this list, like a trusted doctor.

3.    Make Multiple Scenarios and Paths

Define specific short and long-term goals. This should answer questions like:

  • How much money are you going to need to have in savings to leave a house?
  • Where will you stay after you leave?
  • Which belongings or possessions do you need with you?
  • Would you ask your partner to leave?
  • What legal remedies will you have if they refuse to leave?
  • Let’s say you are giving your partner an ultimatum, like getting couple’s counseling; how much time will you give them to do this?
  • Say you have kids in the picture. Do you have a plan for their physical and emotional security? What are you going to tell them?
  • What will you tell mutual friends and the family of your partner?

These questions are not meant to overwhelm you. They have been put together to help you prepare for what is to come next. If you become mentally prepared beforehand about what you have to face, this will make it less likely for your controlling partner to stop the breakup process. When you combine predictability with preparedness, it makes up for a powerful position.

4.    Get Serious About Self-Care

A lot of people have this misconception that self-care is getting a spa retreat. Well, it may be one way to do that, but psychological self-care is a term that involves a lot more than just a spa session. It also includes cutting toxic people out of your life. The most challenging part is deciding whether you should control your partner on their controlling behavior or finally making up your mind that you need to call it quits. Doing the right thing is not always easy, and you will have to pay attention to your strength, mental health, sleeping, and eating cycle through this. A lot of priorities take over these necessities, but don’t forget about your health altogether. If you are busy working, taking just five minutes out of your hectic schedule to meditate or listen to a song you like is not too much. You can also mark a boundary that you won’t have wine beyond the first glass and won’t touch the bottle. Whether it’s setting up strong boundaries, or cutting out toxic energy, we all need to find out how to indulge in self-care.

5.    Seek Help From People Who Are Concerned & Supportive

After you have already figured out who is going to support you through the breakup, keep them updated. Be specific about what you are going to need them to do. Expecting a stranger to prioritize your needs and feelings over their own would seem a bit daunting to you at first, specially if you have been in the controlling relationship for a long time. This reason alone keeps many people from actually asking for help. On the other hand, some people tell their friends what happened, but the friends are not as invested in it, so they don’t bring that up again. Figure out who it is you can trust, and then ask them for their help in this. The more specifically you ask them what you need them to do and what you need them to say, they will feel better, because they get confused having to see their loved ones endure this pain. You could get dinner with them, or let them stay the night, or have a friend help you install your new door lock. They could also agree to come on call to support you by talking to you. But you might have to ask them for it.

6.    Keep in Mind You Will Experience A Mixed Bag of Feelings

More often than not, it happens. You get inspired and motivated to leave a toxic relationship or have an honest talk with your partner about their controlling behavior. But the next day comes, and things start feeling scarier than they did earlier. You might have figured out your relationship is toxic and that you need to quit it, then your partner pulls a loving stunt just to keep you from leaving. When you anticipate this behavior in advance, you will be preparing your response to it in your mind.

But this does not necessarily mean that you see that relationship as entirely bad. There sure were good aspects too, which made you stayed. It will help you to think, write, and talk about the things about the relationship that you will miss. You will have to keep in mind that you will not feel sure every day about this, but you need to do it any way, as it’s the right thing to do. Change of feelings is a natural part of the process.

7.    Keep Following Up

Whether you are just trying to make meaningful changes in your relationship, or trying to leave it, it’s a continual and dynamic process, not just a one-time event. You need to take multiple steps, plan, and take care. If your first attempt to get out has not panned out, give yourself a breather and restart. Call in your support group when you need them to buck you up and keep your goals in mind. Ask yourself, if you want to be with this controlling partner in 6 months, 1 year, or 30 years? Do you want to spend your entire life with them? Whatever progress you make, even if it is small, will get you closer to your goals and towards the life you know you deserve. If your first attempt went unsuccessful, don’t worry. You can try a second time after a break. One or the other attempt is bound to stick. That one will end up changing your life for the better.

The Final Word

If you are figuring out how to get out of a controlling relationship, figure out how safe you are, gather support, plan for multiple scenarios, prioritize self-care, seek help from supportive people, be prepared to have mixed feelings, and keep following up. This will do it for you. If you want to learn more about how to take back charge of your life independently, read the book “Let’s Heal: Queens and Kingsby author Aala Coax.