In every relationship, be it platonic or romantic, boundaries are necessary. People need to still enjoy their freedom and have their wishes respected. Of course, this needs to be reciprocated. You also need to make sure you don’t cross any boundaries. But some aggressive people can’t comprehend this. They don’t want to allow others to be truly free. Or maybe it’s not even that they enjoy taking away others’ freedoms. Some people just display controlling behaviors, which can affect the surrounding people.
This is especially true for the people who are inherently more aggressive. Aggression seems to be linked to a desire to make sure you know of others’ every move. Or rather, people who intend to control others might use force to do it. This happens most often in romantic relationships. At first, this aggressive and controlling behavior might be hidden by your partner.
It’s quite common for people not to notice they are being controlled until it’s too late. Or even if they do notice, they might try to find many excuses for that behavior. Even though you might be in love with an aggressive and controlling person, it’s not worth putting up with that behavior. And the sooner you spot that toxic behavior, the faster you can let go of that abusive person.
How To Spot an Aggressive Person?
It might seem like spotting an aggressive person is pretty straightforward. They are usually the ones punching walls and screaming at everyone around them, right? Some aggressive people might act like that often. But aggression is more nuanced.
Aggressive people can indeed have these very visible outbursts. And they are more likely to snap in tense situations. Often, these people can respond to certain triggers. But sometimes they can be aggressive in a more subtle way. Aggression doesn’t always have to be physical. It can also be mental and psychological. Screaming and insulting people is still aggressive behavior even though it doesn’t leave a visible mark.
Sociologists, psychologists, and even lawyers have long argued about how to define aggression. It’s a very volatile behavior, and it depends a lot on outsiders’ perspectives. In 1994, specialists defined it as a behavior that is intended to harm someone who doesn’t wish to be harmed. To illustrate this idea, just think about something like boxing. Even though punching people is usually defined as aggression, in this context is accepted.
That’s because both parties consent to the possibility of being harmed. But punching some random person on the street wouldn’t be categorized as not aggressive. That’s because the person being punched didn’t consent to being harmed. Violence is something that specialists describe as a subset of aggression. It’s when the aggression has extreme physical harm as its goal.
Verbally Aggressive People
This definition of aggression is not limited to physical aggression. If someone verbally belittles you, that’s still aggression because they meant to harm you. Emotional aggression is sometimes more damaging than physical aggression. A broken arm heals, but a broken soul can stay broken. It’s also harder to spot because it’s more normalized. Society tends to accept people screaming and insulting others more than they should.
They always dismiss it, saying it’s just a reaction to nerves, an impulsive fluke. So, people tend to accept being occasionally called names. But this can escalate and develop into a toxic pattern. So, the easiest way to spot an aggressive person is to look out for toxic patterns. If someone seems to always throw stuff around when they are mad, that’s a red flag.
If they always get into fights, that’s also a sign of aggression. Or if they always talk badly around others, insult them, or generally use demeaning language, they are probably emotionally aggressive.
6 Ways Aggressive People Try to Control You
1. They Always Pick Fights
One of the most common ways in which aggressive people try to control others is by always picking fights. These fights aren’t started because there is a real problem in the relationship. Rather, they’re started by your partner because they just felt like fighting. But engaging in constant fighting is controlling behavior, whether they realize it or not.
When you have to live with the constant fear of some fight exploding around you, you’ll start changing your behavior. You will stop doing certain things that seem to bother your partner, even though there might be nothing wrong with your behavior. For example, you might like going out with your friends often. But you still find enough time to hang out with your partner.
Even though there isn’t anything wrong with your actions, an aggressive partner will still be inclined to fight with you about that. They won’t try to discuss it like an adult. Instead, they’ll just throw insults at you every time you go out. The constant fear of being belittled will probably make you change your behavior. You’ll stop going out, or doing other things that annoy your partner for no apparent reason.
2. They Guilt Trip You
Aggressive people will not shy away from making you feel awful. They won’t care that you are crying in front of them, as long as they get what they want. Because of that, they will often guilt trip you to make you change certain behaviors.
If they want to spend more time with you, it seems normal to just ask, right? But that’s not what they’ll do. They’ll say things like “well I know you don’t want to hang out with me because you don’t love me anymore”. They might even use belittling language to describe you, or themselves.
Because of how guilty they’ll make you feel, you’ll start giving them more and more. Over time, you will reach the point of sacrificing yourself for them. You will lose all the control you once had in the relationship. Instead, all the control will go to them.
3. They Gaslight You
Gaslighting is one of the most damaging forms of psychological abuse someone can engage in. This is a form of manipulation meant to make someone doubt everything about themselves. The abuser will confuse the victim until the lines between reality and fiction become blurry.
If your partner gaslights you, they might straight up tell you they never yelled at you, even though they might have been screaming only minutes before. They will lie about things that happened, like, for example, telling you didn’t apologize for a mistake you made. They’ll keep saying that even if you show them proof of the apology. They will change the subject when confronted with their lies.
They will always tell you that you are overreacting when you call them out. And it’s quite common for them to call you names and tell you you’re insane. The more you question your actions, the more likely you are to be controlled.
4. They Intimidate You
Aggressive people often try to intimidate others to get them to do what they want. They are likely to act superior and try to undermine your feelings and reputation. This is a behavior that is just as common in the workplace and other platonic relationships as it is in romantic relationships.
Intimidation is usually done using words, but it’s not so uncommon for things to get somewhat physical. This works best when there is a pre-existing power imbalance in the relationship. If you are just starting out at a new job, your superiors might try to use their position to make you do certain things. They’ll tell you to go get some coffee if you want to show some respect to your superiors.
They might even use threats veiled as jokes. For example, they will “joke” that if they don’t have a report on their desk in a day, they’ll get you fired. These tactics will make you engage in behaviors you don’t want to engage in just out of fear.
5. They Ignore Your Boundaries
A controlling person will not care about respecting your boundaries, because they know that’s not going to help them get what they want. Or, in any case, they won’t accept healthy boundaries. They will always try to pressure you into sacrificing and giving more.
They will often do things even if you specifically told them not to. For example, they’ll force you to go to a party with them even though you might be feeling sick. They won’t let you go home for the holidays, even if you haven’t seen your family in a really long time. They might even use force to get you to do what they want. And they won’t shy away from insulting you and calling you names.
6. They Are Moody
Being moody might not seem like a way to control someone else. But it can actually be a powerful, controlling tactic. And it’s something that aggressive people naturally do. A moody person might seem like the sweetest person ever one minute, and the next, they might start acting like a bully. One day they will bring you flowers and take you out, and the next, they’ll act as if they hate you with all their being. Sometimes this behavior is intentional. Other times, abusers do it intentionally. ‘
These mood swings will confuse you and make you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells around your partner. You won’t know whether to stay with them or not. You won’t know how to act and what to say. This behavior is not normal or acceptable, as most people would assume.