75 Controlling Relationship Quotes to Help You See Clearly

What is considered controlling in a relationship?
on October 27, 2023
Read time: 10 mins

When you find yourself in a controlling relationship, it’s easy to lose your sense of self, making it more difficult to walk away.

To give you the strength to move on, we’ve rounded up some of the best controlling relationship quotes to help restore your self-worth and allow you to reclaim your own life. These inspirational quotes may not fix everything but hopefully, they’ll encourage you to stand up for yourself in the face of manipulative people or controlling narcissists. 

Even though these motivational quotes can be helpful, if you find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship or a victim of domestic violence, it’s important to seek professional help.* 

Also, if you’re in an abusive relationship, only stand up to your partner if you feel safe and comfortable doing so. 

What is controlling in a relationship? 

A controlling relationship is whereby one partner consistently tries to exert control over their loved one, shifting the power dynamic in their favor. 

Controlling relationships are characterized by a number of red flags, such as emotional manipulation, isolation, verbal abuse, gaslighting, and in some cases, physical abuse. These controlling behaviors can manifest in many different ways, and they may creep in so subtly that they’re not always immediately apparent. 

Are controlling tendencies toxic in a relationship?

If your partner is trying to control you, there is no world where this is acceptable — with their toxicity contaminating any positive aspects of the relationship. 

Controlling partners usually try and establish a codependency dynamic, robbing their partner of self-love and self-worth in favor of a larger agenda. When you’re in a controlling relationship, you can feel guilty for even being a human being with your own thoughts and emotions, constantly walking on eggshells so as to please your partner.  

If you’ve found yourself in a toxic dynamic, these toxic relationship quotes might help you walk away from an abusive partner. 

Quotes that will help you recognize and understand a controlling relationship 

  1. “It’s never pretty when you leave an abusive and controlling relationship. The warden always protests when the prison gets shut down.” — Steve Maraboli

  2. “I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli

  3. “Poisonous relationships can alter our perception. You can spend many years thinking you’re worthless, but you’re not worthless, you’re underappreciated.” — Steve Maraboli 

  4. “No matter how much a couple once loved each other, once emotional abuse becomes a consistent aspect of the relationship, that love is overshadowed by fear, anger, guilt, and shame.” – Beverly Engel

  5.  “The disrespect and hatred each partner begins to feel leads to more and more emotional abuse and to each partner justifying inappropriate, even destructive, behavior.” – Beverly Engel

  6.  “Over time, anger can build up on the part of both abuser and victim, and emotional abuse can turn into physical violence.” – Beverly Engel

  7.  “Emotional abuse poisons a relationship and infuses it with hostility, contempt, and hatred.” —Beverly Engel

  8. “With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism, and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until he or she is incapable of judging a situation realistically. He or she may begin to believe that there is something wrong with them or even fear they are losing their mind. They have become so beaten down emotionally that they blame themselves for the abuse.” — Beverly Engel

  9. “One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don’t seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early period of a relationship. An abuser’s friends may think the world of him. He may have a successful work life and have no problems with drugs or alcohol. He may simply not fit anyone’s image of a cruel or intimidating person. So, when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.” — Lundy Bancroft

  10.  “It is fine to commiserate with a man about his bad experience with a previous partner, but the instant he uses her as an excuse to mistreat you, stop believing anything he tells you about that relationship and instead recognize it as a sign that he has problems with relating to women.” — Lundy Bancroft

  11. “The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm.” — Lundy Bancroft

  12.  “I am often asked whether physical aggression by women toward men, such as a slap in the face, is abuse. The answer is: “It depends.” Men typically experience women’s shoves or slaps as annoying and infuriating rather than intimidating, so the long-term emotional effects are less damaging. It is rare to find a man who has gradually lost his freedom or self-esteem because of a woman’s aggressiveness.” — Lundy Bancroft

  13. “A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” — Mandy Hale

  14. “A healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down. It inspires you to be better.” — Mandy Hale

  15. “Never forget that walking away from something unhealthy is brave even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.” — Mandy Hale

  16.  “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.” — Mandy Hale

  17. “You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them…but still move on without them.” – Mandy Hale

  18. “Toxic people will pollute everything around them. Don’t hesitate. Fumigate.” ― Mandy Hale

  19. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” — Maya Angelou

  20. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” — Maya Angelou

  21. “If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” — Paulo Coelho

  22. “Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” — Paulo Coelho

  23. “Don't let someone who doesn't know your value tell you how much you're worth.” — Unknown

  24.  “Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.” — Mary Schmich

  25. “You survived the abuse; you're going to survive the recovery.” — Unknown

  26. “Don't let someone get comfortable with disrespecting you.” — Unknown

  27. “Don't ever let someone tell you the value you don't have, in order to be in someone's life. That is often the value they feel you have, not that person.” — Shannon L. Alder

  28. “It’s important to realize that you can’t change a controlling person; you can only change how you react to them.” — Unknown

  29. “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” —Harriet Braiker 

  30. “That’s the nature of a controlling personality. They always feel like they're right.” — Harriet Braiker 

  31. “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” — Wayne Dyer 

  32. “If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system.” — Wayne Dyer 

  33. “Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.” — Wayne Dyer 

  34. “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” — Oprah Winfrey 

  35. “You don't have to hold yourself, hostage, to who you used to be.” — Oprah Winfrey 

  36. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt 

  37. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you'll be criticized anyway.” — Eleanor Roosevelt 

  38. “In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” — Deepak Chopra 

  39. “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” — Deepak Chopra 

  40.  “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” — Brene Brown 

  41. “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” — Brene Brown 

  42. “The only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give and not a place that you go to take.” — Tony Robbins

  43.  “Take control of your consistent emotions and begin to consciously and deliberately reshape your daily experience of life.” — Tony Robbins

  44. “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, that's when you know you have healed.”

  45. “Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.” — Unknown 

  46. “Trust yourself. You've survived a lot, and you'll survive whatever is coming.” — Unknown

  47. “The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.” — Unknown 

  48. ““People who feel the need to control others, don’t have control over themselves.” — Unknown 

  49. “Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.” — Unknown 

  50.  “An abusive relationship should be easy to identify though often one of the most difficult to end.” — Desmond Tutu

  51. "The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday." — Unknown

  52. "The only real control we have is over ourselves." — Anne Nwakama

  53. "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody." — Maya Angelou

  54. "Sometimes, you have to accept the fact that certain things will never go back to how they used to be." — Unknown

  55. "Beware of those who are bitter, for they will never allow you to enjoy your fruit." — Suzy Kassem

  56. "If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative. Know when to close the account." — Christine Williams

  57. "You don't have to defend or explain your decisions to anyone. It's your life. Live it without apologies." — Mandy Hale

  58. "You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. You are allowed to be angry selfish and unapologetic. You don't owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself." — Unknown

  59. "Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own." — Robert Tew

  60. "Don't let negative and toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out." — Robert Tew

  61. "Trust yourself. You've survived a lot, and you'll survive whatever is coming." — Robert Tew

  62. "Boundaries aren’t about keeping people out; they are about keeping the right people in." — Unknown

  63. "Self-respect means knowing that you are worth more than the poor treatment of others." — Unknown

  64. "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  65. "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option." — Mark Twain

  66. "I'm not what happened to me, I'm what I choose to become." — Carl Jung

  67. "Your time is way too valuable to be wasting on people that can't accept who you are." — Turcois Ominek

  68. "The only keeper of your happiness is you. Stop giving people power to control your smile, your worth, and your attitude." — Mandy Hale

  69. "People inspire you, or they drain you—pick them wisely." — Hans F. Hansen

  70. "Sometimes it's better to end something and try to start something new than imprison yourself in hoping for the impossible." — Karen Salmansohn

  71. "The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving." — Elizabeth Gilbert

  72. "What you allow is what will continue." — Unknown

  73. "When people treat you like they don’t care, believe them." — Unknown

  74. "The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones benefiting from you having none." — Unknown

  75. "You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we're not. We always have a choice to make. Embrace that power." — Louise Hay

P.S. We have a great list of relationship quotes to relive your romance.

*National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and ask for the police.

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