16 Tell-Tale Signs You’re a Control Freak

While it’s easy to identify undesirable qualities in others, we tend to have a more difficult time spotting those same flaws in ourselves — even when those traits are crystal clear to others.

Control freaks often have difficulty acknowledging their excessive need to exercise control over people. No one worth keeping around over the long haul will stick around if you’re controlling and want them to do what you want without exception.

Here are 16 tell-tale signs you’re a control freak requiring a reality check and a change of heart.

You Demand Perfection of Everyone (But Yourself)

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Control freaks demand perfection from others but often have lower standards for themselves. If you compel those around you to do what you say to align with your definition of perfection, you’re setting an impossible goal. People who demand perfection usually set the bar too high for even themselves. In fact, they often don’t even try to live up to their own ideals.

You’re Overly Critical or Judgemental

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Another sign you’re likely a control freak is if you’re overly critical of other people. It’s one thing to offer constructive criticism. It can help others to improve. But it’s another thing to weaponize criticism to undermine another’s confidence or self-esteem. 

You Won’t Delegate (Even When You Need Help) 

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Another sign of a control freak is an unwillingness or inability to delegate. It’s nice to roll up your sleeves and get things done independently. But it’s also good to work as part of a team and reach out for help when required. If you’d rather fail than ask for help, you’re a control freak.

You Can’t (Or Won’t) Admit to Your Shortcomings

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One quality all control freaks have is the inability or unwillingness to admit their wrongs. If you’re the sort of person who makes excuses to cover your rear end even when everyone but you knows you’re at fault, give your head a shake. It’s easier to blame someone else. But that doesn’t mean that’s the right course of action when you know you’re wrong.

You Don’t Do Teamwork

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If you work in an office and don’t get along with anyone in your department, “teamwork” might be a bad word for you. You don’t want the reputation of being too difficult to work with or unable to work well with others. It’s even worse if people see you as the type who seeks to undermine your superiors. That could impede your career trajectory.

You Have a Distain for Boundaries (Even Healthy Ones)

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Do you have a problem with boundaries? Control freaks sure do. You have no business controlling others, whether by telling them whom they can talk to or hang out with. 

You Think Empathy Is for the Weak

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Control freaks are unable to walk in someone else’s shoes. They struggle to show compassion and kindness in a dog-eat-dog world occupied only by winners and losers.

You Play the Blame Game (And Are Good at It, Too!)

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If the Blame Game were an Olympic sport, control freaks would win gold, silver, and bronze. Control freaks always find a way to blame others for everything wrong under the sun. They believe they’re right no matter how ridiculous their positions or opinions.

You Gaslight Anyone Who Dares to Challenge You

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Another tool of manipulation in the arsenal of most control freaks is gaslighting. If you manipulate people so that they second guess their perception of reality, you might be a control freak. It’s a type of emotional abuse. And, yes, it is abuse. 

You Don’t Keep Friends Long (Because They Won’t Suffer Fools Lightly)

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If you struggle with maintaining deep relationships, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Most people in your life will distance themselves and give you space if your toxic control-freak energy jeopardizes their sense of well-being.

You Insist on Micromanaging People

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Being a micromanager doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a control freak. But there is something wrong if you micromanage regardless of the skill and ability level of the persons in question. 

You’re Always Moody

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Moodiness can be one symptom of being a control freak. People who need to control people, situations, and anything and everything can get moody. It’s often rooted in their deep-seated feeling of inadequacy — especially if people don’t submit to their controlling tendencies.

You’re a Know it All

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Do you love telling people what to do but seldom follow your advice? Do you weigh in on issues you know nothing about — believing you’re the fountain of knowledge? Did you answer “yes” to either or both of these questions? If so, you might be a control freak.

You’ve Suffered Severe Emotional or Physical Trauma 

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It’s sad but true that many people who exhibit controlling tendencies have suffered severe emotional or physical trauma and that pain sometimes has a life-sized impact on their life. Victims with unhealed trauma may take matters into their own hands by controlling people and situations in what amounts to a toxic form of self-preservation.

You Tell People How to Spend Their Money

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If you’re in a relationship and feel entitled to control your partner through money, you might be a control freak. Control freaks leverage money to exert undue influence and control over others.

You Have a Rock of Gibraltar Complex and Use It to Control Others

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Some control freaks adopt a Rock of Gibraltar persona to keep people dependent on them. They’re so-called white knights in shining armor looking for unsuspecting people to rescue. They then take advantage of their dependent associates to demand strict adherence.

You Might Be a Control Freak if You Exhibit Some of These Signs

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Seeing yourself in one or more of these scenarios doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a control freak. But it might warrant some soul-searching. That’s all the more the case if you can personally relate to a handful of these signs. If there’s a problem, you need to know. After all, the only thing worse than dealing with a control freak is being one. 

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