Characteristics of a Controlling Personality

My Way or the Highway

Generally, a controlling person is self-absorbed, insensitive towards others, pushes to get his own way, and manipulates circumstances and people to achieve his own agenda. He cares mainly about himself and sees others as a means to an end. When feeling threatened, he may resort to unethical behavior to destroy his opponent. He does not understand or appreciate freedom and grace. 

Controlling PersonControlling others involves breaking them down, destroying their self-worth, degrading them psychologically and emotionally, even resorting to social and physical abuse in some instances. In many cases, the controlling person lacks the capacity to enjoy a mature loving relationship, because his thoughts are consumed with self, and he does not know how to love sacrificially for the benefit of others. He does not know how to love graciously, freely, with an open hand, expecting nothing in return. He gives only to get. He may use the word love, but it’s only as a means to an end, to serve his own selfish program and not the wellbeing of the other person. People are seen as objects to be manipulated, not individuals to be loved. 

These are my observations as I’ve dealt with controlling people over the years. I have no one person in mind. A controlling person can be male or female, religious or irreligious, old or young, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, and belong to any ethnic group. A controlling person may fit some or all of characteristics below. I’ve modified the list a few times, and may make corrections in the future. 

  1. The controlling personality operates primarily from a base of power, not reason. This first point is very important to understand, for what follows is based on it. Often, we don’t understand the reasoning behind a controlling person’s behavior, when in fact, there is no consistent reason, because reason is not the base of operations; power is. Reason is employed as it benefits him and advances his power. Remember: rational words only work with rational minds, and the controlling personality is not always rational.
  2. A controlling person often likes a position of authority (politician, professor, doctor, CEO, pastor, etc.). Being in control of others makes him feel important, powerful and secure (authority is legitimate, but arrogant people abuse their authority and hurt the innocent). The problem with arrogant people is that they rarely see their own faults, but only the faults of others. Their hubris prevents them from being open to genuine discussion about change. A humble person does not abuse his position of authority, but sees himself as a servant-leader, open to discussion, correction, and willingly makes sacrifices for others (Phil 2:3-4).
  3. A controlling person often will try to destroy your confidence through subtle criticisms that keep you on the defensive, making you feel self-conscious all the time and walking on eggshells. The gradual chipping away at your self-esteem leaves you deflated, feeling insignificant, and eventually makes you feel like you have no value at all (criticism can be valid, if it is followed with loving correction that builds the other person up). Scripture teaches we are to encourage one another (1 Th 5:11, 14; Heb 3:13), and build each other up (Rom 14:19), but the controlling person prefers only destructive criticism.
  4. A controlling person will sometimes recruit others to help coerce or control you. Sometimes other people are unsuspecting participants and may not know they are being used to cause harm.[1]
  5. A controlling person will sometimes use your past, or even your weaknesses against you. This is unfortunate, because in any relationship there must be trust, and this means sharing things about your past and perhaps areas where you may struggle. The controlling person will exploit these areas to his own advantage, either to keep you in his grip, or to assassinate your character with others.
  6. A controlling person will often refuse to allow you to leave the relationship, demanding you conform to his way of doing things. There’s often no grace or freedom to think or act on your own. His personality leaves little room for your personality.
  7. If threatened, a controlling person will at times seek to cut off your friends (isolate you), or try to discredit or destroy your reputation in order to keep you under his controlling influence. The general rule is: what he cannot control, he will seek to destroy (psychologically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and in some cases physically).
  8. A controlling person is often concerned with his own appearance and with the appearance of those within his grip. This helps him try to control the perception of others beyond his grasp (it’s good to be well dressed, but emphasis should be on loving character more than appearance).
  9. A controlling person sometimes wants to associate with important people because this adds to his own image of importance. Relationships are a means to an end, and this should always be kept in mind (sometimes we will know socially important people, but it’s wrong to flaunt our relationship with them for personal gain).
  10. A controlling person will rarely admit he is wrong, even when evidence is provided. This is important because arguing becomes an exercise in futility and frustration (a humble man will readily admit his faults and be open to loving correction).
  11. A controlling person rarely changes (since this requires humility), so it’s better to quietly leave the relationship if possible (especially if you’re in danger of harm). When leaving a controlling relationship, don’t worry about explaining yourself, as he will most likely not understand your words or actions. He will not be happy with your choice, but he’s not happy anyway, so you might as well be free from the controlling influence and seek a more mature relationship.

Broken ChainsThose who have suffered prolonged exposure to a controlling person can lose self-confidence and personal joy, unless they learn and develop strong coping skills. If good coping skills are developed, those who have suffered can grow and become better rather than bitter. The pursuit of God, wisdom, and good friends can lead to healing, but this takes time. If possible, it’s best to avoid the controlling person altogether; however, don’t be rude if/when you encounter him. The Apostle Paul said, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom 12:17-18). Be the better person. Treat him with grace and love, even though he does not show it to you. Seek to grow and be more than what he is to you. For coping skills, please see the related articles below. 

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

  1. The Gospel Explained
  2. A Primer on the Doctrine of Separation  
  3. The Characteristics of a Christian Leader 
  4. What Does it Mean to Be a Man? 
  5. Twelve Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss  
  6. Why Believers Show No Grace  
  7. The Value of Suffering  
  8. Mature Christian Love  
  9. Commitment Love
  10. Bible Promises that Strengthen our Faith  
  11. Dealing with Fools  
  12. Choosing Righteous Friends  
  13. Choose a Christian Spouse  
  14. Love your Enemies  

[1] This happened to me back in 2002 when I was pastoring a Southern Baptist Church in Central Texas. The head deacon was disturbed that I did not perform traditional altar calls at the end of the church service (they are not biblical) and argued with me for hours, trying to force me to comply (it was a very unpleasant experience). When I politely refused, he quietly and quickly spread lies within the congregation and engaged in character assassination. After winning over many unsuspecting church members, he inspired a coup d’etat, and within a few days I was unjustly and forcefully voted out of the church. The control-freak won and the church lost its pastor and a third of the members walked out of the morning service. I was deeply hurt by the matter and still bear scars. Over the years I’ve had other—less traumatic—experiences with controlling church leaders. 

33 thoughts on “Characteristics of a Controlling Personality

  1. The information you shared was very informative but why would your solution, as a christian, be to leave the relationship as if the Lord is not able to deliver a person. As Christians aren’t we to live by faith, give them over to the Lord and pray. Ultimately, is that what the Lord would have us do? Giving up on the relationship would be admitting that this making a change in the individual would be too hard for Him.

    1. Thank you for your reply. I agree that there may be times that we can stay in a relationship with a person and that the Lord can change them. Biblical wisdom and humility are necessary for discernment. However, some people never change, and if the person is abusive, separation may be necessary. There are biblical passages that teach we should avoid some people, and these can be found in my article on Christian Separation:

  2. Steven: Your article hit to the heart. We have a daughter-in-law who is controlling to the extreme. She has just about destroyed our relationship with our son, who is very passive, and only does what she says due to fear as she tends to go into rages. We are very worried particularly for our two grand children. We feel this will only develop into a dangerous situation for our son, and our grand babies. Our son can’t speak to us on his own or else she’ll hound him, so giving advise at this stage is difficult because we have done this in the past and she turns any advise we have given our son as talking behind her back. We continue to display God’s love to her, however, it’s futile. She spent time in prison a few months ago for committing a felony prior to her ever meeting our son. Our son did not find out until the police showed up at their door. My husband and I saw red flags from the very start of her relationship with our son. Sorry to go on and on, but ask that you pray for our situation, for God’s wisdom and discernment, and particularly for our son and grand children’s safety and protection. G.

    1. Gina: I’m praying for you and the situation with your son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Healthy Christian relationships are always the product of good choices and never the product of chance (Choosing a Christian Spouse). Most controlling personalities I’ve met are just verbal tyrants, manipulating others with abusive language in order to get their way; however, some may resort to physical abuse. You, or someone you know, may need to intervene for your son and grandchildren if you ever feel their physical safety is in danger (i.e. call authorities). Praying and sharing God’s Word with your son and daughter-in-law is the only thing that will effect true and lasting change. I’m not passive toward controllers, but I don’t argue with them either. I try to live by Scripture which teaches, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Steven

  3. I have a very difficult situation with a controlling person and they mainly control with talking all the time and constantly questioning even the words I use and the prayers I pray. (“We shouldn’t pray for that!”) They ridicule some things I say even when their information is just flat wrong. They lead a weekly Bible study and they’re involved in prison ministries, which both are good, but I’m just feeling so overwhelmed and overshadowed by her temperament, being told my her that my temperament is unbiblical. This is so demoralizing, and I’d like to lovingly confront her, but I can never get a word in edgewise. I’d hate to leave the prison ministry–although I’m aware that there are several good ones out there, so I could get involved in a different one. I’m thankful that you’ve written this piece to give me some perspective on it. I wish my friend would read it; but, even if she did, she’d selectively quote certain Scriptures that find fault with it. And yes, I do know that there are Biblical principles and Scriptures that speak against someone who lords it over another, and that we’re supposed to accept one another as God in Christ has accepted us. Such a hard challenge.

    1. Greetings, and thank you for your post. There is certainly a place for constructive criticism which should lead to loving correction; but this is different than the controlling criticism that only seeks to tear another person down for personal advantage. When Scripture is abused, and there is no love, then the criticism is not beneficial. It has been my experience over the years that arrogant people rarely see their own faults, but are constantly aware of the faults of others, and seek to use those faults against them. In the past I’ve tried to speak to the controlling person, but I rarely have I seen any change, as that requires humility. In the end I wind up leaving the relationship. I still love and pray for that person, but I also realize that a close relationship is not possible. I pray God gives you wisdom and courage.

  4. Hello Steven, I found your help while desperately looking for some answers. I am a newly wed (2years) with a baby. My father in law is a local pastor. My husband and I remain in an ongoing battle of marital interference (I know the heart of this is our marriage) by his parents. They want to be involved with just about every decision we make- and when we make decisions together, they are constantly trying to debate them or express their disapproval via passive aggression (these are generally personal preferences). They try to dictate how much time we see them (we already see them every week and every holiday) and act as if we are being ‘unloving’ if we don’t invite them over more often. I feel completely suffocated from all of this. We have zero privacy as a new family. We have tried to lovingly talk to them about our needs. We have told them how much we love them but would really love their help in supporting us, our marriage, and our new little family by encouraging us to make decisions together. We’ve discussed that we love them but we also have a very busy life outside of them, but that we still make them a priority over anyone else (even my parents). I am constantly texted, called, and reminded how badly they miss my daughter (1 or 2 days after seeing her at times!!!) they disrespect and undermine our wishes for our child and our marriage and almost discourage my husband when he asks my opinion ex: “you need to do what YOU want to do ‘son’ (always ridiculously emphasizing the YOU as in him, not me). My husband has recognized this as a real problem- we have created boundaries for ourselves and our child to orotect our marriage and her from this…. It seems to still be a source of awful anxiety in our home…, advice???

    1. Greetings. It sounds like you’re already making good choices. Working with your husband is the right way to handle the matter; together as a team. Establishing boundaries is good, maintaining them is always the challenge. You’ll just need to stay the course and keep reminding them about your wishes, while at the same time not pushing them out of your life altogether. Some people we can distance ourselves from, while others we cannot. I have family and co-workers that I have to deal with from day to day, and it’s an ongoing challenge for me to learn and apply biblical commands and principles to the situation. God sometimes allows us to face difficulties to develop our Christian character. I know I’ve prayed many times for God to take away a certain problem in my life, and He says, “no” (see 2 Cor. 12:7-10). When this happens, we must do our best to live by faith and trust God. Here’s a short article ( and video that may prove helpful (

      I pray you find some help in your situation.


  5. What would you do about a controlling pastor who micro-manages his staff? I recently started working with a pastor who has taken on all of my duties as a secretary. I do the work as I always have (for the last ten years) and he changes everything after I leave for the day. It isn’t that my work is bad. He just wants control.

    1. Hello Beth. Thank you for your comment. Lord knows there are many controlling pastors in the world. I’ve worked for a few of them myself. I’ve learned to view them, and others, as an opportunity to grow spiritually. To live by grace, to apply biblical wisdom, to show love to the undeserving, and to model the virtue of humility. The following links may prove helpful to you:

      God knows your struggle, and He has the answer for your difficulty in His word. Perhaps the following Scripture reference will be helpful:

      See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:15-18)

      And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)

      Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jam. 1:2-4)

      Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

      For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 5:43-45)

      “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)

      Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “but if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:14-21)


  6. Leave the relationship? As horrible as a controlling personality is, it is not biblical grounds for divorce. Godly counseling is needed, not encouragement to leave a relationship. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We’re all a work in progress. If troubled souls take your misguided advice, then you are accountable for that advice. The article is a very important one, but you need to go back PLEASE and change your unbiblical advice.

    1. Thank you for your comment Doug. I appreciate your concern for biblical correctness. I agree that Godly counseling is best, assuming both parties want to be counseled. For non-marital relationships (i.e. friends, co-workers, siblings, etc.), leaving is often the best option, if the other person refuses to change his/her harmful behavior. Scripture clearly states, “Do not associate with a man given to anger” (Pro 22:24). Marriage (for believers) is a binding contract before God, and Scripture teaches that divorce is permissible only when a spouse offends through sexual infidelity (Matt. 5: 31-32), or when an unbelieving spouse abandons their Christian partner (1 Cor. 7:12-16). Even in such cases, divorce is not mandated, and is discouraged if any hope of saving the marriage can be found. Forgiveness and love is expected in the Christian toward the offending spouse. However, when a spouse (most often a male) physically or sexually abuses his wife, the abused person has every right to separate (not divorce) from that person who is causing harm. Hopefully the separation will lead the abuser to see his harmful ways and seek counsel, but if he does not, she is under no obligation to submit to his violent tyranny.

      I hope this addresses your concern.

  7. I need help man!
    My dad is exactly this and I think his tendencies have rubbed off on me!
    I am a newly wed of 3 months and need advice
    What do you suggest that I do in order to save our marriage!

    1. Hello Chad. I think you’re on the path to improvement simply because you’ve recognized your controlling tendencies and are seeking help. The answer is found in Christ and His word. I too learned bad habits from my father and it took time for me to break the pattern of behavior I learned from him. Christ became my Savior (John 3:16; 20:31) and role model (Phil. 2:5-8). It is from Christ that I learned the qualities of Christian love (1 Cor. 13:4-8a), to love freely, with an open hand, expecting nothing in return (Luke 6:35-36). It is from Christ that I learned to regard others as more important than myself (Phil. 2:3-4). It is from Christ that I learned humility in serving others (John 13:1-20). Look to Christ and learn from Him and you’ll break the controlling tendencies. The following articles may prove helpful:

      The virtue of humility –
      Living by faith –
      Walking with God –
      What Does it Mean to be a Man? –
      Mature Christian Love –
      Making a Biblical Marriage –

      You’re in my prayers.

  8. Thank you for taking a stand for godliness. I have a pastor who has done so as well. He refers to this behavior as demonic. It destroys churches over stupid issues over choosing pews over chairs and red versus brown carpet. It brings close relationships down to pieces because one can’t do everything to perfectly match their wishes. One can’t try something new because it will cause a major offense.

    I’ve known people who beg me to get them away from the controlling, belittling individual. Eventually they blow up and take a stand, or become suicidal.

    I agree with you and my pastor. When God guides us to modify our behavior, does he belittle or hover over us with constant nit picking over irrelevant details? He often let’s us learn from our own mistakes rather than badgering.

    Are we the Holy Spirit? No. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convince and convict us. We can’t follow people around telling them what to do at every hand. Especially when it all has to do with a matter of trying grapes in the salad or buying anything.

    I was also guilty in part of this domineering way of life and had to take to heart and had to be confronted with my inability to be Holy Spirit for co-workers, friends or family. Having it turned around upon me was the best way for God to teach me. I work for a hovering, belittling, gossiping nit picker. I’ve seen the turmoil each family member goes through over the years until they find their way to get away from it.

    God loves to see us bloom, try new things, improve our game, communicate better.

  9. I have been praying for my controlling mother for several years now. My confidence is wearing after 10 years of battle with her. I have tried really hard to talk with her about how her constant criticism hurts me. I’m married 23 years now with 3 grown children. Even though I have a wonderful career and family, I have not measured up to what she wants from me. She tries to control me through guilt and shame to spend more time with her. Everytime I spend with her, the entire time is spent telling me how I haven’t done enough to help her, or the help I have provided was not enough or not doing things right in my life (to make her look good and feel good in front of her friends). I am the last one in the family between my brother and I, that is speaking to her because of her critical spirit towards them too. I love my mom very much, but I can’t take her bitterness anymore. I don’t want to walk away bc I feel a sense of obligation to care for her in the future, but I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t keep living like this with her. Something has to change. I am willing to try anything.

    1. Hello Crystal, thanks for your comment. My heart goes out to you. Loving others can be a great challenge, especially when they act mean. Family problems can be especially challenging because we often don’t feel we have a way out. The challenge is to love them in spite of their hostility and controlling ways. The knee jerk reaction is to run away or fight back. Lord knows that often my reaction. I often pray that God will take away my struggle, but I find that what He does not remove, He intends for me to deal with, and to see the trial as an opportunity for spiritual growth (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The challenge for me as a Christian is to see others as an opportunity to grow in my walk with the Lord. To live by faith, to love graciously, even when the other person does not understand or respond in kind. Here’s a few articles that may be helpful:

      Why Believers Show No Grace
      Mature Christian Love
      Steps to Spiritual Growth
      The Value of Suffering
      Bible promises that Strengthen our Faith

      I hope this helps.


  10. Thank you for this article. It helped me with a very mystifying situation I’m wresting with regarding how my husband doesn’t seem able to accept Grace when it is offered. Thank you.

  11. Hey Steven, thank you for your article.

    I have been a controlling person to my wife of 7 years and the controlling even went back into our dating years. She was patient with me, and I have tried to change for so many years, I have made progress, but not where it seems to matter most, so we’ve been separated for a month. I want to be happy for her, but a lot of times I get jealous, I can’t get past my own self absorption. I want things the way I want most of the time, but I do not want to be this way, I want to be free of this and be able to be the husband that God and my wife have called me to be.

    1. Hi Dan. Thank you for your comment and honesty. Self-control is a Christian virtue, but controlling others is not. In fact, controlling others is a form tyranny that seeks to imprison them, and most people will run from a tyrant. God calls you and me to be husbands who love our wives as Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25-33). Understand how Christ loves us and you’ll have the perfect role-model for how to love your wife. This can require many months and years of Bible study as you seek to know the person and character of Christ; and once you’ve obtained that knowledge, then seek to live as He lived. But know this will require that you die to self in order to live for Him, and that your Christian journey will encompass all aspects of your life (i.e. marriage, finances, employment, political views, etc.) and must be implemented moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, until you leave this world and step into eternity. Below are a few articles I’ve written that will be helpful:

      • What Does it Mean to Be a Man? (
      • Steps to Spiritual Growth (
      • Mature Christian Love (
      • Making a Biblical Marriage (
      • Treating Others with Dignity – (

      A word of caution: knowing you’re a controlling person means you must be careful that the knowledge and resources you gain are not used as a means of personal empowerment. I say this because I know controlling persons who have used their Christianity and knowledge of the Bible as another set of resources to manipulate and control others. Your Christian walk should always lead you to love others and to live sacrificially for their benefit (Phil. 2:3-4). Christian love is gracious, open-handed, and given for the benefit of others, even those who don’t understand it or reciprocate. It always seeks God’s best in the other person. As you live the Christian life and glorify God above all, then those who love God will love you too, and you’ll enjoy beautiful relationships that are free from fear.

      I hope this helps.


  12. Steven, I am dealing with a extremely controlling and self-centered much younger employer with whom I’ve had a few confrontations. She admits her controlling nature and seems to have no regets about it and gets great satisfaction in humiliating others. She will do this in front of other employees as well as chastising. I know this wrong and Was always taught if you have probably with an employee, it should be dealt with in private. Admitting she’s wrong is another thing she will never do and has repeatedly stated she does not apologize. I must admit I do not like her but I don’t hate her either. I pray for her.

    1. Hello Steve, thanks for your comment. My heart goes out to you. Serving under a bad boss can be real challenging. I’ve suffered under a few myself. God sees your struggles and has a purpose for you in the midst of the trial. I often refer to Paul’s words in Romans, where he wrote, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (Rom 12:17-21 CSB). I’ve written other articles that address how to deal with a bad boss. These are:

      Twelve Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss –
      Submission to Authority – Part 1 –
      Submission to Authority – Part 2 –
      Submission to Authority – Part 3 –

      Hope this helps.

  13. I thank you for your article. It is very good. And YES, it is sometimes necessary to WALK AWAY from such a person. If they cannot – or will not change – and they are harmful to you and your mental and emotional health – it is time to leave. God never expects us to willingly put ourselves in an abusive situation. Everyone has some narcissism in them, but when their narcissism is extreme, it is very unwise and possibly dangerous to try and stay in relationship with them.

    I come from a family full of NPD’s and Co-NPD’s. That is Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Co-Narcissistic Personality’s (people who go along with, and cater to the NPD). It is generational in our family that goes back to my grandfathers and mothers on both sides of my parents.

    The NPD is VERY CONTROLLING and most ALL therapists avoid dealing with them. They WILL NOT CHANGE on their own. It takes a true miracle to get them to see their responsibility in any situation. It is always “others” fault. They have no empathy and will only say “I’m sorry” if it is a way for them to get what they want. Their apology is never an honest one. They are always right, and their way is the “only” way.

    Just “loving them enough” will not change an NPD. A co-NPD is open to help and change, because they are not a true NPD. Co-NPD’s can behave like an NPD (and also an enabler), depending on situation. If they were raised by parents where one was a true NPD and the other a Co-NPD this can happen. These two distorted forms of behavior was “modeled” for them from birth, and they think it is “normal” when in fact it isn’t. If a controlling person is willing to make changes, they most likely aren’t a true NPD – but rather they are a co-NPD.

  14. A woman who has been my closest friend for the past year, (I am a married female) talks to me about her online dating attempts, even on Chistian sites, and how she keeps getting dumped. I told her that even though I am a Christian, if I were single, I would be cautions about invoving myself with someone who currently can’t get around without a walker due to her needing a double hip replacement. I suggested she stop the online stuff until she was in better health (surgery is coming soon). She got irritated at my comment assuring me she wasn’t spending all her time on this. Several weeks later, after she told me about more dumpings I sent her a text about spending more time with God instead of the online stuff. She responded with a long and curt rebuff. I appologized for my text and explained that I was only trying to encourage her after she indicated she was going to stop the dating site. Two days later,, I received this article from her with accusations that I am controling!?

    I recognize that I often say something without realizing that it can be taken the wrong way. I recognize that I overstepped a boundary with her in this case which is why I appologized. My intention was to be encouraging. Evidently I wasn’t. I have pondered my way through our previous conversations and cannot see what it is that I am controlling her to do? For example, I certainly have never tried to get a group together to push her into something.

    Your article says that the controling person can appologize but they only do so to manipulate the other. That they use the word “love” but only as a means to an end. I’m in a real Catch 22 here. I’m extremely hurt by this. I only wanted to help. My thoughts are that she has had a very difficult life and she projects nastiness onto others because of it.

    Can you give me some insight on this? Does the above sound like someone from your article?

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for the comment. Sorry for the late reply. Been crazy busy at work. Based on what you described, I would not think you’re controlling, but caring. I’m surprised someone would use my article in that way. Without more details, it would seem your friend is trying to use my article as a manipulation tactic to get you to back off. Caring is never neutral, and can mean there are times when we get into other people’s business. Diplomacy is always helpful, and reassurance of love can hopefully alleviate concerns about being controlling. Loving others and respecting their volition is a delicate matter. I would suggest treading lightly. Offer your advice, but respect her choices, even the bad ones; but then be ready to help if she gets hurt or needs your guidance.

      Keep your love for her always in the forefront, and remember, the Bible calls us to love others unconditionally. We’re even called to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). Biblical love is a commitment to seek God’s best interests in others. We can apply biblical love to everyone, whether a spouse, child, brother, friend, coworker, or even those who would harm us. Loving others has little to do with how we feel. If anything, we must love them by faith in spite of how we feel. We don’t have to approve of the values and actions of others to love them. We don’t have to approve of their false beliefs, poor choices, or cultural values, but we are commanded to love them. Loving others means we commit ourselves to seeking God’s best in their lives. We love them by praying for them, acting in a Christian manner and speaking God’s truth to them when given the opportunity. How we behave in love depends on what they need to bring them close to God. Love can be both gentle and strong. Grace means we’re doing it sacrificially for their best interest.

      I hope this helps.


  15. Dear Pastor Steven,

    I found this past article as well as your primer on Biblical Separation very helpful. I could not help but notice how many comments you received and how dealing with controlling people seems to be a very big issue for many. I often wonder if the increase in the occultic direction of our society is also increasing this behavior, which sometimes seems to lean towards the demonic influence.

    In any event, I am seeking greater clarity in what it means to separate from unbelievers; in this case, to finally close the door on relationships from my past that I kept open in the hope my witness would lead to my friends coming to faith. When I was saved 15 years ago, it was a dramatic change and most of my friends left. Frankly, I was relieved. Two of them remained in contact. I was clear about my new relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and also to the extent I understood theology i tried to share. Over the years, I have given Bibles, tracts, holiday lunches, etc. My policy had been that so long as they were willing to listen to me speak of Jesus, than I would keep an open door. I don’t see either of the women very often…perhaps once or twice a year, however one of them has recently began to want more of my time and attention in helping her with a personal circumstance. I am not comfortable with this, yet as a Christian I don’t want to appear to be un caring or unloving. Also, It does not appear to me today that either of these women are any closer to faith than they were 15 years ago. I am beginning to see that “niceness and kindness” evangelism does not work.

    Both of these women, with whom I have shared a mutual friendship, are controlling One of them has two daughters from a same sex marriage and in the years prior to my getting saved, she and I had many spiritual conversations. After I was saved, she seemed to be very interested in what was happening to me and wanted to to know more about my Bible study. At one point, she shared she was unsure about her committment to a same sex lifestyle. Her father is a Christian and sadly their relationship has not been a very good one. She was raised in a. Hyper Pentecostal church where abuse of children occurred and a lot of crazy sounding counterfeit experiences…I can’t help but feel this has also contributed to her trust issues with Jesus. I always felt perhaps I could be an answer to a father’s prayer in leading her to Christ. I am sad to say that, despite my warnings, she has gone into Buddhism and new age philosophy and raising her daughters with the same ideology.

    Given the overt godlessness in our society, and the open and blatant mockery of our LORD JESUS, I am to the point where I find myself completely unable to have any more discussions or superficial friendships in the hopes of “being the light”. For the first time in years, I skipped any get togethers and have withdrawn from much communication. While I do want to “love others” at the same time I feel I love JESUS more, and at what point am I standing with those who openly are in rebellion? And then of course I remember that I too was once openly in rebellion. My mind gets caught in a cycle of conflict, fearing that my despondency over the increasing evil in the world might cause me to be less zealous in my witness. This concern was highlighted when it came to my attention that both women are very hurt by my distance.

    All of this to ask, is it a Godly decision and witness to finally close the door on unsaved friends? And if yes, which probably is long overdue, is any further explanation to them required as to why? I believe that it is time to leave them over to the LORD and at this point, do not try to manage their thoughts as to why the separation has occurred.

    Any input would be welcomed when time permits.

    Blessings to you.

    1. Hi Jen, thank you for the comment. Yes, controlling personalities are problematic. There is a balance between being open to help others and, yet, not casting our pearls before swine to be trampled. It is not always an easy decision to make, and I too have struggled with knowing when to keep a door open, or to shake the dust off my feet and move on. I tend to err on the side of grace and mercy and am willing to bear the blows if/when they come. Loving with eyes wide open is part of the Christian life. Granted, some days my low battery light is blinking, and I do not always feel like I can give any more. Lord knows if/when you close a door, He’ll open another for you.

      1. Many thanks for your reply. Grace and Peace multiplied.

        Sent from my iPhone


  16. Hello
    I was looking for something to read on how does God see a person that is controlling and basically my situation is I’m a Christian I have an unknown status of what my son believes but he is controlling and has recently blocked me on all his social media this was yesterday actually but has threatened me just before he did it. I come from a fifth generation of firefighters including my father and my son now is a paramedic firefighter himself and if he even sees me like a page of a known firefighter Within our immediate city or that I talk to anyone that is a firefighter in our city he’s basically going to disown me is what he says. He’s in his mid 20s about to get married and engaged this year. So I’m looking up Scriptures and studying his personality and I think through your articles I have definitely found ways that I’m going to be dealing with this and then I don’t need to seek value from my son and that I’m not supposed to seek evil for evil And then I don’t need an answer on correcting this right away but to pray to God and let God handle it. I’m very hurt by this but I’m strong and I believe in God. My son even told me that it comes down to it that he would block me not talk to me If I have any contact with any firefighters while he is currently on the job.

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