What To Do If Your Partner Has a “Steamroller” Personality

So what exactly is a “steamroller”? A steamroller is a term used to describe a person who uses aggression to control others and get their own way. You may know more than one person in your life who fit this description but it can be especially troubling if one of these people is your partner.

Signs Your Partner Is a “Steamroller”

It may not be immediately obvious that your partner falls into the category of “steamroller”. Here are some telltale signs to look out for:

  • “Steamrollers” tend to dominate every conversation.
  • They talk over you (often loudly).
  • They are often angry and aggressive.
  • They have little no regard for your individuality (they may get angry when you show signs of separateness)
  • They try to control you and your feelings.

How To Deal With a “Steamroller”

“Steamrollers” can often be difficult to live with, particularly if you find it difficult to stand up for yourself. However, there are some steps you can take to help the “steamroller” recognise what they are doing:

  • Use firm body language when speaking to them (plant your feet firmly on the floor, maintain good posture and keep your arms relaxed by your sides).
  • Show you’re not intimidated by maintaining good eye contact (make sure you do this in a way that is natural and non-aggressive)
  • When they interrupt you, ask them to stop. Then either continue what you were saying or start again.
  • Let them know if you don’t agree with them.
  • Don’t be afraid to question what they are saying and ask them to explain their viewpoint.

Remember that “steamroller” personalities often come about when someone believes their partner is an extension of them. Implementing these actions will help remind them your partner you are your own person, with your own thoughts, opinions and feelings. In some cases this could be enough for them to recognise that their behaviour needs to change.

The Most Important Thing To Do When Living With a “Steamroller”

In addition to implementing the tips above, it is absolutely critical to stop fixing the problems that your “steamroller” partner creates. This can be tempting but when you do so, you are enabling their “steamroller” behaviour because they are not forced to face the problems they cause. The “steamroller” needs to experience the effort it takes to solve these issues. Forcing the “steamroller” to clean up the mess caused by their destructive ways could teach them to be less reckless.

Confide in a Friend

It may be helpful to confide in a close friend or family member if you feel like you need additional support and advice.

Having other people outside of your relationship that you can openly talk to is critical for both your mental health and a healthy relationship. These people may also offer advice that will have a positive impact on your relationship. However, remember to avoid sharing too much personal information about your partner.

Related: Overcoming Codependency in a Romantic Relationship

Work With a Therapist to Form a Plan

Recognise that healthy relationships don’t revolve around one person controlling the other. They involve acceptance of the other person and a lot of negotiation so both partner’s get what they need. However, it can be difficult to get to this point when your partner is a “steamroller”.

Working with a therapist in marriage/couple’s counselling is one of the best things you can do for your relationship. A counsellor will work with you to help establish what degree of control is acceptable and what is not.

A psychologist can be especially helpful when dealing with this type of relationship dynamic as they help to make sure the viewpoints of both parties are heard.

Related: Tips for Successful Marriage Counselling – How To Prepare



Note: While having friends, family and a psychologist to confide in can be very beneficial, please seek help immediately if your partner is engages in abusive behaviour towards you and/or your kids.

24/7 Crisis Lines:

  • Emergency 000: For immediate danger
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732: For issues related to sexual assault or/and family and domestic violence.
  • Mensline Australia 1300 789 978: Support for men or boys dealing with relationship issues.
  • Lifeline 13 11 14: For any one experiencing personal crisis or contemplating suicide.