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Are you in a Controlling Relationship?

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Are you in a Controlling Relationship?


Most of us have had experience with controlling behavior.  Someone tries to tell you what to do, how you should dress or what career we should have.  This often starts with our parents and we get so used to the idea that others have a say in our life that it seems normal. When our partners then also become controlling we accept it as a normal and acceptable part of life, after all they are just trying to do what is best for us.

But what if, just for a moment, we stood back and took a really good look at what is going on?  We are each of us on this planet for a short amount of time and the only thing that we really have control over is our own destiny.  Do we really want to give that away?   By doing so we lose ourselves, make way too many compromises and forget who we are and what life is really about for us.

Controlling behavior can come in many forms and the point at which is becomes a problem will be different for everyone, but some signs to watch out for include

  • Being told how to dress
  • Discouraged from going out and being with your friends and engaging in the activities in which you enjoy
  • Your partner wanting to do everything with you to the exclusion of all else
  • Your partner does not encourage you to spend time with your family and loved ones
  • Financial constraints
  • Constantly checking up on you, where you are, who you are with
  • Repeated or persistent jealousy
  • Constantly being told you “should” be or act a certain way
  • Your opinions are not valued or taken seriously

There are many reasons why people resort to this kind of behaviour but in my experience it is often rooted in childhood.  Children who grow up in a chaotic childhood, through such factors as abuse, alcoholism and mental illness learn to control as much as their environment as they can.  While this is perfectly functional in childhood, in adulthood it becomes problematic.  This can also happen to people who have come from dysfunctional previous relationships who were not able to rely on their partners to act in predictable ways.  Control is way to make the environment predicable and therefore manageable.  Another reason for controlling behavior is a fear of loss.  If someone has experienced a substantial loss in the past, they may have trouble trusting and loving for fear of being deeply hurt again.  Controllers may also have learned their behavior from a controlling parent or sometimes people whose own self-esteem is very low or they themselves have not achieved what they set out to, make themselves feel better by putting others down.

Whatever the reasons, control in a relationship is not healthy.  No-one has the right to control another person’s behavior or life – EVER! We all have the human right and free will to act however we like.  Even if we act unskillfully, that is our right and our prerogative.  Others can choose to state their own needs and leave the relationship if they are not getting met, but they do not have the right to control or change our lives.

The bottom line is that control of another is a form of abuse.  We need to get honest with ourselves on how much are we trying to influence others’ lives and be continually reflecting on whether we are crossing the line.

We also need to keep in the back of our mind that controlling verbal behavior very often leads to controlling physical behavior.