Controlling relationships can can be difficult to deal with. In some relationships, one partner takes the lead. In others, one partner’s energy can overwhelm the otheror they might seem too invested in their mate’s affairs. What sort of things make us feel controlled in our relationships?
So, What is a Controlling Relationship?
I often hear someone in a relationship say that their partner is too controlling. And when they say this, they are usually pretty irritated, because they don’t like it one bit. But what does “controlling” really mean? Do they not listen to you? Do they demand things go a certain way? Do they always want to know what you’re doing at all times?
I think there are many varying degrees of controlling behavior. I imagine that if I consider my own forceful behavior at times, even I could be considered controlling. I know when I get certain about something, I want my husband to agree to what I want. When I don’t listen to him and just push my thoughts onto him, well I guess you could call that controlling.
A Controlling Relationship Can Stem From Feeling Uncertain or Unsafe
I also know that if you are the kind of partner that must check your mate’s phone to see if they received calls or texts to feel safe in the relationship, you might call this controlling as well.
We have lots of descriptions of what control is, but I think it’s more of a feeling that the partner feels when the other person gets too pushy. People with a lot of energy and enthusiasm pretty much love their ideas. I am one of them. I love my excitement for things.
Is Leadership in a Relationship Controlling?
But I married a guy who does not live in my body nor can he feel what it feels like to love things as much as I do. He may like them, but his enthusiasm level is far less than mine. So, when I love something and I want to share it with him, and I become big in my energy and explain what I want, is that controlling?
I recognize that I can be overwhelming sometimes and that gives me pause to slow down and consider his feelings that may not match mine. I don’t consider myself a controlling person, and yet I often like to lead and tell people what I think. That’s just part of my personality.
Is Enthusiasm a Form of Control?
If you are opposed to my thoughts, and I speak up and you don’t, you might consider my personality controlling. But I think it’s not about control, it’s about how we are formed as people.
People who are enthusiastic about things often seem big and overwhelming to people who are less excited in their presentation. This is neither good nor bad. It simply is the expression of people and how people are different.
A problem arises with labels on how we should act. I don’t like people telling me to be quiet. I bristle at hearing I should speak softer. It feels like I am being muted, like someone is trying to silence me. It hurts.
And I understand that I am different from people who see this large energy as too much. That just means we are not the same and do not think and act the same, and in our world, no one really does.
What About Micromanaging and Not Listening?
But what if you are the kind of person who can’t listen to your mate? What if you must be right all the time? What if you insist on knowing where your partner is always? What if you need to check their emails and phone?
These are controlling behaviors too. And they are only useful if your partner is OK with them. If they don’t like these behaviors, then you ARE controlling them. You are forcing something on them that they don’t like.
Consider Where “Controlling” Behaviors Come From, So You Can Address Them with Your Loved One
My advice: think about why you have these behaviors. What is behind the need to know where your partner is or who they are talking to? It might be because you are worried they might not be faithful. If this is the case, talk with your person about your feelings. It is perfectly natural for couples to wonder this and I suggest talking about it.
Revealing how you are feeling does not make you weak. It tells your partner you have sensitivity and talking about your feelings will help them know you better. And here’s the best part, you might experience something very special when you reveal what you are feeling inside, and that connection is the assurance you are probably looking for from you mate. Use this approach instead of forcing your control. It might lead to more closeness and less pain.
Want Your Relationship to Feel Less Controlling?
Read a Book About Relationships
Feel more comfortable and at ease with your partner, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might help you and your partner communicate better about your insecurities, your comfort level, and your feelings for one another in a positive, constructive way, so that you both feel loved, understood, and free. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.