Many people have either experienced, or witness a controlling relationship in their lifetime and found that while in general, the dynamic is usually unhealthy; the relationship nevertheless, is in intriguing. Why is it that there are people who seek to completely dominate their partner? Perhaps even more perplexing for some, why are their people who would allow themselves to be controlled by a significant other? Our society frowns on actions such as these out loud, while at the same time in entertainment our culture has witness this kind of relationship again and again. In general, many relationships in the past were thought to be dominated by men, who for many years did indeed have more power both financially and politically. In recent years, with the onset of women’s rights and feminism, we have witnessed a flux in that power that in some cases, has turned completely around.
The classic television couple, for example, is almost entirely dominated now by the female in the relationship while the male is commonly portrayed as somewhat of an idiot. In many ways it is if our society has condemned the idea of a male overpowering a female, while at the same time the female dominance is fully supported. Though the power has changed hands, or sexes, it remains the same dynamic of one person controlling another and shows how the consequences of such actions generally remain the same.
How does a person become the controller? There are many reasons for a person to have control issues. Often these habits can be traced back to childhood; an overbearing parent, or a neglectful one, will often force a few extreme behaviors that can be difficult to minimize once the person has reached adulthood. Those who have an extreme need to maintain control of another person in their life often act this way because they fear the consequences of the relationship itself. Infidelity, humiliation or the idea of simply being replaced by another person are some extremely common causes of this action. Unfortunately those who have this kind of problem often find it nearly impossible to trust, even after years of getting to know the person they share a life with.
While some control in life is necessary, attempting to control another individual is often a disastrous mistake in a relationship. Spying on ones’ partner, going through their personal things or listening to their conversations are other means of attempting to control the situation by always knowing what the other person is up to. This kind of behavior should be a warning flag that in most cases means something is very wrong with the relationship. If you find that these descriptions fit your behavior it might be time to sit down with your partner and tell them how you feel. Often these habits can be helped greatly by a little reassurance and open discussion.
Some nasty side effects: In far too many relationships, the controlling person is unsatisfied with their partner, even when that person attempts to follow the instructions given to them. A simple mistake or misunderstanding, under these extreme conditions, can often lead to physical abuse. Unfortunately, by the time this abuse begins, too often the relationship has been going on for some time. The person being abused feels locked in place and certain that if they follow the rules they might bring back the side of their partner that did not act in these terrible ways. In many cases, the person being abused, or victim, will blame the violence on their own behavior; completely excusing their partner from responsibility. Abuse can come in many forms, not only the broken and battered images that we have all witness on television. Grabbing, pushing or even yelling at another person can be forms of abuse, though in certain situations yelling might be a part of any healthy argument.
The bottom line in these situations is: no matter how much a person would like to forgive or excuse their partner for displaying such behavior, there is no excuse. If you are victim of this kind of environment the best idea is to get away from your partner as soon as you possibly can; your partner will never be satisfied with your actions, your partner will most likely hurt you again and no matter what they say, they do not love you, not the in the way you hope they do. It is important to remember that being who wish to abuse those who are weaker than themselves, often have psychological problems that will not be helped by allowing the abuse to continue.
Co-dependency VS control? While many people would like to believe that every person has it in themselves to be strong and independent, there are many individuals who are not only incapable of such action they have no desire to be. Often these people are extremely needy and co-dependent on their partner for a variety of emotional and physical actions. At a glance this kind of a relationship appears to be unhealthy, certainly it is not condoned by our society; but the fine lines we walk when in a relationship can be difficult to navigate with complete independence.
When does relying on another person become unhealthy? To remain independent, while in a relationship is desirable for most, but do people not, on varying scales, become more and more dependent on their partners as time goes on? Many couples speak freely about how devastated they would be if their partner were no longer apart of the relationship; though this is usually an emotional need, there are many cases in which financial and physical burdens are left unattended if on partner dies. The romanticized idea of every person having a soul-mate would even suggest that many people feel that they are not independent, but rely on another person to complete their own lives. There are many cases in which co-dependency works well for particular couples, as long as both individuals feel happy and comfortable with the situation there is usually no real cause for alarm.
Growing up, again. A common reason for one partner trying to control another has little to do with psychological defects, abuse or even co-dependency: immaturity. When one partner constantly acts in irresponsible or juvenile ways the other partner is often forced to push in the opposite direction. In many cases the more responsible partner has little or no desire to treat their companion like a child, but has been forced to act this way or suffer the consequences of irresponsible behavior. It is likely in these cases that the controlling partner will often feel angry and disappointed for being placed in such a position, however in some cases the dynamic seems to satisfy both members and cannot clearly be defined as healthy or unhealthy as the situations can vary in extremes.
Sex and Control: Despite the leaps and bounds taken liberating women from their age old shackles, there exists still, in some women, a primal urge to be dominated by a man. In some cases, though perhaps a little less common instinctually, there are men who truly enjoy being dominated by a woman. Though in most cases this emotional and physical desire is confined to the bedroom there are those who enjoy the experience in every part of their life. It can be difficult for others to understand this type of relationship, as it is both uncommon and frowned upon by our society. Again, if both members of the relationship enjoy the interaction of one person dominating or controlling another, it can be difficult to pronounce the relationship unhealthy or defective.
With so many variables in relationships in which one member seeks to control another how can a person wither experiencing or witnessing such actions know how to feel? It can be quite difficult to determine whether or not a friend is in an unhealthy relationship and certainly control issues are far from the only problems couples face. If you are a relation where one person seeks to dominate the most important question to answer is whether or not you and your partner are happy.
As a friend watching such behavior the same advice applies; if both people are comfortable with the dynamic they share it is probably best not place judgment, however, depending on how close you feel to one or both members of the couple, voicing your opinions for their well-being and safety can be a healthy way to express concerns. Always remember that relationships are one of the most difficult and at times rewarding experiences a person can undergo during their lifetime, but with so many differences and unique qualities it is best to judge each on its’ own terms, not by standards of another.