Issues of control are common in relationships, but sometimes the person who is being controlled has no idea. Partners who do this are very often insecure. However, it does not help the well-being of either of you for this to go unchallenged. Find out if you are being controlled and what to do about it.
Discover the importance of:
- Deciding what is and is not ‘control’
- Being honest with yourself
- Stopping doing the pastimes you love
- Feelings of fear in the partnership
- Depression and it’s role in control
WHAT IS NOT CONTROL
At some point most of us feel that our partner is making demands on us that are unreasonable. Relationships are like that. They are a matter of give and take and it’s natural if you sometimes feel that you are doing more giving than taking. Besides this, in most relationships, we might like to change our partner, just a weeny bit! However much you love someone, no-one is perfect. But wishing your partner would behave differently and making requests are not the same as ‘control’. Arguments in which you want to get your point over may be healthy self-assertion, not attempts to control.
It’s important to be aware that even the most loving couples have rows. It may seem like a bid for control if your dear one gets upset if you don’t do what they say. There’s no cast-iron boundary between what is control and what is not. After all, we all like our own way! But if you are truly being controlled it messes with your mind and makes for a very unhappy experience. Generally, if you are truly being controlled you will not easily be able to challenge this with your partner. Contentment, with a truly controlling partner, comes at a high price, does not go deep and is never long-lasting.
BEING HONEST WITH YOURSELF
In any attempt to improve yourself and your life, being honest with yourself is essential. Sometimes if your partner is controlling you, you may want to convince yourself you’re happy rather than face the fact of what’s happening and/or let them down. Their approval may be of highest importance to you – after all, they want it that way! If you are unhappy you may blame yourself, but is that really fair?
Take the first step of asking yourself whether you are happy. If the answer is ‘no’ do not blame yourself in the first instance. We all know happiness is a choice and that you make your own happiness etc. etc., but if you’re being controlled you can’t do that. In your journey towards happiness it may be important to face the fact that your partner is not helping you.
HAVE YOU STOPPED DOING THINGS YOU LOVE?
One pointer towards control is change in your choice of pastime. Naturally, when you pair up, you make changes, and your partnership requires time and effort. But that needs to be kept in balance.
Have you stopped some hobby that you really loved because you know your partner doesn’t like it? They may show this through being openly antagonistic or by being moody, dropping hints or possibly by insinuating you aren’t very good at what you do, or it’s a waste of time. This could also apply to a job you find fulfilling and friends you like spending time with.
If you’ve abandoned something that meant a lot to you, for the sake of your partner, you need to ask yourself why.
YOUR SELF ESTEEM
Your self-esteem may be the first casualty in such relationships. You may believe you aren’t good enough and that your partner deserves better. You may get all sorts of reactions from them, from outright criticism and attack, to much more subtle behaviour of facial expressions, little digs and pretence that they are being patient with you.
On the surface they may be encouraging and supportive, but always with subtle reminders that you ‘didn’t quite get there’. One tactic may be ‘damning with faint praise’ – saying a few good things but leaving significant gaps so you know they have reservations. Another may be comparing you with others. Often, if you challenge such behaviour you will get a patronising reaction, that you are being over-sensitive and ‘imagining things.’ In extreme cases your partner may suggest that you are mentally unbalanced and ‘need help.’
If your self-esteem has gone down since you’ve been with your partner and if friends have noticed a difference, be aware.
DO YOU FEEL AFRAID?
If you love someone very much it’s natural to be a bit afraid that they may leave you, or you may do something wrong. But if you are often very fearful of your partner’s disapproval, if you’re so scared of upsetting them it regularly affects your decisions and if they punish you by withholding love, sex, money or anything else you need, that is not okay.
If you are ever, at all, physically afraid of your partner, then the issues are obvious. Seek help before this gets out of hand.
ARE YOU DEPRESSED?
Depression may have nothing at all to do with who you’re with. It can be an illness, that simply strikes. However, if you’ve always been a contented, cheery soul but now, with this person, you’re down quite a lot of the time, then why is that?
Maybe there are other, obvious reasons to do with your job, housing, friendships or family. Maybe your partner is down and it’s depressing you too – and this may have no connection with control issues. But if you have become depressed since this relationship began and if your friends have noticed a difference, then that needs to be examined.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Control is a complex matter. Here we have looked at what is and is not ‘control’, being honest with yourself, stopping doing what you love, self-esteem, fear and depression. True control by a partner will involve some, or even all of these factors, and if you don’t feel clear about this, or if you feel at all vulnerable, it’s important that you talk to someone.
PUBLISHED: 21 March 2018