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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 45
INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVES: Relationship Inventory - Control
Section One
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INSIGHTS AND PERSPECTIVES: Relationship Inventory - Control

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

Controlling relationships contribute to unhappiness, anger, deceit and ongoing negative interactions. Sometimes they start from the beginning and sometimes they evolve over time. They can exist between parents and children, friends, dating, or between spouses.

Fear is often the glue that keeps controlling relationships going. Sometimes both people are controlling in their own ways and in other scenarios one controls another. Generally, the person being controlled is afraid of making the other mad or disappointing the other. The person who is controlling is usually doing so because of their own fears of being hurt.

In the latter example, it may not appear as though the one doing the controlling is afraid. They can present in very confident ways. They are often controlling because they have anticipated something awful happening and that is usually related to the loss of the other.

Here are three indicators that you are in a relationship that is controlling:

1) 'It is always your way.' - If you hear that phrase a lot in the relationship, you should start to look to see if there are dynamics that are controlling. This phrase comes up when there are real or perceived issues of fairness and the dynamics are such that decisions, more times than not, go in favor of one of the individuals. This is indicative of the people being unable to negotiate. Usually the person doing the controlling wants it his/her way so they don't feel bad. They push and push and push until the other collapses and gives in.

2) Sneaking Around. - Individuals who are sneaking around in a relationship are usually doing so because they feel controlled. If you are sneaking to see or communicate with friends or family then there are control issues in a relationship. The need to sneak around usually comes from the third indicator, below.

3. 'No!' - If another adult is telling you that you are forbidden from doing something, you are in a controlling relationship. This dynamic comes up around issues of spending money, seeing and communicating with friends/family, where and when you can go somewhere, how you are dressed, and/or issues of sex. In most cases, this control exists in several areas of life such as social, financial, or sexual. No adult should be telling another adult 'No!'

From a very early age we resist feeling controlled. We certainly push back on it with our parents when we are teens. As children and younger teens, having some control exerted over us by our parents is normal because it is their job to take care of us. As adults, it is not normal for one to be controlling another.

Controlling relationships are very unhappy relationships. For sure, one, if not both, people are going to feel hurt, angry, and resentful. These dynamics often lead to retribution of one kind or another. These relationships can become physically violent as well.

If you want to fix a controlling relationship, both individuals have to make a commitment to understand themselves and to change. If you want to get out of a controlling relationship, seek help from professionals.

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, is a Therapist and a Contributing Writer to the SGN. He writes a bi-monthly column in the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at Michael.Raitt@comcast.net.

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