Control, Manipulation and Other Things That
Really Screw Up Relationships
If you were to get 100 people together and ask them
"Do you do things to try control or manipulate
your husband, wife, partner or other loved
We think you'd find that almost every one of
them would say "No, I don't do this."
But...regardless of what most people's first
"reaction" to this question is...
The truth is almost everyone tries to control
and manipulate the people they love most and most
of the time it's totally unconscious.
So, why do we do this? Why do we have this need
to control and manipulate? And... How does this
play out in our important relationships?
For starters...It's just a part of being
human--we all want our way and to feel loved and
We all have different ways of doing
it--sometimes being forceful and domineering and
sometimes withdrawing and being aloof.
And much of this is unconscious behavior learned
very early in our lives.
So if we're all trying to control one another,
how can two people ever find peace, happiness and
love together as a couple?
The answer's pretty simple but not always easy
You both have to learn to unravel your
unconscious behaviors and create new habits that
support the kind of relationships and life you
The two of us have read books on the topic,
listened to a lot of men and women over the many
years we've been giving relationship advice and
we've also dealt with trying to control one another
for just as long...
Here's a little of what we've learned about
1. At their core, women and men generally have
different reasons for trying to control the other.
Most women want to control their men so they can
feel loved, secure and even peaceful.
Here's what's usually not said but
"If you come home each evening and eat dinner
with me, I'll know that you love me."
"If you dress up in your new shirt and pants,
you won't embarrass me."
"If you were more affectionate during the day,
I'd be more open to making love with you more
Most men want freedom most of all--as well as
being wanted and appreciated by their women--and
they control to get their needs met.
Here's what's maybe not said but implied...
"Just let me relax when I get home and don't
make me help around the house."
"I don't want to go to this event but I'll go
because you want me to and then I'll sulk, letting
you know I'm not having a good time and don't want
to be there."
"Since I'm in charge of the finances, here's
what we're going to do..."
Now of course, not all men and not all women fit
this model and these ideas certainly may not apply
in your relationship.
But it's worth taking a look at it from this
angle to discover what you and your partner do when
you fall into controlling one another.
2. When there's a struggle for control in a
relationship, there's usually one who pushe and
there's one who withdraws--and these roles can
change depending on the circumstance.
It's pretty obvious to blame the one who pushes
as trying to control the situation but believe it
or not, it's also the one who withdraws who's
trying to control and get his or her needs met.
They just go about it a little different way but
it comes off as control, nonetheless.
3. Control never brings the security, peace,
love or freedom that we want.
When we get what we want by controlling another
person, we're always on guard because we fear if we
aren't, whatever illusion we've created for
ourselves that we have what we want will be taken
The feeling is--"If I let down my guard for one
second, he/she will go back to the old ways."
This is especially difficult when there's been
infidelity or a fear of it in the relationship but
can be about something as simple as trying to
control one person leaving dirty dishes in the sink
or remembering to take the garbage cans to the
We're not saying that giving up control is easy
but we are saying that so far, we haven't seen
control bringing true happiness.
If you've been trying to control your partner
and not feeling like things are getting better, it
might be time to find another way of being.
So what do you do instead of control?
Here are a few ideas...
1. Notice what your particular brand of control
is in your relationships. How do you go about
getting your way? It might be that you don't
realize how strong you come off (that might appear
pushy to someone else). It also might be that you
don't realize how you collapse and just "go along"
while shoving down anger and resentment--even
though you might not consider this "getting your
So just notice what you do when the two of you
get into power struggles.
2. Interrupt your pattern and try a different
behavior. If you storm off and slam doors or sit
down in front of the tv or a computer when there's
a power struggle, stay engaged with the other
If you talk, talk, talk and the other person
doesn't say anything, try giving the space for the
other person to speak.
If you retreat or pull away, move toward.
If you find that you push forward, move back a
bit to create some space and breathing room.
3. Use "Magic Words" from our "Magic
Relationship Words" program at
http://www.MagicRelationshipWords.com to stay
engaged with the other person.
You might use words like "It's not my intention
to... (make you wrong or hurt you.)"
Or use inclusive language like "How can
we...(both get our needs met in this
4. Choose love instead of control. It's so easy
to go on auto-pilot and go through life doing what
we've always done.
It takes courage and being conscious to choose
We invite you to choose love instead of control
because in the end, everyone wins if your do.
& Otto Collins
Other Relationship Issues,
and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners
who are committed to helping others create
outstanding relationships of all kinds. They
regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and
seminars on love, relationships and personal and
spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit"
which has helped people in over a dozen countries
improve their relationships. It includes a video
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million
Dollars! You can also
read more articles like these and subscribe to
their weekly newsletter on love and relationships
by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com
Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You
Go? has just been released and is now available
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