In any relationship, be it with a partner, family member, friend, or colleague, mutual respect and understanding are the cornerstones of a strong and healthy connection. However, sometimes, individuals inadvertently slip into controlling behaviors that can damage the very relationships they hold dear. In this blog post, we’ll shed light on some common controlling behaviors and why they are detrimental to our connections with others.
“Why can’t you do things my way?”
This comes across when we say “Hey just do this. Or I know how we can do this.”
What This Is: This statement may seem innocent on the surface, but it carries an underlying implication that one person’s way is the only right way…and under that the fear that they cannot trust “another way” to handle something. It speaks to boundary issues, because it dismisses the idea that people have different perspectives, experiences, and approaches to life. Healthy relationships thrive on the acceptance of diversity and the acknowledgment that there is more than one valid viewpoint.
“I know what’s best for you.”
While offering advice and support is crucial in any relationship, asserting that you know what’s best for someone else can be disempowering and limiting. It implies that the other person lacks the ability to make decisions for themselves.
What This Is: The fear Healthy relationships involve trust in each other’s judgment and the freedom to make choices, even if they differ from our own.
“You should listen to me; I’m just trying to help.”
This phrase may be uttered with good intentions, but it can come across as condescending.
What This Is: You are afraid they can’t, won’t or won’t know the Best way (like you do) to fix it. You are afraid that if they don’t listen to you, believe what you believe and see the reality it won’t be ok. But maybe it won’t, and that’s the reality. True help involves offering assistance when it’s requested and respecting the other person’s autonomy when they choose to handle things on their own. Forcing advice or assistance onto someone can create resentment and undermine their confidence.
“I need you to change for me to be happy.”
Now we don’t say this directly, but we give this message when we constantly nag and gripe about what they’re doing or not doing. This statement places the responsibility for one’s happiness on the other person’s shoulders.
What This Is: Trying to change their behavior so they can match what you want, instead of acceptance of who they were when you met them or birthed them. The bigger fear you are trying to avoid sitting with is that maybe you chose someone too unlike yourself, or that your child will never be what you wished for.
It’s essential to remember that each individual is responsible for their own happiness and well-being. Healthy relationships encourage personal growth and change driven by self-motivation, not coercion.
“You shouldn’t hang out with those friends; they’re a bad influence.”
Attempting to control someone’s social circle is a clear sign of unhealthy behavior.
What This Is: Your fear of the ramifications of choosing friends who will not influence them in the ways you want. You’re afraid they will then go down a negative path. Under this is the (real) fear it will not work out ok.
Friends, just like romantic partners, should be chosen based on personal compatibility and shared values. Trusting the other person to make their own judgments about friends fosters independence and respect. Ironically, if we shame others about who they are choosing, we then push them towards these people. Instead, giving them the vibe that we trust that they “love themselves enough to choose wisely” will help to believe in doing just that.
“I’ll handle everything for you because you can’t do it on your own.”
While helping each other out is a part of any relationship, taking control of every situation can lead to disempowerment and dependency.
What This Is: Your fear (and maybe experience) that they truly can’t. But if they are developmentally and cognitively able to handle it – even with a struggle and lots of frustration, then it is just your struggle to face the reality – that maybe they won’t handle it the way you wished they would. Encouraging self-sufficiency and offering support when needed allows them to grow and develop their own problem-solving skills.
Controlling behaviors, often stemming from a desire to protect or care for someone, can unwittingly suffocate relationships. Healthy connections are built on mutual respect, trust, and the freedom for each individual to express themselves and make choices. By recognizing and addressing controlling behaviors, we can nurture stronger, more fulfilling relationships based on equality and shared respect. It’s a journey toward healthier connections that benefit everyone involved.
Remember, a healthy relationship is not about control; it’s about collaboration, understanding, and growth together. Also, we have to do the same thing we are wanting them to do: sit with the reality that is in front of them and first accept it, then choose what to take responsibility for. If we are controlling and rescuing, then we are in just as much denial.