Controlling Behavior Hurts Intimacy

“I am living with a woman who is very controlling,” writes Craig G. from Miami. “When I don’t agree with her or do things the way she wants me to, she gets furious at me, threatens to have an affair, screams, pouts and withdraws sex. Why does she do this?”

How do you attempt to control people in your relationships?

*yell *deny
*get annoyed/irritated *accuse
*pout *act sneaky/deceptive
*criticize *lie/withhold truth
*therapize *act “nice”
*give gifts *take responsibility for others
*sulk *moralize
*nag *analyze
*get short or curt *get indispensable
*give advise *get angry
*argue *lecture
*explain *become self-righteous
*blame *complain
*convince *justify
*judge *interrogate
*flatter *talk others out of their feelings
*bribe *scowl
*spank *change the subject
*use sarcasm *whine
*make comparisons *throw things
*interrupt *act like a know-it-all
*withdraw *interpret
*talk about your feelings, desires and needs *teach

Do you use?:
*silent treatment *under-functioning
*disapproving looks *over-functioning
*sighs *half-truths
*a superior attitude *illness
*emotional withdrawal *sexual withdrawal
*violence *blaming tears
* “poor me” tears *temper tantrums
*put-downs *threats of suicide
*threats of financial withdrawal
*Are there other ways that you control in your relationships?

Some of the more common ways people try to control others, consciously or not, is through:

  • Crying (“Poor me. Look what you’re doing to me. I’m going to get even with you by making you feel guilty.) You feel like a victim and you’re genuinely upset, but some people use those emotions to manipulate and control.
  • Anger (“You’re wrong, and I’m going to be upset with you until you give me my way.”) Anger is also a genuine emotion, but it can be used to frighten and intimidate others into doing what you want.
  • Cold, silent treatment (“This is what you’re going to get from me until you give me what I want.”)
  • Interrogation (“Where were you?” “Who were you with?”) You interrogate when you’re afraid. You’re looking for the other person to say something you can pounce on.
  • Threats (“If you go to sleep without us first resolving this issue, I may not be here when you wake up.”) You threaten another person with something you know they feel particularly vulnerable about.
  • Withdrawing communication, affection, endearments and sex. This is a variation of cold, silent treatment.
  • Criticism or sarcasm. Do it my way or I’ll make your life really miserable.
  • Denial (“That never happened.” “I didn’t say that.”) You are hoping that you can dupe the other person by challenging their version of what happened. This is particularly destructive when used with children, who learn to use denial as a way to protect themselves from reality.
  • Lecturing (“Give me what I want or I’ll use my self-righteousness and never give you a moment’s peace.”
  • Playing dumb (“I don’t remember any agreement about that.”)
  • Killing with kindness (“What else can I do for you to prove how much a schmuck you are?”) This is closely related to martyrdom.

The above ideas were taken from the book Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? by Jordan and Margaret Paul.

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