Saturday, January 12, 2013

Red Flag #8: Control

Now, I know that word, CONTROL, can mean lots of different things to different people. But in this entry, what I am referring to is when another person tries to influence your behaviour and reactions based on what they want and need alone.

When I was dating my last serious boyfriend, we had arguments and issues from time to time. Normal, right?  Of course it is.  In a relationship, you are bringing together two totally different people (no matter how alike you think you are or seem to be).  So it's normal to have some friction involved in that.  Got it... no worries.  But when you are having an issue with another person, they should at no time try to control your response or feelings.

Let me give you a specific example.  Once, my ex and I had a major miscommunication.  My heart was literally breaking about it.  I felt alone, confused, sad beyond understanding and frustrated.  He wasn't living close to me and so I decided to drive to where he was to have a face-to-face discussion because I simply needed that to get a better handle on what was going on.  When I told him that I was coming, he messaged me back with something to the effect of no conversation will take place if you cry or are upset.  Uh... ???  I told him I'd been crying for days and probably didn't have a tear left in me as it was (and that was true, I didn't cry when I talked to him but my hurt was real and I'm a girl... I cry when I hurt, why can't that be allowed? It isn't always used as a manipulation... although I know some girls who do that... a lot). We talked and sorted the issue out and all was good for a time but I just remember thinking it was strange that he made demands on my emotions, in a bid to control the situation.  It wasn't the only time.  Another time we were arguing and I was angry... so was he.  But I remember clearly that he said if I raised my voice at all, he would simply leave and the conversation and relationship would be basically over.  I remember learning to control my anger (something I am thankful for) but I also remember feeling shut down and like I wasn't allowed to express myself how I felt I needed to.

I guess what I am saying here is that you should be able to hang on to things that make you who you are.  You should never feel like you can't express yourself fully or that you are holding back some of who you are because your significant other doesn't like that part. They should never mandate how you react to situations... instead, they should be willing to listen and respond how they need to. Sure, over the course of your relationship, you may find yourself changing in how you react to situations to better suit your partner... but that should come from a desire to communicate better, not because the other person demands it of you and shuts you out unless you comply.

If your partner is controlling how and when you interact, that's a red flag and you need to solve the issue or get out.  Be with someone who respects you enough to accept all of you.

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