We all do things that are less than healthy when we feel trapped and scared. This article explores 5 common psychological control tactics that actually push you further away from the intimacy you desire, and prevent greater closeness in the relationship.
1. Threatening to leave the relationship (when you don’t really want or intend to)
This involves threatening to leave or end the relationship, or actually ending the relationship over text for example, to essentially get your way and coerce/force the other person to give you what you want. For example: if you don’t respond to me within 2 hours, our relationship is over. Be careful what you wish for.
2.Blaming and assuming
Making assumptions about the other person based on your negative beliefs about love, and not allowing them to explain themselves or not seeing them clearly. Blaming them for your unhappiness, blaming them for your dissatisfaction, blaming them for your deep feelings of unworthiness. If you are chronically seeking validation from your partner to feel good, this completely imbalances the relationship and creates an unhealthy co-dependency. It places immense pressure on your partner to be solely responsible for your happiness. Happiness is an inside job. Feeling good is a personal practice. You cannot be truly happy in a relationship if you cannot first be happy within yourself. Why is that? When you enter a relationship, you are entering that relationship with what already exists inside of you. If you are filled with hatred and contempt, that will infuse the relationship. If you are filled with dissatisfaction, and feelings of low self worth, that unending desire for validation will infuse the relationship. If you are happy within yourself, that will infuse the relationship. Taking responsibility for your internal world, before choosing to share that with another is life changing.
3. Constantly testing the other person or setting emotional traps
This involves purposely not communicating your true needs to see what your partner will do. For example, you have a medical appointment, and you really want your partner to come with you. Yet, you tell them that it’s okay if they don’t go, and you give them the option of not going. If they say that it’s probably better if they don’t go, you demonize them. You use this example to justify every negative belief you have about love. For example, “Men can’t be trusted”, “you can’t possibly love me, because if you did you would be there for me”, “true love doesn’t exist”, “people always leave”. This destroys trust in the relationship, and also shatters your expectations. Perhaps if you had asked for what you truly wanted, your wish would have been granted. But don’t take it to heart. Maybe what you truly wanted at a deeper, core level, is a partner who would always choose you no matter what.
4. Chronic dissatisfaction
This stems from unhealthy and unrealistic expectations which constantly leave you feeling disappointed and unable to appreciate your partner. One of the most common expectations we face in relationships is to expect our partner to be exactly like us- to want what we want, to love the way we do, to communicate the way that we do and to plan and organize the way that we do for example. Love is based on feelings of appreciation and respect. Chronic dissatisfaction is built on lack of appreciation. Let’s explore the mindset of how this must feel for your partner. Feeling constantly criticized, and like you are never doing enough no matter how hard you try isn’t fun. It’s exhausting to feel constantly unappreciated.
5. Not expressing your needs
This stems from the part of us that wants our partner to be able to anticipate our needs. Not everyone is going to be able to read your mind. Often times we don’t express our needs because we are not clear on what they are, so we feel confused. Or, we don’t feel comfortable speaking up for ourselves- maybe we have been used to suppressing and denying our needs to appease others in the past. Or, perhaps we are afraid that by voicing our needs the relationship will fall apart. Unmet needs leads to unresolved conflict- whether that conflict is internal or external. Unresolved conflict leads to resentment. Resentment is the silent killer of relationships. Based on contempt, it can inspire strong feelings of hatred- this hatred stemming from the rage and anger that our needs have continuously not been met. When our needs are not being met in a relationship, we can either feel powerless, or choose to get angry. Anger is often an indicator that a personal boundary has been violated. in this case, it’s the boundary that your partner is not meeting your needs in the relationship.
What can you do about it?
Understanding why we do the things that we do is paramount.
1. Threatening to end the relationship: This is based on control. We control because we are not trusting, we control because of the fear that if we don’t, we will be miserable and our needs will not be met. What part of you is afraid to trust?
2. Blaming and assuming: this is based in victim mentality, not taking responsibility and ownership over your feelings and life. Take responsibility for your feelings. Do not blame others for how you feel. Take ownership of your internal world. Learning to listen to and communicate with your heart will go a long way. Blame keeps us distracted, constantly deflecting what we truly feel so that we don’t have to look inside. Face yourself, you might be surprised at what you find.
3. Testing and setting emotional traps: this is based on manipulation, not being clear about what you truly want. Why do we do this? We resort to these things when we are not trusting, and when we do not believe that we can have what we want. Mistrust of others first begins with mistrust of self. When you are not trusting someone as close and intimate as a romantic partner, it’s because you are not trusting yourself. You do not fully trust your own judgement, and this is why you are constantly testing them- to look for proof to validate the fear that you cannot trust yourself. This is likely due to instances in the past where your trust was betrayed.
4. Chronic dissatisfaction: learning to release expectations, and practice the focus of appreciation in your life. Not only will this do wonders for your relationship, it will do wonders for your wellbeing, your finances, your health, your career. Appreciation and detachment are the true gateways to love.
5. Not expressing your needs: this stems from an undefined sense of self. This is the part of you that learned to self sacrifice in order to make others feel good. Chances are, you adapted to this as a young child to avoid “being in the way” for example. This is often characterized by deep feelings of unworthiness or feeling like a burden to your loved ones around you. You subconsciously feel that having needs makes you a burden. Perhaps you grew up with an extremely stressed out parent who did not have healthy coping strategies. As a result, you do not express your needs because deep down you feel that you don’t deserve to have needs. Redirecting that relationship with your inner child will do wonders. Speak kindly to yourself, and practice self acceptance. You are worthy of having your needs met, and you just as much as anybody else, deserve to take up space on this planet.
If this article resonates with you, please don’t judge or blame yourself.
We are always doing the best that we can, and no one is perfect. As long as you have the willingness to grow, that is all you need. If you have a relationship that is no longer in your life, let it go. You will never miss out on what is yours. I hope this inspires you to love more, and to recognize the scared and confused places within yourself, that actually keep love out, so that you can truly enjoy the experience of letting love in.