Girlfriend’s phone is ringing again.
“It’s him again.” She answers.
I listen to her reply. “I’m doing the same thing I told you I was doing five minutes ago.”
It was the tenth phone call in three hours.
Yes it’s flattering for about a week or so. Then the cord of attachment becomes a noose. Have you been there? Has lover called several times when they know you are working on a project. Do they tell you to cut the friendship with someone you’ve known since you were 5? Do they go through your phone log, scan your Fb with questions ? Are you spending much of your time proving to this person that you are not doing anything. Do you find yourself trying to convince them all the while thinking that once you demonstrate your faithfulness it will end. Is it a rough spot in the road of love or a huge boulder?
There is a dynamic in new passionate relationships. Lovers want to be with their love object. You dwell on them. At the same time the fear of love lost pops up in your mind. It’s not jealousy per se but a nagging little fear that you could be burned. In a health union trust builds and we relax. Real issues of control only get worse because the controller lacks the ability to trust. What is control?
Telling you who you can be friends with or talk to
Checking up behavior- who are with and where
Dictating clothing or make up choices
Limiting your lifestyle
It feels invasive
Other people notice it
You have not done anything to trigger the behavior (such as cheating…)
It’s not going away
You cannot end the relationship because you fear the consequences
More men than women have control issues. Testosterone is the jet fuel that encourages competitory behavior and protection. When called upon it can narrows the thinking part of the brain so he can scan the environment and single out prey or sniff our danger and notice threats. However woman are not immune from issues of control. Humans are wired to notice and detect impediments, threats and obstacles in the way of achieving a goal. Unfortunately we can become tangled in the emotional parts of the brain. The more threatening, the greater potential that you will bypass the rational part of the brain and go directly to the center that drives you to react without much logic.
I’m sitting at a restaurant and I overhear the guy at the next table, “You smiled a little too long at that waiter.”
He’s not alone. Men do have an edge in processing more mundane or normal situations as more sexual. She might say something to relax him and it would be over. In this case he’s not buying it. They begin to argue back and forth. This caveman might be seeing all sorts of innocent events as a possible threat. It’s the fear of abandonment, the precursor of jealousy. High emotion is the enemy of rational thinking and he experienced a surge in hormones that overrode his rational thinking mechanisms and sent a threat message to the very primal amygdala. Think of it as a highway- we are speeding along and have virtual seconds to either slow down, take a different route or blast though with an easy pass to anger. Once activated if we cannot self-regulate we cannot clam ourselves. Self-regulation allows us the take that breath we need; to come up with a plan. To not do something that may cost us in the end. Adults who have romantic intelligence can regulate their thoughts and actions, get off that highway or slow down and look for an exist or rest stop. Some people have a well lubricated system or an easy pass onto the threat and anger highway. It’s easy for their brain to do this because they’ve felt this fear many times and tier brains are wired to easily slip onto that path. In other words the ability to trust is not an easy road for their brain to navigate. In some people it’s not even on the map.
If it’s simply a past rejection we can usually learn to join the trust highway again. But those with a history of rejection, unstable childhood, and a host of past rejections are more prone to control. Early attachment issues can create a superhighway to the threat center. When an infant’s needs are not met, when they feel they cannot count on their caregivers they have a difficult time trusting or believing that others will come through for them. They expect to be hurt or abandoned and their threat system is well lit. What makes it all worse is that we humans seem to have a self-confirming bias built into our logical side; we seek out any information that confirms for us what we think we know! We all wear a set of glasses that either see’s our social world clearly or somewhat distorted. If we think the world is unfair and others can’t be trusted, our lens may push us to process thoughts that confirm this- interpretations may be distorted. That was exactly what the caveman was doing.
There is a whiplash to control; often the controller drives their partner away, bit by bit and in a self-fulfilling manner- they leave them. This only adds to their mixed up view and the abandonment superhighway adds another lane and maybe loses all other exits.
The controller usually explains away the reasons they feel justified. Somewhere in the relationship you’ll find clues to this sort of control. Controllers do explain themselves and may talk a lot about their past rejections. You feel sorry for them. Great controllers make you the responsible party. It’s your behavior, your friends, your good looks…You have to constantly prove your undying love. This may involve changing your life, letting go of friends and this saps your energy.
It is not your job to be the optometrist for you lover and don’t think you can adjust their way of seeing things. Here’s a great tip; when you meet someone and they center on their ‘poor me’ existence- run! Healthy adjustment learns to build in a positive manner from past hurts. Sure we’ve had them, but they do not define us. If you are stuck – get help.