Sex and Love 100

Musings on the most basic life skill . . .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Controlling Relationships...The Noose of Love

12/4
            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.

39 comments:

  1. I read this specifically because I , unfortunately, have had some problems with being controlling. I am not as controlling. I wouldn't call every second like described in the beginning, raid her Facebook wall. But i would get jealous very easily, but I don't know if my jealousy was normal.
    Here is why:
    - My ex would flirt with every guy she spoke to (including sitting on her guy friends' laps and touching them excessively) This included my best friend who liked her, and she knew he liked her.

    - She actually told my best friend during our relationship that she liked her too. I forgave her after she apologized immensely, but i never trusted her with him or him with her.

    So after those incidents I never felt I truly trusted her and since she still hung out at my best friends house that I spoke about previously, I wanted to know when she went over to his house to hang out (they lived 5 minutes away). She would get upset at me because she couldn't go when she wanted.

    Was I being too controlling, should I have still trusted her?

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  2. I think that you just found a rotten fish and should have thrown it back. There are people out there that simply have to have the attention on themselves at all costs. She can have all the attention she wants from some other guy, you deserve better. If you find someone else who doesn't give you reason to be jealous, and you still are, then you may have some control issues.

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  3. Controlling behavior can have an insidious effect on the recipient.

    During a previous relationship, I moved out of state at the request of a boyfriend. For almost 3 years I interacted with his family, who I liked greatly while only seeing my family infrequently. I made acquaintances at work but never any close friends. We spent time together doing activities he wanted while I felt guilty for wanting more independence. It wasn't until my immediate family mentioned, during a rare holiday spent with them, how much I'd changed and seemed more passive than I'd ever been. At this point I became introspective and began reassessing this relationship. I didn't recognize myself anymore; meek, passive, indecisive. Shortly thereafter I ended things and have never felt such relief as when I walked out the door for the past time. A weight lifted off my shoulder. Even though the break was made, the effects lasted for months afterwards.

    This experience made me very leery of new relationships and negatively affected some existing ones. Only in the last few years have I opened up to the possibility of new relationships both romantically and socially.

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  4. being in a controlliong relationship can be scary and life threating.my advice to anyone is if they see signs. to get out of the relationship as soon as possible.

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  5. When I was younger I was in a controlling relationship, I became blind to it and I just thought he loved me and thats why he asked so many questions - because he cared. My friends tried to tell me to let him go, my bestfriend told me that he was no good but I stayed with him for a long time before I realized I was in an unhealthy relationship! Anyone that doesn't trust you for no reason and trys to mold you into the person they want to be with isn't worth it.

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  6. I too have been in a controlling relationship when I was younger (in high school). It's funny how time changes your perspective of things. I remember how I was in awe of him initially. He was much older than I was, popular and the quarterback of the football team. I was flattered that he paid any attention to me at all. As our relationship progressed, he started controlling all areas of my life. He monitored what I did and who I talked to until I started monitoring myself (this involved constantly thinking about whether my actions would be acceptable to him). When the relationship began to take on tones of physical abuse, I broke up with him. I am lucky that I had family on my side, who were watching out for me and saw some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

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  7. I've always been afraid of becoming that controlling partner in the relationship. Thankfully I know I haven't because i've seen those kind of relationships around me and i know what they look like. i just think of myself as protective. just want to look out for the one i love

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  8. The first thing this post made me think of was what my religion has to say about somebody with this type of personality. In Judaism, there is a concept called “Middot” (pronounced mee-dote), which means “living a virtuous life.” Under Middot, there is a list of lessons a person needs to learn and apply in order to live virtuously. One of the big ones being “Erech Apayim” (pronounced eh-rech ah-pie-yeem), which means “slow to anger/patience/working on being in control of our anger.” Sometimes it’s hard for us to catch ourselves in an angry state of mind, and once we’re in it, it’s hard to calm down. In my opinion, it’s much easier to train ourselves to not get so upset over every little thing, than it is to be constantly be upset. consciously step-back from the situation and relax.

    I could end up typing a whole lesson plan on this, but in a nutshell, Middot strengthen the relationship you have with yourself, with God and with others. If you don’t learn to control your anger and have a grip over what makes you tick, then you’re going to sever those relationships; especially the ones with others (friends and family).

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  9. I'm actually curious as to Dr. Hopper's response to the first comment to this blog, as I have also been called 'controlling' by my first ex-girlfriend, and at least weekly I've found myself wondering if that's actually the case. Our relationship broke down into three 'phases' as I like to refer to them.

    Phase 1 was a slightly uneasy level of trust I had gathered at the beginning of our relationship(which began with me effectively 'winning' over another choice of guy she had, probably not the best start to a relationship, but it happened).

    Phase 2 usually began after she did something I felt was particularly 'off'. She enjoyed going to 'dinner' with different guys in her life... which normally wouldn't be a problem in itself except these dinners routinely happened at midnight and lasted until 2-3 AM... and they were at -least- weekly in their nature.

    Phase 3 usually begin with me either A. Finding out that she had lied to me about going out with these guys (And yes, I -did- find out fairly regularly from her friends and, after awhile, through an almost paranoid need to go through her phone when she was acting shady), or B. Feeling generally uncomfortable with her actions.

    Almost always, Phase 3 began with me sitting down with her and trying to discuss how I felt, and quickly developed into her getting onto the defensive and attacking me about how I felt, which eventually led into a giant argument where the end result was her apologizing and hesitantly saying she understood how I felt.

    Of course, then we would cycle right on back into Phase 1 of our little fucked up relationship, and I'm not sure if I'm in the right, or in the wrong. Or maybe I was simply in the wrong for believing I could trust her in the first place. Mind you, I -did- allow this to happen for about 8 months before she broke it off with me.

    I think one of the only things I learned from that relationship was 'If your girlfriend thinks the best time and place to 'hang out' with her guy friends is midnight at their place, you probably need a new girlfriend.'

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  10. Trust is the core of every relationship. If your in a controlling relationship, You should seriously analyze what your doing because who likes someone telling you what to do. A relationship is a collaboration of two people not one person degrading the other.

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  11. When i was younger my dad was in a relationship with a woman from California.Everyday they talked on the phone between 3-6 times and it was for a long time too. he was in a committed relationship and that ment he had to talk on the phone a lot because he missed her. then two years they broke up and my dad was very sad.

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  12. Control is an illusion, a game and when played can really mess with someones mind. I had a relationship very young and i truly believed when he would check up on me that he just loved me that much, well what a joke that turned out to be. The thing he did and most do was he secluded me from my family and friends so when it did get bad and he had complete control i didn't see it because i did not have any outside influence telling me that this was not love. He would say thing like "if you love me you will..." and i actually started to thing i was wrong in some way if i did habg out with a friend like i wasn't showing my love for him. It is really sick but i did not see it when i was in it. Thank god i had my mother who laid it out for me and i got a job and slowly started to think what the hell was i doing. It took a while though to get my mind operating correctly. Love and control do not belong in the same sentence, Love is a push pull thing and when he is doing all the pushing and pulling you just become a pawn in his sick game.

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  13. I think men are born with the desire to control women. In a husband and wife relationship, I think that women should manage what’s inside the home and men manage what’s outside. Husband must make sure the home is safe for his wife. Trust is important for both of them. A husband should call his wife to make sure she is safe and everything is alright but should not do it excessively without trust like calling every five minutes or going to her workplace or school to check on her. If a husband wants his wife to do something he likes or stop doing something that bother him he should do it politely and be convincing.

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  14. I've been on both sides of this so I know what it feels like to be controlled, and to control. I know that some people control others due to the fear of abandonment and low self esteem. Either way, I don't think it's healthy and that's why in both of the relationships that this happened to me, eventually had to come to an end. Having to check up on somebody because they once lost your trust becomes too exhausting eventually.

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  15. This really infuriates me. I have seen first hand from my best friend how this can completely consume your life. My friend has been in one controlling relationship after another and it seems like the one before was nothing compared to the one after!I really feel like this is something we should emphasize more in when we are in high school/college. I know there are options out there for young woman/men who need help. However, I feel like we should talk about it more, make people aware of the signs of a controlling relationship so they can be there for their friends and help guide them out.

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  16. Controlling relationships are something that really makes my blood boil. They can absolutley go both ways but for the most part it's the man who is the controller. Nothing makes me more angry than when I hear my friends boyfriends tell them what they can and cant do, because I've had it done to me and now that I'm out of the relationship I realize how unfair and aggrivating it can be. My ex boyfriend used to have control over what I could and couldnt wear, who I hung out with and he even went as far as telling me I couldnt be friends with my neighbor, who is like a brother to me and thats where I drew the line. I do believe these issues come from childhood expierences he had. Not to say that his parents didnt love him but his father did leave at a young age which caused his fear of such rejection, and I believe that is why he tries to control people. Controlling relationships can have serious consequences if taken too far and I think young people today need to be more aware of that.

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  17. I think this type of relationship is more common than we may want to admit. Especially in young couples, jealousy is extremely common. It may be from a lack of confidence in the dating arena or it may be just that we are confused about what is expected of us in the relationship. I know my brother went through this extreme jealousy on two separate occasions. The first time, I thought it was because he had been cheated on by a previous girlfriend. He then became extremely jealous and checked up on his current girlfriend constantly. He looked through her phone and called her all the time. She didn’t take it well and they broke up (can’t blame her). He now has a new girlfriend, and I can see the same pattern occurring again. He asks her lots of questions and lets her know when she isn’t acting the way he thinks she should be. I hope this is not an indication of how he is going to deal with all relationships. Hopefully he’ll become more confident and less jealous as he matures (IF he matures). My dad and mom have been married for 30 years. They began dating young (in high school) and said they both remember being overly jealous as a young couple. As they got older, it diminished. Do you think it may be more of a maturity thing???

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  18. Everything in this blog I found to be very true. I was in a very controlling relationship and had no clue until I got out of it. Controlling men blind you and make it seem like it's very normal to act the way they do. The man in my relationship was raised in a very unstable environment. I definitely think this has affected him and the way he feels about relationships, not just with women but with his male friends and family too. I don't know if he ever realized he was controlling but just like you said, it drove me away slowly. It took forever for me to come to my senses, but when I did I realized it was the best decision for me to make at the point I was at. He was the "good" type of controller as you said in your blog. He always made me feel like everything was my fault. Even if it was clearly his fault, he always made it seem like I did something wrong and it was one hundred percent my fault. I always hesitated before speaking not knowing if he would be mad if I brought up something he did. Now that I am not in the relationship anymore, I now can see how controlled I was but I still constantly feel bad for him. For some reason there still is a part of me that feels I am being controlled and he has certainly has had an influence on future relationships.

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  19. Among other things, a great relationship has to be based on trust. I am one of those few men who was in a relationship with a female who was very controlling. It didnt start right away, but little by little she she began to show who she really was. It started out with small things like questioning who I was with, and not believing me when I told her, but it reached a point where I could not even leave the house without a huge fight. One time during an argument I called a friend to come pick me up so I could get out of there, this was after she hid my keys, while I was on the phone with him she grabbed a 30/30 rifle, loaded it, pointed it at me, and told me to get off the phone. It was an obvious bluff, I knew she was not going to shoot me, but the fact that she was willing to take that chance was a good enough reason for me to finally end that relationship. She however, did not feel the same. For a long time after that she did everything she could to try and get me back. I would be out with friends at a restaurant or a bar, and She would show up unexpectedly and cause a scene, screaming as loud as possible. The bizarre part of this was that she would call me a day or two later, and tell me that she loved me so much and she wanted me back. whenever I hear someone talk about, or I read about someone who is controlling, I always think of her. I was 20 years old when this took place, ever since then I have used this experience as a model on how NOT to act in a relationship.

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  20. Controlling someone is somebody who feels the need to have power over somebody and I have watched it go on through many of my friends relationships and I don't know why they don't listen and just leave the person.

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  21. My 17 year old daughter had this problem last year. Her boyfriend became obsessive and possessive which lead her to end the relationship. He became irrational for months afterward and we were forced to take legal action. Thankfully he has gotten the psychological care he needs and has moved out of the area.
    Ladies- it is never cute; it doesn't show his love; it rarely gets better over time. Address it early. Address it often. If it doesn't stop move on and get whatever support you need to do so.

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  22. I’ve never really had this problem for my self because i cant stand people who are over controlling so i don’t put up with it. but i did have a friend who was in a 2 year relationship with a girl who took over his life, she wouldn’t let him go anywhere he couldn’t talk to any of his friends and had to know where he was going and what he was doing. he was like a little brother to me i had know him for 5 years and she slowly made it so he couldn’t even talk to me anymore it was bad to see how depressed he got but he finally ended it when he couldn’t take her anymore

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  23. Never been in a controlling relationship, hopefully I never end up in one with one of those incredibly jealous girls that just cant seem to help herself. I believe that most relationships are this way, at least from what i've witnessed from friends of mine. Its not ideal, but should you just deal with it if you really like the person? Idk your call

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  24. It would be very difficult for a controlling relationship to last long. I have never had to put myself in a situation like this because I could never put up with such behavior.

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  25. I have never been in a sexual relationship where my partner was controlling, but my father was like this to me and my other family members. He would call home and find out what everyone was doing and if he didn't approve he would freak out and try to stop us. we soon discovered that he was afraid of us leaving him, because I was going on a school field trip to an old hotel in Boston. He wouldn't let me go without him and he wasn't about to let the rest of the family stay behind either so he had all of us go on the trip. this wasn't the last time that he did something like this.

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  26. The saying "Love is Blind" definitely applies to all controlling relationships. Usually these relationships drag on way longer than they should. In my opinion most stay in these relationships because of comfort, the sex being good, or even obsession. Controlling relationships really do take a heavy toll on both parties and almost 100% of the time leave the one being controlled scarred emotionally and sometimes physically. It is extremely sad to see this in young couples because in my opinion, if these controlling relationships are their first, it can set the bar for these types of relationships for the rest of their lives, causing them to not get the chance to enjoy healthy love.

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  27. To start off, I am dating the same girl now that I started dating in middle school. When I was younger, I was a controlling boyfriend. I would hack onto her MySpace wall, and if she left her phone out, check her messages. Also, we broke up for about a year because she invited a couple of guys over to hang out. It was innocent, and I knew that, but I still broke up with her because I was so proud, I didn’t even want to except my girlfriend would want to have even a friendly relationship with another guy. We started dating again by the time we graduated high school, and I believe I have went to the other extreme. We go to different colleges, and if I still dwelled on things like that, the relationship would be a nightmare. I am still proud, and would be offended if she was even a little flirty from time to time. But I trust her, and am not going to drive myself crazy worrying about what she is doing every minute of the day.

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  28. I have never been in a controlling relationship, but I know some people who have been. When you give them advice on how to get out, they cut you out. It just takes time for them to make connections and realize that this person that "they're so in love with" isn't making their life better, but worse.

    The only reaction I have for this post is that I hope anyone in a controlling relationship has the means to find help. There are many hot lines and websites for these people to reach out to and I hope they can find the help they deserve and get the pollutant personality out of their life.

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  29. I completely agree with this post! I cannot stand being around people who constantly try to make other people feel sorry for them. In some ways it's just plain pathetic. I would never be able to stay in a relationship with someone who acted that way.

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  30. All i really have to say about this is that if someone is being controlled by their girlfriend or boyfriend then its not meant to be..If they tell each other they love each other its just something to make them feel good, and to feel like they have someone there to comfort them. Controlling relationships are the worst and if someone is in one they should immediately remove themselves from that situation before it gets even worse! Trust me i know from experience!!!

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  31. I have seen all of these warning signs before with my best friends GF and he is actually aware as to how unhealthy his relationship is but no matter how many times she ends it or he does, she always finds a way to lure him back in. I have tried many times to stop him from going back, he has often asked me to stop him from going back but he controls his own actions and just does it without me even knowing so right now im just trying to get him to realize it himself.

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  32. After reading this blog and relating it to my current and past relationships I can see more clearly the reasons why some things occur in the manner they do. This blog has opened my eyes to not only my own actions but the actions of my significant other. Thank you! ...better work on my cardio.

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  33. Controlling relationships from my knowledge and stories I've heard from friends, most of the time are due to the persons insecurities and self consciousness. We're all human, and we all make mistakes, it's how we live and learn, forgiveness can be extremely hard for some people, and it may be hard to forget things, the phrase forgive and forget is definitely not as easy as it may sound. In my opinion, if you really do love someone, you tend to see past the mistakes, even if they have done something they completely regret, depending on your attachment to this person and how much you care of course. Controlling relationships literally go nowhere extremely fast and also just get worse and worse, no one wants to be questioned about what they're doing and why they're doing every thing they do every second of the day. No one wants to have to give up a friend or talking to a person they really enjoy spending time with just because of a jealous spouse. When it comes to the whole men not wanting their girlfriends to wear makeup or dress up in public, i think that's a bit extreme, she's you're girlfriend, wouldn't you want the world to see how beautiful she is and also be jealous that she is yours and only yours? Anyone who is in a trusting relationship, wouldn't have a problem with that, but with the trust issues, and control, those are all serious problems. No one should want to change you if they really love you, they fell in love with the person they met, not the person they want you to be.

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  34. I've been there, done that, and I've seen/see many of my friends go through it. It's sad, seeing someone in a controlling relationship because their individuality is hindered, they are not able to think for themselves because they are smothered, they lose their friends and family and close relationships, but then when that person finally leaves, you have nothing.

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  35. I definitely agree that control issues deals with trust issues, but if your significant other gives you no reason to have to be controlling then chill out. I once was told what I should and should not do, that I was too flirtatious and talked to too many guys, I told that guy to shove it right up his a** because I was not changing my personality for anyone. Sorry I have a better time with guys and I can talk to them much easier than girls and being flirty is just part of my personality, not like I want to jump every man's bones that I speak to. That relationship ended very quickly.

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  36. It's a good look into the mind of someone who has to be in control. I saw a controlling relationship happening with one of my friends at school and it continued over the summer he would ask her to hang out and he never said another word and she would ask me to go to a movie or dinner do a true girls night. Then halfway through dinner she would get text after text from him "you're always with her you never hang out with me."- the poor me type I think so. I told her to start ignoring him and not to talk to him little to my surprise the texts stopped this semester after she confronted him. But this blog has also opened my eyes to my past relationships and what I could have done differently and what my significant other could have done differently. Sometimes we all need bad relationships to finally see all the good in the following relationships that we could end up cherishing the most.

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  37. i think both men and women can both be controlling. men do tend to be more controlling than women. a controlling relationship is not a good one. it will be all about the person no room for nothing else. alot of disagreements and yelling. especially if the other person have a voice. if you seem to be getting into a controlling relationship get out.

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  38. I absolutely LOVE your blogs! Controlling relationships, in my case, remind me quite a bit of lost love, like you mentioned. I think both men and women are certainly capable of, and most likely have the unintended tendency to "control" certain aspects of their partner. In my case, the one who cheated on me, was the most controlling relationship I have ever been in. He basically did almost ALL of the things you mentioned at the beginning of the article: he questioned posts on my facebook, snooped through my phone constantly, texted me and wondered what I was doing all the time, got mad at me when I talked to certain people, etc... What bothered me most was, I found myself trying to prove to him that I was doing nothing wrong!! Why did I need to prove myself when I had given him no reason in the first place to distrust me? It never made sense. But, it definitely makes sense to me now. In that particular relationship, I realized he was so interested in what I could be doing wrong, because he was insecure, and had a guilty conscience of his behavior and wrong-doings. That may not be the case for everybody, but unfortunately after being treated so unfairly I tend to think if I'm in a relationship with someone and they question my every move and have no reason to, I now think they too are guilty of something. Which overall is just terrible for the relationship as a whole, because it is not fair for me, and is not fair for them either. It's a vicious cycle when trust isn't prioritized in the beginning of a lasting relationship, if there is no trust, there is no where to go. You questioned in the beginning, "Is it a rough spot in the road of love, or a huge boulder?" In my opinion, a huge boulder for sure.

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  39. Although I have never personally been through this, having a jealous boyfriend, but I have witnessed friends having boyfriends who are very jealous, insecure, and controlling. I think that its mutual both men and women can act this way if its within them to do so. The constant calling, nagging, and accusing should get old for one, but somehow people learn to put up with it. Excuse me, but I think its bull. You should never have anyone degrade you and make you feel more like an object than a person. Its simple wrong.

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