The Compelling Need to Control Apr 11, 2022 15:43:25 GMT -8
Post by Susan Peabody on Apr 11, 2022 15:43:25 GMT -8
The Compelling Need to Control
Excerpt from Addiction to Love
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image." Thomas Merton in No Man is an Island
Once they are in an addictive relationship, love addicts want to make their dreams come true, diminish their fear or loneliness and abandonment, and avoid losing their partner. Controlling is how love addicts try to meet these needs. Most of the controlling techniques used in addictive relationships are passive-aggressive in nature (manipulative rather than direct demands for control).
Image management is what love addicts do to control someone's impressions of them through what amounts to deceit and dishonesty, or just hiding who they really are. When they are just getting to know someone, love addicts who are image managers try to:
⋅ Filter out information about themselves that may not look good.
⋅ Tell outright lies about who they are or what they have done in the past.
⋅ Tell too much about their “miserable existence” as a means of soliciting pity.
⋅ Try to make an all-out effort to promote their best side. This means spending a great deal of time and energy looking just right, saying the right things, and being in the right place at the right time. It means being inflexible and a perfectionist.
Once they get into a relationship, image managers:
⋅ Try to become the person they think their lover wants them to be (no matter what the cost).
Nagging is an attempt to wear someone down so they will give in to you, even if they don't want to. Love addicts love to nag (if it works), because it is a non-threatening way to get what they want (need). They don't know how to communicate their needs in any other way or how to find a person who doesn't need to be nagged. Therefore, nagging becomes a habitual way to manage a partner rather than face the inadequacies of the relationship or work on improving themselves. (Nagging includes nonstop criticism and advice.)
Often, when love addicts find themselves in a situation where their needs are not being met, they attempt to manipulate the situation by trying to make their partner feel guilty. They keep a long list of their partner's transgressions and don't hesitate to remind them of every mistake they ever made. Or they play the martyr when their partner is out of line, hoping this will stimulate remorse and change.
The silent treatment is used to get a partner's attention or to make him or her feel guilty. Or it can be a way of getting even when he or she is not cooperating. Of course, few people will admit that they are using the silent treatment as a controlling technique. They rationalize it as a normal reaction to failed communication or as a way of shutting down out of frustration.
The Silent Treatment
The Silent Treatment
It is true that there is a fine line between being silent because all else has been said and done (or because you are being contemplative) and using silence as a controlling technique in lieu of other more conducive forms of communication; however, it's important that we try to be sensitive to our motivations for being silent, so we do not cross over that line.
Sex has historically been a powerful way to keep your partner hooked or under control. There are names for this sort of control ─ seduction, bedroom politics or pillow talk. If love addicts have a sexual hold on their partner, they will not hesitate to use it to keep a tight rein. Some love addicts rely so heavily on their ability to keep a partner “coming back for more,” that they panic when there is something on the agenda besides making love. They feel unlovable if the relationship does not include sex and worry about losing their partner if lovemaking grows stale.
Negative caretaking means doing for others what they should be doing for themselves; giving more than you are receiving; and taking on more than your share of the responsibility for the survival of a relationship. This can mean taking care of people's material needs, organizing their life, covering up for them, doing their work, finding them a job, making their decisions, bailing them out of trouble, ad infinitum.
For the most part, caretaking is an attempt to control the outcome of the relationship by trying to earn or ‘buy” love, affection, loyalty, attention, companionship, etc. If I take care of you will you love me? Or caretaking may be the love addict's way of establishing a dependency situation so his or her partner is motivated to stay in the relationship. (He can't make it without me./She would be a fool to leave.) Love addicts behave this way because they feel unlovable or unworthy of attracting and sustaining love by being themselves or by offering their “fair share.” They feel the need for some “trick up their sleeve,” and for them this means sacrificing their needs to take care of their partner.
Negative caretaking is also the love addict's way of trying to control painful feelings. A love addict learns how easy it is to avoid feeling fear, anger, loneliness, or self-pity when they are distracted by the task of meeting other people's needs. (Most love addicts learned this in childhood. They grew up as rescuers in a dysfunctional home where caretaking was their way of trying to control the uncontrollable, anesthetize their pain, and validate their self-worth.)
An Attack of Hysteria
An attack of hysteria is how love addicts attempt to recapture control when they feel that it is escaping their grasp. It usually occurs during a breakup. Hysteria is characterized by excessive or uncontrollable emotion such as fear or panic, and can manifest themselves as irrational tears, laughter, anger, or violence. They can also be self-induced as a dramatic ploy, but they are usually a genuine reaction to desperation and fear. The paradox of hysteria and rage is that they are the attempt to gain control by losing control.