Control is used for many means, both selfish and selfless. We control other people directly through coercion or through manipulation. Coercion can be as heavy handed as physical abuse to as seemingly innocuous hand holding. Manipulation is more verbal than physical. It is the mental games people play on each other to get what they want from the other person. Typically manipulation plays on guilt. Interestingly enough, control is the fastest way to demolish a relationship.
Coercive people are usually highly insecure in a relationship. These people are quickly jealous and often suspect their interest of cheating. They use physical contact and withdrawal of physical contact to control the relationship . Conversely, this method of control only makes the controller feel more insecure as their partner in most cases will naturally rail against such control. It is common in this category for one person to willfully withhold sex from the other as “punishment.”
On the lesser level, coercive people will use little things to mark the possession of a person. Most often guys are seen doing this around her other male friends. These are little things such as a hand on the small of her back ( to guide her movements), an arm tight around the shoulders with the upper arm in a grip ( binding), and the common back of the neck grab. Now sometimes these lesser forms of coercion are not an effort to control. They are simply a short lived gesture between people who have enough trust in each other where control isn’t a factor in their relationship.
Manipulation is harder to spot. This is a domain where women particularly have skill. Manipulation is often justified as a means to help a person do something that is beneficial for themselves. This supposed “support” holds the other’s best interests in mind. If this was true, however, why not directly discuss it with the person? Why use underhanded tactics? As mentioned, guilt is often the mechanism used to manipulate. In a relationship, people often know exactly what vulnerable areas to jab to illicit a response. Past mistakes are brought into present arguments to maximize the damage and to push the other in the direction desired. Sometimes disguised as a joke, these painful jabs are a breach of trust even when used for “good” reasons.
The essence behind control in relationships is a lack of trust. Trust is necessary for relationships to blossom. Granted, these things are so dangerous we want to keep a white knuckled grip on the wheel. However, this stifles any chances the blossom has to flower. Relationships need room to grow. They need air to breathe. Control is an element in unhealthy relationships. Eventually control will kill the very thing it seeks to nurture. It all comes back to selfishness. Controllers are selfishly trying to direct a friendship into an ideal that they desire. Better to let the relationship develop based upon the input of both people involved. This is more fair and stable than one person playing director.
The past is the past. To bring it up in a present argument is one of the most destructive methods of control. It is one of the ultimate breaches of trust. If someone shares a secret that eats at them or a past even they are ashamed of, to bring it up as a weapon betrays the trust they had in you. Your job in a partnership is the ease their suffering and to earn the trust they give you. If you are trusted with a secret lock it away and give the person the key. You have no right to open the vault.
I write often about relationships, but when you think of it everything we do involves a relationship toward something. We develop relationships toward people, the environment and the things we produce. We often don’t think about it because we are social animals. Everything in life involves a relationship on some level. It’s best we learn to be a good component within all our relationships.