• External Locus of Control- is when you give away your power to your partner in an attempt to be loved. Your acceptance, approval, affirmation of self worth depends upon what he/she thinks of you and circumstances outside of yourself. This puts you at risk of being controlled by his/her thinking, emotions, opinions, and actions. You will tend to be more reactive and feel you have no say over your circumstances. You will not feel “at choice.” This results in dissatisfaction, resentment, and anger. The risk here is these individuals may use blame, anger, infidelity, and play the victim in an attempt to take back their power, be loved, and get their need for met.
• Internal Locus of Control- is when you give yourself power. Your acceptance, approval, self worth is only defined by what you think of yourself and how you love yourself. You rely solely on yourself for care, to feel valued, accepted, and to make a living. You feel “at choice” and fully responsible for your own thinking, emotions, and actions. The risk here is these individuals often times, may feel so empowered that they may dominate the relationship or be insensitive to their partners.
Either form of control was most likely a learned behavior from a role model or parent.
External Control is dangerous in an intimate relationship in two ways:
• Fear - You or your partner may dominate, manipulate, influence strongly, or make all the decisions for you, as the couple, without consent from the other party. This usually comes from individuals whose childhood circumstances felt out of their control. This is a means, in adulthood, to claim what or who they fear they will lose. Such as fear of losing their freedom, fear of losing control over their own choices, fear of losing money or having to financially support someone, fear of losing their children, in the case of divorce, or fear of losing a loved one, such as in the case of a break up or divorce. This may result in physical, emotional, or mental abuse.
• People Pleasing- You or your partner may submit, over please, neglect own desires or needs to make the relationship work or please a partner. This usually comes from individuals who, as children, were expected to play parent to their parents in a role reversal or expected to over please and perform for an unfulfilled parents’ love in childhood. This almost always results in resentment or repressed anger and may manifest itself with infidelity, an abrupt break up, a partner who keeps one foot out the door at all times.
The reality of the dynamics between a controlling partner and the controlled partner in a relationship actually creates circumstances that become out of control. One party is not exercising free will or taking personal responsibility for his/her own choices and actions. This will eventually lead to resentment of the dominating party. Half of all break ups and divorces occur when one party feels controlled, manipulated, and not at choice.