Most people enter a relationship with a deep fear of rejection, and this fear motivates various forms of controlling behavior. Controlling behavior falls into two major categories – overt control and covert control.
Overt control includes many forms of attack, such as blaming anger, rage, violence, judgment, criticism and ridicule.
Covert control includes compliance, enabling, withdrawal, defending, explaining, lying and denying. Often a person at the other end of attack will respond with some form of covert control in an attempt to have control over not being attacked.
Controlling behavior always results in resentment and emotional distance, bringing about the very rejection that it is meant to avoid.
Many people enter a relationship with a deep fear of being engulfed and controlled – of losing themselves. The moment they experience their partner wanting control over them, they respond with resistance – withdrawal, unconsciousness, numbness, forgetfulness and procrastination.
When one partner is controlling and the other is resistant – which is covert attempt to have control over not being controlled - the relationship becomes immobilized. Partners in this relationship system feel frustrated, stagnant and resentful.
Many people enter a relationship believing that it is their partner’s job to fill their emptiness, take away their aloneness, and make them feel good about themselves. When people have not learned how to take responsibility for their own feelings and needs, and to define their own self-worth, they may pull on their partner and others to fill them with the love they need.
Substance and Process Addictions
Most people who feel empty inside turn to substance and process addictions in an attempt to fill their emptiness and take away the pain of their aloneness and loneliness. Alcohol and drug abuse, food, spending, gambling, busyness, Internet sex and pornography, affairs, work, TV, accumulating things, beautifying, and so on, can all be used as ways to fill emptiness and avoid fears of failure, inadequacy, rejection and engulfment. And they are all ways of shutting out your partner.
Eyes on Partner’s Plate