Why Taking More Control In a Relationship Might Not Be a Good Thing (Updated 2024)

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There is a price for taking control.

In relationships, control plays a big role in how we interact and affects our well-being. When we talk about control in relationships, we often think of extreme cases. It’s like one partner trying to take charge, creating a not-so-great power dynamic.

In home, a couple is arguing while sitting on the couch.

While extreme cases of control in relationships exist, it often manifest subtly and pervasively. Achieving a sense of balance is vital in any relationship.

Establishing a good balance where both partners feel appreciated, respected, and heard is key for a solid and lasting connection. Control shouldn’t be about power plays, but more about working together in a way that honors both people’s wants and needs.

Is Controlling Behaviour Healthy in a Relationship?

A controlling partner’s behavior tries to make the imagination real; they want to ease their anxiety by removing uncertainty in the relationship. Past trauma, rooted in fear or anxiety from earlier experiences, might also fuel the need for control. This could involve tactics like criticism, threats, humiliation, and isolation. Controlling individuals aim to shift blame onto others and manipulate situations to keep their control intact.

Being in a controlling situation might strip away autonomy and independence, leading to feelings of suffocation and lowered self-esteem. It can erode self-confidence, making one question their abilities and decisions.

Types of Controlling Behaviours

Controlling behavior in relationships and interactions can show up in different ways, each with its own characteristics and potential impacts on the victim.

Here are several types of controlling behaviors based on the info from the sources you shared:

  • Aggressive Control: This includes physical intimidation, temper outbursts, bullying, and verbal threats used to frighten a victim into compliance.
  • Coercive Control: Abusive controlling behavior that can escalate to violence, known as intimate terrorism.
  • Possessiveness: A controlling person can become overly possessive, showing jealousy, making accusations, and craving attention or reassurance.
  • Insulting and Criticizing: Regularly insulting or criticizing the victim
  • Isolation: Attempting to isolate the victim from their friends, family, or any external support network as a means of control.
  • Manipulation: Manipulating others through guilt trips, shaming, or playing the victim to control their actions or decisions.
  • Financial Control: Keeping financial resources out of the victim’s hands.
  • Emotional Blackmail: Using emotional blackmail involves threats of self-harm or other severe outcomes to force compliance with the controller’s demands.
  • Gaslighting: Causing the victim to doubt their reality or sanity by denying, lying, or distorting facts to exert control.
  • Constant Monitoring: Monitoring the victim’s movements, interactions, and actions, often cloaked as care but used for control.
  • Decision-Making Dominance: Making all decisions, big or small, without considering the victim’s wishes or opinions.
  • Threats and Ultimatums: Using threats or ultimatums to force compliance.

Recognizing these kinds of controlling behaviors is important in relationships. If you or someone you know is dealing with controlling behavior, it’s important to connect with professionals for help.

Power and Control in Relationships

Power and control can become a thing in all sorts of relationships. Some see themselves as equals and treat each other that way. But in many cases, one person might have the upper hand. The one who’s higher up often holds the power to influence and sway the other. When we’re in charge of a relationship, decisions tend to swing in our direction. We usually call the shots, and lead the conversations, and our mood can rub off on the other person.

Sometimes, even if their authority gets questioned, the dominant person tends to keep control over others.

Who’s Actually in Charge?

Power struggles can crop up in any relationship. Some partners may divvy up power equally, while others might have one partner taking a more laid-back role, letting the other lead. Yet, in certain relationships, the power play remains undecided as one partner refuses to yield control. These relationships often turn into ongoing battles, filled with constant disagreements and clashes as each partner vies for dominance or equality. Power dynamics in relationships can sometimes be subtle; partners might not even realize they’re really fighting for control, not just the current issue at hand.

Does money control power?

Historically, power dynamics in relationships, particularly in marriages, were pretty clear-cut. It often seemed like men held the upper hand, driven by their social standing and financial resources. Traditional gender roles were the norm, with men as the dominant figures and primary breadwinners. Money played a significant role, symbolizing the assets each partner brought to the table. It all boiled down to a give-and-take scenario to ensure both partners felt they were getting a fair deal in the relationship.

When one partner contributed more, they naturally had more sway and influence. Controlling the finances meant calling the shots and having a say in everyone’s lives. Limited options meant women often had to defer to their husbands. On the upside, fewer disagreements arose in relationships, as roles were clearly defined.

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The Benefits of Letting Go

In the intricate tapestry of relationships, there is a delicate balance between asserting control and relinquishing it. While control can provide a sense of security, there are distinct benefits to be found in letting go.

By avoiding the doormat role, finding joy in relinquishing control over trivial matters, and embracing shared decision-making for minor choices, we can cultivate a healthier and more harmonious connection with our partners.

Improved Mental Health

Letting go can lighten that load and boost your overall mental well-being.

Enhanced Physical Health

Holding onto past hurts can bring stress and anxiety which might show up physically as headaches, muscle tension, and sleep problems. Letting go of these tensions can boost physical health, leading to better sleep and less pain.

Greater Capacity for Happiness

Clear out those negative emotions and experiences that bring you down, and you’ll create space for more positivity. By letting go, you open yourself up to new joys, relationships, and opportunities that boost your happiness.

Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

You might find new interests, values, or parts of your identity that were hidden before.


Perhaps the most profound benefit of letting go is the sense of freedom it brings. It liberates you from the chains of the past, allowing you to live in the present and look to the future with hope and optimism.

Opening Up to New Experiences

Releasing old patterns, relationships, or beliefs can lead to new experiences, people, and perspectives. It enriches life in surprising ways, offering chances for happiness and fulfillment that were once unimaginable.

While letting go can be challenging, especially when it involves significant emotional pain or long-held beliefs, the benefits are clear and profound. It is a journey toward healing, growth, and a more fulfilling life.


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The Essence of Happiness

Happiness is extremely important in the area of relationships. Prioritizing happiness above control is essential for cultivating a satisfying and long-lasting relationship with our relationships.

We may unlock the genuine essence of pleasure inside our relationships by accepting self-reflection as a measure of contentment and understanding external effects on the desire for power.

A woman and her lover enjoy riding their bicycles outside in a white clothing.

Prioritizing Happiness Over Control

In the pursuit of control, we often lose sight of what truly matters: our own happiness and that of our partners. Control may provide a temporary sense of security, but it can also breed resentment and suffocate the authenticity of the relationship.

By shifting our focus towards prioritizing happiness, we create space for love, joy, and personal growth. When we prioritize happiness, we approach decisions and interactions with a mindset of fostering emotional well-being rather than exerting dominance.

Self-Reflection as a Measure of Satisfaction

Understanding our own needs and desires is crucial in nurturing happiness within a relationship. Self-reflection allows us to gain insight into our emotions, values, and aspirations.

By continuously assessing our own satisfaction, we can determine whether the relationship aligns with our core principles and whether our needs are being met. Honest self-reflection empowers us to communicate effectively with our partners, fostering a deeper understanding and promoting mutual growth and contentment.

Recognizing External Influences on the Desire for Power

The desire for power within a relationship can often be influenced by external factors, such as societal norms or cultural expectations. Recognizing these influences is essential in understanding their impact on our own desires and actions.

By acknowledging external pressures and societal conditioning, we can free ourselves from unnecessary power struggles and focus on building a relationship that aligns with our authentic selves. True happiness stems from embracing our individuality and finding harmony within our unique partnership.

Genuine happiness in relationships is not about dominating or controlling our partners. It lies in fostering a sense of mutual respect, trust, and support. It thrives in an environment where both individuals can freely express themselves, pursue their passions, and grow together. By valuing happiness over control, we create the foundation for a loving and nourishing connection.

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Ways to Empower Yourself in Every Relationship

Empowerment is a powerful tool in creating balanced and fulfilling relationships. By focusing on personal strength and self-belief, standing up for individual beliefs and values, and fostering a reciprocal relationship based on self-empowerment, we can cultivate connections that thrive on mutual respect and personal growth.

Focusing on Personal Strength and Self-Belief

Empowerment begins within. Acknowledge your value, strengths, and abilities. Building self-confidence lays the foundation for healthy relationships. Self-belief exudes confidence and authenticity, drawing in those who appreciate your individuality.

Focusing on personal strength and self-belief allows us to enter relationships as whole and empowered individuals.

Say “No” Unapologetically

Learning to say “no” is a powerful tool for setting boundaries and maintaining your integrity. It’s essential to prioritize your well-being and not feel guilty for refusing requests or situations that don’t align with your values or needs

Encourage Open Communication

Ask meaningful questions and show genuine interest in your partner’s thoughts and feelings. This fosters a deeper connection and ensures that both partners feel heard and valued.

Focus on Personal Growth

Strive to improve yourself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Personal development not only benefits you but also contributes positively to the relationship by bringing in new perspectives and energies

The Bottom Line

When we try to exert more control in a relationship, we unwittingly create a “you vs. them” scenario, transforming a partnership into a competition. But relationships are not competitions; there are no winners or losers. Instead, they are a journey that both partners embark on together.

By constantly seeking more power, we risk losing sight of the shared joy and growth that comes from a truly reciprocal bond. The true power in a relationship lies not in controlling our partner, but in having power over ourselves.

When we focus on developing our own strength, standing up for our beliefs, and nurturing our own happiness, we naturally find ourselves in a relationship where power is shared harmoniously. It is through self-empowerment that we create an environment of mutual growth and support.


[1] Power and Control in Relationships, By Louis H. Primavera, Ph.D. and Rob Pascale, Ph.D. Retrieved at https://www.touro.edu/news–events/stories/power-and-control-in-relationship, Published on AUGUST 08, 2016, Accessed on February 29, 2024

[2] Types of Controlling Behaviours,   Retrieved from https://nisahomes.com/blog/controlling-vs-caring/ Published on 20 SEPTEMBER 2023, Accessed on February 29, 2024

[3] 4 Ways to Empower Yourself in Every Relationship, One Love Retrieved  at https://www.joinonelove.org/learn/4-ways-empower-every-relationship/ Accessed on February 29, 2024

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