A common relationship problem in today’s world and one that has been around for many years is control. The form that this behaviour takes may have changed over the ages, but the results are still the same.
What is also clear to see is that both men and women can be controlling. However, here we will primarily look at the dynamics of controlling men. And when it is appropriate or needed, I will look at the role that women are playing in all of this.
Because for one side to play out there needs to be the opposite side available. By this I mean that in order for control to be to be possible; there needs to be someone who is willing to be controlled.
How Does This Look?
This behaviour can be displayed in various ways, from the most subtle to the most extreme. Controlling men are often described as: jealous, possessive, domineering, manipulative and violent; to name but a few examples.
Here, a woman could feel emotionally upset and compromised on one side of the spectrum. To being physically hurt and mentally and emotionally abused at the other side of the scale.
Although this behaviour is dysfunctional and destructive; it will often be justified. This means that this behaviour will be described as being an expression of love, care or protection for example. And anything that the woman says that opposes this view will be denied and dismissed.
So this means that the man’s true motives will remain unknown to the women; they might even be unknown to the man. It will all depend on how aware he is.
Another consequence of this is that the women may feel invalidated and start to question, doubt and deny her inner senses.
The act of justifying, denying and dismissing are all defence mechanisms the ego mind uses; with their sole purpose being protection. So in order to understand what causes a man to be controlling to a woman; we have to go a little deeper.
We have to look through these defence mechanism to understand what could be going on underneath them.
The act of control is simply being used as a form of protection. So although it may seem as though this behaviour is coming from a place of power and strength, it is actually coming from a place of fear and disempowerment.
And the reason these behaviours are being utilized is to avoid and compensate for this inner conflict and disharmony.
Through the use of these behaviours the man is able to emotionally regulate himself from the outside in. And if he were to drop the control; it is highly likely that repressed emotions, feelings, sensation and thoughts would come to the surface to be processed.
What this external control produces is the illusion of having inner control. This is why it has to be a constant process, because as soon as the external control stops so does the internal control.
Where And How Did This Begin?
So if these defence mechanism and behaviours are simply being used by the ego mind for protection/safety and for emotional regulation; what might have happened in the first place?
Firstly we can see that in order for this behaviour to be carried out, ones ego mind is not being monitored and is therefore in control; because if one was aware one would change this behaviour. And secondly in order for one to protect oneself, there must have been a situation in their history where it was necessary to do so.
After all, at its core this behaviour is only being deployed by the ego mind in order to feel safe.
So what might have happened in a man’s history to cause him to feel the need to protect himself? And how did this trauma originally occur?
I believe that in order to understand what is causing this behaviour, what needs to be looked at is the original model a man usually has of a women – the mother figure. Even though these experiences might be many years old, they still exist within the man.
The question is: have these experiences been looked at or have they been repressed? The relationship that a man has with his mother is incredibly important. It is one that will define how he perceives women.
The Inner Child
The child that the man once was still exists within the man. And this is often described as the inner child. Both men and women can merge and become this inner child without having the awareness that they are doing so. From this place of being the inner child, one can perceive the world through these old eyes.
And by regressing to the inner child women can be perceived as both mother and father figures and men can just as easily be perceived as mother and father figures. Other words for this are - projection or transference.
It is highly unlikely that these experiences with the mother figure were perfect and that doesn’t mean that the child had to be abused in order for this to be so. We are all human and are not here to be perfect. However, during these early years there might have been situations where the child wasn’t properly nurtured and they may have been situations that were abusive.
These situations can lead to the childs needs being denied and ignored. With the Childs emotional and physical needs not being adequately met. Here the child could have been rejected, abandoned or neglected and had no way of regulating the emotions that were created during this time.
This could be due to a number of reasons. Maybe the mother was unable to regulate the child emotions, because the mother was unable to regulate her own. So she was there physically, but emotionally absent. Or perhaps the mother couldn’t regulate her own emotions and left the child completely.
At such a young age the child does not have the ability for emotional regulation and learns about this through the primary mother/caregiver. So if the primary figure has very little emotional intelligence, it is highly unlikely the child will gain any either.
Frozen In Time
This can lead to the Childs internal processes not being validated or mirrored. And what occurred during those younger years could have stayed there and now exists within the inner child. So now whenever a situation arises with a woman that is similar to the original trauma; the past is triggered and the man regresses to the inner child.
And as has been described above; unless this past has been processed it will re-appear in the form of reactive or unconscious behaviour.
Although this could result in the man being the perpetrator and controlling the women to avoid re-experiencing the trauma that happened all those years ago; it can just as easily take on the form of the man creating a situation where he is the victim.
Which will of course put him straight back into the role that he was forced to embody all those years ago. This will depend on numerous factors.
Advice For Women
So what can a woman do who is in a relationship with a controlling man or who wants to avoid a controlling man? I would say that it is important to become aware of oneself. To observe the inner child and to have the assistance of a therapist/healer or someone that can assist with the processing of the past.
On some level there must be an association of safety around being with a controlling man. However, because this is out of conscious awareness, it will seem to just happen and one can feel like a victim or powerless. This is the result of conflict within and is still a choice. Perhaps ones inner child is still playing out the same childhood patterns.
The child could have been controlled or abandoned and so now one puts up with the control because of two reasons. One – the inner child was brought up to associate intimacy or love as being control; so the inner child feels safe being with a controlling person. Two – and as a result of this perceives there being only two options – being controlled or being alone.
As one comes to appreciate and value who they are, they will not put up with relationships or situations that limit who they are and their true expression.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.