We all have our own way of managing relationships. But if you’re too controlling, you could be driving your boyfriend away. After all, no one likes being kept on a tight leash.
Not sure what counts as controlling behaviour? We got Violet Lim, CEO and co-founder of Lunch Actually Group, to list some examples. You:
– Make all day-to-day decisions, like where to go and what to eat
– Decide what he wears and how he should cut his hair
– Dictate who he can and cannot hang out with, and when he can and cannot go out
– Control his finances
– Sign him up for things without checking with him first, such as holidays or social events
– Assert yourself over his career choices
– Constantly speak on his behalf
If you’re guilty of more than three of the above, you’re probably quite controlling. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—if he’s told you he doesn’t mind you making decisions on his behalf, there’s probably nothing to worry about.
His silence doesn’t mean it’s OK
But it’s a different story if he has been keeping mum—he could be bottling up his feelings.
“Some men let the woman make all the decisions not because they like it or are unable to make them—they do it to avoid quarrels. However, they may grow to resent their partner,” says Violet.
This could spell trouble in the long run.
“A build-up of resentment can make one become emotionally distant and damage the relationship,” says Jessica Lamb, a psychotherapist at Relationship Matters.
Learn to give and take
A relationship is all about compromise, so both parties should have a say.
“It’s much healthier to negotiate power and decide as a couple who does what in the relationship,” says Jessica. “Some things will matter more to one person than the other, so it’s always important to share responsibility.”
“I believe that every relationship requires a give-and-take approach,” adds Violet. “I also believe that men look for loving and nurturing women, so I encourage women to have their men take charge of some decisions.”
It’s all about communication
Since every couple is different, there is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to who makes the decisions in a relationship.
Jessica suggests that it’s all about coming to an agreement on the roles and responsibilities you both should have, and that these are ongoing conversations to engage in throughout the relationship.
“At the end of the day, a successful relationship depends on compatibility and open, honest communication,” adds Violet.
Try to loosen your grip
So what should you do if you realise you’re too controlling?
“As a first step, practise mutual respect by asking this very simple question: ‘What are your thoughts about this decision?’ This is how power play can slowly be eliminated from the relationship,” advises Violet.
She also recommends that you two draw lines when it comes to decisions regarding your respective personal lives.
“This way, both parties will know not to cross them when the time comes.”