Ha ha ha HA HA ha ha HA HA HA HA… OH my. Sorry, the word “control” makes me laugh. It’s not honest laughter, or belly laugh laughter, it’s rueful laughter.
Humans have evolved innumerable ways of attempting (and sometimes effecting) control.
Passive/Aggressive: Just don’t respond to or deal with what your partner has expressed. Or, better, agree. Agreeing is good. Some examples:
a) She calls you when she gets home from her job (as you asked her to). She’s a teacher, so she gets home earlyish. “Hi Honey. What time do you think you’ll be home for dinner?”
“Around 6.” (Fact is, you’re not COMING home for dinner, but if you tell her the truth, she’ll just want to know why, etc. etc.) Ultimately, of course, this kind of thing leads to the erosion of trust between the couple and divorce.
b) I’m reading the minutes of the faculty meeting for my department. “Whoa,” I think, “they’re getting rid of the classes I teach! They’re sending them to another college next year! That might be OK. Well soon, someone will talk to us about it.”
A year later, I’m reading the minutes of the faculty meeting (I was not expected to attend — or wanted — as I was a lecturer, not a tenured faculty member) and I see they have SENT the classes to another college as of the coming fall. Wow, any minute the boss will talk to us (me and the other teachers). Never happened. I contact the union. “We’ll look into it,” they said and never responded about having “looked into it” until it was all a fait accompli. Why? To keep control over what they wanted to do and the agenda that propelled them, it was best not to have any contact at all with the people who would be directly affected by the change, best not to tell them, give them options or protect them through the end of their contracts. This led to a lot of people being suddenly and unfairly out of work.
Scapegoating: This is one kind of control my mother practiced on me. “You look at me like that one more time and you’re not going anywhere.” I look at her in puzzlement. I don’t know what my face is doing. “All right, that’s it. You’ve wrecked this Saturday for everybody. No no one’s going anywhere.”
In reality, SHE didn’t want to go anywhere or maybe my dad wasn’t up to it. I don’t know what the reality was, only that wherever it is we were going, we weren’t and it was my fault that the entire day had been ruined. I think (maybe, if there’s anything rational to this) 1) I’m nearsighted and did not have my glasses on, 2) I probably squinted at my mother and it just hit her last nerve.
I have no idea now and I had no idea then. BUT this type of interaction led to some pretty awful fights once I was old enough to fight back, fights that involved saying things to her like, “You’re not the boss of me!” and “I hate you,” countered by “You’re not my daughter!”
Gaslighting: There’s control through gas-lighting which is the creation of a false reality and then practicing any of the other control techniques on the person unwittingly trapped there. The Evil X was a MASTER at that. Driving home from town. “When are we getting the satellite hooked up so I can watch the Chargers this fall?” (He asks, knowing full well that ISN’T going to happen)
“Who said we’re doing that?”
“You did. Several times. In fact, you promised.”
“No. We can’t afford it.” (He’s not contributing anything to the “common” good; the “we” is being kind. His way of NOT paying rent or anything else was simply NOT paying rent or anything else.)
“You fucking bitch. You lied to me.”
This ultimately led to, “I hate you, I wish you were dead, I don’t love you anymore, get the fuck out of my house.” Should have happened sooner…
Frontal Attack — Verbal or Physical Violence, Relentless Criticism: Just one example — the Evil X once called me a “controlling bitch” simply because I asked him what he wanted for dinner. I could write a lot under this topic, but I don’t want to, really. It’s enough to say that if you create an atmosphere in which your partner is afraid of you, you can control them.
I don’t know about people or where the need to control others comes from other than the sense of being out of control combined with being dependent on others for feelings of self-worth. I know some people feel the need for power over others as a way to feel good about themselves. One of the Good Xes said once, “The most dangerous person in the world is an insecure person.” He was right. A person who cannot stand up for him/herself, being self-reliant and able to face the day alone is dangerous.
I learned very early in my life that all we can possibly control is our response to factors that are external to us most of the time and the way we deal with daily life necessities. The cliches like “Make the best of it” or “Put a good face on it” are actually good advice. And…all this probably explains why I live alone. 🙂