Saturday, September 10, 2011

That Nasty Trapped Feeling

I marvel at how many people seem to think that "marriage" or "commitment" or even "we're dating" is somehow equivalent to a license granting them permission to control their partner. Relationships should be the opposite. In a thriving relationship, both people will bloom. In a relationship loaded with bad energy, both people will wither.

If you feel trapped in a relationship, you need you ask yourself why. And how long will you be able to tolerate such a feeling? Because it's not going to go away by itself; on the contrary, unchallenged, control will get worse over time because you've already relinquished your independence and set your partner up to expect that you will always accept their need to control you. That "trapped" feeling means: it's time to change the dynamics of this relationship NOW, before they get set in concrete.

I know New Age-y things like The Secret seem too pat or even too smug sometimes, with claims such as "you attract to you what you're putting out there." Yet the longer I examine my own behaviors and observe the actions of others, there's still a lot of truth in the statement. I'll risk an example that may offend someone, but here goes. Bullies or abusers typically stay away from self-confident people who would fight them back, right? Instead, they pick on or are drawn to the people they know will not challenge them. This is not to put BLAME on those they abuse. A person may lack confidence for a good reason that isn't their fault (a hypercritical parent, say) or they could be a pacifist, worthy of our total admiration. The point is, something about them really did draw the attention and energy of the bully. In the case of the pacifist, that person will attract a lot of other peaceful people and kindred spirits, but the occasional bully is to be expected as part of the deal in putting it out there that you're a pacifist. Hence, the solutions are: either stop putting it out there OR learn to deal effectively with the negative energies you may attract.

So back to our controlling partner. What are YOU putting out there that is telling them that it's okay with you to direct your behavior?

Possibilities: they know that you are easily controlled. If that's not it, consider that YOU actually may be the controlling one and they are mimicking your behavior (we are also mirrors of each other). If each of you is stubborn and bull-headed, that could even be part of the reason for the mutual attraction, which can be okay, but unless you both learn to temper this, you're going to choke the life out of each other, and a frustrated, rocky relationship is ahead of you. If you're just not sure, you could always try asking them (politely of course): "Why is it you seem to feel it's okay with me that you tell me what I can and cannot do?" It's possible they're clueless about what they've been doing.

A thriving relationship is a two-way street. Sure, in getting along with each other, each person will occasionally have to relinquish something they may like or do something they don't care for, but that's part of negotiation. This is just normal give-and-take. But it leaks over into "controlling" when one person does all the giving and the other does all the taking.

If you feel trapped and feel like you're shriveling instead of flowering, look inside yourself and take action.

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