Passive & Controlling Partners
We have all heard the saying “opposites attract.” But do they?? How can we recognize what is a good fit for a committed relationship?
One area of extreme importance is the balance between passivity and control in a relationship. Who is really “perfect for you”? But what do we really mean by “perfect”?
Passive & Controlling Personalities
Passive people usually find controlling partners. Controlling people usually find passive partners. They are “perfect” for each other. Passive people are often quite happy to be left alone. They have little to say, and they can seem to be deaf when you try to discuss problems with them.
Controlling people make constant demands on their partners. They have much to say, and they can act like they think they’ve been elected to tell everyone else how to live their lives.
Passive partners can be recognized by what they don’t do. They don’t initiate anything. They seldom participate whole-heartedly in anything. They seem content to be left alone observing life, often through a TV tube. Controlling partners can be recognized by all they do. They try to “lead” everything and they often have boundless energy. They are seldom content, and they seem to resent anyone who is.
As strange as it seems, passive and controlling partners have one thing in common. They are terrified way down deep inside. The passive person is actually afraid that they’d lose their mind if they became active. The controlling person is actually afraid that nearly everything is “life or death”.
Both people fear “doom around the corner.” Both passive and controlling people come from the same stock. If they had two parents, one was passive and the other was controlling. If they had just one parent, that parent was controlling. The passive person thinks they need someone to control them, to “keep them straight.” The controlling person thinks they need someone to work hard for them at all times.
Dealing with Passive Personalities
If your partner is passive, you need to ask them for what you want but be ready for them to refuse to give it to you. Make a plan BEFORE you ask. Know what you will do if your partner refuses you, and put your plan into action as soon as your request is denied.
For example: a woman asks her partner to clean the living room. He says “yeah … later …” and he doesn’t move. She then asks him to do it by 6:00pm. He again says “yeah … later ..” and he still doesn’t move. At 6:01 she’s on the phone arranging for a cleaning service. He has a right to refuse, but there are also natural consequences.
Dealing with Controlling Personalities
If your partner is controlling, you need to ask your partner for what you want, but expect that they will have conditions on everything. Refuse their conditions, but continue to ask for what you want.
For example: a woman asks her partner to cuddle. He says “I don’t feel like it because you didn’t take care of the kids before I asked you to.” She says: “Well, I still want to cuddle.” (She may not get the cuddling she wants tonight, but if she always responds in this way it will become clear to him eventually that he can have many of the good things he wants out of life if he’ll just stop putting conditions on everything.) He has a right to refuse, but there are natural consequences.
Since both controlling people and passive people have poor relationships, they experience a whole lot of loneliness. After a long while, all of this loneliness adds up and makes them realize they can survive on their own! Then they can stop trying to change their partner and simply enjoy them as they are!
Unfortunately, both people need to learn from their loneliness so they can grow into people who want each other instead of people who think they NEED each other. .
Some people who treat each other this way eventually outgrow it. But the people who don’t outgrow it end up living lives that are “emotionally dead.” In the long run, the passive person almost always “wins.”
Let’s put all of this in a more positive perspective and think about those outside of yourself if you believe you can’t change a pattern you may be stuck in. One of the best gifts you can give to your children is a great relationship. Your strong relationship gives them security. It also teaches them to love and respect one another. Doing better for yourself may result in doing better for those around you!
About the Author:
Jann is a licensed clinical social worker and licensed marriage and family counselor in addition to being a certified divorce coach and trained mediator. Bringing over 30 years of clinical experience, she has assisted individuals, couples and families in coping with their most important challenges and conflicts, providing the necessary insight to assist in creating possibilities for change. You can visit her website at: www.JannGlasser.com