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Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Be honest. Do you feel like you have no control over whether your relationship soars or bottoms out? Do you think that cupid is in charge of your relationship’s happiness?

If so, you’re not alone.

The Destiny Theory of Relationship is characterized by the belief that relationships are either meant to be or doomed from the start. The problem with this theory, as the following relationship graph from Riskology.co shows, is that the results are rarely happily ever after.

destiny-theory-trend

    The destiny theory looks more like a roller coaster than happily ever after. Here are a few clues that you may be at this end of the spectrum:

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    • You are looking for the perfect mate. Your friends have heard you say, “They’re perfect for me!” — likely on more than one occasion and, often, just before a dramatic end to the relationship.
    • You’re far more likely to say “They weren’t right for me,” than you are to say “We couldn’t make it work.”
    • You fall for people quickly and passionately, moving from the first date to planning your life together in a short time.
    • You will see any conflict as proof that you’re not right for each other. Even normal, relatively minor conflicts will cause you to rethink the relationship.
    • You’re hot and cold. Either they are “all in” with you, or they’re out.

    Here are a few lessons that explain why the people who live by the destiny theory often struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

    You need to embrace the struggle

    Destiny theorists are quick to think problems that arise are because they weren’t meant to be together in the first place, so they don’t look at what actually caused the problem.

    The truth is that life comes with circumstances. Even Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble.” It stands to reason that, even in the very best relationships, you will have troubles. If you believe the destiny theory, though, you’ll take the normal challenges that are meant to strengthen your relationship and use them as a reason to trash it.

    Your struggles are meant to pull you together as a couple and grow you as a person. As Eric Thomas, former professional football player, said, “You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”

    To paraphrase, if you’re going to have trouble anyway, you might as well get a payoff in the form of a better relationship on the other side.

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    If you let the weeds grow, the flowers can’t

    People who believe relationships are based on destiny don’t feel the need for self-examination. And why would they? There is no need to look at their own behavior if the relationship just wasn’t meant to be.

    The real downside to this belief is that, often, destiny theorists are their own worst enemies.

    Everyone has room for improvement. We all have “behavior weeds” in our relationship gardens. If you don’t look at your own actions when things go wrong, you can never get better. If you look honestly at yourself, you can pull the weeds from your own garden and give a decent relationship room to become great.

    No one marries the right person

    People who hold the destiny theory often hold their partners to an unrealistic standard. They aren’t able to see that everyone has good and bad in them. Even the “perfect mate” is going to drive you nuts at times, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.

    There will never be someone who is perfect for you. Or me. We have to work at becoming the right people together. Very often, the way we learned to deal with conflict while growing up contributes to our believing in destiny.

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    But there is beauty in the words “growing up.” We don’t have to stop growing just because we’re adults. In fact, if you’re tired of Destiny Theory relationships that don’t last, crashing and burning as passionately as they started, there is an alternative theory that is based on just that: growth.

    Thanks again to Riskology.co for providing us with a graph showing how relationships work if you hold the Growth Belief. With a growth belief, you know that great relationships take work. Check it out:

    growth-theory-trend

      While there’s no relationship guarantee in life, it’s obvious when you compare the two graphs that one way of thinking creates far more successful relationships than the other.

      Growth: Beauty and the beast

      What people who believe in destiny don’t know is that, though growth is hard, it’s so worth it.

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      Growth takes a willingness to be objective when all you want to do is fall madly, senselessly in love. It means you have to own up to your feelings when your partner disappoints you and communicate when you have disagreements. And, perhaps the hardest part, it requires the humility to own up to your part in the problems you face as a couple.

      The upside?

      The results of self examination, better relationship skills, and putting childish ways of dealing with life away can make the difference between heartbreak and silver wedding anniversaries.

      It won’t happen overnight and there’s no magic pill. But, it’s not a matter of luck or destiny either. You have a huge amount of control over how your relationship flourishes or wilts. Use it to grow a beautiful garden for years to come.

      Featured photo credit: Eric’s Proposal to His Girlfriend/ via flickr.com

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      Published on April 7, 2021

      6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

      6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

      Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

      While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

      1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

      Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

      If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

      In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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      2. They Make Everything Transactional

      Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

      For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

      Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

      A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

      Some statements to be wary of include:

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      • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
      • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
      • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
      • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

      3. They Criticize Everything

      One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

      However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

      Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

      • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
      • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
      • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
      • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

      4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

      We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

      For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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      This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

      5. They Socially Isolate You

      Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

      Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

      This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

      In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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      6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

      It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

      Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

      Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

      • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
      • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
      • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
      • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

      Final Thoughts

      It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

      More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

      Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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