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10 Relationship Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Themselves

10 Relationship Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Themselves

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to do a ‘health check’ on your relationship. When we neglect our relationships, problems can arise and before long you may realize that you aren’t getting along as well as before. In order to nurture closeness and be sure that you are in the right relationship, rather than just going through the motions, ask yourselves the following questions to gauge whether or not you are still on the right track.

1) Do you and your partner fight or argue with increasing frequency?

If you are arguing more than usual, ask yourself what the source if the conflict is. Nip it in the bud and deal with it before it becomes a bigger problem. Letting problems stick around can lead to resentment and a loss of loving feelings towards one another.

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2) Do you feel that your emotional needs are not being met?

This question is very important. If either of you feel your emotional needs are not being met, now is the time to change things. When emotional needs are not being met, it has a destructive effect on the relationship. We start assuming that the other person doesn’t care, and we begin to do less for our partners with an attitude of, “they don’t do it for me, so why should I do it for them?” This inevitably will lead to bigger problems. Sit down with your partner and make a list of three to five things that they can do to meet your emotional needs. Make an effort to incorporate those actions listed as often as possible to restore goodwill in the relationship.

3) Are you physically frustrated in your relationship?

Affection is part of the whole package. A complete lack of touch and affection leads to a disconnection whether you realize it or not. If all tactile behavior has ceased, make an effort to give one another a foot rub or shoulder rub. Tap them on the shoulder as you walk by–focus on touch to reconnect and feel closer. If sex is non-existent, talk about it and re-introduce touch slowly. Begin with baby steps–be sure not to pressure you partner.

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4) Do you think that your partner places their job or other priorities ahead of you?

When we don’t feel important in a relationship, our thinking begins to change and we find ways to feel important in other ways. Often these ways can be non-productive and lead to more problems. Discuss your feelings with your partner–they may not even realize how you feel. Try to compromise and find ways to work around the circumstances so that you may feel important again. Everyone likes an attentive partner. Consider too, whether this situation is temporary and calls for a little patience in the short term.

5) Do you feel that you are being used?

If you feel used on some level, this suggests a trust issue. Trust your instincts. If your partner ignores your needs and always puts themselves first, it’s not a good sign. Every relationship requires give and take in order to survive.

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6) Do you feel there is more to life than that which you are living in this relationship?

Are you feeling restless? Do you look around at other people and fantasize about being in another relationship? Sometimes we do this when we are angry with our partner, but if this is developing into a regular behavioral pattern, it suggests that there are underlying issues. Ask yourself whether there are things you could be doing together as a couple. Make the effort to do something fun at least once a month to keep the fire alive

7) Have you had to stop being yourself in order to keep the peace in the relationship?

When you stop being yourself, you start living a lie. When a partner tries to change you consistently, they are sending you a message that you are not good enough as you are. Trying to be someone you’re not is a losing game–you need to be loved for who you essentially are. That is what we all wish for. You can’t change your character, but you can compromise and change some behaviors–know the difference.

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8) Is guilt a major factor in your relationship?

Do you stay in your relationship out of guilt? Do you feel a duty to stay for some reason? If you aren’t staying out of love and friendship it might be time to question your motives. Guilt is never a good reason to continue a relationship and the long term prospects of a relationship based on guilt are not good.

9) Do you feel that you give while your partner takes?

Who makes all the effort in the relationship? Every relationship, without exception needs to be nurtured. I like to think of relationships like gardens. If you don’t tend to them, ‘weeds’ start to grow. If you feel that you are the only one that legitimately works on the relationship, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart chat. Often, there could just be a miscommunication and once the topic has been discussed, you can both find ways to feel that equal effort is being rendered.

10) Are you in this relationship today simply because it feels safe and allows you to stay in your comfort zone?

I have come across many people who stay in relationships, not because they are happy, but because it is all they know. They stay out of fear of the unknown. Don’t allow self limiting beliefs to stop you from leading a full life. Be brave. Get out there and make sure that you are living the best possible life for you.

Relationships take work. Two unique individuals with their different personalities, backgrounds and preferences always makes for an interesting mix. Compromise, communication and consideration go a long way to keeping a relationship healthy. Develop your own interests and you’ll have more to bring to the relationship. Above all, have fun and communicate regularly. All too often we make assumptions about what our other half is thinking, and this is often wrong. We get annoyed, assume and then become angry. Speak openly, express your feelings and above all make time for lighthearted activities. Too many chores and too much monotony and routine are never good for a relationship. Go out and have some fun together!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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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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