Manipulation and Control in Relationships – The Teddy Bear and Goldilocks Syndrome

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Manipulative people are a real pain in the butt. I know everyone does it to varying degrees. But like many problems in life, it is usually one of degree.

When you get caught up with someone on the high end of the manipulation bell distribution curve it is a real pain. And even worse- what if you are at the higher end of the distribution curve for people’s susceptibility to manipulation. Well then you have a match made in both heaven (for the manipulator) and hell (for yourself).

The trouble is many people are highly manipulative or controlling without really realizing it. They mostly do it instinctively. Controlling their partner makes them feel safe. Challenge their control and they get stressed (a nice change at least for you). But then, they will increase their attempts to control you further.

There are many reasons why people want to control and manipulate. One reason (amongst a great many) is that the controller is trying to squeeze you into a mould of what they want you to be.

Now I know that many married men will be thinking of the old line “men want their wives to remain the way they were when they married, and women want to change the men they marry into what they think they should be”. In reality, this is a two way street. Both men and women can have overly strong wishes to fit their partner into the mould of their dream person. When this happens, they can become controlling, resisting your attempts to be yourself.

Now, I am not talking about a wife trying to make her partner less of a slob, or a man trying to get his partner to be more up front about what she wants or feels (‘if you loved me you would know’).

I am talking about people who constantly chip away at your true self. One sign is that your partner is constantly criticising everything you do even when most of it is pretty good. Even worse is when they are telling you and other people what you feel and what you think. What you should be doing, who you should be seeing, and what you should be wearing. The archetypal control freak.

An analogy for trying to squeeze a partner into a mould is the teddy bears and dolls of our childhood. Teddy used to always know what we truly wanted and how to behave. Teddy was always the constant true ‘person’ who always cared and behaved the way they were supposed to.

Imagine if one day, teddy had spoken back and said- “No, I don’t want to do that, I want to do this’. Uh oh. Teddy is not that nice perfect person anymore. This is a bit what it is like for many manipulators and controllers when their ‘teddy’ wakes up and tries to assert their independence a bit more.

Bad teddy (such a simple line makes us gulp with nervousness!)

Another form of control relates to Goldilocks. Remember how Goldilocks went around the bear’s house looking for the ‘perfect’ fit. Well, many people carry some form of image of the ‘perfect’ person.

And no girls- I don’t really mean that guys all want a blond bombshell with big ‘knockers’, an overwhelming desire to clean and cook, and a large inheritance. Or, that women want someone sensitive but rugged, rich but spends a lot of time doing things in the house, is a mind reader except when you don’t want them to, and has no interest in looking at other women once he discovers the magnificent you.

I mean that controllers are trying to push you into the mould of what they want. As people grow in maturity, they should recognize and embrace the good and not so good (for them at least) in their partner. Sure, openly discuss and work on the most annoying or unfair attributes in each other. But don’t jam your partner into a mould.

You have to ask- are controllers scared to take the risk of living with a ‘real’ person. Someone who may not do or agree with what they want or think all the time. Maybe their ‘fantasy’ person is much more comfortable and easy. A type of teddy, blow up rubber doll, or ‘Ken’.

If you believe you are being controlled, start to learn more about your own susceptibility to manipulation. Develop your assertiveness. Learn how to deal with stress. And learn how and why people manipulate.

Be careful. Gaining your freedom might mean that you lose your partner if they can’t adjust.

Be doubly careful if you suspect your partner (male or female) may react dangerously (aggressively or passively). Seek advice and help from experts.


Source by Ian G King

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