Love vs. Control
In a healthy relationship, love is about:
MUTUAL RESPECT » Value the other person’s right to be an individual within the relationship and like each other for who you each are. Be respectful of the other’s views and choices – only ask the other person to do things that they believe in and feel comfortable doing.
HONESTY » Be sincere and mean what you say to each other.
TRUST » Share your experiences, feelings and thoughts with each other. You can rely on each other and know you will not share each other’s private information or say anything that would embarrass each other. Note: The exception to this would be if you are worried about your friend’s safety and well-being and as a result, talked to a safe adult about those concerns.
KINDNESS » Be generous and care about how one another feels. Help one another during hard times.
LISTENING » Actively listen to each other. Try to understand the way each other feels and be thoughtful not to hurt each other’s feelings.
PATIENCE » Have patience with each other and understand that nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes (keep in mind that people should learn from their mistakes, and try to avoid making the same mistake repeatedly).
LOYALTY » Stick up for each other.
DEPENDABILITY » Be there for each other when you say you will be, and keep plans with each other.
HAVING FUN » Enjoy spending time together and have some similar interests (i.e. activities, music, books, jokes, etc.).
In an unhealthy relationship, control is about:
MANIPULATION » In order to get what they want, the person may: use insincere praise and flattery; make the other person feel accepted on the condition that the person does what they want them to do; use pity by playing the victim role (i.e. “I have no one else. I will kill myself if you leave me.”).
PERSISTENCE/PRESSURE » Continually asking the other person to do something even though they have already said “No.”; telling the other person that something is normal or common in order to convince that person to do what they want (i.e. “Come on, you only live once. Everybody does it.")
LYING AND MINIMIZING » Lying or downplaying behaviours to avoid consequences (i.e. “It’s not that big a deal. It only happened once. It’s not like it hurt anyone. I’m sorry.”)
UNPREDICTABLE BEHAVIOUR » Acting affectionate and caring, then suddenly withdrawing their affection and becoming “cold” and distant or “flying off the handle”.
ASSAULT AND ABUSE » This includes sexual assault, physical assault and emotional abuse. Sexual assault involves forcing sexual touching, making threats to get sex, getting the other person drunk or using drugs to get sex. Physical assault includes hurting the other person physically (i.e. biting, hitting, pushing, slapping, kicking, punching, or pinching). Emotional abuse involves using put-downs, sarcasm, humiliation or embarrassment and raising your voice towards the other person. It also includes being highly critical of the other person and those who care about the person.
GUILT AND PUNISHMENT » Projecting blame on the other person for everything that has happened; making the other person “pay” for their behaviour; ignoring and giving the other person the silent treatment.
POSSESSIVE/LACK OF TRUST, JEALOUS » Demanding to know where the other person is at all times and questioning where their partner says they were; acting like they own the other person; being mad and jealous when the other person does things without them; telling them what to wear and what not to wear or criticizing what they are wearing.
INTIMIDATION, THREATS AND FEAR » Trying to scare the other person get them to do what they want. This may include using violence, threats, blackmail, yelling (for example “I will kill you if you ever leave me.”). This may also include aggressive behaviour, such as punching holes in walls, throwing objects and damaging property.
ISOLATION » Starting arguments with family and close friends and telling the other person to choose between them and their family and friends (i.e. “No one truly cares about you like I do. I will always be there for you unlike anyone else. It’s them or me.”)
It can be difficult to identify controlling behaviour when you’re in a relationship. It’s easy to justify controlling behaviour as a sign of caring or love for you. It’s important to remember that controlling behaviour is not love, it is about power and manipulation.
“Getting help is anything but weak. Getting help is for the strong. Hiding and pretending something never happened is the worst thing of all.”
— Ernestine (character from How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells)