Healthy relationships are achieved when both partners have faith in each other and want the best for one another. This offers both security and safety. A controlling relationship, by contract, results when one partner seeks to dominate the other for their own selfish gain. These manipulators often have trust issues that stem back to childhood experiences with alcoholism, divorce, and insecurity. The only way these individuals feel safe is if they are in complete control of their relationships, or at least feel as if they are.
In a perfect world, control would never be an issue, because trust would be all we need. The problem is, in order to gain trust, you have to earn it, and there is no shortcut to gaining one’s trust.
What is Trust?
If you consider the definition of trust by Confucianism, it is the outcome of overcoming selfishness by replacing the need to satisfy ourselves, with the need to satisfy others. Many controlling partners talk themselves into thinking they are attempting to change a partner for their own good, as a form of caring. The problem here, is that their reasoning is based on their our own needs, rather than the needs of the relationship.
Trust, in its most pure form, is the reciprocation of looking out for each other. In this scenario, a trusted partner in need of change, such as an alcoholic, would not desire to quit drinking by control, but rather as a self-made decision to protect their partner. Nowhere in the definition of trust to the Confucian do our own needs come into play — unless you consider that while you are looking out for your partner’s best interest, they should be looking out for yours.
Recognize the Controller
Controlling personalities often do not recognize their own behavior. Today’s society has taught us that acting reasonably aggressive creates the most positive results, as in marketing, cancer treatments, and business startups. Those who take control of these situations, statistically experience more success than those who take a more passive approach. While this may be the case for medical advances and career strategies, the same approach does not work in relationships. Studies show that controlling relationships cause sadness, anger, mistrust, and insecurity. The only way to create a true, trusting relationship, is to build it slowly from the ground up.
If you want to build a trusting relationship, let go of the idea that you can ‘make’ anybody do anything. The only way to successfully foster trust is by being consistent, honest, supportive, fair, respectful, and sensitive to your partner’s feelings. Controlling behavior only damages passionate love and mutual friendship. A successful partner may have such desirable traits as confidence and strength, but they should not attempt to use these as advantages to rule over a weaker partner — telling them where they should work, or which friends they should hang out with. They may think they have their best interest at heart, but they don’t.
Instead, the strong partner must practice humility and self control, considering their partner’s needs before their own. The weaker partner must learn to express their needs to the more aggressive partner, working to balance the relationship and putting each other on equal ground. They can do this by expressing their needs in the relationship, such as more help with chores, or more time spent with friends.
The Final Word
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking a true soulmate will meet all your needs, and more importantly, that they should know what you need without input. A trusting relationship is built from open communication, the acceptance of each others’ faults, and the determination to work on those faults to improve the quality of the relationship.
When you think of trust in your relationship, think of it in terms of a long and steady race. There is no shortcut. But a little advice — don’t focus so much on the finish line, but rather the journey in getting there!