Relationships should be about compromise, growth, love, understanding, and fun. Both partners needs to work at it and make sure you’re in it together. But what if one of you is totally dominant? This may be natural in some areas to a certain extent, like if one of you is really picky about dinner, and the other really just has no preference. But if you notice this is a long-standing trend, it may be a sign that your relationship is out of balance, and your s/o totally rules the relationship. Remember that as much as you’re a couple, you are individuals too.
Integrating into each other’s friendship groups is great, so seeing their friends is absolutely not a problem. Until you realize that you’ve almost exclusively been hanging out with your partner’s friends, and you haven’t seen yours in months, and when you do, your partner almost never joins you. This can be a serious control issue, as it can be a sign that they don’t trust you being away from them, that they have no desire to integrate your lives, or that they are jealous of you spending time with other people.
In whatever way they can, your partner controls financial decisions as much as possible. Maybe you have a joint account and they are making all the spending decisions, or maybe they influence many of your purchases. It might not be as direct as that, maybe they offer to pay for dinner or other dates but then use that against you in order to leverage power in the relationship. Whatever the case, this is not how finances should work in a relationship.
There are really no set rules for relationships. What works for one couple may not work for another. You are unique as a couple and need to figure out what works for you. Where this becomes an issue is when there are one set of rules for one partner and a different set of rules for the other. If your partner is allowed to go out and party with their crazy friends, or is allowed to get away with a kiss at the bar, and you aren’t, something needs to change. You can make the rules whatever you want but they should apply to both partners equally.
When you’re in any kind of relationship, whether it’s romantically, as friends, or with your family, it can be hard to work out a schedule that accommodates both people. And one that makes sure you spend enough time with each other. This can involve a lot of compromise, especially if you have multiple commitments. This becomes even harder if your partner insists that you plan around their schedule, but they won’t reciprocate at all, meaning that any time you spend together is completely on their terms and when they decide.
Another sign that your s/o is the dominant one is that they plan everything from trips to schedules to daily activities, what you’re going to have for dinner, your next date… maybe even your class or work schedule, telling you exactly what you should pick and when. They don’t trust your planning skills and won’t give you a chance to test them out or to improve them. Part of this may be to do with their schedule and they want to make sure you’re available when they want you to be – not when is actually best for you.
It’s date night. How are you spending your time as a couple together? Is your time more or less equally divided between your favorite hobbies and activities, and learning about each other’s favorite things? Or are you at least each allowed time to indulge in them if you don’t participate together? Or does one person’s activities matter more and get more than its fair share of time on your list of things to do? If you constantly find yourself only participating in activities that your S/O loves, they definitely rule this part of the relationship.
You’ve started to notice that anything of theirs is more important than yours. It’s more important to spend time with their friends from out of town than yours. You’ve spent more holidays with their family. You’ve attended all of their work Christmas parties and office BBQ’s, but they haven’t even met any of your co-workers. That time you accidentally broke their favorite thing, and felt awful, was a major deal, but they didn’t care at all when they ruined your favorite dress in the laundry. You’ve started to notice that everything of theirs, whether it’s an event or a physical thing, is just considered more important.
You’d do anything for them to make them just a bit happier, and you want to do it. You love them and if getting a start on dinner makes their hard day a little easier, of course you’d want to help. But this should go both ways. If you’re constantly finding yourself doing all the little things, but the favor is never returned, you may start growing resentful that they don’t acknowledge your needs, and that their time is always more important. The little things matter, but they add up to something big.
Sometimes you think your partner is being secretive or withholding information. They aren’t lying exactly, just neglecting to tell you information. Maybe you ask about their day and they barely answer you with a word or two, but you notice later they gush about their day to a friend. Or maybe a mutual friend asked you if your partner decided to accept that promotion and you have no clue what’s going on. This could be a complete lack of trust on their part, or a way to keep the power in the relationship by keeping you guessing and on your toes.
You may be in a relationship, but you’re still individuals, so you’re not going to agree on everything. But on the one hand while there is communication, openness, compromise, and open discussion, on the other there is disdain, and lack of respect. Communication can be hard but it is key, as is respect. If you’re finding that your partner automatically disagrees with any of your opinions, or constantly shoots them down as useless or unintelligent, and that theirs are automatically better, they’ve got the control.
You’ve grown used to the constant stream of negative comments directed your way, whether about your hair, your clothes, your weight, your job and so on. They are constantly comparing you to others and not so subtly hinting at all the changes you could make. This is completely draining and a way to rule the relationship by telling you that you aren’t good enough and constantly lowering your self-esteem. This gives them lots of room to direct how the relationship goes.
You can’t remember the last time you were praised or that your S/O said they loved you. Or maybe your S/O withholds physical affection as a way to keep control, or uses it as a form of black mail to get what they want. This is never good. Affection and sex should never be used as a weapon or tool. In actually has a negative effect on both partners and breaks physical and emotional bonds. Physical affection of course requires consent from both partners, but it shouldn’t be denied in order to hurt the other person.
Your S/O is in constant communication with you when you aren’t physically with them – calling, texting, facebooking, leaving messages, checking up on you, where you are, and what you’re doing. And they expect an instantaneous response. If they don’t get one, they call your friends, your mom, your workplace… Not cool. Your S/O should trust you enough to leave you alone for 5 minutes, and definitely shouldn’t be calling other people to check up on you if you don’t answer right away.
But it’s for much longer than 10 days, it’s every day. If you’ve watched the movie, you know that Kate Hudson’s character does some pretty terrible things in order to lose the guy in 10 days. If any of this is happening in your relationship, it’s a bad sign that your S/O is ruling the relationship, and playing some games while they’re at it. And no one needs that. So if your S/O refuses to show acknowledgement, avoids communication of all sorts, and has you demonstrating your love by keeping a love fern alive, maybe it’s time to rethink the dynamic.