I recently escaped from a control freak friendship. It was a lot like a short-lived romance -- fun in the beginning and then the issues start popping up, like weeds in a summer garden.
Why Do I Feel Like I Can't Breathe?
Looking for answers, I found this short survey online, designed to identify if you were involved with a controlling person. (Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake. This will not surprise my children.)
- Does this person keep claiming to know what's best for you?
- Do you typically have to do things her way?
- Is she so domineering you feel suffocated?
- Do you feel like you're held prisoner to this person's rigid sense of order?
- Is this relationship no fun because of the lack of spontaneity?
I had checked off all five. For that, they suggested the Witness Protection Program.
Clearly, I was screwed.
One thing a control freak doesn't appreciate, is not getting their way. Hence the whole control thing to begin with. I did escape, but not without claw marks around my ankles and tire tracks running down my back.
In addition, anyone who will stand still long enough gets a verbal rundown of all my failings, courtesy of my ex-friend. Apparently, this will go on for decades.
So how do you deal with a control freak? And would it be better to be confronted by zombies?
Psychologists tell us that controllers don't see themselves as controlling, they see themselves as RIGHT.
When they see you doing something your way, they don't recognize that as your prerogative, as you getting to choose and make your own decisions. They see that as you being wrong, simply because you're not doing it their way, which in their mind, is always the right way.
They're right, you're wrong. You lose.
Even if they're able to hold their tongues and allow you to do it your way, they're often waiting for events to go wrong so they can jump on the "I told you so" bandwagon. They've set the trap, hoping to snare you.
Controllers will often judge, criticize and devalue others, commenting how they 'could have done it better'. If they do compliment, it's usually in the process of a manipulative scenario.
Control Freak Management
If the controller in your life is a casual relationship or friendship, your best bet is to slowly back away. Controllers have no interest in developing healthy, mature relationships. They just want their way, however they can get it, and will wear you out in the process. Once you're out of the picture, they'll seek out their next victim and you'll be long forgotten.
If you work with a controller or have a family member who is one, and the option of moving to a small tropical island is off the table, here are a few tips that may help keep you sane.
Yes, No and F*ck You. Be clear in your communication and your actions. Don't succumb to pandering and manipulation, some of the controller's favorites tricks. Be confident and clear with the controller and don't back down. Any sign of weakness will encourage them to persist.
Don't Respond to Escalating Behavior
Once the controller realizes they are losing their grip over you, they may employ pressuring behavior. They may stop talking to you, become moody, pout, stop having sex with you, won't return your phone calls, ignore you in meetings and so on.
Your best bet is to not react or to withdraw in a quiet way. Try to not to escalate your emotions, this only plays into the drama for them.
Don't Let Them Define You
Look to your friends, family or co-workers for support during this time. The controller does not define you and will do their best to diminish your self worth during this process. Letting go of any power they have over you will only enhance your life, and the empty space they leave can be filled with someone who matters.
Good luck and be sure to keep your eye out for zombies too!
Kimberly Montgomery is the creator of the Choices Notebook and blogger at FiftyJewels.com, where she encourages people to use their powers for good. Hop on over there to grab your FREE copy of the Choices Notebook Mini Kit.