Women Love Being in Control (anyway, That’s What Men Keep Telling Me)

“Men don’t settle down. Men surrender.” (Chris Rock)

Jim, a single man in his late 30s, complained that the womanhe was pursuing -- just like everywoman he’d ever known -- had to be in control during dating. I asked him how heknew that. Here’s what he said:

“She decides when we have sex the first time, and until thathappens, I have to play by her rules.”

Some (maybe quite a few…) men would say that even after sex happens the first time, a manhas to keep playing by a woman’s rules…….or else his life will be miserable.

Make that doublymiserable, if a woman uses -- or even threatens to use -- the powerful WMDs(Weapons of Men’s Destruction):

1. Wear Him down through Nagging

(Your reaction) Thank you!

2. Withhold Sex and Affection

(Your reaction) Thank you!

3. Waterworks (i.e., Crying)

(Your reaction) Thank you!

After talking to male friends and clients for the last twodecades, I’m thoroughly convinced that these WMDs (Weapons of Men’sDestruction) do exist, and that some women use them without mercy.

But no one has ever convinced me that women are the only oneswho love to be in control. No way. Inmy personal and professional experience, powerful relationship “generals” arerepresented by both genders. These folks take full advantage of direct strategies (e.g., bossiness, bullying,etc.) and/or indirect strategies (e.g., manipulation, passive-aggression, etc.) to gain and keepthat control.

As a matter of fact, wouldn’t you say that many peopleacross all areas of life place a premium on being in control -- of situations, of themselves, of other people’sactions and reactions? In certain circumstances, perhaps, it’s a useful way tobe. In relationships, though, it causes all sorts of problems!

When I wrote, “How to avoid getting seriously involved witha control freak,” I was thinking about the kind of man whose extremecontrolling behavior, direct and indirect, can actually harm anyone who triesto get close to him. At the least, this guy’s love of control wears down awoman’s self-esteem; at the worst, it’s deadly for her.

Maybe that’s why, in popular culture, the joke is on womenfor being the world’s only relationship generals?

After all, a story about a boyfriend or husband who controlsthrough the threat of violence isn’t nearly as hilarious as the way we women “getour control freak on” by laying down the rules for everything from sex, tocommunication, to taking out the trash.

Okay. So, maybe women do love to be in control -- at least sometimes.But who doesn’t.

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Do you consider yourself a “take-charge” kind of woman?Opinionated? Decisive? Powerful? The kind of woman who “gets things handled"?

If that description fits you, do you also find it confusing when you lose respect for "laid-back" men who ultimately wave the white flag and surrender, but with the men you respect -- the "take-charge" types -- it's a constant power struggle?

Then you, my dear, just might be a relationship general.

I'll be writing more about the psychology of being a "general," how that might work against you in love, and how you can stay strong while you "Make Love, Not War."

Stay tuned...

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