How Much Of Your Life Do You Let Your Significant Other Control?

I wrote a piece recently for the Huffington Post about how I gave up being a maid of honor for Fashion Week. Yes, it was selfish, but my job was also partially on the line and to be honest, the girl who had asked me wasn’t exactly my closest of friends anymore. We’d had one of those rocky on and off again friendships since fourth grade (Yes! That long!), but since she was always one of those gals who throws her girlfriends to the side whenever she found a new boyfriend, I had pretty much let it go.

But for some reason history comes into play when people get married, and she asked me to be her maid of honor. Of course, now she recalls it all differently and said I begged her to be the maid of honor, which I don’t recall at all, but it was six years ago, so I’m over it and so is she.

The point is that a popular daytime show asked us to come on and talk about that experience. I was well aware that I would be painted as the shitty, selfish asshole friend who the Huffington Post commenters told me I was well over 200 times (perceptive li’l things), as if they didn’t read the article in which I had already addressed this fact. But hey, they don’t call ‘em trolls for nothing.

It would have been one thing had this particular program had been some Jerry Springer type of situation, but considering the Obamas have been on this show of which I’m speaking, I was all for it. I also thought the experience would be fun!

However, there were logistics with who would take care of her kids (sadly, the marriage has ended, and her parents live in Florida.) The show was willing to fly up her parents to take care of the kids for a night or two, then fly my friend to NYC, put her up in a hotel and cover all her expenses for this particular segment. When I finally got her to agree, things fell through, her parents had to work and somewhere along the line her new (very new) boyfriend, whom I’ve never met, took his anger with me out on Facebook as the kids do these days. He did not realize my blood is 90% venom and I will lashout when backed into a corner like a cobra sent from the devil himself!

This particular friend and I who, as I’ve said, have been off and on for years, are once again in “off” mode because her new and controlling boyfriend has stepped in to manipulate a situation that did not concern him in any way. Although I would never say that this friend of mine has had the strongest will when it comes to men, one would have hoped that recent events in her life may have made her wary of the input of her significant others — especially those who are new to the picture.

As one who has allowed her heart to be controlled by a man or two in the past, my actions and decisions have never been. I’m too much of a hothead, and like a petulant child, will rebuff any request to either do or not do something based on the input of another.

So, I have to ask those of you in serious relationships, how much of your life do you let your significant other control? Do you ask how high when they say jump? Do you tell them to fuck off and do your thing anyway? Or is there such a thing as compromise and I should just learn the meaning of it? Also, aforementioned boyfriend wears a puka shell necklace — should this be a concern as well?


Photo: Control Freak

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    • Elizabeth

      I guess by your definition, my answer is “somewhat,” although that’s kind of inaccurate. I don’t necessarily think of it as control. I think that both parties in a relationship may have deal-breakers or things that don’t work for them in a relationship, and it’s up to the other party to decide whether that behaviour or the relationship is worth more. For example, I didn’t drink for a good chunk of my current relationship because my boyfriend was uncomfortable with it – he grew up with all sorts of alcoholism in his family, and didn’t want to drink or be with someone who did. And so, for a while, I just didn’t drink. It wasn’t about him allowing me to or not allowing me to. I just knew that if I chose to drink, it would make my relationship difficult or impossible, and my relationship was more important to me than alcohol. When that started to be problematic, we re-evaluated. It seems to have been working.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Which sounds like a healthy compromise to me! (Says the girl who does love her wine…)

    • Cassandra

      This is something I always struggle with when it comes to a lot of my friends. Of course when you’re in a new relationship you have to learn how to balance that with friendships, but I find that many frequently put their S.O.’s wants/needs first. It’s almost as though they are afraid they will loose their relationship if they don’t and that he will move on to someone else that is willing to put them first the majority of the time.

    • Rachel

      There is a big difference between control and compromise. And compromise really isn’t a form of control, it’s how adults function. My husband just finished his PhD. He was in grad school for almost 5 years so he could study neuroscience and be a doctor. That involved a lot of compromises from me. He picked where we lived so he could go to school. This affected where I could work and our monthly budget. I don’t feel like that was controlling of him. Those were compromises I made because I love him and wanted to be in a relationship with him. We got married while he was in his third year of grad school. If I hadn’t wanted to make the compromises, I could have easily not married him and moved anywhere in the world to work. But he seemed worth it.
      Now that he is done his doctorate degree he has made some compromised for me. I have estabished my career in the city we moved to for his graduate school. So when he started looking for jobs and deciding what he wanted to do career-wise, we decided he should look in our area, or commutable areas so that I wouldn’t have to leave my job now that he is ready to start his career. I worked out amazing because he loves his job and the career path he is on, and now we know what city we can settle down in, so we were able to buy a house.
      Neither of those things involved one of us controlling the other. It was two adults making decisions to make our relationship work along with achieving other successes and goals in our lives.

    • Erin

      Boyfriend and I have been together for two years and so far there have been few compromises. We are lucky enough to be from neighboring towns, we have a venn diagram of friends, and we are both pretty laid back anyway. The one compromise that stands out for me was when we were going to a Christmas party for his job. There were going to be some people I knew there (the whole, overlapping circles of friends thing) but it was mainly going to be his function. I came downstairs all dressed up and ready to leave and he had some sort of freakish reaction to the dress I was wearing. This had never happened before and I was caught off guard by how much he actually hated it. I considered standing my ground and just wearing the dress (it was brand new and sparkly) but I figured compromise was best in the end, it was his function after all. I went back upstairs and put on the dress I meant to wear to my own Christmas party and all was well. I didn’t mind the compromise in the end, I wore the dress to a New Years party that he didn’t go to and the dress performed beautifully.

    • Jay

      I’m extremely dependant on my boyfriend and I feel he uses this to control me. For example, he has decided who I’m allowed to see and not see, and who I’m allowed to talk to and not talk to., all the time saying that if I talked to this person he would break up with me.
      If we fight and have plans, he’ll suddenly decide that he doesn’t want to go anymore, which he does to spite me because it means I can’t go.
      I have no doubt that he loves me but he controls a huge chunk of my life.

      • Maggie

        Jay, I don’t know you, and I don’t want to be judgmental here, but this relationship does not sound healthy. Someone who loves you will let you hang around with the people you want to, and won’t do stupid things just to spite you. Any guy who threatens to break up with you and holds that over your head to control you is an asshole. Please think about YOUR happiness and whether this guy is worth all the hurt he’s causing you. Somebody who loves you should be willing to compromise to make you happy.

    • Marissa

      Puka shell necklaces are an indicator of someone who is unwilling to leave 1998. Or at least 2002 in the Midwest. Considering his tendency to hold on to trends from ten years ago, he likely holds on to notions that he must make his decisions for his “woman.” I hope he lets her out to vote!