Power & Relationships (1): The Place of Power in Relationships

I never really gave much thought to the role power plays in relationships until recently. I always just dismissed the idea that power could have a negative influence on how a relationship plays out. I watched many colleagues, acquaintances and friends go into relationships that were so filled with power, I was beginning to think it was the norm. I got to a point where I started to gear up for my own power tussle in my next relationship. I was preparing to match up to every mind game, play every reverse psychology card, and basically have the relationship go the way I want. A word check in my dictionary opened my eyes to a different definition of power and changed my perspective completely.

Power: the ability or right to control people or things (merriam-webster.com)

Power doesn’t sound like something bad until the word ‘control’ comes into the picture. The truth is we all crave power; we crave to have power over our lives and how things turn out for us, we crave to have power over the kinds of jobs we get and the amount of money we earn, and we crave the power of deciding what happens to us at every turn. But should we crave to have power in relationships? I don’t think so.

Love is not a power tussle, really it isn’t. It is not about beating the other person at some kind of psychological game, it is not about superiority, and in the famous terms of the fifty shades of grey trilogy, it is not about dominance or submission. It is about mutual respect.

Sadly, there are many relationships that are based on testing the psychological strength of each party. Many men seek out women they can control- women they can manipulate, women they can dictate to. They aim for women who cannot feel except they tell them to feel, women who cannot aim except they permit them to, women who cannot dare dream, even in their wildest aspirations. Men of course are not the only culprits. Many women seek to control their partners for their selfish ends too. They seek men who will give in to their every whim without flinching- a ‘yes man’ if you may wish to call it that. They seek men who do not question.

Power corrupts. I’ve learned that an intense yearning for power in a relationship corrupts what the supposed foundation of that relationship should be- love. The urge to control others is of course not without its roots. Many people are filled to the brim with insecurities, being in a position of control is the only way they can feel any form of emancipation. It is absolutely ridiculous to meet a well-rounded individual and decide in your head that you’d like to control how that person’s life plays out. I don’t know if it’s a result of colonial roots or plain madness that we sometimes entertain such thoughts- to believe we can dictate to a person what dreams they should pursue, (if we give them the liberty of pursuing any that is), or where they should go, who they should talk to, how they should feel, when they should feel, etc.

power and relationshipsA relationship where power resides is not a relationship, it is colonialism. Power has no place in relationships because love is not a colonial war. Love is not about control. It is about respect and appreciation. If you cannot respect your partner’s individuality or appreciate them for who they are, do not seek to control them or mould them into what you want. Rather go look for what you want. Do not allow yourself to be carried away with the idea of being declared as the smartest of all, or the best manipulator in town. A person’s heart, emotions and life are not game board pieces. Do not project your insecurities on unsuspecting victims by manipulating their love for you to get them to always do what you want.

Power corrupts; kick it out of your relationship. XOXO