The “Need” to Control Others – Part 5 (of 5)

How and Why Controllers/Victims Control Others

We all have a “need” to control others.

Everybody does it.
Some more than others.

Sometimes it’s healthy.
Sometimes it’s not.

We can do it consciously.
Other times, we are unaware that we are controlling others.

Recall the first week we began by asking the question “Why do we control others?
We answered by saying “Because the behavior of others (or the lack thereof) causes us to become agitated, insecure or fearful inside and we seek to modify their behavior to make ourselves feel more comfortable.”

We then said, “Generally (not always) the need to control is directly proportional to our internal security.  The more insecure and fearful we are inside, the more controlling of others we become.  In contrast, the more we’re internally secure, the less controlling we are of others.”

So how does this apply to Controllers and Victims?

Remember that Controllers and Victims are referred to as the “Chaotic / Disorganized” love style.  For a lifetime, they have been used to chaos, danger, intimidation, fear, terror, and there has been no organization to their lives.  So, when they grow up, they seek order to control the environment to predict comfort and security. If others move outside their prescribed “order”, they immediately feel threatened and they quickly use dominance to move everybody back into place.  Don’t go “moving the cheese” on the Chaotically- attached person.  It will undo them every time and they will control others to keep them in line.
Victims wish for stability and for no one to disturb the sleeping giant.  Their goal is to comfort themselves by staying under the radar and not drawing attention to themselves.  So they control by silence, disappearing, not speaking, not contradicting, appeasing and placating types of behavior.

Here is what the “formulas” looks like:

Controller:  Lack of compliance with structure > feelings of agitation and fear > heightened anxiety >  control others by angry dominance > when person complies > relief and comfort.  (If person does not cooperate, the pattern repeats with greater rage and intensity which often turns into domestic violence and abuse.

Victim:   Lack of compliance of structure > feelings of fear that they will  become the target of rage > heightened anxiety > control situation by extreme compliance and loss of personhood > if person is appeased > relief and comfort.

While this never ever brings long range relational resolution and intimacy, Controllers and Victims are compelled to repeat these unsuccessful behaviors even though they create more chaos for the next generation.

So what does a Controller have to learn to do in order to grow up and become a real adult like Jesus?   They need to learn to tolerate differences and allow others to become their own individuals. As a child they were powerless and helpless when there was a lack of conformity, so conformity was learned as a means of feeling less powerless and less helpless. As adults, they now have the capacity to learn that difference is not fatal and final like it once felt. Additionally, they must learn that unlike their childhood, when people move in different directions, its OK, if allowed to have movement, people will naturally return to re-engage and continue relationship.  If constriction is always imposed upon others, ultimately they will only want to get away and never return.
What about the Victim?   They need a safe place outside the home where they can begin to learn to develop an adult voice, have opinions and learn about themselves.  They need to gradually bring these new differences into the relationship and risk having the adult voice, being assertive and establishing boundaries.   Note:  If the person is not safe and abuse is likely, then a separation may be in order until a reunion can be negotiated by a third party therapist. The Bible says it this way, “…speak truth each one of you with his neighbor (Ephesians 4:25).

I hope that this brief series has helped you in your journey out of the “need to control others.”

Thanks and blessings,


Milan & Kay

Next week:“More Relationship Help and Valuable Tips”