It is perfectly natural for one partner to lead and the other to follow from time to time.
However, when one partner has the majority of control and is constantly leading, relationships can sway out of balance leaving the other partner to feel oppressed, worthless, invaluable and ultimately, powerless.
There are many variables that cause an imbalance. The majority of them come down to how one person views or judges the other. If one perceives themselves to be more attractive, more financially secure, have a better career or if they feel as though they could be in a relationship with someone “better,” they may think they hold more power than the other.
One partner may feel unworthy of the other’s love and affection or as though they love their partner far more than they are loved. This can cause someone to feel inferior and the imbalance can create the passing of power, inadvertently, to the other partner.
What begins as a thought or belief in the mind can cause us to act and behave in ways that puts our relationship off balance, as our partner picks up on the vibrations we send out. The person who is perceived to be “loved more” or to be a better “catch” than the other person can feel that this must be true. Subconsciously a negative dance takes place.
Changing our thought patterns and belief system to focus more on self-love and self-worth is enough to remove the perception that we are unworthy. When we believe we are equal, we stand a far greater chance of being treated equal. No one deserves to be treated differently, especially by someone whom we are in a relationship with.
When our self-esteem is low we can fall into a habit of placing our partner high on a pedestal. If we do we have to take action to ensure we are not treated as though we are not equally worthy of love and affection. We have to put boundaries in place to show we value ourselves and that we have limits. Otherwise we repeat negative cycles that ultimately leave us with low self-image and low self-esteem. If someone treats us poorly we must take responsibility, realizing we give other people the power and strength to repeatedly behave in this way.
We should never feel weak, helpless or powerless in a relationship and when we feel so, we are actually allowing someone else control over our emotions. When we rely on other people to make us happy, feel loved or appreciated we become codependent. We are then vulnerable to feeling unloved or unhappy if our partner does not validate us by behaving how we want or need them to. This results in us feeling hurt, angry and having low self-esteem. Ultimately though, we choose to feel this way when we allow their behavior.
Boundaries are essential and when we put them in place we must stick to them. If we say we are going to do something we must do it, as when we back down the other person may see this as a sign of weakness. If we don’t act on our words, we send mixed messages. It can then be difficult to achieve a balanced and healthy relationship.
If one person has invested far more time, energy or emotion, they may feel that the other person holds the power. This can then leave them feeling vulnerable and weak. Sadly, in many relationships, it seems that if you care or love on a much deeper level than the other person, you automatically pass them the power to control or manipulate the relationship.
“The power of all relationships lies with whoever cares less.” ~ Michael Douglas, Ghost of Girlfriends Past.
There are many theories about “playing games” to stabilize the imbalance. However, by communicating needs and desires and seeing if the other person is willing to give the same is the only true and honest way of knowing whether there is a good healthy balance or if you will be giving far more than is fair. Although it is ideal to believe unconditional love will conquer all, realistically, this is only usually achievable in relationships where both people are respectful of one another and willing to make the relationship equal, healthy and nourishing.
In all relationships we are unique individuals and no two people are going to come together and meet exactly in the middle. If we are treated poorly, we have to accept that it is part of who that person is at this stage of their lives. It has probably taken years of habits and conditioning to make them this way. We don’t need to take it personally, blame the other person, feel bitter or angry and it definitely shouldn’t affect our self-esteem. And we certainly can’t change them. If we choose to stay with someone who treats us unequally we will either end up feeling unfulfilled or maybe even game playing ourselves to try to achieve balance.
Power can be gained or lost within a split second. It can move from one to the other with a simple word, body language, gesture or facial expression. It can be a psychological game or it can ebb and flow naturally depending on the people in the dynamic.
If two people are authentic, independent, have self, and mutual, respect they can achieve and maintain a healthy balance instead of playing manipulative games. A relationship should be equal, not two opponents hoping to score points against one another.
When we step into the other person’s shoes to see their perspective instead of just looking at our own we can see why they may be feeling a certain way and we can appreciate and accept that we are all different. There will be no right and no wrong, therefore, no battle and no argument to gain power will take place and the balance equals out. Both people will feel validated, understood and significant.
If the relationship sways too far one way and our partner becomes disinterested, the worst thing we can do is cling on and suffocate them. This means we are giving away power and creating a huge imbalance.
Relationships naturally move onto different stages and space is needed to give time to adjust. When we let go of the desire to control the outcome we allow the relationship to reshape, readjust and naturally move forward. When we attach ourselves firmly we will likely sink the struggling ship.
We also need to achieve balance in ourselves. We can lift one another when we are down, care for one another and show comfort if things go wrong. In a relationship that is healthy, two people work together to look out for one another and restore the balance individually so the relationship is also one of balance.
In relationships where there is already balance and harmony, both people will naturally give and take. However, relationships can be huge learning curves and sometimes we have to work hard at them to unlearn the bad habits, patterns and conditioning we pick up along the way.
When we are in a calm and balanced ourselves, we can appreciate the euphoria that exists in being within total love, care and respect without the need for power or mind games that create imbalance.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Cordell and Cordell