Who is in Charge Here??

i was on a plane that was supposed to be traveling from NYC to Portland, Oregon last Sunday. A “quick” 6 hour flight. Unfortunately, there was a mechanical delay. Even more unfortunately, thy had already had us board the plane before said delay was discovered. 2 1/2 hours later, we were on our way. Personally, if I was going to be on a flight for 9 hours, I would hope that it would land in Paris or Barcelona… but this one took us home, the long way.

As I sat in my cozy (crowded) seat, I was thinking about how helpless I was feeling. There was absolutely nothing that I could do to better the situation. I could not get back off of the plane and 2 toddlers were already running up and down the aisles, so that option was taken. All I could do was fret and look at the dog that was also fretting across the aisle from me. (yes, he let his fret be known… in many ways….).

I do not like the feeling of not being in control. I do not really consider myself a control freak, but rather, I like having the ability to make my own decisions and guide my own direction. When that does not happen, I try with all my might to get back in the drivers seat.

When does the desire to have control cross over into the “danger zone”? This is a great question that I am asked sometimes by clients who are trying to determine whether their partner is just wanting to get a normal amount of control or if their controlling behaviors are abusive. I speak to HS students about spotting the red flags of controlling behaviors early so that they can protect themselves and their friends.

It is difficult to explain sometimes the difference between controlling vs. romantic. In the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will attribute controlling behavior to concern for the victim. For example, the victim’s safety or decision making skills. As this behavior progresses, the situation will worsen and the abuser may assume all control of finances or prevent the victim from coming and going freely.

I use some scenarios with the students to exemplify the point. For example:

“I love you so much, I wish that I could spend all my time with you because you make me so happy.” (romantic) vs. “I love you so much. I don’t want you to go out with your friends anymore, I want you to just be with me on the weekends” (controlling).


You get these voicemails: “You were 15 minutes later than you said you would be, who were you with just now? Why didn’t you call me?” (controlling) vs. “You were 15 minutes later than you said you’d be, hope all is ok” (romantic).

Spotting red flags early can help each participant in an relationship is so important.

Oh… and I hate flying. That will not change.


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