Why do we humans crave control?

remote control

Part One: Control and Relationships

When does worry or submissive behavior in a marriage or relationship become an odd and unhealthy balance of a bizarre power struggle and attempt at control and the upper hand?

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, no matter what bright eyed newly wed or 15-year-old in a two week relationship might make you believe. No relationship is a hundred percent rainbows and lemon drops and unicorns covered in glitter all the time. Relationships are hard work no matter how you slice it. Even the most laid back couple and understanding individuals have seen their version of stormy seas and it can get downright ugly sometimes. Love, life, our very nature-we are some messy and complicated and imperfect creatures on this planet called Earth, and due to that inevitable characteristic-our ugly sides show most often to ones we claim to love the most.

(we might even claim that the one we love the most brings it out of us, but that’s a topic for another day)

Funny, isn’t it?

Our messy personalities are like a mixed bag of trick and treat candy that one should approach with caution. Every one is different, and certain thoughts, feelings, and emotions express themselves in ways unique to the person expressing them. That’s beyond frustrating. To one couple for example, total complete unadulterated honesty is what is desired to keep them happy, trusting, and ticking-but I’ve heard of other relationships that use the mantra  “the less known, the better”, “ignorance is bliss”, and “what he/she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Some people trust better blindly than going off of blatant logic. To each their own, I’m not here to discuss that particular couplism (or friendism or familyism), rather I want to discuss the particulars of another relationship (and human trait): control.

I’ve known this couple for a while, married, great people. They truly do love each other, and have a lot of common ground in a lot of important areas. These people are pretty great-but far from perfect. One is a people-pleaser, the other has had some pretty bad fall outs from past (and failed) relationships. The sense of control in the relationship is always in a cautionary balance-Person A (the one with failed relationships) has a constant struggle with worrying and feeling insecure about the idea of their significant other (Person B)leaving them, which causes Person A to irrationally get upset with Person B when Person B runs slightly late or doesn’t call to let Person A know that they are going to the store. On the reverse, Person B feels trapped at times that they can’t just come and go as they please, and that their spouse doesn’t trust them. They want their own control over their own individuality, but Person A prefers to have more control because it cancels out the insecurity they feel when they lack it.

(Note: I am not Person A or Person B, for the record)

It’s just…frustrating to see two people you care about go through these circles again and again, when all you want to do is tell the one to stop being paranoid and the other to just stand their ground. And several (or the couple) of you that might be reading this, might be tempted to have similar thoughts, debating whether or not this relationship is healthy or not…

But who are we, and who am I, to judge?

Could it possibly be that we feel a certain sense of accomplishment when we see others’ struggles? We think to ourselves “well at least we don’t have THEIR problems,” (and don’t deny it-we have ALL been there, myself included). Our relationships are far from perfect, yet whenever we hear of a couples’ problems that isn’t our exact set of problems, we kind of breathe that sigh of relief, going “Thank God we don’t have THAT in our relationship.” We, for a brief moment, feel superior. We feel like we have a sense of…wait for it…CONTROL.

See what I did there?

Control Key on Computer Keyboard

Part Two:  Why Do We Crave Control At All?

Why are we so obsessed with control? Relationships aside, it permeates throughout other parts of our lives-

Work-those micro-managers, those over-achievers willing to do any ruthless or under the table task to get on top, veterans seniority over the rookie players on the team, etc.

School-classic Breakfast Club stereotypes (nerd, jock, princess, basket case, and criminal) with some chasing the coveted sparkly tiara of popularity while others relish in being unique and different and feel a sense of elevated intellect because they don’t go with the flow of the people around them, drama geeks against jocks in who gets the gym for practice after school, etc…

Even in places of worship such as the church you have issues with this search for control as if it were the Holy Grail itself-some ministers or congregational heads going above and beyond their call to guide their flocks and instead instill their own personal viewpoints as standard, certain groups not allowing others to have a say in church matters, other groups debating and upset about not having a say in church matters, committees pitted against committees, each believing their cause or agenda is more worthy for funding than the next-etc, etc, etc!

As the great anthem of our age claims “I never meant to start a war” (Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, and yes that was sarcasm), I am not trying to come off as hoity toity I don’t want control of any sort which makes me better than all of you-no. Just no, I’m not trying to do that. I’m also not trying to pick a fight with anyone who may fall in the above categories that I slightly callously generalized. I’m not trying to do that either.

What I really want to know is why we crave control in the first place. Or, more appropriately, why do you crave control? Why does any of us crave it? I’m looking to discuss this with you, avid readers in the single digits, I want to know YOUR thoughts.

So, readers, it’s time to get naked.

naked juice

And by naked, I mean baring your mind, not your unmentionables 😉

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section listed below this entry. I really do, honestly and truly, want to hear your thoughts on why we crave control. Anything goes, just keep it clean and respectful (even though I shouldn’t control your thoughts on control ;).


The Shoe

new girl gif blog 1



3 thoughts on “Control

  1. mm….naked.

    i crave control because it gives me peace. if i know what is going on, i worry less about the unknown. when i don’t know what’s going to happen, i over-use my imagination in order to event endless scenarios, and therefore stress myself out by trying to prepare for all of them just in case.

    i guess this doesn’t answer your question, because i don’t know why i need to know. logically speaking, i have never known the outcome of the future, and mostly it’s turned out for the better (or evolved into something better). objectively i know that God is looking out for me, and that His plan will work out for the best (eventually i will post an entry regarding this), but in the moment, i need to know what i am dealing with. this includes relationships, jobs, sudden life things, etc.

    i guess we need to feel in control because it makes us feel… not-helpless. i mean if you go way back to genesis, why did adam and eve eat the fruit? because they wanted the knowledge of good and evil. they wanted to be like God. maybe that’s the real crux of original sin: we want to be like God. so we do everything in our power to pretend that we ARE like God, and that shows itself in trying to control our circumstances.

    • I’ve found that virtually every sin is about control in one way or another. It never occurred to me that it might be because every sin is a version of the original one.
      When I get stressed, I tend to buckle down on my budget, to a totally irrational extent. I’m cheap at the best of times, but when other parts of my life get out of control, I feel like that’s the one place I can and should exercise some control. Except I’m married now, so things I used to berate myself for (like spending $2 on lunch at T-Bell instead of making a sandwich at home), I now want to berate my spouse for. But if I started freaking out every time he spent $2 on lunch, that would make me a crazy person. It’s a good question to ask, “Am I a crazy person right now? If anyone else did this, would I think they were totally nuts?” It’s not always easy to tell in-moment, though.

      • Piera and Jasmine,

        I just want to say I really appreciated both of your insights on the topic of control. I think you both some fantastic points that I hadn’t even considered when writing this post. I found it very interesting Piera, that you and I use control similar-without it we are stressed! Jasmine, I also notice that my finances sometime mirror what I’m feeling control wise-when I’m feeling confident and like someone other than myself is in control-I spend less, and have this underlying trust that the bills will be paid, I don’t need much, and life is good. When I don’t feel that-I find myself spending money on things I don’t necessarily need or worrying incessantly about how my loans are going to be paid off-not trusting that it will all be okay.

        I think you’re thought Piera on why Adam and Eve ate the fruit ties in with our innate desire for control perfectly-when I was younger I could never understand why they didn’t just trust God and not eat the fruit. Now that I am older, I think I can relate and understand why they decided to go for the fruit.

        Again, thank you so much for posting your ideas. I really appreciate your thoughts, not just here, but in general. 🙂

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