Ahhh…. It’s February and love is in the air. It’s the month of when we traditionally demonstrate and hopefully celebrate our passion for friends, significant others and family members. Red is everywhere and it’s only taken a few red hearts and boxes of chocolate these past few weeks as we’ve walked into a retail store to remind us of the importance of expressing ourselves to show those we are passionate about how we truly feel.
I’ve been reflecting on all those Valentine’s Days and many other days when I was with someone, but yet so alone. Passion and what once felt like real love seemed to escape me and become a stranger. Passion is tricky – it can show up in many ways- even as hate. We usually think of passion as a key marker that defines the spark or energy in a relationship. Often it’s this chemistry or passion that we use to decide if someone is dating or even friendship material.
After being in the desert for many years in a 23 year old marriage, I was desperate for passion! And unfortunately, the words of Proverbs 27:7 were never truer: “A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.” We can be so hungry that what is disguised as passion is actually unhealthy control. How do we know the difference? Here are just a few of the markers of unhealthy passion and control:
Grandiosity – Are there gifts and certain actions that are over the top? Does it seem too good to be true? If someone is giving you a credit card or offering a lavish trip after only dating for one month, these are sure fire signs that control may be part of their M.O. Even if they can afford it, there is no rationalization for such outlandish behavior this early in a normal relationship.
The Offer of Financial Security – If someone is continually offering to buy things for you or suggesting you “need” them to take care of even the basics in your life, they may be grooming you for dependence. When someone starts saying you don’t need to work as much or that they will work and pay for everything are just starters. If it’s your goal to stay home at some point, that’s fine. However, if this discussion starts to unfold early before the talk of marriage or kids, it can signify they are setting you up to feel you have to rely on them for money.
Over Doting and Too Much Together Time – If your honey wants to be with you day and night offering little along time for either of you, they may have attachment issues that lead to excessive control. Is there a need to be close at all times? Are they looking for intimacy several times per day? Do you sometimes feel smothered? When you are alone, are you peppered with questions before and/or after you’re apart? There may even be a subtle or overt isolation from others who’ve been they perceive as a threat. If any of these are occurring, their insecurity with themselves and your relationship are spiraling into control.
Initially, there may be a fine line between passion and control. Yet over time, you will discern the differences if you honor your heart and intuition as well as stay aware of patterns of behavior. What may surface as genuine care, love and compassion in the beginning, are really the signs for a need for control. In your hunger for passion, you may have just attracted a controlling partner. The earlier you can recognize these signs and step away from this trap, the sooner you can attract true passion without the price being too high.