So is there love without control? Can love and control coexist? Can you have one without the other? Is control really a component of love relationships?
Love is defined as ‘an intense feeling of deep affection.’ I personally like the use of ‘the intensity of feelings’ combined with ‘deep affection.’ But now, how do you know that you’ve got feelings of deep affection or that you have intense feelings for somebody? Does it just come over you like a mighty wind or do you get overwhelmed by a combination of feelings and deep affection or do you just know? What triggers those emotions?
You will forgive me for throwing so many questions in your face but I am genuinely interested in this topic. I would love to know how you consider these two elements and how you experience them in a relationship, especially in this day and age as we tend to confuse the issue of affection and feelings. What really comes first? Is it the intensity of feelings or deep affection? For example, if you meet someone for the first time, what do you initially experience? Is it feelings, attraction, love, or deep affection? So which one has the power over all others? I know, I know, so many questions! Please, bear with me.
On the question of what causes the feeling of being in love, I saw a segment on HuffPost by Carolyn Gregoire, explaining the science of love in her article, 8 Crazy Things Love Does To Your Brain, According to Science. She says that when you first fall in love, you experience a rush of hormones to the brain including oxytocin, the “love hormone,” the “pleasure hormone” dopamine, and sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. This influx of hormones plays a major role in those intense feelings of fluttery excitement, attraction, and euphoria. So given this explanation of feelings, one then wonders if what we are feeling now is a case of euphoria or of attraction? Can we build our relationships around just feelings or is there a need for a balance between feelings and excitement?
In my years of being in love, I have realized that if I build my relationship on feelings alone, I tend to struggle because feelings come and go. So if they come and go then it suffices to say that sometimes I will not feel like I am in love with my wife. And if feelings come and go, then it also means that there are other ingredients that I must have to balance my love relationship. When it comes to attraction, most of the time it is built around someone’s looks, maybe how the person smells, maybe their posture and height. It’s subjective. But I am convinced that when it comes to love and relationships, we need more than feelings and attraction to sustain the union. I do not think that our building blocks of love should just be mere feelings, looks, and attraction, there has to be more than that. Seriously, there has to be something else that makes us stay glued together as lovers because as human beings, we are fickle.
I want to speak briefly about the issue of control; what is control in relationships. Do we control what we love or who we love? How do we love without control? When we are in love, should we control ourselves or the ones that we love? Just the other day, I was considering the issue of love and control, asking myself two fundamental questions; in a case where I am concerned about the whereabouts of my partner and I enquire by sending a text or calling them to ask where they are or when they’d be coming back home if that was tantamount to control or an expression of concern. And what is the difference between control and concern? Because from where I am standing, if there was no prior notification of their whereabouts, I am bound to be concerned if they don’t show up at the time they usually show up at. I believe that if I am in a relationship with someone, I have a right, and I know it’s too strong a word, but I’m obligated to know where they are and if they are safe where they are. In that set up, we would both be accountable to each other, therefore deserving of notifications on whereabouts.
Perhaps let’s look at ‘control’ to bring in some perspective. I found this definition very interesting; “controlling behavior is when one person expects, compels, or requires others to cater to their own needs, even at others’ expense. The controlling person targets an individual and dominates them in an unhealthy, self-serving manner.”I found this definition to be particularly interesting because it focuses on key issues i.e. domination in an unhealthy and self-serving manner.
Ken Poirot says, “Control and manipulation are not love; the outcome is a life of imprisonment ultimately leading to deep-rooted feelings of resentment.”
So if there’s this type of control that is manipulative in your relationship then you should know that it is unhealthy and may lead to feelings of resentment as opposed to love. But if someone is concerned and loves you, then they come off as concerned if they inquire about your whereabouts and safety. What is critical is to be watchful of the way that it is done, you will know whether it’s control or concern.
I have, for a number of years, been in the same category of concern which was getting toxic because it was not clear whether it was still concern or control. I really thank God that I’m slowly coming out of that cocoon now and I am able to mind my own business whilst praying that my wife is safe wherever she is. I always pray too, that my silence is never misinterpreted or misunderstood as disinterest and/or lack of concern. The truth is, there is really a fine line between being okay and not giving a toss about somebody’s whereabouts. My mother used to tell me that if she didn’t know where I was, then she would never know where to run to if anything terrible was to happen to me. She also advised that it was okay to make a mention of having arrived safely at a location and to signal my departure and as well alert the relevant people if I’d be running late or be delayed for an engagement.
With that, and without dragging on for much longer, I thought to share my concern on how I reckon we often mistake showing concern by being controlling. I will conclude this with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Please share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear about your experiences and varying circumstances that prove tricky! Let’s talk.