Control mechanisms hidden in relationships

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Joe Dispenza
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Control mechanisms hidden in relationships

In couple relationships, or between parents and children, control mechanisms are established. These are hidden strategies, often difficult to detect.

Last update: Augusts 27, 2022

I control mechanisms they are strategies used to manipulate the behavior of others. Their goal is to exercise power and domination. A real attack on individual autonomy.

Sometimes the control mechanisms are obvious and manifest. For example when one person imposes himself on the other directly. But when they remain hidden, the victim often does not notice them.



In the latter case, the victim is wrapped in a spider web. He is not aware of what is going on. This is why it is very important to learn to recognize and avoid them. We can distinguish five different control mechanisms that often intervene in relationships.

Control mechanisms in relationships

1. Exercising control through guilt

It is one of the most common and harmful control mechanisms. Generate lines of thought or ideas that lead the victim to feel guilty for no real reason. It occurs in all relationships, but especially in couples and between parents and children.

A typical example is given by the person who says: "look at everything I have done for you". This individual is likely to record all actions performed for the benefit of the other. And then, for each one, he asks for payment. It turns into a victim to make the other feel guilty. Many times he succeeds and gains control of the relationship.

2. Emotional codependency

It is often confused with deep affection, but in reality it is a hidden and harmful mechanism. The key word of emotional codependency is "necessity". It consists of a series of behaviors that make the other feel indispensable, almost vital. Not surprisingly, one of the typical phrases in these cases is: "I can't live without you".



At the same time, this mechanism includes the opposite message: "you need me". Thus, different attitudes are put in place to prevent the partner from doing what he is able to do. The manipulator offers his help and continuous support, even when it is not required. It becomes indispensable in any situation.

3. Offer and deny affection

In this case we can speak of emotional manipulation. Love is given when the other behaves as the manipulator wishes. Conversely, when he is not satisfied or the partner's decisions collide with her needs, affection is denied.

Considered a real emotional blackmail, it is not always easy to identify. Those who practice it demand obedience, stating that it is for the good of the other. Or he is convinced that giving and denying love creates positive limits for the relationship.

4. Achieving a common goal

Frequent in couple relationships and between parents and children. In this case, one of the parties "sells" their goal in life to the other. Thus, an individual goal becomes a shared goal. Even when the other is not fully convinced.

It turns into a real sword of Damocles. The promoter of the choice openly expresses his disappointment towards the other when he does not act to reach the common goal. This can be economic, having children, making a dream come true ...

5. Emotional incest

It is one of the most frequent control mechanisms in the family. It occurs mostly between the mother or father and the child. The parent, or control figure, makes the child feel that he or she is everything to him. Together they form a "united front against the outside world".


As a result, the roles are reversed: the children almost become parents. They are the ones who help, guide and support the father or mother. Sometimes they have to make decisions or take on responsibilities that don't belong to them. They learn to give a lot, but they don't expect anything in return. Furthermore, they struggle to develop a sense of individuality.


All these hidden control mechanisms are present in human relationships. They arise from insecurity or frustration and create a vicious circle. It is important to fight them as they are harmful to both components of the relationship and prevent individual development.

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