I have a friend that I care dearly for. I have known her for almost five years now and we are very close. I just realized when we started hanging out very often that she can be very controlling. I know or at least I think that it is because she cares and is very insecure. I would like to know how to talk to her without having her upset with me but in a way that will make a difference.
ANSWER: I don’t think you will get anywhere by “having a talk” with her. You can’t control her behavior, you can only change your own. So – your choices are:
- Don’t let her control you!!! You haven’t specified exactly how she is controlling, but think about it. How is she doing it and how can you refuse to allow it – nicely and with a smile on your face? Does she always insist on picking a restarurant or movie? Suggest that you each choose the movie every other time you get together. Does she still insist? Tell her with a smile that you really don’t want to go to that movie/restaurant, that you are tired and are going home.
- Does she try to tell you how to live, how to dress, how to pick your friends? Smile nicely and tell her you appreciate it, but you are the kind of person who needs to learn by making your own mistakes. Then change the subject.
- Does she control situations because she is afraid to let go and just experience life? If she needs to know everything in advance, if being around her is like walking on eggshells, if she has anxiety attacks when things don’t go her way, there is really not much you can do. Unless and until she recognizes a problem and asks you for help, you are powerless. If she does, you can suggest some therapy to help her relieve her anxiety. Otherwise, I would steer clear.
- After you have tried these tactics and there is no improvement, get a new friend.
You may have to get creative in determining what kind of “control” issues bother you most and figuring out a counter tactic, but maintainig your independence by focusing on changing your own behavior, not the behavior of others, is important to all your future relationships.
Filed under: Disfunctional Relationships