The Control Rule

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By Dan Griffin. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

What do people mean when they say that “it’s a man’s world?”

They mean, in most cases, that men possess most of the power and control in our society. But, what does that mean? Most men balk at the idea that they are “in control.” That’s because, like most things related to gender expectations, the definition of “control” can be a little murky. Men get the message in a million subtle ways from birth that a “real man” steps up and takes control in any critical situation. He’s expected to be the leader in the boardroom, the living room, and the bedroom. He’s expected to be in control of his emotions at all times, to be the one to discipline himself and his children. He has all the answers. He solves all the important problems. He earns the income, and controls how it is spent. He decides and directs. He takes action. He moves others to action. And he… must be so freaking exhausted. THESE are The Man Rules and the expectations they place upon men.

Of course there is nothing wrong with men taking on leadership roles if they feel qualified and called to it. It all comes down to whether they have a tendency toward “toxic control” or “nurturing control.” The rule that says men must lead, must control all outcomes, and must control those around them in order to achieve desired outcomes, is a form of toxic control and leads to a lot of misery for men, and the people around them. In contrast, “nurturing control,” which we agree sounds like a total oxymoron, is a tendency to take control of a situation when and if it is needed and warranted, and when those affected feel comfortable with ceding control to you.

In this episode, Dr. Allen Berger returns for another installment of the What Men Would Tell You… series. He and Dan offer some insight for women into where a man’s tendency toward toxic control often comes from, and how they may be able to support him in adjusting that behavior. AND, as an added bonus, women listening may be able to begin to recognize some of their own tendencies toward toxic control, with the end goal of forming a more equitable, mutually supportive, and satisfying relationship.

Practical & Tactical Tips
  1. Reflect on one relationship that is important to you. How does toxic control show up in that relationship? How does nurturing power show up in the relationship? Note: Don’t ask yourself if you exhibit toxic control, ask how. If you ask how, we can assure you will find some presence of those behaviors in the relationship.
  2. Experiment. If you find that you often feel the need to be right, try giving that up. Look at disagreements from the other person’s point of view and not yours. For example, if they say, “You never understand me,” instead of immediately pointing out all of the ways that they’re wrong, consider the possibility that you don’t really understand them. Investigate it instead of dismissing it as untrue or feeling like you need to correct them.

137 episodes