I try to micro-manage everything in my girlfriends life. I realize this. She doesn't feel like she can go do things without me because I'll get mad. How do I get over controlling her?? I don't know how to let go and let her be an individual, too.
Miss Micro Manager
I commend you on recognizing and accepting that you have some controlling tendencies. As with any issue that we may have, admitting our issue is an enormous first step.
The need for control, and the need to control, may be an indication that you:
- feel unsafe
- have trouble trusting
- and/or you have trouble staying in the now - your mind is on fast-forward, anticipating and worrying about the next thing before it has even happened, or before enough data is even in to suggest it WILL happen
Controlling behavior gets a mighty bad rap, and when you are on the receiving end of controlling behavior it's obvious why this is. However, controlling behavior at it's core is simply an effort to create order and predictability in your external world so that you can feel at peace and comfortable in your inner world. The trick, then, is to figure out the origins of your lack of trust, the insecurity you feel about your safety (emotional or otherwise) in this world, or the difficulty you have staying present to each moment.
Some of the more "controlling" people I have known or worked with, are actually very anxious people who appear to be "in charge" and "very aggressive," when in fact, they are quite scared, and feel very out of control most of the time. There is a tremendous amount of worry and anxiety that tends to precede controlling behavior. When you go through life feeling unsettled on the inside - it is common to then feel the need to create order on the outside - which in turn is viewed by most people as "controlling."
Miss MM, I suggest you spend a little time getting in touch with what you are REALLY feeling. Some of the things you may be experiencing might include: insecurity that your partner will leave you, or fears that you are not good enough for her, or anxiety that you will be betrayed or somehow harmed by her actions if you don't stay in charge of everything - and then start dealing with those feelings.
Your goal to reduce your actual controlling behavior is very good - though trying to address just the controlling behaviors and not the cause, is like trying to teach an upset baby to lower her voice when she wails, rather than figuring out what's causing the baby to scream in the first place. Don't tempt yourself with this short cut - address the cause AND the behaviors.
To bring this full-circle, it's important for your girlfriend to understand what you feel, and what motivates you to behave the way you do. She's likely to be far more understanding and compassionate about your behavior IF she understands that it's about your anxiety or concerns, and not so much about her behavior and character.