Finding your own voice is an acquired art, it takes practice and tenacity to avoid codependent patterning. Most of us feel controlled by someone or some thing at any one time, but how you respond to these situations, especially in an emotional partnership, determines which side of the functional / dysfunctional fence you sit on. Is your voice just an echo of a parent, partner or co-worker? Maybe it’s been lost down the mineshaft of memory, as you’ve learn’t not to rock the boat? Do you speak up and get shouted down, or still remain silent just to keep the peace? Perhaps, as a controller, you drown out others’ needs by demanding your own get dealt with first? In short, who has their hand up you, organising your life? It could be a companion called fear.
Those who complain they are controlled by a person, place, or thing, often fear finding a voice and action to administer change, while those who indeed control others and try to control aspects of life, fear losing ‘being in command’ and appearing weak. Both suffer from the same malady; fear of change and being out of control. When in fact the feared experience of being out of control, when acted out, actually transforms the sluggish status quo. Both of these types, the controller and the controlled, (often called a victim), fit together like a dovetail joint, that can only be pulled apart sideways. Trying to pull the joint out any other way and it remains locked. Many relationships stay like this for years, one controlling the voice of the other. The majority refer to it as love. It’s isn’t. As the writer Chuck Spezzano put it; ‘If it hurts, it isn’t love.’ It’s all about control.
As a relationship becomes lazy, these seeds of domestic abuse in gay relationships; verbalised put downs, financial inequality and scarce sexual intimacy, breed a dialogue as unfunny as the current new ‘gay sitcom’ VICIOUS on UK TV. Two high grade knighted actors, who happen to be gay themselves, Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Derek Jacobi, play low grade stereotypical queers in a 40+ year codependant relationship. Love and respect appears in short supply, while oneupmanship is a competitive olympic sport between them. Reviews have been mixed to say the least, with the gay community most vitriolic toward its outdated execution and positioning of current male gay relationships. Yes, people have noted, we know old queens that bicker like that, with framed theatrical posters everywhere and lights dimmed, but what they don’t mention is that many of these relationships, just like longtime heterosexual ones, are often held together with the glue of entrapment, emotional survival and fear of change, with low esteem the price paid for security on all fronts.
With the benefit of viewing these kind of relationships, plus maybe our parents too, we witness what we no longer wish to follow, so some good can come out of these observations. Controlling relationships serve no one in the end, even to those who observe them, as after a while it becomes tedious to watch. Younger 21st century gay men, with the advent of therapy and personal development, not available to older gay men growing up except to ‘change their sexuality,’ can create healthier options in relationships, like finding a voice and sticking with it. If a partner appears controlling and abusive while dating, leave him, don’t wait around for ‘love’ to solve it. It doesn’t. What takes its place is an illusion of love called ‘codependent fear-based bonding,’ those ‘can’t leave, can’t stay relationships’ where voices get raised and no one listens.
Like Lady Di said in that famous interview; “There are three of us in this marriage.” Fear can be a third party in any social or emotional interaction, including gay marriage, so avoid inviting this emotion into your liaisons by being clear from the very start. State your needs, avoid ‘people pleasing’ to keep the man, avoid remaining silent because ‘that’s what I always do.’ Learn to vent your feelings appropriately and if they get trodden on, move on yourself. Healthier dating and relationships are out there, it’s just a question of tenacity of search and loving yourself enough to say NO more often to the type you usually attract, that no longer works for you. Just like ventriloquism, it’s just a question of continued practice of putting your hand up more often. Easy.