Asking someone to change *is* exercising control, more so than not
communicating a desire for zir to change. However, in some cases it is a
better sort of controlling behavior than manipulating indirectly.
If you say “either change behavior X or I’ll leave,” it’s sometimes
manipulation/threat. Sometimes it’s just true. In an ideal situation,
behavior X would be discussed before it got to this make-or-break place. But
that doesn’t always happen.
There are some other ways of saying this that might not seem so
threatening. “I have reaction Y to behavior X. If you don’t like
reaction Y, let’s talk about ways we can change things so that this
Just leaving without communicating what it is that made one leave is also a
form of control. And sometimes discussions about boundaries and conditions
lead to compromises and “thinking outside the box” solutions, not parting.
I think that emotional comfort levels should balance out in a relationship.
I think if one person is doing all the changing, it can breed resentment.
If both people are trying and changing and both are reasonably content,
then it’s got the potential to be a good relationship.
Saying “I will not stand certain behavior” is always a threat if it is
intended as one or if it makes the other person anxious. However, it can
*also* be a true statement of “action causes consequence.” I don’t think it’s
a good idea to make idle threats, but if you are serious, I think it’s
reasonable to state your position.
It can be hard to get the other person to realize you’re being serious.
One time I made a “make or break” statement in a relationship, and the other
person believed I was making an idle threat and bullied me into “taking it
back.” But it wasn’t an idle threat, it was a true statement, and so even
though I seemed to have taken it back, when the behavior occurred again, I
left. He was taken by surprise.
Accept that control is part of any relationship.
When I go to a potential secondary partner and say "I can offer this degree of involvement," it can be seen as control. There is some room for maneuvering but there are pretty firm outside boundaries. I'm not going to force the person to do anything, but if we do decide to be secondary partners, then there are certain parameters. If the parameters can't be met, then I consider the person something other than "secondary partner" and behave accordingly. It's kind of like quantum chemistry...there are certain orbits that a person can inhabit but it's a lot more difficult to inhabit the spots in between those orbits. I just don't think there is a "line" between control and negotiation...I think negotiation is one way of exercising control. I guess you're using "control" as short for "absolute control, demanding that a particular need be met in a particular way by a particular person" and I'm using it as shrt for "adequate control, finding ways to get my needs met and to avoid situations that make me unhappy."