Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Confused by controlling behaviour in the name of 'caring'(11 Posts)
Just that really - I have a relative who talks a lot about how much she cares, puts others always before herself, is selfless etc. She has this drive to fix others problems and if someone is having a hard time they get her undivided attention and they almost become a 'project'. But the emphasis is always on telling the person what to do, how they should think, what to say, why how they are thinking is wrong etc etc. A lot of talking not much listening iyswim. Can be rather superior sounding sometimes. Little digs and put downs get sprinkled in among the pep talks (I think). The emphasis is on 'honesty' but I wonder if it's actually just being judgemental . It's suffocating and frustrating because you feel small and misunderstood to be honest . But because it's done with the best intention and because she cares so much it's hard to describe it/her as typically controlling. She is a rock in mamy ways. It's difficult to know how to handle it - in my heart something feels wrong but I don't know if I am being paranoid because I had an abusive relationship and upbringing.
Just wanted to air this really and see what people thought. I worry i am being totally unfair and heartless but if that's the case if would be good to know if that's true too.
I have a friend a bit like this although perhaps without the digs, really is very intense when you have a problem. I made a coment to dh about her being selfless and he disagreed pointing out she is obviously fulfilling a need within herself. I actually had an issue recently that involved her area of expertise but I didn't confide in her the details because I didn't want advise and she would not have been able to resist. Some times you just want someone to listen and then at the end agree that it's all a bit shit. If someone gives unsolicited advice you can doubt yourself and feel inadequate if you don't follow it.
My mum does this. She has lost several friendships over it because she tries to take over someone's life. Her former best friend had a bad injury and was really worrying about how she would cope living alone with a lot of animals to care for. My mum offered to move in and look after her. Suffice to say the friend asked her to leave after the 3rd day and they haven't spoken since.
The "project" thing rings very true.
She constantly tried the same shit with me. We are now NC and my life is much easier and calmer without her in it.
Are you quite sure that she's quite as selfless as she seems?
the people in life who are really caring tend to be there when they notice you're in trouble and they tend to not trumpet it and give advice only very rarely. They're rather careful not to 'take over'
If you're having a hard time it can be really, really helpful to have a genuinely supportive someone there. Vital even. But I'm not sure someone -is- that helpful who tells you what to do, where you're going wrong and why you shouldnt be thinking what you're thinking.
Tends to be more about them than you.
If you feel that your own mind and thoughts are bieng suppressed by her, she's not quite what she seems. Even though she might be actually quite helpful in other ways.
My (ex) friend used to do this. Controlling sold to me as caring about me and advising me. The final straw was her 'advising' me ie shouting that I shouldn't pursue treatment for my depressed teen because it would be 'too much for them'. I'll just leave them untreated then, huh? It turned out she didn't get given help when she was a teenager and she didn't want anyone else to get any either. She was also stopping my teen 'feeling rejected' by professionals as she had been (!). It was all projection and jealousy.
She also used to advise me not to apply for jobs (I'm a SAHM) because 'the hours will be too much for you'. I used to think she didn't want me to have a job because she liked feeling superior as she had one, but now I've worked out she actually didn't want me to make any more friends She didn't like me learning to drive. She wanted me to stay isolated basically.
She didn't want me to be happy and unfortunately, that also extended to my DC. I realised exactly what she was doing and have dropped her entirely and never want to speak to her or set eyes on her again. She's had a very hard life which is no doubt the root cause of all this, but she'd knock me down to where she is if she had her way and I can't allow that. She's done so much damage while I was blithely thinking what a good friend she was. I won't be so trusting again that someone has got my best interests at heart. You live and learn.
So OP, what I would do with your relative is to look at what they get out of this, if the object of their concern does what they are told, or 'advised'. My frenemy was gaining her objectives left, right and centre and making me feel really shitty about myself without being able to put my finger on why. So clever and so subtle. I'm still going ohhhh... eight months later.
Trust your gut - these people have no boundaries ... they are triggered and excited by misery, the drama, the fixing, the advising.... they have a starring role - but if you choose not to take their specific advice/direction, or not continue to confide in them - then they get angry and turn on you... !
Very much about fullfiling their own needs
I've thought of something else. The reason it took me so long to cotton on to what she was doing, was that she was so caring and nice when I was having a hard time. Come and get me, take me out for a cup of tea and piece of cake, listen, empathise, sympathise, you name it. But that was because she liked me being down , she liked me being unhappy, she thought I would need her and not go away.
When I was happy and sorted or at least settled in what I was doing, then she would start with the teasing, mind games, put downs, digs, blanking me (what the hell was I doing , I know) until I was down again, at which point she would start with the nicey-nicey act again.
She did the above slightly more obviously the last time I saw her and the scales fell from my eyes, shall we say. I think she held me in utter contempt but was desperate to hold on to me nonetheless.
Thanks for your replies all, so rubbish that we have to put up with this crap isn't it.
seems there is a big difference between people like that and people who genuinely care I think because the controlling sort mainly listen to their own voice whereas the genuine actually listen and encourage those they care about to gain the strength within themselves.
these people have no boundaries ... they are triggered and excited by misery, the drama, the fixing, the advising.... they have a starring role
OMG so true! Sometimes said relative will call me and initiate a deep and meaningful discussion about my 'issues', getting up on her soapbox and firing questions at me to get me to spill the beans on the latest update (entertainment perhaps?) . She keeps saying 'oh you are so unhappy' 'you are so easily crushed' 'you were doing so well... up until now' 'you are great at this... but crap at that' things like that.
The other day she laughed about how good at manipulating people she was, in a jokey way. Says a lot really.
I just feel SO annoyed about the things that I have done in the past/decisions that I have made that were pushed by her and I wish I had not done. She literally took full control of so many things, mainly decisions about my dc when he was very young, and I have to admit I am bloody angry about it now, deep down.
She sniffed out my vulnerability and played on it to gain a standing ovation from the other people in her life who she has also convinced could not operate, breath even, without her.
There, I said it. God that sounds horrible but that is how I feel.
I certainly won't be doing that again, I am learning to trust my own instincts now. Hence my abusive ex oh is now a thing of the past.
Try to shake it off but it's hard.
she sounds awful on the quiet. And dangerously arrogant.
Google "Karpman drama triangle" if you want a psychologist's interpretation (I found it very eye-opening). She sounds like a classic Rescuer.
Oh yea I've experienced a similar thing. The whole 'caring' and 'wanting what's best for you' but is really controlling and usually addressing that persons issues with needing to rescue or be a saviour and feed their martyr complex and need to make others change in line with their beliefs - which is where the arrogant attitude you are sensing is probably coming in, and quite rightly bothering you!
Also experienced like other posters have 'help' which actually focused on making life worse not better. Being encouraged to quit jobs, to end friendships and essentially live a chaotic 'party' sort of lifestyle under the guise of 'freeing your mind' etc. Remember being told quite strongly one time that actually working for a living was for people who were not brave enough to reject the ratrace or some such crap. Was quite attractive for a while actually..spend some time living in fantasyland and believing the world would give you everything you wanted simply for existing and being amazing for rejecting 'normailty'. Except, apparently the world doesn't fancy that way of providing so much it turns out.
In that case it was also projection and the person wanting to drag others into their sort of chaos to legitimise their poor choices...but it was all done under the guise of wanting to help people 'discover themselves' and be 'free'...all wide-eyed and 'my intentions are so pure'. Was a load of bollocks, but done cleverly enough and with enough conviction it seemed legit. For about five minutes.
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.