The Invisible Line: When Support Turns Into Control in Relationships

Control in relationships is like a chameleon – it changes its colors to blend in with cultural expectations and societal norms.
The Love Central - When Support Turns Into Control in Relationships The Love Central - When Support Turns Into Control in Relationships
When Support Turns Into Control in Relationships
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Have you ever found yourself second-guessing every decision, wondering if it’ll meet your partner’s approval? That’s the invisible line we’re talking about – where loving support sneakily transforms into suffocating control in relationships. Let’s unpack this complex issue

Control in relationships isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s taken on unique flavors in the African diaspora. Our rich traditions of communal living and family interdependence sometimes blur the boundaries between individual autonomy and collective decision-making.

Take the 2018 film “Crazy Rich Asians.” While not about Africans, it brilliantly showcased how cultural expectations can become tools of control in relationships. Many diaspora Africans resonated with the protagonist’s struggle to maintain her identity while navigating a partner’s traditional family.

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Control in relationships isnt a new phenomenon Image source Freepik

Main Components of Control in Relationships

1. Financial Control

This goes beyond joint accounts. It’s about power dynamics. Take the case of Nigerian-American author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In her novel “Americanah,” the protagonist Ifemelu faces subtle financial control from her wealthy boyfriend, highlighting how economic disparities can lead to control in relationships.

2. Social Control

This isn’t just about who you hang out with. It’s about identity. Remember the backlash Meghan Markle faced for distancing herself from the royal family? That’s social control on a global stage. In everyday life, it might look like your partner disapproving of your connection to your home culture or criticizing your accent.

3. Emotional Manipulation

This is the silent killer of relationships. It’s not always dramatic like in Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” Sometimes it’s as subtle as your partner saying, “If you loved Ghana as much as you claim, you’d visit more often.” It’s weaponizing your identity against you.

4. Decision Making

Who decides if you’ll move back to Africa or stay abroad? If you have children? These big life choices often become battlegrounds for control in relationships. Think of how Eddie Murphy’s character in “Coming to America” had to fight tradition to make his own choice in marriage.

5. Personal Growth Control

This is when your dreams of starting a business or pursuing further education get squashed because they don’t align with your partner’s vision. It’s like how many first-generation immigrants pressure their children to pursue “stable” careers instead of following their passions.

Red Flags of Control in Relationships

  • Criticism of your “ajebutter” (pampered) ways if you’re from an urban African background, or mocking your “bush” mannerisms if you’re from a rural area
  • Isolation from both your local African diaspora community and your connections back home
  • Restrictions on financial support to your extended family or investment in African businesses
  • Monitoring your WhatsApp communications with family and friends overseas
  • Making unilateral decisions about visits to your home country or attendance at cultural events
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A loving partner should encourage your growth Image source Freepik

Pay attention to how you feel after interactions. Do you feel empowered or diminished? Keep a journal to track patterns and communicate your concerns using “I” statements.

Define what you’re comfortable with and enforce these limits. Seek support from trusted individuals who understand your cultural background.

Additionally, pursue personal interests and cultural connections. A loving partner should encourage your growth and respect your autonomy. If control persists despite addressing it, be ready to reassess the relationship.

Conclusion: When Support Turns Into Control in Relationships

Control in relationships is like a chameleon – it changes its colors to blend in with cultural expectations and societal norms.

It might look like “protecting” you from the challenges of a new country or “guiding” you through unfamiliar systems. But true support empowers you to navigate these challenges yourself.

Remember, healthy relationships in the diaspora are about building bridges, not walls. They should connect you to your roots while allowing you to grow new branches. Don’t let control disguised as cultural preservation or “for your own good” limit your potential.

Control in relationships is a complex issue, especially for Africans in the diaspora. But by recognizing the signs and standing firm in your worth, you can ensure your relationship remains a source of strength, not limitation. After all, our ancestors didn’t cross oceans for us to live in emotional bondage.

READ: The Name Game: How Introducing Yourself Can Set the Stage for Romance

Ever wonder why some people seem to have a magical touch when it comes to making connections? It all starts with that crucial moment of introducing yourself.

Let’s dive into the art of the introduction and how it can spark that initial flame of attraction.

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