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Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Get the perfect balance between Love, Freedom, and Control
Love, Freedom, and Control


In our pursuit of meaningful relationships, we often find ourselves navigating the delicate balance between the need for control and comfort or security and the need for more experience, for freedom and variety. Some people tend to be over controlling, dominating even, seeking a sense of certainty and significance, while others lean towards needing some variety in life, freedom from the mundane, needing to feel alive.

How can these two worlds not only co-exist but enjoy a deep connection, a passionate love, and long lasting, happy relationship? As a life coach skilled in the intricacies of human needs psychology, I want to shed light on these behaviors and offer practical strategies to cultivate deeper connections and love in our relationships.

In examining the dance between control and freedom in relationships, we first need to see what is going on underneath them. We all have unconscious psychological needs and there are six identified as absolutely fundamental to human function.

"..We all have unconscious psychological needs.."

These are our needs for Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love, Growth, and Contribution. Understanding these hidden and unconscious needs that drive our every behavior opens the door to understanding why some are over controlling, and why others yearn for freedom, space, and excitement. CERTAINTY is our need to know that we will be ok. That tomorrow food will be on the table. That we have a roof over our heads. That we have a job to go to. It is our security. VARIETY is our need for change. For something different. For a holiday. Variety is the need to feel uncertain at times. Taking a chance. Curious to try something new. SIGNIFICANCE is our need to know that we are special. That we are unique. That we are valued for who we are. To know that what we do will be valued. LOVE is our deep desire for connection. To share with others. To understand and be understood. To be together. To have empathy and let others be empathetic towards us. GROWTH is our need to see progress. Personal growth. Maturity. Learning. Becoming more. Achieving personal goals. Growing as an individual. CONTRIBUTION is our need to give beyond ourselves. To selflessly act on behalf of another when no return is possible. By giving back we find fulfillment in life. Each of these six needs are vitally important and we will do anything to meet them. Everyone of us will meet our needs in one way or another. Good, or bad.

"..Everyone of us will meet our needs in one way or another. Good, or bad.."


Q. What good or bad behaviors do I have that gives me certainty in my life? Certainty, security, comfort... Do you eat for comfort? Do you get angry to control? Do you work harder than anyone else to make sure you still have a job tomorrow? All of these behaviors are your way of getting certainty. Do you have any more?

Q. What good or bad behaviors do I have that gives me variety in my life? Variety, change, uncertainty, something new. Do you go drinking every weekend to experience a break from the mundane week? Do you medicate in ways that create change or uncertainty in your life? Do you take regular holidays? Do you purchase something new? All of these behaviors are your ways of getting variety. Do you have any more? Can you see how your human needs are driving every behavior you have in life? Let's look at some others.

Q. What good or bad behaviors do I have that gives me connection or love in my life? Do you have a number of different pets in your home? Do you have children? Do you have a partner? Do you socialize regularly with the same group of friends? Do you connect with people at your church? Do you connect with God? All of these behaviors are your ways of getting love or connection in your life. Do you have any more? Every one of us will find a way to meet these needs in our lives. We will even go against our own beliefs of right and wrong or against our own values and ethics to meet our needs.

The last two, growth and contribution, only some of us achieve. But these are needed for a life that is happy, purposeful, and fulfilled. Are these missing from your life at all? How would things feel different if you had more growth or contribution?


People who exhibit controlling tendencies, or who may even appear narcissistic are unconsciously prioritizing their needs for certainty and significance above all other needs. For example, by exerting control over their partners, over family members, or even pets, we can ensure desired outcomes and maintain a sense of power (certainty) and a belief that our way of being is the right one or the only way (significance). Do you know anyone meeting their needs like this?

There are relationships and cultures where this works well, but this approach can, if out of hand, hinder the development of authentic deep connections and love. So how can we influence someone who finds themselves with the need to tightly control themselves, events, or others?

Strategies for influencing the need to Control

We can't just push against their need to control. This can make people push back even harder. And they are well practiced at this, so you are unlikely to win. Even if you do 'win' it will not go well as it will mean they have to lose. Their high need for significance will suffer and they may react to protect it. Also we can't just tell someone they are too controlling. They might not see it, or might be afraid to examine why, or are afraid to live any other way. So again would push back even harder. Or they will dismiss what you say because its not coming from themselves. "It's just from you". But there are strategies for change, even with the most controlling.

Strategy 1. If they want to be controlling, help them, to the point of it becoming an issue if they don't control even the tiniest of things. I.e. Continue to be loving, to be caring, but ask them - "do they think it would be ok if you were to" "wash your hair now", "make the bed now", "make the meal now", "paint your nails now", "cut the lawn now". If they are at the office call them up and genuinely ask them... "is it ok if I"...

The idea is if you go to the extreme in a kind way, they will soon start letting you make more of the decisions yourself and they will need less to control themselves. I call this a paradoxical approach.

But in order to keep the habit like this, you must find another way for them to meet their human needs for certainty and significance. So how often do you tell them you love them? This could be one way but I'm sure you can think of many others too.

Strategy 2. Teach the human needs so that they can see how they can be even better and get more certainty and significance, maybe by learning how to love better than anyone else. You won't actually be able to teach them this. So, instead, ask them to teach it to you. Tell them you want to learn it but that you don't understand and can they help you. Once 'they have taught you' then you can ask what ways each of you can change, from prioritizing so much certainty and significance, to love, and variety or even growth and contribution. Achieve this and watch the control start dropping away.

Strategy 3. People who try and control too much are often inside their own heads so much that they miss signals from others or disregard them. They appear to have a very low level of empathy. Practice with them emotional intelligence.

You can do this by going out together and people watching. Talk about who you think the people you see are, what they do, what they feel about that, how they show love, what they feel good and bad about. Develop an awareness to recognize controlling tendencies and underlying motivations in others. Before long you can ask if any of that relates to you or the controlling person. Start teaching them by observing others together and make it fun. Show in others that control does not equal love or security. Instead, focusing on building trust through effective communication and empathy is the way forward.

There are so many more ways to help people who control too much. These are just a few. Always keep it fun. Keep it light. Keep it happy. Use these strategies from a place of love. Love all of them. The good and the bad. Because good or bad, they are all behaviors driven by psychological needs which we all have. Help them with love to turn their methods of meeting their needs to more cohesive and happier methods that bring fun and enjoyment to life.

Who's up for this?


PS. If you found this at all helpful please do like and share. You might help someone else too who really needs to hear this.


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