“I see what your problem is,” he said, as if he’d known me for years, “you have control issues.” Wow, you got all that from my golf swing?” I asked. “Yes, your golf swing tells on you,” he replied laughing. Might as well get that out of the way right now, I thought to myself. What’s the point of pretending? The good news is I’m aware, and I’m not even trying to hide the fact that I’m a control freak. I try to think of a way to put a positive spin on my date’s straight-on analysis, as I self-consciously grip my club and get ready to swing again.
We’re at the driving range on our first date and Will, thinks he’s already figured me out. Ha! Joke’s on him. I’m as complex as a Rubik’s cube is to a dumb dog. That’s assuming there are no smart dogs with opposable thumbs. I digress…
One hour and fifty extremely controlled bad golf swings later, Will’s still here. If you ever want to find out how patient someone is, I recommend you take them to a driving range. Damn… we’re on date one and he’s already figured out that charming quality of mine that most guys sprint from. I worry this could be over before it starts, but decide to see where it goes and agree to grab a bite with him after the driving range. I gather, from the fact that he keeps getting closer at the dinner table, that I haven’t scared him away yet. Things are going so well that we split dessert and shut down the restaurant. Take that “control freak” haters!
I wish people talked about the perks of dating a control freak. If you’re dating one, you know it’s not as bad as it seems, and there are definitely perks. Like always having perfectly made french-pressed organic coffee in the morning, or never having to worry about where you left your keys, because control freaks are, (ahem), ok try to be, stellar organizers. And you know that whatever you ask a control freak to do for you is done right, because they’ve got you, it’s under control…
So where am I going with this?
Well, in the minimal research I did while writing this post, I found out that control freak and controlling = the same damn thing. However, for some reason I can handle being called a control freak, but if you say I’m “controlling”, we’re fighting! When I think of a controlling person I imagine a character like Christian Grey, who wants to control how you eat, dress, speak, or who you hang out with. Ok, so that’s the extreme side of controlling, and more like abuse. But if the label “control freak” and the adjective “controlling” are the same thing, then why does the word controlling carry such a negative connotation? “Control freak” feels playful, like a little puppy that won’t bite anyone. I think perfectionist is another very similar term to describe a controlling person, but for some reason is never used on me.
“Well, you work in television, and producers, by definition control. If you don’t, you’re not a good producer,” my friend Colleen replied, when I asked her opinion on this matter. So there you have it, it’s not my fault I’m controlling, I can’t help that I was built to be a #boss!
So let’s talk about where my awesome controlling issues come from…
When I was a kid, I would do my household chores hoping my dad wouldn’t see me. Because if he walked by and I was not vacuuming “his way”, or in his mind: the right way, he would spend 10 minutes showing me how to do it right. Then he would sit and watch me do it, all along directing my every move. Yeah… that’s crazy right? When my sister-in-law married my brother, who is very much like my father, she coined the term “Marco School.” “Oh… you must have learned to vacuum in Marco School, since you know how to do it right,” she would say laughing. I never realized how ridiculous this was, until someone who wasn’t raised by my father came around and pointed it out. Unfortunately I spent too many years in “Marco School”, and now I have similar controlling tendencies. But the good news is I’m awesome at cleaning! Thanks dad :-).
So what’s it like to date a control freak?
If you are dating a control freak, my best advice is to learn to love this side of them, because it will never go away. You’ll have to accept them and embrace this useful and often times annoying part of their personality. You should be patient when they send you iCal invites so you don’t forget to do things, or decide it’s important to organize your sock drawer. That said, you should put your foot down if they get overly upset every time things don’t go their way, or if they try to control you and tell you how to vacuum “properly”.
Being a control freak is not so bad, unless you let your control issues run your life and your golf swing. I’ve learned to embrace the fact that, because I’m controlling, I can organize awesome parties and keep my underwear drawer color coordinated. Both have made my life more fun! 😉 Learning to love myself as I am, was the spark that pushed me to create this blog, and I truly believe that it’s not so bad as long as you don’t let the side effects overtake you and turn into a mean, abusive, condescending person.
All control issues aside, in my experience, if someone is constantly giving you grief about who you are, asking you to change or modify your personality, they are definitely not the right fit for you. Never, ever, stay with someone who doesn’t like you at your core. That includes the itchy scratchy parts of your personality, the part of you that would scare away the average folk. Only you know what that is… maybe you’re obsessed with working out, or you love being the life of the party, or you’re very particular about cleanliness, or you’re a loud crier, have a terrible laugh, hate to cuddle, insanely nosy, overly cautious, too passive, too friendly, too nice… My uncomfortable quality is that I’m controlling. There, I said it. And the only thing I can do about it is be honest about who I am, and learn to pick my battles. It took me a long time to understand that the only real things I can control after a bad swing, are my attitude and how I prepare for the next swing.