student love lesson: how taking control of your relationship may be destroying it

This is one of my Student's Love Lessons

Written by: Emily Baron; Edited by: Me

Ladies, you might think that consistently making decisions about where you want to eat, whether you want to hang out, or what you want to watch on television may make your man’s life easier, but in reality, you could be tearing your relationship apart. A study done at the University of Minnesota entitled “Balance of Power and Influence in Relationships: The Role of Self-Monitoring” revealed that partners in a relationship where the power and control is unequal typically experience an unsatisfying and impersonal relationship (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010). So, you may want to think twice the next time you begin to plan out your week for you and your beau.

This study in Minnesota used a variety of methods to determine “Who influences whom and with what effect?” (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010, p. 24). Specifically, they were examining high and low self-monitors.

  • Low self-monitors typically have less feelings of commitment and happiness with their significant others if they are not equal in power. In addition, you can tell if your man is a low self-monitor if he is frequently expressing what he believes even if it may offend those around him. Low self-monitors rarely have a filter and try to be themselves in any given situation, no matter the cost.
  • High self-monitors, on the other hand, are concerned with what others think of them and how they can alter their behaviors in order to fit in better within a group (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010).
If your partner is normally uncensored (a low self-monitor), you could be damaging his perception of you and the relationship when you make most of the decisions. It’s not much of a surprise that he may want to take off running when you lay out his clothes the night before so he doesn’t have to. The two of you working together to make decisions makes a stronger bond and a closer relationship. If you’re dealing with a high self-monitored guy, you’re in luck. From the research, they seem to be less concerned with the equality of the control in your relationship and tend to be more concerned about how others view it. If you enjoy making all decisions or none at all, this is the man for you.

The researchers surveyed 227 University of Minnesota students. Out of the 227, 192 were dating one person, 21 were dating more than one person, 10 were engaged, and 4 were married. Some questions asked included, “Overall, who is committed to the relationship – you or your partner?” “Who makes decisions about what you do as a couple?”, and “How upset do you think you would be immediately after the breakup?” (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010, p. 30-32). The answers to these questions helped researchers determine that individuals who are not concerned with their self-images are much less likely to be committed to a relationship if they feel like the partnership isn’t equal.

When low self-monitored participants were surveyed, a vast majority of the results showed that the more equivalent the roles of the partners, the more content and satisfied they felt about the relationship. If your boyfriend, fiancée, or husband is classified as this personality type, it is definitely in your best interest to discuss feelings, share experiences, suggest options, and show that you trust him in your everyday actions. When your guy feels like his commitment is asymmetrical, he is much less likely to stick around and stay with you. This type of man wants a more symmetrical relationship and you can accomplish this with ease as long as you are willing to compromise and listen to his thoughts and beliefs. The good news (I think) is that this type of person is more likely to experience great distress and sorrow if the relationship was to suddenly end, meaning that he would much rather work through the problems between the two of you than end it and move on (Fuglestad & Snyder, 2010).

No matter what kind of guy you're with though, you should always try to follow these steps. The first step includes allowing your man to realize that you are in the relationship for the long haul and that you intend to stick with him through thick and thin. Expressing your commitment is always a good thing! The second step entails stressing the importance of him in the relationship and how he affects it. Third, you could frequently ask your partner how he feels about an issue or circumstance and encourage him to share his true feelings. If your man is a “people-pleaser” it can put a huge strain on your relationship and create a permanent rift between the two of you. Before this problem becomes too large, you can help to minimize it through communication and visible equality.

It's important to note that very few guys on this planet are exclusively low or high self-monitored. In our society, almost all individuals are concerned with what people are doing around them and how people interpret what they are doing. A desire to belong and be accepted is normal for every person, including your own tough guy. And, most people have an inclination to speak their minds and not always think about how their words may impact others as well. In the end, you want to try and be an equal teammate and play the role of his confidant. Be his female equivalent and the two of you should have a long, happy future ahead of you.


  • Fuglestad, P. T., & Snyder, M. (2010). Balance of power and influence in relationships: The role of self-monitoring. Journal of Social And Personal Relationships, 27, 25-46.

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