Power and Relationships

By • Jan 13th, 2010 • Category: For Couples

One of the strongest undercurrents in any relationship, whether it is personal, familial, social, or systemic is the interplay of power and control within that relationship. Many people instinctively think about such words as compromise, sharing, and understanding when thinking about what comprises a good relationship, and they would be absolutely right, but somehow the concept of power sends off negative connotations. Power is often seen as the authoritarian tool wielded by a dictator, but that is only one form of use of the term. Power can be wielded over a group of people, over one individual, over a group of industries, over culture, or over oneself. Everyone possesses some type of power; it is their responsibility to maintain and use it, rather than give it away. And most importantly, power is the greatest aphrodisiac and seductress of all.

So what exactly do I mean by “power”? I define power as the ability to have control over oneself or others. Control doesn’t necessarily have to mean something evil or nefarious. In the sense it is used in this article, power is the ability to define one’s future and destiny, it is the ability to attract a mate, and it is the ability to maintain the attraction of your mate. The beauty of an attractive woman to seduce men is a source of power for her. The ability to maintain composure and control of a conversation (aka CHARM) is a type of power. And of course, status and influence, one of the greatest sources of attraction, is pure power in action.

In the framework of relationships, power is always shifting and changing. In this sense, power is the energy dynamic of a relationship. Power can be exchanged, for example a husband taking his wife on a romantic dinner in order to get sex that tonight. In this example, the man exchanges his power as a provider for the woman’s power as a sex object. Power can be distributed, for example, the man might have control of a certain aspect of the relationship such as investment decisions, while the woman might have control of daily spending decisions. Power can constantly shift, such as when the man may decide what to do on Friday night, while the woman has decision power on Saturday night. Power can be lost, when one of the partners falls out of love with the other. And power can be experimented and played with, such as in a consensual S&M scene. But lest you only take away one thing from this article: Power exists within the very framework of every single relationship.

Next time you are with your partner, think about the following: How often do you end up doing what you want, or at least compromising fairly, rather than what only your partner wants? How often do you feel sexy, wanted, desired, appreciated or in general in control of your self-esteem? How often do you feel secure knowing that your partner is completely vested in your well being? If you answered positively to all of the above, then you are a powerful being within your own relationship. Power is not a zero sum game- in other words, if you have power, it doesn’t mean that your partner has less. The best relationships are comprised of equally powerful individuals who have learned how to share and delegate their mutual power.

So how do you become more powerful? Know yourself and know what you want. Know your strong points and know your limits. Once you discover who you are and what you want and you strive for it with a single minded aim, then you are on your way to personal growth and power. And then you’ll be ready to share your journey with someone else who has enough of their own power to play with you.


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