Handling Power Dynamics In A Relationship: 5 Useful Ways

Power. The word itself grasps our attention. We are in awe of people who hold certain kinds of power. This is prevalent in almost every stage of life. For instance, while schooling, we try to be on good terms with the class representative, and during the much later stages in life, we try to maintain at least a good working equation with our seniors. We admire such people as they have the ability to bring a change in a certain institution and they are also a connecting communication key with the higher authorities. With the mention of power, the association of power dynamics is almost immediate. But what about power dynamics in a relationship? And how to handle it?

A relationship needs balance to thrive and develop. If the balance is toppled, the equation between the two people involved in it will get affected. If a partner gets an upper hand in a relationship, they will have the power to influence major decisions concerning their relationship. Their power and vision might prove to be useful in certain circumstances but this cannot be favorable all the time. Thus, it is essential to strike a balance again and handle power dynamics in a relationship efficiently.

Today’s post is all about what is power dynamics in a relationship, the types of power dynamics, and how to handle them. If you are someone who is affected by the power dynamics in a relationship then you might want to grasp this piece of information with the utmost attention.

What Is Power Dynamics In A Relationship?

power dynamics in a relationship

As the name suggests, power dynamics depict how power affects the relationship between two or more people. It is not necessarily bad as power brings in a certain kind of experience which might prove beneficial but always giving in to the power dynamics in a relationship can hamper equality which is one of the founding pillars of any relationship.

Focusing on the relationship aspect indicates the several ways the partners can behave to have an impact on each other. Power dynamics have always left an imprint on romantic relationships. Different media platforms portray it as just a race for dominance or the pressure for submission. But real-life romantic relationships are much more complex and subjective and the power dynamics are not limited to dominance and submission only.

Balance is essential for almost all aspects of life and a relationship is no exception. If the power balance is toppled, a relationship will no longer be a safe haven where both partners can express themselves freely. Instead, the peace and calm of a relationship will disappear gradually which will lead to countless heated arguments. These arguments can cause resentment toward the partner or the bond which will ultimately cause emotional distancing.

To know this phenomenon better and to understand the process of handling power dynamics, it is important to comprehend the types of power dynamics.

4 Types Of Power Dynamics In A Relationship

power dynamics

  • Dominance-Submission

Have you ever reflected on which factor causes most of the arguments in your relationship? Experts reveal that financial factors, sexual intimacy, decision-making regarding the matters that concern the relationship, and division of roles and responsibilities cause a tiff between most couples.

One likes to possess control in the matters that are in their hand. While in a relationship, it might be difficult for some individuals to give up this control which gives birth to dominance-submission dynamics. This is adverse in cases where both partners wish to have an upper hand over the other and get a major say in the decisions affecting their relationship.

  • Demand-Withdrawal

Have you ever been in a situation where you demand something from your partner but they just brushed it off? You might have let it go thinking that they might have been busy or tired after a long day at work. But then you observe that this behavioral pattern is repetitive and something is off. Thinking that it is just a phase and it might pass off soon, you avoid any sort of confrontation but to no avail. All of this is taking a toll on you and making you extremely frustrated and finally you lose your cool and get into an argument with them.

If you have been in such a situation, then you have fallen prey to the demand-withdrawal dynamics. In this dynamic, one partner feels that their needs are not met and thus they keep on demanding more. The demands might be simple or as complex as taking more responsibility in their relationship. The other partner might regard these demands as unnecessary and withdraw as a sign of rebellion. This might result in frustration, arguments, and resentment.

  • Distancer-Pursuer

ways to handle power dynamics in a relationship

Have you ever been in a relationship where you have felt that you were the only one putting effort and showing concern? You message your partner throughout the day, showing concern about their meal pattern or health but they do not take the effort to reply to you back. This is just one instance and this has happened several times before and you are very frustrated. Your partner cares for you but they do not show it the way you do!

If this has happened to you then you are tangled in the web of distancer-pursuer power dynamics. The difference is caused because of the different love languages and attachment styles. If your partner does not identify with your love language, they might feel suffocated by all the attention showered upon them. They might be trying to set certain boundaries which you might fail to understand.

  • Fear-Shame

Has it ever happened to you that you have felt very shameful or fearsome about a certain phase in your life and you are scared to share it with your partner? Certain events have caused you tremendous emotional pain that has not healed with the passing of time. The pain is making it difficult for you to open up with your partner which is causing you to withdraw. If this situation rings a bell, then your relationship has been through the fear-shame dynamics!

All of these power dynamics are a demonstration of the negative power which in turn will cast an adverse effect on your relationship. It is true that no relationship can be perfectly balanced. A slight imbalance of power is natural. But it depends on how the couples handle these power dynamics in a relationship and prevent it from leaning on the negative side. To aid you in doing so, we bring you some useful ways to handle power dynamics in a relationship.

5 Useful Ways To Handle Power Dynamics In A Relationship

what is power dynamics in a relationship

1. Communication

We cannot stress enough how constant communication nourishes a relationship’s foundation. Couples frequently need to work on developing their communication skills. Enhanced communication allows couples to sort out their differences and not fall prey to the vicious cycle of power dynamics. This also allows both partners to put forth their opinions. They can decide about financial matters, division of roles and responsibilities, and sexual intimacy, and be on the same page while making pivotal decisions for their relationship.

Communication is not just about expressing or listening. It is also understanding your partner’s love language and attachment patterns. Developing communication skills also prove to be useful to resolve disagreements and show frustration in other ways than shouting or arguing. It also aids in balancing the domination and demands in a relationship. If you wish to strengthen communication with your partner, you can take some daily relationship check-ins!

2. Respect

Trust and respect are two strong pillars that can prevent a relationship from collapsing. We all are aware of this yet this makes it to our list. It is crucial that both partners should learn to trust each other. One might trust their partner but certain circumstances can cause their trust to dwindle and it might make them apprehensive to share their feelings, emotions, opinions, and pain. The lack of input might give their partner an opportunity to make important decisions that can leave an ever-lasting impact on their relationship. Hence, it is important to build communication skills.

If couples learn to trust, they will eventually come to respect each other’s beliefs, opinions, emotions, and boundaries. Respect also facilitates couples to put forth points with dignity rather than just assaulting each other verbally. Trust and respect counter toppled power dynamics. This also assures that a couple is working on resolving the issue and not proving themselves correct. This prevents an individual from disregarding their partner’s opinion which does not push their partner on a brink of rebellion to have an upper hand in their relationship.

Trust in a partner enables an individual to open up and the respect acts as a reassurance that their partner will not judge them thus aiding in disbalance the fear-shame dynamics and preventing withdrawal.

3.  Self-Confidence

Being in a relationship, one should not forget their individuality. While one might want to please their partner on certain occasions, it should not be at the cost of their self-respect and self-confidence. A lack of self-confidence might make it difficult for an individual to put forth their opinion and it might be an easy pass for their partner to topple the balance of their relationship by taking an upper hand.

Hence, one should work on building their self-confidence so they do not get stuck in the web of power dynamics in a relationship and re-taking any lost power. Apart from this self-confidence facilitates the development of better communication skills and this prevents a partner to take control on behalf of the individual. One learns when to stand their ground and when to give in for the betterment of their own self and their relationship.

This gives one the confidence to set necessary boundaries and say NO when required. It also brings the ability to hear NO from their partner when they do not agree with something. The confidence also acts as an assurance that disagreements will not shake the ground of equality and impact their relationship. This prevents one from being taken for granted and being treated like a doormat.

4. Finances

types of power dynamics in a relationship

Though we have mentioned that financial matters need to be spoken about, its mere mention is not enough. The majority of the power dynamics in a relationship happen around finances. Discussion of financial matters becomes all the more important in a relationship where only one partner earns money. This is because the earning partner might feel superior and might not take the opinion of their partner while making decisions regarding the finances.

If both partners are earning and one partner earns significantly more, these dynamics come into the picture again and one might try to take an upper hand. Lastly, if both the partners earn well, they should discuss their expenses, investments, who will pay for the education of kids, if they have any, and other decisions.

If both partners are working, they should try to have 3 accounts, a personal account for the private expenses of each partner, and 1 joint account where they add a fixed amount each month for the shared expenses like bills, rent, and health expenses. This will prevent the power dynamics from prevailing in a relationship for financial matters.

5. The ‘Us’ Factor

Equality is the foundation of any relationship. Power dynamics throw this equality out of balance. Communication and other ways can prevent the power dynamics from ruling their relationship and getting the worst out of them. But it is possible only if the couples aim and strive for the betterment of their relationship rather than fulfilling any personal mottos. Maintaining healthy power dynamics ensures equal give and take in a relationship.

Balanced power dynamics is when a couple works for a common goal, invests equal efforts, accepts each other’s needs, and prioritizes them. A balance also ensures that one gets the reciprocal of their emotional investments and the withdrawal is minimum. It is not possible to nail all of these at once but constant efforts and patience will ensure that you and your partner will attain the goal that you have set and envisioned for your relationship. These goals start with balancing power dynamics and then achieving other goals.

With these parting words, we come to the end of our post “Handling Power Dynamics In A Relationship: 5 Useful Ways.” We hope that the post proves to be helpful for you to handle the power dynamics of your relationship. Share this post with your partner to set goals together! Let us know your thoughts on power dynamics in the comments below. We would also love to know what would you like to read next via the comments.

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