A woman sprawls on a sofa, her head hanging over the front edge

How to let go of your inner control freak

by Fran Creffield - April 3, 2013

Do you struggle to fully engage in the dating process because you’re so busy trying to control people, places and situations?

Most controlling people are actually just trying to make themselves feel safe. They want things to be done in a certain way and in order for that to happen they try to choreograph each step of the way

They can spend hours planning and anticipating how to steer the ship of life in the direction they want it to go in. Whether they’re trying to get the people they love to respond in certain ways or their boss to give them a rise, there’s one thing all people with an inner control freak have in common – they know how things should be done.

Control is an illusion

When it comes to dating the illusion of control needs to be shattered. No matter how carefully you write your profile or messages, and even if you spend hours, days, or weeks planning the perfect date, you have no control over another person’s emotions. Trying to rigidly control the outcome in romantic situations is likely to just make you seem rigid and controlling, which are not very attractive qualities.


Fear is often at the root of the need to control. Maybe you found when you were small that it was much safer if things were predictable, or if you always knew how things should be done. The trouble with applying these life lessons to your love life is that it will stop you from really being able to relax and let things develop. You’re likely to want to move a relationship along prescribed lines and most people will resist being dominated or controlled. Even if you find a partner who’s happy to go along with your plans, life has its own way of throwing curveballs and there are many things that you won’t be able to control.

Letting go of the outcome

Would it be so bad if you let each day unfold? All you have to do in any situation is mind your own business. Show up to the date, wear what you feel comfortable in but let go of any expectation about what ‘should’ happen, or any story you’ve told yourself about how things will develop. It may feel frightening at first, but making the decision to be less controlling is actually very liberating. If you have a blueprint for how your life should look and how people should act, you’re likely to be frustrated and annoyed whenever things don’t conform. Accepting that you don’t know how things should be makes life much more of an adventure, and less of a chore that you have to work really hard at.


The only thing you really have any control over is your perception. You can’t stop someone from getting ill or being late for your date; you can’t stop it from raining on your wedding day, or predict the numbers that will come up on the lottery, but you can control how you respond to life. Most unhappiness is caused by the belief that something should have happened but didn’t or that something that did happen shouldn’t have. If you accept that everything that happens is neutral, not good or bad, and make a commitment to adjust yourself to life as it is, rather than as you would have it, then you will be a much happier person and much more attractive to others.

The flow of life

Becoming less controlling isn’t about losing action. If you need a new job it’s unlikely that you’ll find one if you lie on the sofa eating ice cream all day. You still need to write a CV, fill in application forms and go to interviews. You put in the action but you let go of the outcome. You rest peacefully in the knowledge that you’ve given it your very best shot but if you don’t get the job, maybe it’s not the right job for you. When the same attitude is applied to dating it becomes a much more enjoyable experience where you begin to trust your heart more than your head.