“If you don’t cook me pizza for dinner, I’m not going to
love you anymore.”
This announcement came at me last night, delivered by my 5-year-old son. He is usually one of the most cheerful, easy-going humans you’ll ever meet. But recently he’s started to work out power-dynamics. And he really likes pizza. So he pulled out the biggest gun in his arsenal—the weapon of withholding love.
Because he is five, this power play didn’t bother me at all.
I stayed calm. In fact, I had to work hard not to laugh at him.
It’s (usually) easy for us to react calmly and lovingly to
emotional threats when they are delivered by young children. We know they love
us. We know they don’t really mean what they are saying in the moment. And it’s
often as plain as day when they are trying to manipulate us.
It’s a very different story when someone we’re dating (or married to) pulls a grown-up version of the same maneuver. Often we’ll be left confused about what’s going on. Are they tired and busy, or are we getting the silent treatment? Are we being insecure and needy, or are they dishing out passive-aggressive jabs? Are they pointing out genuine issues we need to be aware of and work on, or are they blaming us for something to deflect attention or avoid facing up to their own issues?
In other words… Especially when you’re in a long distance relationship, it’s sometimes hard to figure whether they’re being a jerk and pulling out a power move, or not.
To help you recognize whether power plays are at work in your long distance relationship, we’re going to take a closer look at 13 common power plays that show up in long distance relationships.
Before we do, though, let’s pause and ask what it is that makes something a power play?
There’s a surprisingly simple answer to this question: Something is probably a power play if your partner is showing little regard for your needs and interests.
In other words. If your significant other is doing or saying something that is only focused on meeting their own needs, even if it means you get hurt in the process, that’s a power play.
So let’s dig a bit deeper. What are some common power plays that show up in long distance relationships?
stonewalling? Stonewalling is using silence as a weapon or an escape. It’s
controlling the situation by refusing to engage—refusing to talk about a
particular issue, or just refusing to talk to you at all.
Distance makes this particularly easy to do, because your SO
can just stop answering the phone or replying to texts and emails for a while.
If you’re on the receiving end of stonewalling, it can drive you crazy with
frustration, second-guessing, and self-doubt. It also tends to make you scared
of bringing up the particular issue that “set them off” again, for fear of
rocking the boat.
Ghosting is an extreme version of stonewalling and an
increasingly common way of “breaking up” with someone you met online. Ghosting
is when someone suddenly cuts all ties and communication with the person
they’ve been seeing or talking to. They will block you from all
their social media accounts, refuse to answer mail or phone calls, and just…
virtually disappear. It’s disrespectful, and cowardly, and totally
taking the easy way out.
If this happens to you, it’ll hurt. A lot. But remind
yourself that you really don’t want
to be with someone who would do this to you, and focus on moving forward.
3. Hanging up
When you’re in a long distance relationship, all you have is
the phone or a video connection. Holding those hostage by hanging up on someone
is a power play.
4. Stirring up jealousy
If someone’s flirting with other people and making sure you know about about it, that’s a power play designed to make you jealous. They might deliberately leave ‘likes’ or comments on…