We have all come across one in our days. It may be that overbearing boss or an overpowering friend. They can be found everywhere and they are often all over our business. When one is in a relationship with such a person then it is a whole other story.
Many of us have seen our friends and colleagues stuck in a relationship with a dominant person. We tend to feel bad for them, pity their state and be happy that we are much better off. One often tends to question their nature. You may have heard people say, ‘what’s wrong with her?! See how controlling she is.’’
But what makes a dominant person who they are.
A dominant person is one who tends to have high self-confidence, leads others and solves problems. They like to take control and may not listen to others’ point of views. They don’t prefer repetition and mundane routines. Such a person wishes to be in control of their environment and may be worried about others misusing them. (DISC Model, 1920)
These characteristics described would inevitably impact the person’s social relationships as well. For example, when it comes to deciding where to go for a meal, or deciding which route to take to the movie theatre or narrowing down on a budget for a house, a dominant person will like to take charge of the situation and may not be willing to listen to their partner’s point of view.
Looking into the daily life of couples, a dominant person may not be happy in a relationship if they have a regular everyday routine that was repetitive. They prefer novelty and variety. Such a person would like to try out different restaurants one day, travel to new places on a day and so on.
Problems tend to arise as these characteristics of a person may not appear ideal and favourable for compatibility. In a relationship, the partner would also want to have their opinion heard and contribute to the decision making. This may be seen as a threat to a dominant person as they may fear that their partner is trying to take advantage of them when they try to take charge.
Rules are stayed away from. Freedom is greatly enjoyed. So in a relationship, the person may want freedom and lack of regulations. They tend to dislike when their partners ask them to inform their whereabouts regularly or if they have given strict rules when interacting with those from the opposite gender.
Research shows that people who have been reared by strict, critical and harsh parents tend to develop an authoritarian personality (Adorno et. al, 1950). Their behaviour is explained by stating that these individuals did not get the opportunity to express their negative feelings and emotions towards their parents. Thus, this person may be engaging in displacement when they show their feelings of aggression and hostility onto less threatening individuals.
Freud explains dominant personality through his theory on psychosexual stages of development. To explain this, if an infant was over-protected/over-fed by their caregiver, they may become fixated (stuck) in the Oral stage of development may grow up to be dominant and aggressive.
This gives us an insight into the actions and behaviour of a dominant person. Parental experiences during childhood appear to have a significant influence on the personality development. Being calm and composed, and making an effort to empathise with such a person can help to deal with them effectively.