Are Romantic Relationships Just Power Struggles? [Diary of the Undateable]

My friend Bernard called me on Tuesday night, almost in tears. His girlfriend of six months, Tierra, was threatening to break up with him. Though they’ve only been official for a while, they’ve been through so much – including promise rings and pregnancy scares.

He called me out of desperation trying to find a way to get her back. He was seriously going out of his mind. Bernard explained to me that it was the first time he was in a situation where his girl called the shots and not him. He was used to having control and being the person to end things if need be. It was total role reversal for him and it threw him for a loop.

My older friends always bragged about the mysterious, feminine power that we naturally possess, but I never understood them. And then when I interviewed Kenya a few months back, she told me that she “hooked” her husband with it. Even my big sister (in my head, duh) Beyoncé brags that her persuasion can build a nation.

Yeah, I’ve never been in a “real” relationship – but from the outside looking in, I think that there’s an understood balance of power when it comes to them. It’s a quiet understanding that either makes or breaks a bond.

Carlos pulled me by a string for nearly six months because the power was in his hands. I overheard myself explaining my situation to someone the other day and wanted to slap myself.

“I think that he isn’t interested anymore, but he won’t let me let him go. Whenever I try to end things, he stops me and wants to make it work. I just don’t get it!”

Wait. Hold up. “He won’t let me let him go?” Why should he be in charge of that?

A dictionary definition of relationship is, “the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” It doesn’t specify who decides what or who’s responsible for ending it. In a perfect world, mutuality would be ideal. But is it reality? IDK. That page is still blank in my book.

CollegeCandy ladies and gents, let me know: how do you determine who has the power in your relationships?

When she’s not watching for Blue Ivy sightings or doing some serious Facebook creeping, Khalea moonlights as a print journalism major at the REAL HU, Howard University. Follow her on Twitter at @letsbeKHAlear, or feel free to Twatch. Whatever works for you.

[Image Via. auremar / ShutterStock]



  1. Joe Green says:

    Wow………This poor guy should an read an ebook my son turned me on to,entitled "You've Got the Balls,Use Them"…….by a genius, Steve Clark……….really……take control……stop taking crap from that chick…….

    1. Laurie says:

      Ahaha you mean those easily squashed grapes hanging between your legs? Seriously balls aren't a sign of power. Having 'balls' is more like being way too arrogant and not being aware of your precarious situation.

      Oh. And yeah. Having a power struggle is just a sign of immature relationship without trust. Once you actually are invested in the other person and comfortable, I think that sort of fades away. Mostly.

  2. It’s a quiet understanding that either makes or breaks a bond.

  3. Sara Lee says:

    It's wrong to be in a relationship where someone has "control" over the other person. I just got out of a relationship where my ex and I were just constantly in a power struggle and it got to emotionally abusive levels. If you want a truly healthy and long lasting relationship, both partners has to look out for each other's best interest and happiness without being forceful.

    My advice for your friend? Break up with her. If he's the type who's used to having the ropes in the relationship, he's just gonna be in a tug of war with his current gf forever. Imo, they're both not emotionally mature enough to talk long term anyway (especially if the girl is "threatening" to break up with him for whatever reason).

    And about the who's the one responsible for ending relationships? Why is that task given to one partner? Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but the ability to break up is a given for both partners. If one partner doesn't "let" the other break up, then they are being manipulative, controlling, and selfish.

  4. Outch! why it ends up with this situation? they should be open to both sides, not just thinking about oneself.

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