overcoming power struggles in gay relationships gay couples counseling Tom Bruett Denver Colorado San francisco California

How to Overcome Power Struggles in Gay Relationships

Power struggles in gay relationships are a common issue. They can show up as arguments, disagreements, or a constant push and pull for control and influence. Power struggles can leave you feeling frustration, anger, and resentment. However, it is possible to overcome these tricky encounters and build a stronger, more fulfilling partnership. 

What is a power struggle?

First, let’s define what a power struggle is. A power struggle is a situation in which partners compete for control and influence. In a couple, power struggles can arise when one partner feels they are not being heard or respected, and they begin to compete for more control and influence in the relationship.

Examples of power struggles

The classic example that shows up in my office is what I like to call the “tit for tat” dynamic.  Let’s take the imaginary couple of Rico and Don.  They bicker constantly about taking the dog for a walk.  If Don does it while Rico is away on business then he expects Rico to “make up for lost time” when he’s back.  If that doesn’t happen, they are off the races and conflict ensues. 

Power struggles in gay relationships

Though we’re no strangers to disempowerment, the fight for influence and control can show up in LGBTQ+ relationships.  While same-sex relationships can on the surface seem more equal, there are many ways that power struggles can show up.  Contests for control and influence can play out in the bedroom, financially and emotionally.

Signs you may be having a power struggle

  1. Are you constantly arguing and bickering? Falling into the tit-for-tat song and dance?
  2. Are you feeling unheard or disrespected? If you’re not feeling like there’s space for your perspective, you may be stuck in a battle for control.
  3. Is there a constant push and pull for whose up and whose down? Are you trying to influence each other’s perspectives in an overbearing way?
  4. Are there feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment? Power struggles can cause these feelings if not addressed, which can have a negative impact on the relationship.

What can you do about it?

As simple as this may sound, remember that your partner is a different person than you.  They have different feelings, thoughts, needs and desires.  And that’s ok.  That’s how it should be! 

Next time you notice yourself gearing up for a power struggle in a conversation with your partner, first say the mantra “this isn’t about me” a few times in your head.  If you can remember that you’re both different people with different perspectives, there will be less of a pull to try and influence one another. 

Power struggles in relationships are a common issue, but they can be overcome. By communicating openly and honestly, practicing active listening, setting clear boundaries, taking responsibility for your actions, and seeking professional help if necessary, you can overcome power struggles and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to address power struggles in your own relationship, reach out to learn more about what it would be like to work together in relationship therapy or a gay couples intensive. 

How-to-Strengthen-Your-Relationship (1)

Get the free eBook How to Strengthen Your Relationship, a guide for gay couples

This free 30+ page eBook will be sent directly to your inbox today!

Tom Bruett

Tom Bruett

Tom Bruett, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist with an office in Denver, Colorado. He works virtually with folks in California and Colorado. Tom feels passionately about helping people have better relationships. The purpose of this blog is not to provide advice or to take the place of working with a mental health professional. For more information please visit the homepage.