Dear Vicki: In your recent post to Angry in Alaska, you mentioned that if a Metal person senses too much Wood energy in someone, the Metal will automatically want to “prune” that Wood. Is this true for all Controlling Cycle relationships? I’m a Fire and seem to have fallen in love with a Water. Jenna is serious and can be moody, but she’s also an amazingly creative author who has several published novels. We’ve been together for a few years now and I’ve noticed that when I’m dancing and having a great time at a party, Jenna does seem to throw water on my flames by saying something mean or cutting. It’s like she can barely tolerate me. When I ask her about it later, she acts like she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I love her, but it feels bad to be insulted in front of friends, even if I might have been a bit wild. Is this something Jenna does automatically because see thinks my Fire is out of control? If so, how do Controlling Cycle relationships ever last? Signed: Drowning in Downey
Dear Drowning: The quick answer to your question is that Controlling Cycle relationships last because we all need the balancing affect of control in our lives. Too much of anything, even something as wonderful as fun and laughter, isn’t good for us. Too much of anything is, by definition, a loss of balance and the Five Elements model is all about maintaining balance. The Controlling Cycle is the way the model addresses too much of something, while too little of something is addressed via the Nurturing Cycle. These reducing and building tendencies translate to our relationships, too. But in a culture where more always seems better than less, Controlling Cycle connections can seem harsh. Yet they are just as great a gift as a Nurturing Cycle connection. Sometimes, even more.
In your case, too much Fire can and will burn you out. In nature, fire has very little structure; it’s actually just heat made visible. At a personality level this lack of structure manifests as a tendency to have fewer boundaries than the other elements. Interestingly, as a Water, Jenna doesn’t have great boundaries herself. But water in nature is definitely more solid than fire, so Jenna will have more structure than you do. And her gift to you is to cool you down before you burn yourself out. She may do this in ways that seem mean – and we will come back to that in a minute – but she really can be acting in your best interest.
What’s important to remember is that too much is just as bad as too little. At its core, the controlling dynamic exists to protect us. In our every day lives, we have all been saved from minor and major mistakes by someone stepping up in what can be considered a controlling manner. I can’t tell you the number of times my husband, who is a Metal to my Wood and therefore “controls” me, has stepped in with the rational logic of his Metal and suggested we wait on something my Wood is gung-ho to start. His ability to convince me not to start a remodeling project the day after Christmas comes to mind here. Did I feel controlled? Yes! But was he correct in suggesting we wait? Double yes! I can’t imagine the mess we would have made if I had prevailed.
The truth is that Controlling Cycle relationships can seem adversarial at times. That’s the nature of the beast. The controller can feel an innate desire to control the controlee. The controlee can feel an innate wariness around the controller. This vibratory response is built into the energetic structure of our personalities as the five elements weave through it. Yet this dance between controller and controlee keeps energy moving in the relationship so that it always feels fresh and alive. And if both parties stay balanced, this interaction can be recognized as the gift it is. But if either, or both, parties are out of balance, the relationship will be strained. The controlee will feel snuffed out and the controller will feel exhausted from trying. This is probably partially what’s happening between you and Jenna. One or both of you is not in balance.
You mention that Jenna makes cutting remarks to you when she thinks you’re overdoing it, remarks that make you feel that she can’t tolerate you. Intolerance is a sign of too much Water. Are the times she’s like this associated with her writing? Waters step deep into their imagination when they write, which is a very watery place. Jenna could have been in an excess Water place at the party. She might also have been irritated that she had to be at the party in the first place. Any party rambunctious enough to make a Fire happy is probably too much party for a Water. If so, you can turn the tables on Jenna and gently step into your Earth energy (easy to do with someone you love, just think of how much you love them) and use your Earth to control her Water. Step away from the dance floor and get something to eat with her. Sit and snuggle for a few minutes. Offer her something sweet (in moderate doses, sugar can build and ground Earth). A little Earth energy should help ease her Water back into a safe and less excessive channel.
If you getting too Fiery at a party while Jenna gets too Watery becomes a chronic issue for the two of you, try addressing the issue before you go to the party. Make sure there will be other Waters at the party so Jenna has someone to talk with while you’re dancing. And of course, proper party attire will be key. But dress for the elements! If Jenna wears yellow or brown, she will build her Earth to help manage her Water (Earth controls Water). She could also wear tiger’s eye jewelry or peppermint essential oil. And you could wear blue to the party and lapis or aquamarine jewelry to build your Water to control your Fire. There is no way to change the Controlling Cycle dynamic between a Fire and Water, but any Water you bring to balance your own Fire will be less Water Jenna will feel a need to throw at you. And that should make you both very happy. Blessings to you!