Research has revealed that our brains are affected by those around us. The Narcissistic dominance effect is the most conspicuous when one person in the relationship makes the decisions and get their needs met more often than their partners. When partners interact with each other, their brain activity becomes synchronised. The longevity and intensity of your relationship can affect the degree of synchronicity and influence one partner has over the other. Brain synchrony between partners activates two different sets of brain cells. One set focuses on our self and the second set focuses on others.

Dominance vs Balance in Relationships
Balanced relationships where partners have an equal say in all decision-making processes helps both can get their needs met. Both can assert themselves and negotiate on their own behalf creating a balanced relationship with compromise. This builds a synergetic relationship with autonomy, self-esteem, mutual respect, and effective communication skills. Relationships where power is imbalanced, such as in abusive or Narcissistic relationship, involves one partner dominating and the other accommodates. These relationships are often characterised by persistent conflict and power struggles. The Narcissist is aggressive (usually verbally) and motivated to maintain power and control. The accommodator is more passive and motivated to maintain peace, love and connection. Many of us possess both types, but some predominantly fall into one category.

How Our Partner Controls Our Brain
Brain synchronisation enables the dominant person to lead, and the subordinate reads the signals and follows, to avoid conflict. This pattern becomes more established; the longer the couple are connected. Even previously, assertive individuals increasingly accommodate the dominant partner once the relationship takes hold. Brain synchronisation makes it difficult for the subordinate partner in the relationship to think and act freely or challenge the power imbalance. Acquiescent, or more subordinate partners, focus on others more than themselves. They adjust their partner’s needs, wants and feelings with the dominant or Narcissist remain focused on themselves, often at the expense of their partner.

How to Combat Brain Control
The synchronisation process happens outside of our conscious control. It benefits healthy relationships when considerate and loving partners are “in sync,” being more in tune with their partner’s needs, thoughts and emotions. We strive to feel what our partner needs. On the other hand, where this process is in the service of one partner controlling the other, the relationship becomes toxic. Love and happiness wilt away.
The dominant, or Narcissistic partner is not motivated to give up control, nor would they ever. Those struggling in an unhappy or dominated relationship often attempt counselling hoping the dominant partner will learn to understand their needs. Narcissists are unable to feel love, empathy, guilt or remorse. Surviving this type of dominant relationship will always be challenging. Leaving can be fraught with distress as the subordinate partner must ask themselves if their escape will be worth the anguish. If you decide to remain there are a few tips to help you:

1. Build up your self-esteem, because you are worth it, regardless of the dominants attempts to demoralise you at every opportunity
2. Learn not to react to putdowns or your partner’s attempts to control you.
3. Learn to be assertive and set boundaries.
4. Develop interests you can participate in without your partner.
5. Stay in contact with your family and friends.
6. Get your own bank account and have some money saved up.