The disconnect comes from how you think of a patch.
One patch into a big body of code could be considered a gift.
But the GPL sees it more like a merger. Or a partnership. The whole is a combination of two works.
If it's a gift, then it's uncouth of the giver to impose demands on how the gift be used. By giving, he renounces all claim to decide what happens to it. If you give me a book as a gift, and I decide to wipe my arse with it, that's my right. Of course, if I did that, I presumably wouldn't be getting any more gifts from you.
If, on the other hand, we're talking about a merger or partnership, that's different. One patch is more like a gift, but a major feature (say) is more like a pooling of resources to make something better for both of us. In that case, it's reasonable that you have a say in the development of your feature and perhaps on the overall direction of the project too.
A real life example might be a couple moving in together. You bring the TV, I bring the microwave, we both get full use of everything. If you were living in the apartment on your own before, you have probably made some decisions already (ISP, phone & utilities providers, etc), but if we decide on any new stuff then we decide together. Of course, you might have a room in the house that's all yours, and if you want to install a pinball machine beside the pool table in your games room, I won't stop you, but if you want to put it in the bedroom, I might want to have some input into the decision.
Of course, there's a huge middle ground between a simple small patch ("I bought you a pot plant") and an equal partnership of living together... and the amount of control one can expect depends on the investment of each party into the shared whole.