What Manipulative Behaviour Does to Your Relationship
We all say that we would turn and run from a controlling, manipulative spouse or lover, but in reality many people are in emotionally abusive relationships without even realizing it. Some manipulators are so smooth and subtle that their partner may sense something is not quite right but find themselves unable to put a finger on what is actually wrong.
Do you think someone you are with right now could be exhibiting manipulative behavior? Do you believe you would be able to identify a manipulator if you were interacting with one? Most people believe they could tell the difference between manipulation and respectful communication, but time and time again highly intelligent women fall for manipulators without realizing it.
The biggest sign that you may be dealing with a manipulator is a sense of guilt and confusion after talking with them. Manipulative behavior is not physical action, but spoken words and subtle stares and odd glances. Manipulation is a form of communication that is often designed to make you feel wrong, ashamed or guilty of your own opinions, ideas, or preferences.
For instance, if a manipulative boyfriend wants to control where you go on a Friday night he may ask pointed questions and give you odd or shocked glares when you tell him you are going to go out with friends. He may ask questions such as “you’re going to leave your children with a sitter all night? Do you think that’s a good idea?”
Or, a woman might say to her boyfriend, “If you don’t come with me to the shopping mall, next time you want to go to the hockey game I won’t go with you.”
The point of those questions is to make you feel guilty or ashamed even though neither are justified, and it is manipulative behavior, whether you or your boyfriend recognize it consciously or not.
Manipulation also includes blaming you for things that are not your fault. This is another subtle way of making you feel ashamed of something that you should not rightfully have to feel ashamed of.
Why would a manipulator want to make you feel shame and blame? They do this because they want to control your behaviors, thoughts, or actions. They want you to fall in line with actions and conversations that are within their own comfort zones. This is often a sign of serious insecurity or deep seated emotional issues.
Someone who displays a more serious level of manipulative behavior may also try to make you feel real fear if you don’t do something that they want you to do. Taking our example from above about going out with your friends on a Friday night against your boyfriend’s wishes, he may put fear in you by mentioning a child abducted or beaten while in the care of a babysitter. This is offered only to put fear in you about leaving your child so you will not go out.
If you are in a relationship where your partner continually argues against your own opinions or desires, and it seems like they don’t even hear what you are saying most of the time, you may be dealing with a habitual manipulator. You may feel as if you can never win an argument with them so it is not even worth trying to disagree. Any attempt of having a conversation to convince them of otherwise leaves you feeling exhausted.
If you find yourself just going along with what your partner says, does, or wants, because you know they will push you into agreement anyway, then you are succumbing to manipulative behavior. It is important to pay attention to your intuition – if it feels wrong, then it is. If joy, happiness, and meaningful discussions are missing in the relationship, ask yourself why. Awareness of manipulative behavior is important, otherwise it is easy to slowly become brainwashed and you will start to doubt yourself.
Once you are aware, start being firm with your partner. The word “stop” can be tried first, but if that doesn’t work after a few attempts, the best solution is to not play their game and walk away.