I received a version of the email below in my inbox this morning.
She knew something wasn’t right in her relationship when she didn’t want to go home from work. She felt anxious all the time. She never knew what kind of mood he would be in, or if she had unknowingly done something that would have upset him. But she wasn’t in an abusive relationship — at least none that she had ever seen. He didn’t hit her or get violently angry. She just thought they were having normal relationship problems that they needed to work through.
The type of guy the girl was dealing with is all too common, but there’s nothing “normal” about it. Manipulators aim to control their partners by pressing the buttons that get them emotional, whether it be making them feel afraid, unworthy, stupid, insecure, angry or frustrated. But because manipulators are typically passive-aggressive in their tactics, unlike domestic abuse, it can be difficult to tell when you’re in a manipulative relationship. While abuse is obvious, victims of manipulation don’t even realize they are being manipulated because the manipulator masks his or her behavior as positive, caring and nurturing.
If you’re sad more often than happy in your relationship and something feels wrong but you just can’t put your finger on it, read on to see if you might be dating a manipulative partner — and what you can do about it.
7 Signs You Might be Dating a Manipulator:
1. You’re always falling short of your partner’s expectations.
In an argument, the person being manipulated is often made to feel they are the ones at fault all of the time. But what’s really going on is the manipulator is shifting the blame away from themselves and detracting in subtle, hard-to-detect ways. They’ll commonly say things like, “So we’re going to have the big interrogation are we?” or “Are you going to get all emotional again?”
2. You often feel guilty in your relationship and are always looking to repair the “damage.”
The manipulator is skilled at making people feel this way by saying things like “I spent all this money on this gift for you, and look how you thank me” or “You have trust issues — why don’t you trust me?”
3. You don’t often know where you stand with your partner.
A manipulative partner often uses concealed or open threats to keep his/her girlfriend/boyfriend anxious and holding onto the relationship. He/She might use statements such as “I don’t even know why I’m here anymore; this isn’t working for me.”
4. You often feel like you’re walking on eggshells around him (or her).
Maybe sometimes you’re given lots of love and affections; at other times you’re given the cold shoulder for no apparent reason.
5. You feel confused in the relationship and keep questioning or blaming yourself for making your partner angry or frustrated. Manipulators are skilled at never being to blame for any problem in a relationship.
6. You’re unhappy in your relationship at least 90 percent of the time.
This is a big red flag for anyone in a relationship — whether you’re with a manipulator or not, it’s time to reevaluate why you’re with that person.
7. You’re anxious about telling your partner your plans or about something you’ve bought. If this is the case, you’re most likely being controlled and manipulated.
If a few or more of these statements described your relationship, you’re likely with a manipulator, and the bad news is, he is unlikely to change. Manipulation is a learned behavior — no one is born with it. It’s very much a survival strategy learned from early childhood and therefore changing the behavior is near impossible. Your time is better invested in developing strategies to protect yourselves, because you can never change a manipulator’s actions.
In other words, look into how you attracted him/her in the first place. Women who attract manipulators tend to lack self-worth and assertiveness, and they tend to be people pleasers. They trust to the point of ignorance and therefore do not realize that they are being manipulated until they have been in emotional turmoil for some time. It can often be years before they see the situation for what it really is.
But once you do recognize it, you can put a stop to it. First, take responsibility and own up to being a victim and a target. Admit your flaws to yourself. And most importantly, get out of the relationship and become who you really are; not something someone else wants you to be.
Okay girls, so this is in no way aimed at making you break up with your Boo. So, Boos, don’t send me any hate mail. Instead, this is to help the girl struggling in a relationship where she feels worthless, trapped and unhappy, but not sure why. As the email says, this kind of relationship can be more challenging to identify as abusive because you’re not being physically abused and there’s not tangible evidence, however, when you have more bad days than good, then there are some things you should reconsider.
Well, I hope this helps someone. Thinking back on my B.M. (before marriage) days, I can identify a manipultor or two. Goodness, I wish someone would have sent me this email back then. Oh wait, there was no such thing as email. Oh dear, I just aged myself.