How to recognize manipulation in a relationship?

Защо някои хора използват манипулация в интимните си отношения

We often hear people talk about manipulation in a relationship, but we may think, “That doesn’t apply to my relationship.” A good manipulator is someone who knows your emotional knobs very well and knows how to manage you through them. This is exactly why any intimate partner can become a skillful manipulator – after all, this is the person who knows you best. 

In many relationships, partners fail to see the signs of manipulation because they are in love with the other person. The reasons for this may be different. Many people purposely turn a blind eye to small signs of manipulation. They don’t want to admit to themselves that their partner is using cues or other ways to dictate their behavior. In other cases, the manipulated partner cannot really distinguish these actions as a way of control. 

No matter what the reason for the manipulation in the relationship, it remains hidden. However, it is important to notice your partner’s behind-the-scenes intentions as early as possible and talk to him/her about what is causing this behavior. 

Why some people use manipulation in their intimate relationships

Manipulation is a gradual process that seeks to exert control over one partner. As a result, one partner is always controlling the other by making him/her behave the way he/she wants and even think according to his/her pattern. Manipulation most often remains a hidden, behind-the-scenes game that influences our psyche, decisions, and behavior in given situations without our awareness. The best manipulators are those people we don’t even feel are manipulating us. 

Many manipulators don’t even feel that they are manipulators, so they don’t admit it when they receive such accusations. This is most often due to patterns of behavior they have borrowed from parents or friends. The example of the relationships these people received from the environment they grew up in most likely involved manipulative behavior. It is likely that they failed to recognise it as such and copied the behaviour of their parents, which they accepted as normal in the relationship. 

On the other hand, there are people who quite deliberately manipulate their partner in order to get what they want. These people are driven by the desire for control and dominance over their intimate partner’s life. They use different phrases and types of behaviour that are intended to exert control over their partner’s actions, thinking and decision-making. 

We will look at a few of the most common manipulative practices. If your partner exhibits any of the following behaviors, he or she is certainly manipulating you on purpose. This may come as a shock to you and call your relationship into question. My advice is not to jump to conclusions, but to talk to your partner after you get to the end of the article. 

Manipulators use our biggest fears to get what they want

In many ways, the following ultimatum has been put forth, “If you don’t do what I want, we part ways.” In this way, the manipulative partner is using the biggest fear in a relationship – separation. Bluntly, this is pure manipulation, which many people succumb to despite knowing that it is manipulative behavior. The fear of being abandoned is bigger than their ego, and even if they know their partner is purposely using this ploy they give in. Think seriously, would the best partner for you use manipulation and ultimatum to get what it wants? Is this the relationship you’ve been dreaming of? Is this person worthy of your affection in your opinion?

Imputing blame for actions or inactions

Another way of manipulation that is well recognized in a relationship, but many people turn a blind eye to it. Constantly pointing out old wrongs makes you feel guilty and do again what your partner wants just to atone for your guilt. This behavior is extremely toxic and taxing on the person who is forever feeling guilty. On the other hand, the one who places blame always manages to get what they want and control their partner.  In this way, you are made to make choices that benefit them just so you can “atone” for your guilt.

The manipulator doesn’t always realize that he or she is manipulating their partner in this way, but once they realize it, they are more likely to continue using this trump card instead of stopping. This behavior leads to a toxic relationship in which one partner always feels that he or she is doing something wrong.

Manipulators use their vulnerability to their advantage

Emotional manipulators often use their vulnerability to get what they want. In most cases this is more attention from the partner or control over their actions. The most common example of this is the following situation.  One partner is going out with friends and the other needs to be left alone. The one who has no plans manipulates the other by telling him or her that if he or she goes out with his or her friends he or she will feel lonely and sad without him or her. The manipulator manages to very tactfully make the point that if the partner does not stay with him/her, then he/she is not a good partner. Very often the manipulated does not realize that this is just part of the theater to get the manipulator what he/she wants – attention and control.

Your partner’s mood also affects you

Whether your partner is happy, sad or angry, you must share his/her mood. Your mood is always secondary and you are not allowed to feel any emotions other than those of your partner. Any attempt to share something that does not fit the mood or emotion your partner is experiencing at the moment will be frowned upon. In this case, very often the manipulated partner suppresses their emotions. Over time, he/she stops feeling that he/she can express his/her emotions freely, which eventually leads to alienation. 

Every attempt to share what you don’t like about the relationship turns into a scandal

Every time you try to explain to your partner that you don’t like his or her behaviour or that he or she has behaved in a toxic way, things turn against you. Invariably, the blame for their behavior is something you did or said. Or the other extreme, through manipulation he or she makes you think you are deluded and deluding yourself. This type of manipulation is called gatekeeping and is very common.

Complete control over you and your free time

Your partner decides how you will spend your time together when you will see each other and even what to do in the time you are not together. Whenever you suggest something, it is instantly rejected or determined to be boring and inappropriate. In these cases, partners who are more attached fall victim to manipulation by less attached partners. 

Putting yourself in complete control of your personal life has another extreme. Manipulators try to separate you from your friends and family by telling you that these people are not interested in you. In these cases, the manipulator claims to be in love and cannot allow you to pay attention to anyone other than them. Manipulators who use this type of manipulation often suffer from low self-esteem and think that their family and friends will come between them. 

Makes you believe you want the things he/she wants

Manipulators succeed in instilling in their partner that he/she makes the decisions alone. The most skillful manipulators often process other people to start wanting what they have instilled in them themselves. This is seen in cases where one partner disapproves of a particular behaviour and with the power of backstage games manages to suggest that his/her partner also shares this opinion. As a result of this behaviour, the manipulated partner completely loses their identity and opinion. The manipulating partner manages to exert complete control and uses this to make important decisions about their life together.

How to deal with a manipulative partner? Can you strengthen your relationship?

It is very painful to realize that the person you love has manipulated you and still does. At first you feel cheated and hurt. Talk to your partner before jumping to conclusions. You probably think that once you share your concerns with him/her you will again cause manipulation. 

The chances of your partner trying to convince you that you are imagining things and turning the blame against you are very high. Once you know this fault you should not give in to the manipulation. As I said, there is a chance that your partner will not perceive your behavior as manipulation. If so, you should carefully explain to him what his behavior is. Show him/her this article and he/she can easily recognize manipulative behavior. 

If you decide to stay with this partner, set clear boundaries in your relationship. 

Your voice should be heard in decision making and your partner should respect that. If this behavior is not on display, then this person does not respect and love you, no matter how much they claim it. 

Look at the situation rationally. As much as you love and care for the person next to you you need to ask yourself the following questions, “Is his/her behavior healthy for me? Do I feel good in this relationship? Do I deserve a partner who manipulates me?” The answers to these questions will help you decide if you should end your relationship with this person.

If the other person loves you and really wants to keep their relationship with you, they will make an effort to change their behavior. 

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