People do not choose to manipulate because they care. Manipulation is only control masquerading as love. Its ability to look like affection can make this one of the most insidious forms of abuse. “Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction,” wrote Criss Jami.
Don’t allow your life to be hijacked by a manipulator’s sweet words. Hold tight to your sense of control and make your own choices. If this manipulation becomes a pattern, consider leaving the relationship behind. Manipulation is not only controlling, but deeply selfish.
There are some common lines of thinking that manipulators like to exploit to get their way.
Thankfully, all of them are easily shut down with common sense.
Here are seven common manipulative phrases, each followed by a logical and self-valuing response:
1. “Look what you made me do!”
I do not have the power to make you do anything. You chose to respond the way you did. You need to carry the responsibility for your own actions. I can only own mine.
2. “How can you still be mad at me after I bought you that beautiful necklace?”
My forgiveness can not be bought with money. You were very kind to do that. However, if this necklace is contingent on my forgiveness, it is not a gift. It is a bribe. You can have it back.
3. “Don’t wear that out. Let me check your phone. Who’ve you been texting? It’s not you I don’t trust – it’s other people.”
You don’t have to trust other people. You just have to trust me to be faithful and honest. When you behave this way, you assume that I am either a cheater or a very weak person. I am neither.
4. “I want you to stay home because that is what’s best for our kids. I just want to take care of you.”
The best thing for my children is to have a mother who is happy and whole. The choice to work or to stay home is mine. By doing what makes me happy, I am teaching our children to have autonomy over their own lives. Is forcing me into a lifestyle I don’t want taking care of me? Or is it tightening your control over my life? (Note: This can also work the other way, with a controlling partner forcing their significant other into undesired work.)
5. “I know you feel strongly about this, but I need you to do it my way. It’s what’s best for us.”
What’s best for us is to make decisions as a couple. What’s best for me is to have my input heard and respected. Is your way truly what’s best for us, or is it what’s best for you?
6. “If you leave, I will hurt myself.”
If you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you need to call 911. You can also call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. I have already made my choice. I’ve explained my reasons for doing so. I am not coming back.
7. “I know you don’t want kids right now, but let’s try anyways. I just want us to be a family.”
Family can take many different forms. The common thread between them is a feeling of mutual respect. I have the right to choose how many children we have, and when we have them. I will tell you when I am ready.
As C.J. Roberts wrote in Seduced in the Dark, “I’ve been doing this a long time- manipulating people to get my way. That’s why you think you love me. Because I’ve broken you down and built you back up to believe it. It wasn’t an accident. Once you leave this behind, you’ll see that.” Sometimes it takes removing yourself from manipulation to see it for what it is. Sometimes it only takes one well placed rebuttal to shut it down. Be wary of manipulation, and don’t be afraid to leave. Only you have the right to control your own life.