Few things are worse than being in a relationship of any kind with a manipulator. And by the time there is a connection, chances are you will stop noticing the signs of being emotionally misused.
Instead you will start screening yourself for bad behavior, for unrealistic claims towards your partner, for provocations and lack of genuine understanding.
And you know what? Stop.
Stop giving the sulky manipulator loads of your attention and affection in the hope that they might start treating you better over time. Or next time. Stop going back to their initially great behavior in the hope that it may come back one day. Stop belittling the enormous amount of support and care that you’ve been putting in your relationship with that person. And stop, stop, stop closing your eyes to the frustration and pain they have been giving you in return by draining your vital energy and making you feel as if you’ve wronged them and not vice versa.
Here’s how to do it. Be on the watch for these four sure (and worst!) signs of emotional manipulation. And the moment you notice them, get the ***k up and leave. Period.
1. Twist what you’ve said in their favor
Manipulative people never assume responsibility for what they said or did – it is somehow always the other person’s fault. If you confront them with a justified complaint about what they’ve said or done, they will invariably find a smart way to turn the tables so as to make you feel awkward and out of place.
Let’s say you confront a manipulative person about being one hour late for an appointment with you. I, personally, would never spend one precious hour of my life waiting for a certain somebody unless, of course, it was a life or death situation.
Anyway, they will most probably come up with a cutting retort like “You would have never accused me of being late if you knew how much stress I am under!” or “You know, I am giving my best here! I was so busy and still managed to turn up for the appointment, what more can you possibly want from me?”
They might also slam you as ungrateful and insensitive, while completely shifting the focus from their inappropriate behavior (which is always to be tolerated and justified) to your words (which are demanding, hurtful and just off the mark.
A natural-born manipulator will often explain his/her inappropriate behavior and unpredictable reactions with being burned out, stressed out, and even sick. Thus, playing the victim of circumstances that are out of their control, they will enjoy the extra care and understanding you feel obliged to offer them – just because they’re simply going through so much right now. Capish?
2. “I never said that!”
It is in the heat of an argument that the emotional manipulator will deny what they have said. They are prone to making false promises to get what they want or to make you trust them and follow on their course. So when it’s clear that they didn’t stick to what they promised and you confront them about it, they will simply say “I never said that.” Right there.
They will explain to you how you’ve gotten them wrong, how you’ve twisted their words to your own advantage. They may even go as far as pointing out how manipulative you are being, and how you are inventing stories and holding them responsible for something that they never actually said!
Belittling the seriousness of the situation is yet another strategy of deflecting your justified anger that manipulators often recur to. “I was only joking!”, they would plead, making you feel like an idiot for misinterpreting an innocent remark for something far more sinister. And it is now you (again) who have been putting a strain on your relationship by adding so much stress, expecting so much of them, complaining about everything, and generally being a big pain in the ass.
If this goes on for too long, a moment may come when you will most probably start questioning your own sanity and mental stability. This is exactly what they want – to see you unsure of your own sober judgment.
3. Play the victim
Playing the victim has many benefits for the manipulator: they get away with responsibility and they enjoy an extra credit of your patience and understanding, just because they are always such martyrs.
Remember, though: sometimes the tiniest creatures you see in the wild are merciless killers. Take the Box Jellyfish, for example. It looks like a fairytale creature of unparalleled beauty. Yet, its tentacles, transparent and therefore barely visible in the water, are covered with more than five thousand stinging cells each.
The easiest prey of emotional scammers would be a kind-hearted, empathic person who they will win with flattery, fake and fast intimacy, and idealization. After the rapport has been established, their behavior will suddenly become inconsistent and cold – but always with the solid argument that they suffer so much anyway, they are under tremendous stress, people are abusing them, they are out of luck, they’re just sick, it’s a very hard period for them right now (don’t you understand?!), etc.
On the whole, manipulators change their ways as fast as the octopus changes its colors with the sole purpose of making you feel what they want you to feel and react the way they want you to.
Emotional manipulators will make you feel as if you were their savior; they will convince you that you mean the world to them and they simply cannot live without you.
They will boost your ego by suggesting that you are the only person they can count on.
And the moment you start feeling fed up or annoyed by them, they will not hesitate to attack you by first expressing their shock and disappointment with your inadequate reactions. What is more, they will gaslight you into believing it was actually you who whined too much, who was insensitive to their issues, and who was impatient with them even though you knew how much pain they’d been under anyway (so why did you even try to add more to it!).
4. Belittle all of your problems
Since it is always about them and their problems, it is no wonder that emotional manipulators will not have the time, energy and desire to discuss your situation. They see your relationship as a constant source of emotional support, but when it comes to giving such in return, they promptly find plenty of reasons why you should not expect too much from them. Neither will they ever admit you have been going through difficulties.
The equation they have in their mind with regard to your relationship looks like this:
they are troubled > you are just whining and blaming it on them.
A relationship with an emotional manipulator will always be one-sided in terms of giving support.
Unfortunately, you are on the side of giving it without being entitled to receiving any. That is why you are not allowed to go through personal difficulties – because if you do, you are putting the manipulator in the unpleasant position to stop taking support and energy away from you and start giving you some. And that is the last thing an emotional scammer would like to do.
Instead, they will convince you that you have just been inventing all of your problems. That you are seeking to find them where they are not.That you are being ungrateful. You are weak. You are stressing them out. You are just not good with finding solutions. You should be looking more on the bright side of life. You exaggerate. And so on.
The only advice you need: Don’t ever try to hear them out and consider even for a split second that they might be right. Tell yourself “Enough is enough.” Just move on to some more joyful place where you would be able to be yourself without any excuses or regrets.