There are many forms of manipulative behavior in a relationship. There is manipulation that is done for the benefit of both parties and then there is destructive manipulation which is done for the benefit of the manipulator to the detriment of the person being controlled. It is this second category that we will examine in this article.
If you think you are the one being manipulated, then you need to pay special attention to what is being described here. The reason I point this out is that for the victim, it's often very difficult to recognise they are being manipulated. The reasons for this are many and varied and you can read more about it in this article about the signs of a controlling relationship. If, after reading this article, you're still not sure, it's useful to go through the list with a trusted friend (not the manipulator!) because very often an outsider will be able to see things more clearly than you will. This is not a criticism of you, it is simply a comment on the nature of mind control.
If you are confused about the relationship, if you feel guilty a lot, if you're afraid of your partner, if you are being told you are the problem but you secretly suspect that your partner is the problem, if you doubt yourself, if you think you're going crazy, if you know there's something wrong but you can't quite put your finger on it, then chances are that you are in an abusive relationship and you need to do something about it.
So let's have a look at what constitutes manipulative behavior in a relationship.
You are made to feel that if anything goes wrong it's always your fault.
Your partner takes credit for the good things.
You are constantly being criticized.
You have lots of arguments about the same thing, over and over again. You may believe that your partner doesn't get you or that your communication skills are poor. The fact is your partner understands exactly what you want, they just don't care. They take every opportunity to force their ideas into your head.
Your partner has all your passwords and you have none of theirs.
Your partner makes all the rules and there is one set of rules for you and there is a different set of rules for them. They can change the rules at a moments notice.
They have a vicious temper and you spend a lot of time making sure you don't get them upset.
You found out information about your partner well into the relationship and if you had known this before you started you would not have gotten involved. In other words, things were hidden from you at the start.
You are insulted, called names, humiliated and belittled not only in private but also sometimes in public. If you try to do the same partner gets 10 times more angry than you and eventually you realized it wasn't worth the effort.
Your partner gets all the sleep they want but your sleep is frequently interrupted.
Your partner controls the finances in one way or another. There may have been a seemingly logical reason for it at the start but you realize that things are not fair at present.
Your partner lies to you a lot. Sometimes it can take years for people to figure this out. The victim can't believe that somebody who loves them would actually lie to this extent. Some of the lies are so big it takes you some time to get your head around it. If you got married, bought a house and had children because you believed your partner loved you, then realizing that your partner does not love you is a very big deal.
Many of the criticisms and insults are aimed at you personally. It's not that the thing that you did was ridiculous, you are ridiculous for doing it. Your desire is not stupid, rather you are stupid for having such a desire. This is a very significant aspect of the change in personality that victims of psychological abuse undergo.
A particularly nasty type of manipulative behavior in a relationship is that of threatening to leave. Because the victim is made to be dependent on the manipulator, thoughts of losing the manipulator are horrific for the victim. When the manipulator threatens to leave they know that it will make the victim jump to do whatever is necessary to stay in the relationship.
Along similar lines, manipulators often make veiled references to suicide if their partner talks about leaving. Of course, nobody wants to be responsible for somebody else committing suicide, so the victim ends up doing whatever is necessary to look after the manipulator. This, too, is a flat out lie on the part of the manipulator. Somebody who is a victim of psychological abuse has tremendous difficulty seeing it as such.
You are expected to tell your manipulative partner everything about your life. What you think, who you spoke to, what you did, is valuable information for the manipulator because it makes it easier for them to control you.
You may be at the point of realizing you know very little about your partner.
At the start of your relationship you probably did very many nice things for your partner to keep the good times going, in other words, to get the rewards. Now, most of your time is organized around not being punished although you may not think of it in such terms. It is more likely you think that you just don't want to upset them.
Have you noticed that your whole life is organized around making their life more comfortable? They have basically become the purpose of your life. Your wants and needs are no longer being met but they have everything just the way they want, thank you very much!
Have they been making snide remarks or openly critical comments about your family and friends? Have you been spending less and less time with your family and friends because the manipulator makes life so unpleasant when you come home after a visit with them? Just so you know, this is a deliberate tactic on the part of the manipulator to isolate you from your support networks. The manipulator wants themselves to be your sole source of information. This is a very dangerous position to be in. Remember, they are professional liars!
Have you noticed that the manipulator never forgives you? In fact, they will trot out your past sins, mistakes, and wrongdoings on a regular basis to make you feel guilty.
You, however, are expected to forgive them every little thing.
Are you afraid of your partner? If your answer to this is no, think again for a moment. Do you do things so that they won't get upset? Even if they're not present, do you check in your own head if they will be okay with what you're about to do? It's often not until somebody has left a manipulative relationship that they realize just how much guilt and fear they were living under while in the relationship.
Are you afraid of leaving the relationship because you think you will not be able to manage without your partner or that you won't be able to find another relationship? These are phobias, irrational fears, that have been imposed by the manipulator to keep you in place.
Do you feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster? When your partner does something nice for you are you pleased and filled with hope again that they really are basically a good person and now things can get back to normal? And then it all comes crashing down again...
You can read more here about the signs of a psychopath, the signs of an abusive wife, the stages of an abusive relationship, how to deal with controlling people and how to leave an abusive relationship.
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