How to Tell if You’re Being Manipulated
Emotional manipulation can be so subtle and undercover
that it can control you for quite a while before you figure out what’s happening, if you ever do. Some manipulators are highly skilled. They’re described by some as puppet masters, and you could become an unknowing puppet if you don’t know the signs. As your strings are pulled this way and that, you do just what the puppet master wants you to do. If you’re a victim of manipulation you probably know something is wrong, but you’re not quite sure what. Or you may suspect you’re being manipulated, and you want to know for sure. Maybe you’ve been manipulated in the past, and you don’t want it to happen again.
Knowing if you’re being manipulated is actually easier and more obvious than you might think it is.
While it’s smart to learn the techniques of covert emotional manipulation, the truth is you don’t have to know anything at all about the techniques to know if your strings are being pulled. You only need to look at yourself to know if manipulation is at play.
If you are in a relationship and notice some of the following 20 signs, there is a high probability you are being manipulated:
- Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. Things got off to a great start, and you’re not sure what went wrong. Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation.
- Your mood depends entirely on the state of the relationship.
- You are unhappy in your relationship a lot of the time… yet you dread losing it because you’re blissfully happy every now and then.
- You feel like you’re sabotaging the best thing that ever happened to you, but you’re not sure how.
- Your relationship feels very complex, although you’re not sure why. When talking to your friends about it, you might find yourself saying “It’s hard to explain. It’s just really…complicated.”
- You obsess about the relationship. You endlessly analyze every aspect of it as you desperately try to “figure it out.” You talk about it constantly, to whomever will listen. None of this gets you anywhere.
- You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner, which leaves you in a perpetual state of uncertainty and anxiety.
- You frequently ask your partner if something’s wrong. It really does feel as if something’s wrong, but you’re not sure what it is.
- You seem to be on the defensive an awful lot. You find yourself feeling misunderstood, so you feel the need to explain and defend yourself.
- You seem to have developed a problem with trust, jealousy or insecurity, which your partner points out to you on a regular basis.
- You feel that you just don’t know how to make your partner happy. You try hard but nothing seems to work, at least not for long.
- Expressing negative thoughts and emotions feels restricted or even forbidden, so you try to keep those things hidden. You feel frustrated a lot, though, because important things go unsaid.
- You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship. You feel less confident, less secure, less intelligent, less sane, less trusting, or in any way “less than” what you were before.
- You always feel you’re falling short of your partner’s expectations.
- You find yourself apologizing a lot.
- You often feel guilty. You continually try to repair the damage you believe you’ve caused. You blame yourself for your partner pulling away from you. You can’t understand why you keep sabotaging the relationship.
- You carefully control your words, actions and emotions around your partner to keep him or her from withdrawing their affection again. Your suppressed feelings build inside of you, and sometimes you erupt like a volcano. You’ve never acted this way before. You can’t seem to help it, and it only makes things worse.
- You do things you aren’t really comfortable with or that go against your values, limits or boundaries, in order to make your partner happy and keep the relationship intact.
That’s all there is to it. Now you know if you’re being manipulated, and you know how to tell if it happens again. If you want to prevent things from going this far in future relationships, though, learn the tactics manipulators use so you can see it before it’s too late. You can prevent a lot of wasted time and emotional pain and trauma.
You might be wondering how you or anyone else could stay in a relationship that causes fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, frustration and hostility. Wouldn’t you know something is terribly wrong?
“Manipulation is an evolving process over time,” according to Harriet B. Braiker, PhD., author of “Who’s Pulling Your Strings,” Victims are controlled through a series of promised gains and threatened losses covertly executed through a variety of manipulation tactics. In other words, the manipulation builds gradually as the abuser creates uncertainty and doubt by going back and forth from hot to cold, by going back and forth from giving you what you desire to taking it away.
“Take heed – you have no social obligation to be victimized – ever.”
(Joe Navarro, M.A., author of the book Dangerous Personalities and 25-year veteran of the FBI)
Emotional manipulation is emotional abuse. If you’re in a relationship with an abuser, no good will come of it. This person does not value or respect you or care about your well-being. Leave the relationship and seek professional counselling if needed.
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