There are manipulators everywhere. I am pretty sure all of us have fallen victim to their wiles at one point or another. Depending on the skill of the manipulator, the process may be so sly and so subtle that you don’t even realize that it is happening until it is too late. I personally have been on the receiving end of countless manipulations over the years. After doing a lot of research and reading, plus a side dose of life experience, I have realized a few things about manipulators that are the key to foiling their efforts and getting your life back.
First, you have to recognize a manipulator. A manipulator is a person who uses other people to seize power, influence outcomes, create scapegoats, gain control in relationships and reap the benefits of the work of others. These individuals use a lot of different tricks to accomplish these goals: deceit, guilt, false hope and last but not least, lies.
Second, master manipulators can twist any situation in their favor. They are very skilled at making you talk more about you than themselves. This is a how they gain information about you and use it to exploit potential weaknesses. They feign supreme interest in order to gain your confidence and learn all your inner most secrets. They may be genuinely interested in you, but not for the reasons you think. Their interest and your information reveals may ultimately be your undoing. Turn those questions around and ask them probing questions instead. This is like putting a deflector shield up and may result in the manipulator backing down.
Third, a manipulator is always two-faced. He or she acts differently to different people in different situations. Beware of the person that is smiling and chatting with a person one second and then talking about them to another person the next.
Fourth, a manipulator will always try to make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself and what you believe in. Anyone that tries to make you feel bad for expressing your opinion or maintaining your ground is trouble. It is said that belief can be manipulated while knowledge is truly dangerous. Knowing yourself and your boundaries and your beliefs makes you less vulnerable to someone’s efforts to put you down and undermind you.
Fifth, a manipulator’s actions never meet their words. They may tell you what you want to hear but their actions spell out something completely different. They promise to support you but fail on the follow through. They compliment you and tell you how amazing it is to be with you, but then turn around and act like it’s the biggest cross to bear in the world. This is just one more way that they attempt to mold your perception of reality of the world around you to one that works in their favor.
Sixth, a manipulator will always play the victim in every situation. They are experts at pointing the finger in every other direction but toward them. They blame everyone else for everything. They take no accountability. Nothing is their fault.
Last, they are all about intensity. Everything is too much too soon. They pretend to reveal everything right away and expect you to do the same. They pretend to be vulnerable so that you will be flattered because they “let you in.” It is all part of the plot though to make you feel sorry for them and to make you completely responsible for their feelings, regardless of what they are actually based on.
All of these attributes are important to spot, but once you do, now what? Use this awareness to maintain emotional distance from the manipulator. Refuse to participate in their guilt traps. Control the chaos. Don’t get sucked into it. Delay your responses to situations rather than offering instant gratification to the manipulator.
In the most serious cases, these manipulative relationships can progress into violence. This is a situation in which outside intervention is often needed because the victim has been so conditioned to think the interactions are normal that they cannot see their way out of it. This is where national hotlines come in.
The bottom line is, when it comes to manipulators, you need to trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you that something is off about the relationship, reassess and break away. Don’t let the worry and self doubt that they have carefully implanted in your mind take over. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by staying in the relationship. Extricate yourself while you can.