Built on a foundation of love and respect, good personal relationships give meaning to our lives. The deep emotional bond that we share with our partner makes even the mundane of chores look beautiful. Sharing our joys, sorrows, cares and responsibilities, the memories that we forge together are often priceless. But what happens when the balance of that perfect relationship slowly seems to be tipping to one side?
Emotional manipulation creeps into a relationship when one partner uses devious and often unscrupulous methods to change the other’s behavior or preferences to promote their self-interest. Manipulators know their victim’s weaknesses and also how to use it to their benefit. But they are sufficiently adept at hiding their true intentions which makes it difficult to identify them.
How to recognize a manipulative partner?
Living with a manipulative partner is extremely stressful and can severely affect a person’s mental and physical health. There is nothing as heartbreaking as the gnawing suspicion that your partner may be exploitative; except perhaps the confirmation of the same. However, identifying the malady is crucial to its cure and so, here are the signs that a manipulative partner exhibits.
- They do not take responsibility – By avoiding conversations, lying, acting dumb or playing the martyr, they avoid taking up responsibilities. If at all they do, they make sure that you notice it and then subtly demand for a return. They start with asking for a small help and it almost always becomes a ‘camel in the tent’ situation.
- They make you feel guilty – Whenever you need anything for yourself, make a choice or raise a genuine complaint, they play the victim and make you feel bad for saying it in the first place. They effectively make you believe that everything that went wrong is your fault, all the time.
- They lie – They flatter and lie to dump their share of work on you. They twist your words and lie to win their point in an argument and to shift the blame to you. To make you doubt your own judgment and sanity, they may even employ ‘gaslighting’ methods by feeding you on lies and half-truths.
- They diminish your self-confidence – By being subtly critical or through mild berating comments, they make you feel small and inadequate. It seems as if nothing that you do is good or big enough. But if confronted they will argue that they were only being ‘supportive’ and make you feel bad for having doubted their intentions.
- They use passive-aggressive techniques – They use flattery, emotional blackmail, nagging or veiled threats to get what they want. When that doesn’t work, they communicate their displeasure indirectly by talking behind your back or by giving you a ‘punishment’ such as silent treatment, avoiding or withholding something of importance.
- They rob your identity – It is somehow always their plans and choices that get the priority while yours get pushed to the backseat. They slowly and systematically try to isolate you from your close ones.
What to do when you have a manipulative partner?
The first step is to know that it is not your fault and that nobody has the right to manipulate or bully you. Next, try talking to your partner. Consolidate your thoughts and plan on how to present the matter in a calm, objective and non-confrontational manner. Listening and responding to your partner’s side is important. A meaningful discussion can mend relationships, clear misunderstandings and prevent the same mistakes from getting repeated. You can always seek the help of a counselor if required. However, if your partner is only trying to manipulate you again or is displaying aggression, it might be time to think of an exit plan.
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