Feeling rushed? Feeling guilty?
Your new soul mate could be pulling some strings behind the scenes…
If you are anything like me, then you got sent out into the world with no real concept of relationships. Reeling from trauma — with nothing but toxic examples behind me — I stumbled right into bad relationships with manipulative people who pushed me to places I didn’t want to be.
It’s hard to do differently when you have been conditioned to find comfort in poisonous patterns.
Do you have a bad habit of falling in love with manipulative people? Are you falling in love with a manipulative or controlling person right now? To become aware of the patterns, you have to learn to see the tactics. That requires a radical dose of honesty, however, and a serious leap into self-love.
How to tell if you’re dating a manipulator.
Don’t wake up one day and realize you’ve gotten it all wrong. Are you dating a manipulative or controlling person? Look out for the new love interest who pushes your comfort zone, bullies you, or otherwise forces you to do things that you don’t really want to do.
Relationships should help us to expand our comfort zones, but they should never push us beyond them. There’s a big difference. When your partner pushes your comfort zone, they’re trying to get you to do things you don’t want to do. Manipulators use this often to test the waters and figure out what they can (or can’t) get away with.
The people who love us shouldn’t guilt trip us. This is a form of passive-aggressive communication, and it’s not acceptable in a romantic relationship. Controlling and manipulative people often use guilt trips to control the people around them, however. It’s a speedy way to trap someone with their own compassion and desire for love.
The phony concern is another favored tactic of manipulative people. They’ll butter you up with lots of sympathetic words. They may even go as far as taking action to care for you, or to make you feel better. It’s all an act, though. The real aim (of this toxic type of personality) is to get you to do or say something that they want on the other side. Think of it like a long con.
Do you feel like your new partner is really there for you? Or do they seem to go out of their way to disregard you entirely? This is how some manipulative people will get you to chase them or to lean into their toxic demands. They’ll treat you just like a ghost. Glossing right over your needs and desires, this type of person will ignore what you want or think entirely.
There are few manipulative tactics more infuriating than the corner games. Narcissists especially love to use this tactic to manipulate their victims into giving in or agreeing with them. They corner you and then batter you with nagging or with confrontation. Maybe they get you in a car, or literally corner you in the home. The aim is to either get their way or to spark reactive abuse that excuses further manipulation on their part.
Have you ever been stonewalled by someone you love? It’s a cruel tactic that involves the manipulative person giving you the silent treatment any time you make them unhappy. Think about the partner who stops talking to you when you won’t buy them what they want. The partner who is willing to treat you like you doesn’t matter because you haven’t met their mental, emotional, or material needs.
Life is a long process, yet we all still feel the rush and the push to “get it all done” and to “get it all right”. This looks different to different people. To a manipulative partner, though, it looks like pushing you into major decisions before you’ve had a chance to think about what you really want, what you really need. They also rush you to keep you from getting all the facts (thus preventing an informed decision).
It’s not always about confrontation when you’re dealing with manipulators. Sometimes, their tactics are a little more subtle. “Ghosting” is one way a manipulator might pull your strings. Instead of ridiculing you, they’ll ignore you. They won’t just ignore what you think, or want, or need. They’ll also go so far as to ignore you entirely if you aren’t giving them what they want. You’ll be turned into a veritable ghost in your own relationship.
Our partners should never make us feel like the person we are is bad. Manipulators, though, often run down their victims in order to make them more malleable. Check in on your sense of self. Does your partner make you feel like you really know who you are and what you want? Do they help you to accept yourself? Or do they make you feel guilty or ashamed for liking the things you like and enjoying the things you want?
Is your new partner especially charming? Do they overwhelm you with compliments? Especially when there is something that they need or something that they want from you. If this sounds familiar, you may have a manipulative partner. They will play nice when they want something, then slide back into all the same old stunts. It’s an uncertain place to be.
Building better boundaries for yourself…
In the end, you’re the one who is going to set the terms of the relationships you keep. You choose to allow someone’s behaviors. Once they show you who they are or how they move, it’s up to you to take the relevant actions to protect yourself and your emotional wellbeing.
That happens by setting boundaries. It happens when you learn to love yourself so much that you defend the standards which protect your happiness.
Rebuild your self-esteem. Lean into those experiences and relationships which fill with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Make better choices for yourself and learn to love yourself as deeply as you love others outside of yourself.
This self-love is vital. When we really tap into it, we ensure that we never settle for less than we deserve again. From there, we are empowered to build better relationships than ever imagined.