How To Deal With The Manipulative People In Your Life
Manipulative people are the worst...
What does it mean to be manipulative?
Manipulation is a "type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics."
To be clear, social influence can be healthy, and it occurs between most of us. It's the 'abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics' part that makes the difference between healthy social influence and manipulation.
Unlike in a healthy relationship, in a manipulative one, a person is used for the benefit of the other. There is an imbalance of power, and one person becomes a victim who serves the other. Whether it's a work, family, social or romantic relationship, the manipulator takes advantage of you, convincing you to give up something in order to serve their interest. It can be your time, money, a person, an activity, whatever. Anyone can become a victim of manipulation because we all have weaknesses. And that's what manipulators do: identify your weakness and exploit it, for their own benefit.
How do manipulators act?
A manipulator's only goal is to control you, so they can use you. To make that happen, they turn to different tactics, like:
Isolating you from your loved ones
Emotional, physical, or mental abuse
Making you doubt yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and memory.
Not telling the whole story
Playing the victim
Flattery and praise
A manipulator will use whatever suits you, so they can get in control. They'll analyze you and identify your weaknesses, then exploit them to get something they want. Sometimes manipulation sounds like: "Oh my God, you are the best cook in the world! I want to show you off to everyone, why don't you cook all the food for my birthday party?". Other times it sounds like: "Maybe I'll divorce you and then you'll never see your kids again, how about that?". It all depends on the victim and their weaknesses.
How to deal with manipulative people.
Sometimes you're not even realizing you're being manipulated. "I'm doing this for her because she's my friend", "He loves me and this is the one thing he's asked", "I owe her...". The first thing you need to do is to become fully aware that you're being manipulated. Then, distance yourself from the manipulator.
1. Stand up for yourself
Know your self worth and don't allow the manipulator to drag you down. Remember that you deserve respect, you have the right to express your feelings and opinions, and to protect yourself from being harmed physically, emotionally and mentally. You have the right to be happy!
2. Saying NO
Learn and find the courage to say NO. You're not meant to please others. You're not supposed to grant other people's wishes. You don't have to feel guilty for refusing to do something you don't want to. Help others, but don't allow them to manipulate you. Say No, mean it, and even if they attack you, blame you, insult you, or make you feel bad about yourself, stand your ground.
3. Keeping a distance
Distance yourself from manipulative people. It is hard, but it's the only way to free yourself. This isn't easy, because you may have to be around them due to the work environment, social circle, the family relation, or even the love you have for them. But do it anyway. Keep them at a distance even if you meet regularly, by not sharing too much information, and by standing your ground. If you refuse to always please them and act as their puppet, they'll eventually find someone else to control.
4. How about manipulation in romantic relationships?
What about when the manipulator is your wife or husband? What about when there are kids and common possessions involved? Be aware that you're one step away from abuse. Be aware that your kids may become their victims, too. Be aware that they'll never stop or change their behavior. Be aware that you have the right to be happy, and you don't deserve to live through a nightmare for the rest of your life. Find help and get away.