I am not a manipulator.
In fact, I have never successfully manipulated any situation to my favor if it involved being deceitful or malicious. It’s because I fall on the other end of that spectrum and prefer to be confrontational and put everything out there honestly and let the chips fall, rather than smile, create drama and cajole in order to get my way about things. I loathe playing mind games, therefore when someone starts playing them with me, I’d much rather just call them on it, or walk away from them.
There is this one woman I would have to call a Master Manipulator. I have never seen anything like her before.
Three boyfriends were all driven to the edge of madness by her emotional manipulation.
The first one got out before he completely lost his mind, or went to jail. The other two weren’t that lucky.
The second boyfriend had to retrieve his boat and all of his worldly possessions after she loaded it up one afternoon while he was working. They had been living together and she loaded his boat and gave it the big heave-ho when he finally refused to keep paying all of the bills, while she paid for nothing. Then she accused him of stalking her and he ended up going to jail for a short time.
Everybody thought he was scary crazy and we all warned her to be careful.
When he got out of jail he was broke and down on his luck. He was hired to help me work on a remodel project and I was hesitant to work with him at first. But as the days wore on I got to hear his phone chime dozens of times for weeks. When it first started happening, he would run into the room where the rest of us were working “Hey! Lookit this! See?! I am not crazy! She’s texting me!” He would hold up his phone for us to read it and sure enough, there it was “I miss you. I am so sorry. Please keep fighting for me.”
Meanwhile, she’s in the bar every night telling anyone that will listen to her that he’s still stalking her.
She put the third boyfriend in jail too and while he was in there his mother died. He inherited a little bit of money, so when he got out she was really sweet to him and let him move back in with her. She had been asked to move out of the house she was in, so after getting him to pay all of the bills she accumulated while he was incarcerated, and the deposit on the new place, she told him that all of his stuff was outside the new house and he wasn’t getting a key.
Thankfully this guy had people looking out for him. “That woman is planning to take all of your money.” The local bartender knew this woman’s plan and made the guy give most of his inheritance to her for safekeeping.
Any man that has ever had anything romantic to do with her becomes fodder for her to share while she’s drinking. If a guy texts her, she proudly shows it to everyone and exclaims that he’s obsessed with her and won’t leave her alone. She doesn’t bother sharing the fact that she initiated the texting or has encouraged the guy to contact her. By the time the poor guy makes it back into the fold of people that have been exposed to her gossip, he looks like a crazy person and no one wants to talk to him anymore. He has become isolated from his peers and now he is much easier for her to control.
How do you look at someone that you’ve been intimate with and plot out how you’ll deceive them? Is it a survival mode, or is it just some warped sense of entitlement? How do you lie to the person with an I love you, don’t leave me! and then talk about them like they are dirt, behind their back and to all of their friends?
What drives people to manipulate others to the point of insanity?
Lisa Holland, Phd, LMFT describes what has happened here as emotional manipulation.
“People feel emotionally and physically terrible when they realize they have been manipulated. They’ll say, “I feel so stupid, why didn’t I see this, or I thought I was going crazy.”
Most all of us have been emotionally manipulated at least once in our lives, and it usually feels the same for most everyone…bad.
People who manipulate others do it for a variety of reasons that are not always obvious or reasonable. One constant however, is that they want you to question yourself. The more unsure you are of yourself, the higher the probability they can manipulate you.”
Her article goes on to talk about how this happens and how to recognize what is happening and deal with it in a constructive and healthy manner, rather than falling into the trap the Emotional Manipulator is setting for you.
- “Emotional manipulators are very charming. In the beginning you will like them. In general they are especially nice around others, but behind closed doors they are quite the opposite with you. They are skilled at the use of deception.
∗You may feel confused. You question that their thinking and actions don’t seem congruent or make sense.
- They deliberately plant seeds of guilt by focusing on your perceived inadequacies. Their goal is to elevate themselves and reduce you. They listen closely to learn what affects you and then use this information as ammunition against you. Words are their weapon of choice.
∗You may question yourself and feel defensive.
- They are always right and have a deep sense of entitlement. They do not see the other side of situations or have empathy for other people’s plight. Little irritations are BIG problems for the emotional manipulator.
∗You may feel frustrated and can’t seem to understand “their” reality.
- They thrive on your reactions. Some may flirt with you and accuse you of overacting, guilt you by reminding you that they aren’t perfect, or put you down and call you sensitive when you react.
∗You may feel trapped and try to create distance by avoiding their call
Note: These are not diagnostic criteria, but some common traits of people who manipulate others in business situations. Since emotional manipulation can be subtle and logical reasoning can lead to more confusion; the first step is to pay attention to your initial feelings of incongruence.”
Incongruence simply means something that doesn’t fit or make sense.
Incongruent behavior is crazy making behavior and every manipulator I have ever had an experience with will try to make you crazy and confused. I love you! I hate you! I love you! I hate you! Once they feel you have reached your limit, they know they can manipulate and control your actions and reactions. They learn how to push your buttons. You become off balance and right where they want you to be.
The worst part is that everyone watching usually thinks you’re crazy too and they believe the manipulator’s story. They are the ones in control and looking calm and rational. It’s the person being manipulated like a sock puppet that looks like the looney tune.
Emotional manipulation can come in all forms. Most will have one thing in common and that is drama. If you look at a person’s history (and I say this knowing that my recent history is plagued with drama) and all you see is drama, then most likely you’re dealing with an emotional manipulator. Make no mistake about who was being manipulated though. In my case, I have been extracting the numerous emotional manipulators from my life, therefore I have been subjected to an inordinate amount of drama over the last three years. Wading through all that crap has made me realize that people that manipulate have way too much time on their hands. Disentangling myself from their webs of deceit and manipulation has been quite a chore.
A good rule of thumb is whenever you feel like something isn’t quite right, take a step back from the situation. Weigh all of the information available to you at the time and be patient. If you are dealing with an emotional manipulator, they won’t waste any time coming at you again. Keep in mind that an emotional manipulator does not use logic of any kind, so nothing will make sense. Be prepared to either handle them and protect yourself, or simply walk away.