How Can I Tell if my Significant Other is Manipulating me?

couple disagreeing

Most of us have developed some unhealthy forms of communication either from our parents, grandparents, friends, extended family members or romantic partners. In childhood, these unhealthy habits can really sink in because our brains are still developing, and we are still learning about how to relate to the world around us. Manipulation is an unhealthy form of communication that is considered emotional abuse – leaving a vulnerable party feeling confused, distraught, and untrusting.

If you’ve felt manipulated by your significant other, chances are you’ve recognized one or more of the following scenarios:

  • Being made to feel guilty about spending time with friends
  • Being constantly critiqued for small things to the point of no longer having an interest in the things you used to love
  • Having all texts, calls, emails, and diary entries read as a form of “endearment”
  • Hearing constant talk of “protecting” you from others in a way that limits your decisions and the control you have on your life
  • Questioning your sanity by doubting your memory, judgment, and reasoning

According to Bustle, manipulation is all about control and less about love and compassion. Psychology Today notes that an abuser may lie, make excuses, blame you for your own victimization, exaggerate situations, and more. If this happens, you may feel there is no way out, or you may constantly question what you are doing wrong. Unfortunately, this is the abuser’s way of breaking down your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you will go along more with what they want you to do.

Gaslighting, as explained by the Huffington Post, is a common tactic used to make someone feel “insane”. Passive aggressiveness is another common tactic used, as the abuser pretends to be helpful and caring while in reality attempting to control you. If your significant other twists your words and isolates you, you may have a manipulator on your hands. What can you do?

There are several solutions. If you’re at the beginning stages of manipulation, talk with your significant other about it. Tell them how you feel and if they’re willing to change old negative habits they may have learned in childhood, they will. If they aren’t sure how to, both of you can attend therapy to learn some useful tools. If your partner doesn’t seem to want to change or they continue using manipulative tactics without regard for your feelings, leaving may be the best answer.

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