How to Spot Manipulation

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manipulationWe all want to get our needs met, but manipulators use underhanded methods. Manipulation is a way to covertly influence someone with indirect, deceptive, or abusive tactics. Manipulation may seem benign or even friendly or flattering as if the person has your highest concern in mind. In reality, it’s to achieve an ulterior motive.

Sometimes, it’s veiled hostility. It can be abusive and the objective may purely be power. You may not realize that you’re being intimidated. If you grew up being manipulated, it’s harder to discern what’s going on, because it feels familiar.

You might have a gut feeling of discomfort or anger, but on the surface, the manipulator may use words that are pleasant, ingratiating, reasonable, or that play on your guilt or sympathy, so you override your instincts and don’t know what to say.

Manipulative Tactics

Favorite weapons of manipulators are guilt, complaining, comparing, lying, denying (including excuses and rationalizations), feigning ignorance, or innocence (the “Who me!?” defense), blame, bribery, undermining, mind games, assumptions, “foot-in-the-door,” reversals, emotional blackmail, evasiveness, forgetting, fake concern, sympathy, apologies, flattery, and gifts and favors. Manipulators often use guilt by saying directly or through implication, “After all I’ve done or you,” or chronically behaving needy and or helpless. They may compare you negatively to someone else or rally imaginary allies to their cause, saying that, “Everyone” or “Even so and so thinks XYZ ,” or “says XYZ about you.”

Some manipulators deny promises, agreements, or conversations, or start an argument and blame you for something you didn’t do to get sympathy and power. This approach can be used to break a date, promise, or agreement. Parents routinely manipulate with bribery – everything from, “Finish your dinner to get dessert,” to “No video games until your homework is done,” but this isn’t done with aggressive intent, but to encourage children to do the right thing. It’s far different if a narcissistic parent manipulates to belittle or undermine a child.

Manipulators often voice assumptions about your intentions or beliefs and then react to them as if they were true in order to justify their feelings or actions, all the while denying what you said in the conversation. They may act as if something has been agreed upon or decided when it hasn’t in order to ignore any input or objection you might have.

The “foot-in-the-door” technique is making a small request that you agree to, which is followed by the real request. It’s harder to say no, because you’ve already said yes. The reversal turns your words around to mean something you didn’t intend. When you object, manipulators turn the tables on you so that they’re the injured party. Now it’s about them and their complaints, and you’re on the defensive. Fake concern is sometimes used to undermine your decisions and confidence in the form of warnings or worry about you.

See all The Covert Tactics Manipulators Use to Control and Confuse You.

Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is abusive manipulation that may include the use of rage, intimidation, threats, shame, or guilt. Shaming you is a method to create self-doubt and make you feel insecure. It can even be couched in a compliment: “I’m surprised that you of all people you’d stoop to that!” A classic ploy is to frighten you with threats, anger, accusations, or dire warnings, such as, “At your age, you’ll never meet anyone else if you leave,” or “The grass isn’t any greener,” or playing the victim: “I’ll die without you.”

Blackmailers may also frighten you with anger, so you sacrifice your needs and wants. If that doesn’t work, they sometimes suddenly switch to a lighter mood. You’re so relieved that you’re willing to agree to whatever is asked. They might bring up something you feel guilty or ashamed about from the past as leverage to threaten or shame you, such as, “I’ll tell the children xyz if you do what I want.”

Victims of blackmailers with certain personality disorders, such as borderline or narcissistic PD, are prone to experience a psychological FOG, which stands for Fear, Obligation, and Guilt, an acronym created by Susan Forward. The victim is made to feel afraid to cross the manipulator, feels obligated to comply with his or her request, and feels too guilty not to do so. Shame and guilt can be used directly with put-downs or accusations that you’re “selfish” (the worse vice to many codependents) or that “You only think of yourself,” “You don’t care about me,” or that “You have it so easy.”

Codependency

Codependents are also easy prey for being manipulated by narcissists, borderline personalities, sociopaths, and other codependents, including addicts.

Codependents are have trouble being direct and assertive and may use manipulation to get their way. TThey may say whatever they think someone wants to hear to get along or be loved, but then later they do what they want. This is also passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than answer a question that might lead to a confrontation, they’re evasive, change the topic, or use blame and denial (including excuses and rationalizations), to avoid being wrong. Because they find it so hard to say no, they may say yes, followed by complaints about how difficult accommodating the request will be. When confronted, codependents have difficulty accepting responsibility because of their deep shame. Instead, they deny responsibility, and blame or make excuses or make empty apologies to keep the peace.

They use charm and flattery and offer favors, help, and gifts to be accepted and loved. Criticism, guilt, and self-pity are also used to manipulate to get what they want: “Why do you only think of yourself and never ask or help me with my problems? I helped you.” Acting like a victim is a way to manipulate with guilt.

Addicts routinely deny, lie, and manipulate to protect their addiction. Their partners also manipulate for example, by hiding or diluting an addict’s drugs or alcohol or through other covert behavior. They may also lie or tell half-truths to avoid confrontations or control the addict’s behavior.

Passive-aggression

Passive-aggressive behavior can also be used to manipulate. When you have trouble saying no, you might agree to things you don’t want to, and then get your way by forgetting, being late, or doing it half-heartedly. Typically, passive-aggression is a way of expressing hostility. Forgetting “on purpose” conveniently avoids what you don’t want to do and gets back at your partner – like forgetting to pick up your spouse’s clothes from the cleaners. Sometimes, this is done unconsciously, but it’s still a way of expressing anger. More hostile is offering desserts to your dieting partner.

How to Handle Manipulators

The first step is to know whom you’re dealing with. Manipulators know your triggers! Study their tactics and learn their favorite weapons. Build your self-esteem and self-respect. This is your best defense! Also, learn to be assertive and set boundaries. Read How to Speak Your Mind: Become Assertive and Set Limits or watch the webinar How to Be Assertive. For techniques and scripts for dealing with difficult people, read Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People. Contact me at [email protected] to join my mailing list and receive a free report “12 Strategies to Handle Manipulators.”

© DarleneLancer 2014

 

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Mrs. Mac
Mrs. Mac
4 years ago

We have had a two year drama with my sister: about every six weeks she makes another attempt to “connect” in the most inappropriate ways. She has gossiped and lied about my husband and I, and tried to drive a wedge in every family relationship. A year ago, we begged her to get professional help because her emotional triads had worn us out. Almost every interaction was email or text, so a record of the craziness is tangible (unfortunately). More recently, my sister has been grooming my mum to side with her, act as go-between, and deliver messages. My mum… Read more »

anon
anon
5 years ago

I had a troubled relationship with a woman with strong BPD traits. At the start of the devaluation phase, she brought forward (two times and out of nowhere) that she had this work colleague who was manipulative. She said he portrayed an image of nice guy but he was manipulative at the end of the day. That was weird. Months after the breakup I had this epiphany that she was probably describing herself through this (supposititious?) colleague. Anyway, I temporarily gave up dating while I am address my own issues. Therapy, instrospection, and journaling have helped me a lot. Thanks… Read more »

Tina
Tina
5 years ago

I asked my son to leave because his silent treatment hurt too much. I am a person that always wanted a family but everyone is dead now. I live alone and trust no one anymore. When I finally left the state to live where there where no more memories James decided to have people spy on me — to teach me a lesson.
They manipulate me, deceive me and hurt me…all because they thought I was too codependent. I just left. Trust No one.

say it
say it
5 years ago

I am really struggling with manipulations since birth. Just yesterday a customer calls me. All he needed say was that we should repeat some work. Instead he goes about sourcing and getting other customers for me of which he now asks for a little favour of the work. My live has been full of these things. A woman getting pregnant so I can pay for her life bills. My mothers food always felt more expensive than hotel. Because from food there was this un stated thing I give her money in return. Finally I told her not to give me… Read more »

Monica
Monica
7 years ago

I fear my situation is too long to explain here. However, I do know that I am a Codependent person. I thought I was doing well for several years, excluding my children of course. Now I’m frightened of a situation I am in, or not in. I don’t know at this point. What I do know is that I have been threw 2 rather abusive marriages. (Physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, etc.) I was doing so well, I was. Then someone who became what I felt to be my bff. Bestest Friend Forever came into my life. We had a bond… Read more »

Audrey
Audrey
1 year ago

My mother regularly makes promises and never keeps them, and prevents us from doing anything without her using guilt tripping. She constantly uses guilt to manipulate us, what should I do? I’m not an adult yet so that makes matters worse.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Audrey

Even though you can’t leave, you can be honest and tell your mother that she has broken your trust too many times and that you no longer believe her. Just because someone tries to manipulate you with guilt, you don’t have to feel guilty. If you’re wrong, apologize. If not, don’t react to the manipulation.

Lynda
Lynda
1 year ago

Just finding this website and what a wonderful resource it is! It seems there aren’t as many Coda and Al-Anon groups anymore. I have also found Celebrate Recovery groups to be very helpful. Just throwing it out there as another resource. I will be visiting this site again and again as my codependency has reared its ugly head once again!

Jmccollo
Jmccollo
2 years ago

My 42 yo son uses emotional abuse (I don’t love you anymore/ or that he knows I don’t love him as well as threatening to kill himself if I don’t give in to his demands which involve money. He does not work and lives in a house I own. He is supposed to pay rent but hasn’t for 9mo. I am at my wits end. I have given in before but within the last couple of months realized I am making the problems worse. What do I do?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Jmccollo

It appears you have been enabling your son’s destructive ways. He sounds like he may have an addiction or mental illness. You are right, but you will need guidance and support to stand up to his manipulation. Get counseling and attend CoDA or Al-Anon meetings. There are also tough love meetings for parents.

Carolyn
Carolyn
2 years ago

I recently asked my in-laws for space since I found hanging around with them uncomfortable at times. Sometimes they are mean to one another, and often critisizing others. I was feeling badly about it and finally spoke up. We have an infant baby, and my husband wants to take him to visit them.. and I feel uncomfortable. We also go to the same church and usually sit together. Now I’ve asked him to sit else where and he doesn’t want to. I don’t know what do to. I said I wouldn’t keep the baby from them. They want to visit… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

It’s a difficult situation and would be benefited by couples counseling before years of resentment set in. If he refuses, you can go to learn how to respond to him and them in a better way. It might be helpful to share with him my blogs on manipulation and toxic parents. If he doesn’t see it, the challenge is harder, but he may not if he’s grown up with them. Also, he needn’t. If you respond to their words assertively rather than withdraw, they will learn they must be respectful of you if you insist to being treated with respect.

SUE FINNERTY
SUE FINNERTY
2 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

I have just read two books by Susan Forward: Toxic Parents and Toxic In Laws. I found the information in them invaluable with lots of tips to protect your marriage. I found the dynamics in the parent/child relationship fascinating. Good luck.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  SUE FINNERTY

See also my blog on “Toxic Parents.

Avi
Avi
2 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

That’s a bummer you don’t like your in laws. However. Everyone has character flaws no need to say you don’t want to sit next to them at church. The “Christian” thing to do would be to keep peace while setting boundaries that make sense. Refusing to sit next to your husbands parents st church sounds petty & controlling. Visiting 1x per week doesn’t seem excessive to me….if they aren’t actually dangerous harmful people what you’re doing is very unfair to your husband, and being “uncomfortable” is a part of growing in life

Allie
Allie
2 years ago

Thank you for this. My mom and I are both codependent (on each other, but if someone else is around she or I can be codependent on them, too.

I can recognised when it’s false praise but have trouble not helping her when she says, “Help me!” Still working on that; now I understand why she does it.
On the flip side, when someone else gives me a genuine compliment, I have trouble accepting it. I wonder, “What do they really mean/want?” Still working on that, too. 🙂

Hannah Wood
Hannah Wood
2 years ago

I always manipulate guys!

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Hannah Wood

Do they like it?

C
C
3 years ago

I have just ended a relationship last night with a man for his lack of trust & accusations.We began as friends for 8yrs & in relationship for the past 10months. We met on a job in cape town (where he is from)& when I moved back to Scotland we stayed in touch regularly throughtout the years.After 7 yrs away from cape town i returned Jan this year.We were reunited & that night we got together. But right away it was difficult & I have allowed terrible behaviour from him.He has been cheated on the past but i am so unhappy,sick… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
2 years ago
Reply to  C

Your not alone! In it now… 🙁

MJ
MJ
3 years ago

Hello, I was wondering if you can help me understand the situation that my son is about to be in when he gets married next year. His fiance’ is becoming very controlling and manipulative toward my son so that she can move out of an abusive situation with her drug addicted father. She has many emotionally damaging issues that she is currently dealing with including sexual abuse by her father. My husband and I are very concerned that my son is being forced to marry this emotionally damaged 20 year old girl because she is using it as an escape… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  MJ

I certainly can’t predict the future, and you may not be able to stop the marriage. You might ask what makes him so susceptible to this and send him this blog.

Tommy
Tommy
3 years ago

Hi Darlene. Thank you for taking the time to reply to our comments. I definitely see myself as the co-dependent, especially in my last relationship. I was very passive aggressive and manipulative. I truly felt like I was addicted to him/the relationship (gay relationship). I was in the palm of his hand for the duration of the relationship (he definitely was not in mine). Are co-dependents more likely to get ‘hooked’ on people that are also manipulative, narcissistic or withholding themselves?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Tommy

People with low self-esteem (typical of codependents) will accept abuse more easily for many reasons. Codependents can also be passive-aggressive until they learn to be assertive, which also raises self-esteem. Dealing with a Narcissist explains the relationship dynamics and the attraction, as well as steps to deal with a narcissist and decide whether the relationship is salvageable. I recommend my book, How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive & Set Limits and companion webinar, How to Be Assertive, to stop being passive-aggressive and more assertive.

Clarence Marthet
Clarence Marthet
3 years ago

My 20 year old daughter lives with her 28 year old bf. She was friends with this man and his live in gf until he pushed her out for my daughter. He once sent a pic of his penis to my wife and claimed it was meant as an icebreaker. Our daughter made excuses. When my wife gives her a gift he always gets her something bigger and my wife’s gift seems to go by the wayside. Our relationship is severely strained and they are talking marriage. What kind of personality issue is this and which of your books will… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago

I understand your concern, but cannot diagnose someone I haven’t interviewed. I don’t know what influence you have on your daughter, but to the extent you do, my ebook and webinar on assertiveness might be helpful in speaking with her and setting boundaries.

Mrs. Mac
Mrs. Mac
4 years ago

We have had a two year drama with my sister: about every six weeks she makes another attempt to “connect” in the most inappropriate ways. She has gossiped and lied about my husband and I, and tried to drive a wedge in every family relationship. A year ago, we begged her to get professional help because her emotional triads had worn us out. Almost every interaction was email or text, so a record of the craziness is tangible (unfortunately). More recently, my sister has been grooming my mum to side with her, act as go-between, and deliver messages. My mum… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Mrs. Mac

Your mother’s collusion demonstrates how the dysfunctional communication in the family has always been a pattern. The best way to deal with that is to change how you interact, to be assertive and set boundaries. See How to Be Assertive and How to Speak Your Mind. For dealing with difficult or defensive people, see the scripts suggested in Dealing with a Narcissist

anon
anon
5 years ago

I had a troubled relationship with a woman with strong BPD traits. At the start of the devaluation phase, she brought forward (two times and out of nowhere) that she had this work colleague who was manipulative. She said he portrayed an image of nice guy but he was manipulative at the end of the day. That was weird. Months after the breakup I had this epiphany that she was probably describing herself through this (supposititious?) colleague. Anyway, I temporarily gave up dating while I am address my own issues. Therapy, instrospection, and journaling have helped me a lot. Thanks… Read more »

Tina
Tina
5 years ago

I asked my son to leave because his silent treatment hurt too much. I am a person that always wanted a family but everyone is dead now. I live alone and trust no one anymore. When I finally left the state to live where there where no more memories James decided to have people spy on me — to teach me a lesson.
They manipulate me, deceive me and hurt me…all because they thought I was too codependent. I just left. Trust No one.

say it
say it
5 years ago

I am really struggling with manipulations since birth. Just yesterday a customer calls me. All he needed say was that we should repeat some work. Instead he goes about sourcing and getting other customers for me of which he now asks for a little favour of the work. My live has been full of these things. A woman getting pregnant so I can pay for her life bills. My mothers food always felt more expensive than hotel. Because from food there was this un stated thing I give her money in return. Finally I told her not to give me… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  say it

It’s not just these people. You must overcome your codependency so you’re not “prey.” You don’t know how to set boundaries. Start reading and applying the lessons in Codependency for Dummies and go to CoDA.org meetings, and get some counseling.

Michelle
Michelle
5 years ago

I thought that this was an excellent and spot-on blog! I, too, have always been codependent – and still working on it. This has a lot of insight in it and makes some very useful points.

Thanks so much for sharing this – it is great!

Greg
Greg
5 years ago

Last September my wife and I were married. It was a destination wedding for the majority of our guests. The night before at the rehearsal our priest went around and asked those close to us if they had any marriage advice for us. My sister, who is single, wasn’t in the wedding and someone I don’t speak with regularly, apparently told the priest “she taught me how to treat women”. I only realized her comment after the wedding when I watched a video taken of the event. The acoustics in the church were poor and my mind must have been… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Explore exactly why her comment made you angry, why you aren’t closer with her, and what’s your part in that? It might be taken as a compliment – that you treated her well. Forgiveness often starts with self-forgiveness. How might that apply?

Lesa Reed
Lesa Reed
5 years ago

What to do when mom calls son crying because they can’t pay their $3000 property taxes on their 2 houses because of excessive credit debt due to shopping addiction. Sold an airplane someone gave them a year ago. Bought a nice used Cadillac this past summer. Have 2nd mortgage on one house (due to 100,000 in credit debt) that one son paid for 6 years and the other rented home for 10 years. All dad ever talks about is how awful his life is and need a new cell phone, Ipad, Mobil home so they can travel. Son can’t hardly… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Lesa Reed

Sounds like you feel like an enabler. The antidote is learning to be assertive and say, “No,” as explained in my ebook, How to Speak Your Mind. It gets easier with practice.

Graceful
Graceful
5 years ago

This article reinforces a negative stigma of “co-dependency” when all Melody Beattie wanted to do was give a name to the tendencies of people who learned to devalue themselves at a young age due to emotional abuse. I would love to see this article rewritten from a point of view of compassion for the co-dependant. This article seems to confuse tactics needed for schizoid/narcissistic personalities – who have no empathy, with co-dependants who have learned to anticipate emotional abuse, have no boundaries, and are often paired up with a manipulator who is ten times worse in communicating real wants and… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Graceful

In Codependency for Dummies, I go into a longer explanation of the kind of manipulation which codependents do, which is passive and defensive, but it doesn’t require that one is abusive or have malicious intent to manipulate. We all manipulate at times to influence others or get our wants an needs met. It’s only when it undermines someone else or harms honest communication that it’s a real problem, and sometimes codependency leads to that, too. When we manipulate instead of being direct, we’re usually disappointed with the outcome and it breeds resentment in others.

PaulaD
PaulaD
2 years ago
Reply to  Graceful

The article is spot-on, compassionate.
Codependents LEARNED to anticipate various abuse. They were not taught boundaries (deliberately manipulated to forgo rights by creating cognitive denial of abuse) often DO pair up with manipulators because they don’t know better. They often have tolerance breaks, flip-flop between empathetic self-less feelings and resentment, along with unstable self-esteem. They also LEARNED to get needs met through narcissistic traits. Often, later, with enough trauma, codependency can harden into counter-dependency if these dysfunctional childhood coping strategies continue W/O replacing with healthier behaviors.

Siel
Siel
5 years ago

Any advice for dealing with a codependent/passive-aggressive friend? We live quite far away from each-other, so we usually rely on phone calls and social media to stay in touch. Sometimes we would vent to each-other and just talk to relieve stress; yet whenever I’d try to ask for her ear she’d clearly ignore me. Although she shuts me off at times like those, if I don’t respond to her calls right away, she lashes out at me saying that I don’t care enough to check on her. Sometimes she would just drop off the face of the earth without contact… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Siel

You might want to read my blog on emotional unavailability. There is no quick fix to this problem. You need to do some serious work on yourself to examine why you are in this relationship. Changing you will change everything. Start with reading my books and go to CoDA meetings.

Rachel
Rachel
1 year ago
Reply to  Siel

In dealing with an emotionally unstable and sometimes abusive spouse, I have realized a lot about my codependency and boundaries. As I have grown and healed, I find myself becoming un-enmeshed with him, and seeing more clingy/codependent behaviors come out of him. I am at the point where I don’t have an attachment to him, I don’t consider us reconciled, an he is holding onto the facade that he doesn’t need individual help before we can fix the marriage. I know I can’t convince him to get help and may end up leaving, but how would I start trying to… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Rachel

Your question belies the fact that you really haven’t let go at a deeper level. Of course, there are ways to insist your partner get help as part of boundary setting or this may be apparent and raised by the counselor in conjoint therapy. Relationships are very much a dynamic. When you stop reacting, suggesting, and giving help, he may see how much he depends on you and may look at himself.

Rachel
Rachel
6 years ago

Hello. How can I help my sister who has been “off and on” in a relationship (which she constantly denies is a romantic relationship, even though she has stated that she doesn’t believe in platonic relationships…) . When they’re “on”, they’re inseparable, and the family must accept him. When they’re “off”, she hates him passionately, and the family had better not never contact with him. This has been going on for about 10 years. Each time they’re back “on” my sister seems to easily brush aside the fact that their relationship is unhealthy, trauma filled, burdensome to others, and just… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

You can decide what your boundaries are enforce them. Work on your relationship with her and YOUR needs vis-a-vis her friend. If she complains about him, then suggest see speak with a therapist.

Sara
Sara
6 years ago

I feel manipulated by my husband… I asked him to move out for a few months because he was becoming verbally abusive and speaking to me as if he hated me. He has just been diagnosed with depression and says he wants to work on himself before he can see me again, but then messages me saying he needs a hug, or asks me to ask for his forgiveness in where I went wrong in the relationship. He calls me and says he misses me and I tell him I miss him too, then he attacks me for not responding… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Sara

You would benefit by learning to set boundaries and reading Codependency for Dummies and my ebook,How to Speak Your Mind- Become Assertive and Set Limits. Also attend CoDA meetings.

Monica
Monica
7 years ago

I fear my situation is too long to explain here. However, I do know that I am a Codependent person. I thought I was doing well for several years, excluding my children of course. Now I’m frightened of a situation I am in, or not in. I don’t know at this point. What I do know is that I have been threw 2 rather abusive marriages. (Physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, etc.) I was doing so well, I was. Then someone who became what I felt to be my bff. Bestest Friend Forever came into my life. We had a bond… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Monica

I know that loss and abandonment can be very, very painful. It’s vitally important that you get frequent support. I recommend CoDA meetings and reading recovery literature. Start doing the exercises in my books. The separation is reviving abandonment from childhood. Be sure that your shrink knows how to do trauma therapy so that you can recover from that. Talk to him or her about how to get more support between sessions. See my other blogs on self-nurturing and trust and my Youtube on 3 Recovery Exercises, which you can practice daily.

Egwene
Egwene
7 years ago

Hi, I think I may be a bit codependent. I don’t always run around trying to be helpful to everyone, but I do accept a lot of things in relationships that other people find unacceptable. By “accept” I mean, do not LEAVE the relationship. I will always find some way to understand why they did a hurtful thing, or I seem to have this magical ability to forget things that happened, especially childhood treatment. Plus, I am not perfect either and I can understand how people can end up doing rotten things. I have spent a lot of years feeling… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Egwene

You’ve asked very good questions. We never fully “get over” being codependent; however, we can learn to love ourselves and live healthier lives surrounded by people who love us without the old drama. When old tendencies or feelings re-emerge we replace them with new attitudes and behaviors. It requires work, time, and the support of knowledgeable mentors who themselves have changed. Start by doing the exercises in my books, go to CoDA meetings, and find a therapist to work with.

Yusuf
Yusuf
7 years ago

These posts have helped me so much. I have struggled with codependency for the past twenty two years. I have always thought that I was not good enough. Thank you so much Ms.Lancer.

I know I'm guilty
I know I'm guilty
7 years ago

I always see myself in ‘controller’ and ‘manipulator’ but I will always explain. I do not ‘take control’ – I just can’t stand it when everyone is sitting around complaining that something is not getting done or something needs to be done or ‘someone should…’ and it’s something I can take care of – I do take care of it. In those situations, if someone else wants to do the things they’re complaining about, I’d gladly step aside. I just hate people complaining about things they CAN do something about.

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago

That is very frustrating. It takes a lot of self-control to not take the bait and say “Uh huh,” or “You’re right about that,” or “Sounds frustrating (difficult, etc.)” and leave the conversation. This puts the dilemma squarely back in the lap of the manipulator.

Lyn
Lyn
7 years ago

My ex often refused to discuss issues, or denied there were any. He also minimized my concerns or said I was overly sensitive when I tried to bring them up. Eventually I just stopped trying to voice concerns because it never got me anywhere. In the end, after many years of refusing to discuss anything besides work, sports, or the kids, he left me for not meeting needs he refused to express. What type of personality acts this way? His behavior doesn’t seem to fit any of the descriptions above.

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

This isn’t manipulation, but emotional withholding, or perhaps verbal abuse. See “Emotional Abuse: Beneath Your Radar?”

xiao
xiao
6 years ago

Manipulation is a bad name. When people realized what they have done has caused others negative effect, if they apologize, the thing will go away; if they didn’t realize or fail to apologize, it will stick and later be labeled “manipulation”,”abuse”, etc. If you use these words to confront the people who hurt you with it, it will only hurt them back and cause more defensiveness or guilt; if you are the one who mistakenly did it, labeling yourself this causes excessive guilt, or defensiveness. Is that the solution? Plus, the definition of manipulation is too loose. I think the… Read more »

exhausted
exhausted
4 years ago

My bf is 28, seems to be co-dependent as he’s a people pleaser and feels guilty when he disappoints. We had a fast moving relationship. Within 4 weeks he was sleeping over every night at my family’s home. His parents seemed ok then later blew up. They guilted him with money spent, tuition and a car. Then he was told he is only allowed to sleep over twice a week. I voiced to my bf I was not happy about the amount of influence they have. Similar monthly fights occurred but the most recent ending with he is no longer… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  exhausted

You need to accept the situation if you want to continue this relationship as it is. He is dependent upon his parents and not ready for an adult relationship. The question is why are you in it and expecting him to change? It also sounds like you’re in a similar place, living with your family.

Paula
Paula
5 years ago

I am coming to the bitter end of a 15 yr relationship. The first decade we seemed to cruise. No real arguments. I suppose we are both a bit co-dependent and I take care but they manipulate. For the longest time it was fairly low level stuff, but as I became disillusioned with career and travel goals to stay behind and be with them I think I began to change in a not so nice way. Now I am being accused of emotional abuse and much more horrible words. Make no doubt I can legitimately be accused of these things… Read more »

Raquel
Raquel
5 years ago

So my dog had to get emergency surgery which ended up costing 2000$ and my father said he would put it on credit since I cant withdraw more than 500$ out of my savings (my money comes from fasfa and government grants to pay for college) and I promised I would pay it all back but he refuses to take it because I wont have money for this semester. The problem is now he uses it to guilt me to do everything or just to attack me. I cant even turn on the news without him mentioning it. I mean… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Raquel

When someone tries to manipulate you, confront it directly. It’s fine to say, “I thought the money was a gift. I didn’t know that you had expectations (or strings attached.) Perhaps I misunderstood. So was it a gift? Because if it was a loan, then I will pay you back as I can.” That should shut him up!

Jo
Jo
5 years ago

Good article and description of the hostile manipulation tactics. One thing that is a misconception is that these people are doing it unwittingly or unconsciously. A person who uses tactics like denying, undermining, mind games, assumptions etc as Darlene describes are *intentionally* trying to get one over on you. My ex does all of these things and I have been embroiled in custody battles for years now. Believe it, they know exactly what they are doing. You will not see it at first, but once you do your view of human nature is changed forever, and you realise just how… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Jo

There are all types of manipulators – from codependents to sociopaths. It’s not one size fits all. Some are unconscious of it and some do it with malice. Know who you’re dealing with.

salma
salma
5 years ago

my boyfriend acused me of manipulating him, i was shocked because between us he is the person who uses excuses to escape like oh i was not able to call you because i was sleeping. Everyday same excuses. The fact that he promised a lots of things but not even one was done if i will ask him he will blame me telling that because i was mad. He enjoyed hitting me whenever we are together. Is it a manipulative behavior.

Michelle
Michelle
5 years ago

I thought that this was an excellent and spot-on blog! I, too, have always been codependent – and still working on it. This has a lot of insight in it and makes some very useful points.

Thanks so much for sharing this – it is great!

Sally
5 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

This is interesting, because the author is speaking to people who have been manipulated who are usually people who also manipulate, because that’s how they learned to cope. I always find it interesting and potentially damaging to the reader and to relationships when these articles try to paint it like the manipulator is trying to harm you or get back at you, when they usually don’t even realize what they are doing.

Sara
Sara
6 years ago

I feel manipulated by my husband… I asked him to move out for a few months because he was becoming verbally abusive and speaking to me as if he hated me. He has just been diagnosed with depression and says he wants to work on himself before he can see me again, but then messages me saying he needs a hug, or asks me to ask for his forgiveness in where I went wrong in the relationship. He calls me and says he misses me and I tell him I miss him too, then he attacks me for not responding… Read more »

G
G
6 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I was raised by codependent parents. I am in my mid 30’s and find I have issues with codendency and frequently use these tactics of manipulation. I don’t know what’s right or ok anymore. I don’t know how well I can change without the correct tools of communication in my grasp.

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  G

Overcoming manipulation requires developing confidence, courage, and communication skills. I suggest reading Codependency for Dummies and How to Speak Your Mind and going to CoDA meetings.

El
El
6 years ago

Any suggestions for more reading for someone being manipulated by a relative with both OCD and codependent tendencies who calls up and talks about “why should I stick around”….no definite suicide threat, but the ideation is there? She also tries to invoke guilt and get me further involved in her life by doing things for her so that they don’t set off her OCD symptoms. Fortunately the extent of this is limited by it being a long-distance relationship. It’s a struggle to maintain both boundaries and contact, when it would be a lot easier to close the door on this… Read more »

jbl
jbl
6 years ago
Reply to  El

Please do Not post unless you can remove my picture! I had no idea it would show!

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  El

Don’t do the things she wants you to do unless you want to. Just empathize with her self-pity and when you’ve had enough get off the phone. If she threatens suicide, give her a hotline number and tell her to call a professional.

A Person
6 years ago

What about this scenario? I do not own a home, so I asked a friend if I could bury my elderly cats in his yard when their “time comes”. He said yes. This year, I lost my 13 year old boy cat to mouth cancer. Only 1 1/2 months later, my 16 year old female cat – who has never been way from the boy, is dying of kidney failure. My “friend” agreed to allow me to bury my boy cat in his yard. Now my girl cat is dying, he says I may not bury her next to him.… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  A Person

Although you must feel betrayed and angry and disappointed. He was not being manipulative in saying no, He was being assertive and direct, but he was putting you in a bind. It’s not clear that there was subterfuge or what he might be manipulating you to do. In my initial response, I actually overlooked the part about not being able to exhume the male. You should assert yourself and insist upon giving you permission to do do so or bury the female! I wouldn’t back down easily.

grseaton
grseaton
7 years ago

He is a homo sapien.

Egwene
7 years ago
Reply to  grseaton

Hi, I think I may be a bit codependent. I don’t always run around trying to be helpful to everyone, but I do accept a lot of things in relationships that other people find unacceptable. By “accept” I mean, do not LEAVE the relationship. I will always find some way to understand why they did a hurtful thing, or I seem to have this magical ability to forget things that happened, especially childhood treatment. Plus, I am not perfect either and I can understand how people can end up doing rotten things. I have spent a lot of years feeling… Read more »

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