People skills can be a great asset in life. Being able to influence the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of others can give you quite the advantage, especially in the professional field. But these skills aren’t just useful in business. They can also spill over into your personal life, with detrimental consequences.
It’s important to learn what emotional manipulation looks like so you can avoid and fight back against it. Here are three signs he’s trying to emotionally manipulate you.
1. Guilt tripping
Guilt and shame are an emotional manipulator’s favorite tools. He will frame you or your actions as selfish and shameful. He will push typical activities like hanging out with friends or going to bars into unacceptable territory, diminishing your enjoyment in life.
He will also vilify activities or experiences that are completely harmless and very innocent, like visiting family, helping friends, volunteering, or even donating to charity. In his mind, visiting family takes time away from him and means you’re not working hard enough on the relationship. Helping your friends takes resources and attention away from your household. Volunteering isn’t really going to fix the problem, and steals your time away from him and your family. Donating to charity is essentially a handout that gives you a false sense of selflessness and pride. He doesn’t want you to feel good or proud of anything you do.
2. Trigger happy
An emotionally manipulative man uses your insecurities against you in several ways. He aims to cripple your self-esteem so you accept what he dishes out. He wants you to give up fighting back against him so his is the only voice heard. He also wants you to stop defending yourself and embrace the negative qualities he points out in you.
He intentionally pushes your buttons and hits your trigger points to rile you up so he can say you’re out of control and you’re the problem. Or, it will break you down so you surrender to his abuse and allow his tirade to continue uninterrupted. He will throw your rejections, failures and traumas in your face, essentially kicking you while you’re down. It might happen subtly at first, but no one should stand for this type of treatment.
3. Reckless abandon
An emotional manipulator is happy to put his relationship on the line at any time. He frequently (and without good reason) threatens to leave to regain control of the situation. It stops whatever is being talked about and shifts the focus to getting him to stay or arguing about him threatening to leave yet again. He may also successfully exit to emotionally destabilize you or the household. If you have children you’re more willing to drop your side of the argument to keep the kids from having to ask where their father went … again.
When he leaves, he’ll likely only take a few things with him, leaving you responsible for his belongings until he decides to return. Having a constant reminder of his presence and what you’ve lost can irritate or weigh on you. Plus, destroying or disposing of his belongings, again, makes you look like the volatile one.
There’s a good chance you’ve encountered a manipulative man in your life. And at the time you may not even have known what hit you. But being able to recognize some of the signs will help you identify and deflect them when they come at you.
If you feel like you’re being emotionally manipulated, get help. If possible, confronting your manipulative man with his ways lets him know you can’t be messed with. Hopefully, he’ll move on and stop the abuse. If confrontation doesn’t feel like the right option, get out of the situation. Tell friends and family that you need their help and support and work to find someone who won’t treat you like that.