Have you ever been in a relationship that had you thinking that your partner had put a “spell” on you?
And not the good kind of spell, like one that allows you to have superpowers, but a spell that seemed to make you do things that you weren’t fully convinced were in line with who you viewed yourself to be?
Could it be that you were being manipulated in your relationship?
Manipulation in relationships is subtle, and because of this, it is difficult to see when it is happening.
Psychological manipulation has been defined by social and clinical Ph.D. psychologistDr. Harriet Braiker as a type of the social influence. Its goal is to change the behavior or perception of others using different tactics.
Manipulation refers to controlling or influencing someone to do something they do not want or not do something they want.
Common manipulation tactics
Have you often asked yourself, “Am I being manipulated?” but are not sure?
Manipulators use different manipulation tactics in relationships to manipulate the other person and influence their decisions. These can be the following manipulation techniques in relationships:
Who’s Pulling Your Strings?: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life by Dr. Braiker gives exciting insights on recognizing and ending the manipulative cycle for good.
Manipulative behavior in relationships is part of an emotionally abusive pattern. The manipulator uses unhealthy relationship manipulation tactics to control their partner.
It is hard for the person being manipulated to see or confront because it is not an overt abuse, visible to the outside world like physical violence. They only know that something is not quite right with how they are being treated.
Not sure how manipulation works? Let’s look at some of the signs of manipulation in marriage or relationships.
Your partner is controlling
The need for total control is a blaring red flag and the number one sign of a manipulative relationship.
Does your partner often dictate when and where they will see you? Do you need to conform to their schedule, and when you suggest an alternative, do they pout, get upset, or freeze you out with the silent treatment?
This is an essential tip on how to spot manipulation in relationships.
The manipulative partner uses guilt-tripping to make you do certain things that you might not be comfortable doing.
In a normal healthy relationship, decisions are discussed and considered by the two of you. You spend time going over the pros and cons of any big life decision; In a manipulative relationship, the manipulator makes the decision unilaterally.
If you voice any disagreement, they will try to guilt you into agreeing with their decision.
For instance, the manipulator wants you to co-sign on their car loan. You don’t feel comfortable being responsible for such a big financial engagement, and you attempt to explain yourself.
The manipulator will refuse to listen to you, cutting you off with guilt-inducing statements, which is a classic sign of manipulation in a relationship.
Using emotional blackmail to get you to stay in the relationship
Let’s say you have recognized the unhealthy nature of your relationship. You’ve decided to end it. But when you broach the subject of splitting up, your partner tells you that they will kill themselves if you leave.
Using the threat of suicide is, sadly, another typical behavior in a manipulative relationship.It combines a heavy hit of control, fear, and guilt to get you to remain.
While it may be difficult for you, you must not be tricked by this threat. Tell your partner that if they feel suicidal, they should reach out to a suicide hotline or a therapist. You cannot be that person for them.
Gaslighting is a verb used to describe someone manipulating someone psychologically to the point of questioning their own sanity. This is a terrible thing to do to someone you claim to love. It can make them feel disoriented, crazy, and emotionally unstable.
Signs of gaslighting include:
Telling blatant lies
Not living up to their word
Verbally or physically attacking things you love (such as your children)
Using positive reinforcement after being verbally belittling as a method of confusion
Projecting their faults onto you (for example, they are secretly having an affair but will project this guilt by constantly accusing you of being unfaithful)
Denying the truth, even when proof is presented
Turning friends or family against you
Telling others that you are a liar
Research shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience intimate abuse that results in fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the use of a victim service such as a hotline. Gaslighting is a form of abuse that is commonly used to manipulate and control a spouse.
5. Isolation from friends and family
In a Brazilian study about the biggest factors in relationship unhappiness, jealousy was common for couples wanting to separate. Harmful jealousy doesn’t necessarily mean that a spouse is jealous of someone flirting with their partner. No, an abusive spouse can even be jealous of your friends and family.
Abusers and manipulators will often use the method of isolation as a means to control you.
They will cut you off from close friends, refuse to let you go out with them, and may even try to move you far away from where your family lives.
When you don’t have the support of friends and family, it makes it more difficult to leave an abusive relationship. You don’t have the constant reassurance from loved ones that your partner is not treating you well.
The farther your spouse can get you from friends and family, the easier it will be for them to control you.
The oxytocin released from physical intimacy, be it holding hands, making love or just cuddling together on the couch, has been shown to promote bonding and making partners more trusting of one another.
These are beneficial qualities to spouses in a healthy relationship, but for those in a toxic one, these can actually do more harm than good. Trusting a partner who doesn’t have your best interest at heart and having an emotional attachment to them can make you stay in a toxic relationship longer than you should.
Having these strong bonded emotions can also make it easier for your partner to use your love for them against you. Phrases like “If you loved me you would…” and “You said you would do anything for me” become a twisted form of control.
7. Playing the victim
Emotional or physical blackmail is another common form of manipulation in relationships.
You may think that most people do not have devastating secrets to be used as blackmail, but the truth is that technology has given partners plenty of ammunition to coerce their spouses.
Some examples of blackmail include:
“If you leave me, I am going to tell everyone that secret you told me”
“If you don’t do what I want, I am going to send that naked photo of you to your boss and all your friends”
“If you don’t buy me this, I am going to charge up that credit card you gave to me”
“I will do THIS for you if you do THIS for me”
A spouse may play the victim in order to guilt you and gain sympathy from friends and family. They may also use veiled threats to “If you leave me, I am going to kill myself. I wouldn’t have anything left to live for.”
8. Constant accusations
Manipulators often manipulate a person in their relationship to provoke discussions as it gives the manipulator the control of proving the victim wrong.
To understand more about signs of a manipulative personality, watch this video.
9. Mind games
An emotional manipulator plays with the victim’s emotions to make them feel insecure and doubtful.
10. Damage material things
A manipulator will most likely ruin something significant to the victim just to make them feel sad and angry.
If this ever happens to you, then make sure you know that it is an extremely toxic and intolerable pattern of behavior.
11. Make their partner jealous
Jealousy greatly harms the victim, but the manipulators already know this, so they never lose the chance of making the victim get jealous.
This disgusting kind of behavior might be obvious when your partner might be flirting with another girl in front of you or often comparing you to strangers.
The manipulator always hurries the victim in the relationship to make a decision. The manipulator never really allows the victim to think about his or her decision because they like having things their way.
13. Their actions do not match their words
Emotional manipulators use flattering words to make the victim trust them, but they never really keep their word. Whenever they break a promise, they always blame the victim.
14. Passive aggression
When a person is passive-aggressive, they do not express their negative feelings directly, but instead, take it out in more minor behavioral changes towards their partner. Passive aggression can be a way of manipulation.
Another sign of an emotionally manipulative person is when they withdraw from you to make you realize something you did against their wish. They may stop answering your calls, or responding to your messages, in a way to punish you for going against their word.
How to handle manipulation in a relationship
How to deal with manipulation in relationships or marriage?
In a relationship, one or both partners can be manipulative. How to handle manipulation in your relationship? If you have asked how to manipulate a manipulator in a relationship, you need to know that this isn’t the solution to the problem.
Read on to know what to do if you are the manipulator in your relationship.
If you recognize that you are manipulative in the relationship, there are several ways to stop this behavior and make a healthy connection with your partner. If you are looking to handle manipulation in relationships, these tips can come in handy.
Identify some of the ways you use the control, fear, guilt,gas-lighting techniques, and other unhealthy tactics in your interactions with your partner.
Involve your partner in this exercise, and be willing to listen to their observations without becoming defensive.
Learn healthy ways to communicate
There are many resources available to help you learn how tocommunicate, build, and sustain a healthy, balanced relationship. The internet, personal therapists, and self-help books are all good places to start.
3. Respect your partner’s boundaries
Your partner is their own person. If they are in disagreement with something you have said, don’t try to negotiate this. Enter into a conversation to learn what is behind their feelings.
Use these strategies to show the manipulator that you can stand up for yourself:
Say no. Don’t negotiate when they use fear, guilt, or other manipulative tactics to convince you to do something.
Be firm with your boundaries.
Set personal goals and stick to them.
Do things to build your self-esteem, so you don’t look to others for approval.
If you sense you are in a manipulative relationship, you might want to check your co-dependency. Often manipulative relationships are also codependent relationships because the two behavior patterns work together in tandem.
Signs of a codependent relationship include:
relying on the other person to make decisions
Being unable to identify or own your feelings, seeing yourself as separate from your partner
Seeking constant validation from your partner
An inability to trust your feelings and decisions
If you recognize yourself in a codependent and manipulative relationship, please seek help.
There are many resources available to help you break these negative patterns and regain a solid sense of self.
It is worth the work so you can live fulfilling, healthy relationships not only with your partner but with the world at large.
Manipulation in a relationship can be confusing and lead to unresolved issues projected in further relationships and life decisions. Some consequences of manipulation include –
End of the relationship
Unresolved problems that hamper life quality
Manipulation in relationships is more common than you might think. Signs of manipulation include blackmailing, controlling or isolating someone from their friends or family, and using guilt or gaslighting your spouse to get your way.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.