3 Ways to Deal with a Manipulative Person
Your stomach feels funny, it churns with a kind of anxiety you just can’t place. You feel weird. Icky. Like you can’t really trust yourself. You find yourself questioning the conversation you just had. You usually have pretty good sense, but now you find yourself wondering how you could have misunderstood.
The other person insists that you are being over sensitive, taking it wrong, and expresses irritation at your inability to comprehend. You might hear words like, "whatever", "you're such a baby", "what's wrong with you", "my god, well aren't you sensitive", or other close variations.
In conversation with this person, you feel fuzzy. They might talk a lot, but at the end of the conversation, you are not quite sure what they said. You ask a direct question but leave without a direct answer.
If you have had these feelings, it is possible that you may be dealing with a person who uses manipulation when relating to others. Mind you-we all do at some point. So this is not about labelling or judging someone. But it is about recognizing when it's happening and responding effectively.
Here are three tips to deal with a person who you think may be using manipulation in their relationship to you.
1. If it is safe to do so, consider ending the relationship. It’s that simple. The people you choose to have in your life should add value to it not take value out of it. We sometimes feel a sense of obligation to family. We don’t get choose them. However, your friends and/or your chosen families, are your choice and your choice alone. You have the right to decide who has the privilege to share in your joys and sorrows. If most of the time you feel a sense of wrongness... walk away.
2. If you are not ready to end the relationship, set some boundaries to protect yourself. Acknowledge that for whatever reason, you are having difficulty feeling emotionally safe with this person. Ask yourself how you would you go about engaging with someone you do not feel you can trust? Would you share your vulnerabilities? Spend a lot of time with them? Seek out opportunities to work with them? Date them? Probably not.
3. Connect with yourself and compassionately consider how this person entered your life. Mind you, it may have been totally random-a person you work with, a friend of someone in your peer group. However, take a moment to assess if you need some time to reconnect with your unique set of talents, skills, and abilities.
When we are feeling vulnerable or desperate, we may find ourselves agreeing to go along with activities or people in an effort to over-please. The feeling we get from over-pleasing others rather than risking the discomfort of disapproval temporarily elicits feelings of safety, but in the long term tends to lead to resentment. For someone who has learned to use manipulation as a means of survival, they might respond strongly when a person exhibits of signs of selfhood. Don't let your fear of disapproval prevent you from respectfully and as harmoniously as possible moving towards your chosen goals.
We all go through periods in our lives when our well of self-esteem or self-respect is running dry. It’s at those times that we might feel more desperate about getting the approval of others. So if you find that this is happening for you at this moment in your life, gently correct course. Remind yourself that you are intrinsically worthy of love, pleasure, and respect. You deserve to feel safe.
You will disappoint others at times. Accepting that reality is part of mature living.