Posts Categorized: Healthy Relationships

10 Strategies Emotional Manipulators Use to Get Their Way

Do you love an emotionally manipulative person? Someone who has a history of broken relationships, anger problems, and self-centered habits? Emotionally Manipulative people are geniuses at getting you to look past their faults so they can get their own way. If you have dealt with this kind of personality, you know how crazy-making and frustrating life can be.

Being in a relationship with an emotional manipulator can seem great at first. They use Attraction Strategies (listed below) in order to look appealing and get you hooked. Once you are hooked (paying for him, sleeping with him, feeling sorry for him, or making him look good), he/she shifts to Control Strategies (listed below) where you become the commodity to be exploited, used and controlled.

Attraction Strategies

  1. Love bombs. If you fell for an emotional manipulator, you probably have said to yourself, “Well, he wasn’t that way in the beginning.” And you’re right. In the beginning, he probably inundated you with compliments, gifts, promises, desire and affection. He called, texted, stopped by all the time and never wanted you to leave his side. He bombed you with so much attention, the smoke hid his true character.
  2. Show Off. Like a peacock in mating season, he worked very hard in getting you to like him in the beginning of your relationship. He showed you only the positive traits, hiding anything that would make him seem less appealing. People with negative traits to hide put on a show so you will only see what they want you to see.
  3. Over Talking. In the beginning you may not be able to get a word in edgewise, as he tells you about his life, his accomplishments, and other things that make you feel amazed, sympathetic, admiration and even attraction. Maybe you even wonder why he, such an important person is paying attention to little-ole-you.
  4. Sob Story. Emotional Manipulators look for empathic people to listen, care, and even feel sorry for them. An emotional manipulator may legitimately have a tragic background, however, he uses his tragedy to manipulate your good nature. If he can get you to see him as the victim, then you will have a more difficult time holding him accountable for his bad behavior.

Control Strategies

  1. Silence treatment. Emotional Manipulators use silence to punish, control, and slowly breakdown your will. Silence “seems” benign in nature, but it is actually one of the cruelest forms of psychological manipulation. Being with someone who actively ignores you can be excruciating. You may start to internalize this feeling to the point of feeling invisible.
  2. Public humiliation. An emotionally manipulative person does not hesitate in making you look bad in front of others so he can look good. If embarrassing you in public means that he’ll impress someone, he will do it. If cutting someone down makes him one-up, that is what he will do.
  3. Threat of harm. Emotional Manipulators may use all kinds of threats against you in order to control and intimidate you into doing what he wants. Many things can be used to threaten you, like withholding finances, turning your kids against you, or tarnishing your reputation with your family or friends. He may even become physically threatening or abusive.
  4. Threat of self-harm. Sometimes, the emotional manipulator will even threaten to harm himself in order to get you to back down, stay put or stop wanting things to change.
  5. Badgering. Have you heard the saying, “death by a thousand paper cuts?” An Emotional Manipulator will badger, harass, and pester his partner relentlessly until she is worn down enough to give in. You may especially experience this tactic as a response to setting a boundary with him. You may feel like you are up against a high pressure salesmen who won’t take “no” for an answer.
  6. Limitation of your Power: An Emotional Manipulator will try to control you by limiting your access to resources, friends, and family. You may feel shut out of the finances, forbidden to seek counseling, or cut off from your friends and family. The Emotional Manipulator is threatened by your power, and will try  to minimize it as much as possible to keep you in his control.

 

Dealing with emotionally manipulative personalities can be exhausting. You may start to feel hopeless, and maybe even worthless. It takes courage to seek professional help when feeling overwhelmed, but each small step toward health and healing is a step in the right direction. Seeking professional help can help you create a plan to deal this this manipulative behavior and put you on the path toward recovery.

In the following weeks, I will take each strategy and offer solutions to help you deal with the Emotional Manipulator in your life. My goal is to help you reclaim the power in your life so you can live happily and freely again.

Need Help Now? You can order my book to help solving your relationships today.

After Betrayal: Now What?

You didn’t see it coming. But your broken heart tells a different story. You’ve been betrayed. The pit in your stomach, the inability to think clearly, the loss of security and everything you thought you knew. You question your future, your kid’s future, and worry settles in like an uninvited cat. You’re faced with decisions on how you will respond. What do you do next?

How Should You Respond?

The feelings of betrayal can be so intense that you can feel completely off your game and unlike yourself. I think that is where the phrase, “beside myself” came from- feelings of betrayal give us a sense that we are outside of ourselves powerlessly watching the bad thing happen. Last week, we discussed what true repentance looks like, and without true repentance, reconciliation is not possible. If you missed it, click here to read.

trustworthy again

 

How do you put together the pieces again, and make sure that you move forward instead of get stuck in anger and bitterness?

  1. Determine the state of repentance your partner is experiencing. Repentance means that your partner identifies the gravity of the injury, makes reparations and commitment for change. Last week’s post addressed the steps in true repentance. Click here if you missed it.
  2. List your needs: this may be difficult if you haven’t been in the habit of recognizing and asking for your own needs. You may be out of practice when it comes to identifying what you need, because you’re used to feeling other’s needs first. Take some time to list some things that you’ll need, in order to move forward. Maybe you need your partner to go to counseling, go to a 12 Step program, come clean to your family, switch jobs, join a marriage group at church with you, or take a parenting class.
  3. Determine if reconciliation is an option. Remember, forgiveness does not mean that you have to trust or reconcile with the other person. You do not. Reconciliation is a much different process than forgiveness. Forgiveness can be done with or without the offending person’s repentance or willingness. If the offending person has proven himself emotionally safe, trustworthy and remorsefully repentant, then reconciliation can be an option. If he only offers lip service, without true behavior change, then reconciliation is not a safe idea. If the offending person offers no admittance of wrongdoing at all, he is showing you that he is not a safe person to trust again.
  4. Recognize your own part, if appropriate, in the breakdown. I’m not saying that the betrayal is your fault. Not at all. However, it is important to identify your contributions to the breakdown of the relationship whatever they may be. Maybe you ignored some warning signs, or neglected to set good boundaries in the beginning. Maybe your people picker was broken and you picked the wrong person. Maybe you tolerated disrespect too long. This is an important step to your recovery because it prepares you for self-forgiveness.
  5. Determine what Forgiveness looks like for you. Forgiveness is choosing to no longer hold the person accountable for that particular transgression. It’s as if the trial is over, the sentence is in place, and you no longer have to be the judge, the jailor, or the enforcer. You may be experiencing fear of getting hurt again, but don’t let that fear determine whether you forgive or not. Forgiveness may mean that you reach out to the person and offer to take steps toward reconciliation. Or, forgiveness for you may mean wishing the person well, and keeping your distance.
  6. Signs of forgiveness. How do you know if you’ve really forgiven or not? Well, you’ll experience less anger, hurt and fear when you are with or when you think about that person. You feel confident that you can take care of yourself, and wise about decisions you make. You feel compassion for the other person, and truly wish the best for him/her. Whether or not they have changed, you have peace with yourself and extend peace toward him/her. Forgiveness is the freedom from the power of past pain.

forgiveness

Before agreeing to “Work things out” after betrayal, it is important to take the time you need to discern your true feelings about this. Since trust has been broken, it takes time to see whether your partner has what it takes to repair trust. True friendship and love cannot exist in an unsafe relationship, so give yourself permission to take your time and space to determine the safety of the relationship.

 

 

 

Is Your Partner Truly Sorry? Or just Sorry they got Caught?

How do you know when someone is really sorry? After a relationship betrayal, a heartfelt apology is the first step needed for relationship to continue or heal. If you want to work things out, it’s important that neither partner skip any steps in the healing process. An apology sets the stage for more repair work. So, what is true repentance?
sorry not sorry

How can you tell if your partner is just saying “Sorry” to stay out of trouble, or to cover up a deeper secret? How can you tell if the sorry will stick? Is it safe to trust again? These are the questions that victims of relationship betrayal ask themselves.

A Story About True Repentence

An old Hebrew tradition, I once heard seems to say it best. The story goes like this. Benny and Lucille were next door neighbors. Benny trained sheep dogs on his little farm, and Lucille raised goats. One day, Benny’s friskiest dog chewed out of his pen and attacked Lucille’s baby goat, Abigail and killed it. Lucille was sick about it. She cried and cried over her little Abigail. When Benny discovered the news, he couldn’t believe it. How could his dog do such a thing? And especially to Abigail, Lucille’s pride and joy?

Benny knew what to do, however. He knew he had to make it right with his neighbor. A simple apology wouldn’t do. When he went over to Lucille’s house, he could tell that she had been crying and he knew then just how much her little goat meant to her.

“I know I can’t bring back your little goat, and I’m so sorry that my dog attacked her last night. I’m just sick about what happened. I know you loved your little lamb. I want to make it up to you. I want to buy you two little goats of your choice. One for Abigail and one for our friendship.

Lucille knew that she could never replace little Abigail, but she appreciated Benny’s sincerity so much, she wanted to extend her hand in forgiveness.

“I also found a new home for the dog that did this,” Benny said, “So he won’t be a threat anymore.”

This is just a little story, but it does help to understand what is needed for a broken relationship to feel whole again. The old tradition basically states that the responsible party replaces what was lost, and then adds a 1/5 to restore the relationship. It emphasizes that an apology should not merely be words or sentiment, it must also include an offer to make amends. It should cost something. It must repair the emotional and relational damages, not just the financial.

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If you have sustained an injury, like betrayal or broken trust or damaged reputation- a simple apology may not be enough to repair the relationship. Here are some steps to recognize a sincere apology.

The responsible person:

  1. Recognizes the extent of the damage done, and accepts his/her responsibility
  2. Actually feels some of the pain he/she has caused through empathy
  3. Doesn’t minimize, excuse or justify the wrong-doing
  4. Doesn’t say things like, “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’ll say sorry if…”
  5. Asks, “What can I do to make amends?” and insists on making reparations.
  6. Doesn’t shift the blame to you, reporting that “It is really your fault. If you wouldn’t have….”
  7. Follows through with his/her commitment. This may be a promise to seek support, counseling, rehab, extra accountability, or change bad habits. This usually takes time and consistency.
  8. Helps in other ways, like helping with the house, the finances, the kids, and general willingness to serve.

If you see evidence that he/she is truly sorry for the relationship transgression, you will slowly be able to trust and forgive. However, if you sense that the “Sorry” is half-hearted, lip service or just for show, then trusting again is a big mistake.

And what about you? What is your role in extending forgiveness without losing yourself? Next week, we will discuss the important steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation without bending your boundaries too far.

A Radio Interview with Kate Daniels

Recovery, healing and relationships. I had the privilege of speaking with Kate Daniels of Hubbard Radio on her show dedicated to Recovery. If you download it, you can treat it like a podcast and listen while you’re on the go.

Exploitive and destructive relationships take a toll on their victims, and we discuss here how to recover and rebuild self esteem. Enjoy!

A Strategy for Surviving Emotional Pain

Have you ever felt so shocked, that time stood still? Maybe the phone call was bad news, or the thing you wanted most became impossible, or the rejection you felt was crushing . The emotional pain you feel is overwhelming, and you know you need a strategy to move forward.

You know you have to respond to your situation, but maybe you are unsure of what to do next.

written on it

written on it

Psychologists have found that trouble, trauma and tragedies are not actually the problem. The problem is how we respond to them. We know that trouble, trauma and tragedy cannot always be avoided, and that bad things happen to good people. However, researchers report that those people who can respond to the trouble in healthy ways will be resilient, have shorter recovery times and suffer fewer negative effects.

What to do When You don’t Know what to Do

light unto my path

Some people respond to challenges with emotionally destructive means like blame shifting, addictions, and isolation. It’s tempting to respond to pain by numbing, drinking, self-medicating, inappropriate relationships, or over-shopping. Others respond by taking responsibility, problem solving, and reaching out for support. Those who take the harder, braver path choose to respond to pain by staying alert, present, creative, information seeking, engaged and positive.

How we respond to our troubling event means everything. During seasons of loss and pain, it is important to do two things well:

Do what you can,

Leave the rest.

Do What you Can. Doing what you can does not mean doing everything, or doing what other people should be doing but aren’t. When bad things happen, some may be tempted to “over do it” or “over function” or “take over” but this is not always the best thing to do. Doing what you can means being clear about your role and responsibility and doing that thing the best you can. Don’t do other people’s things, just do your thing. You don’t have to have all the right answers or a plan etched in stone. You only need to exert your power, influence and choice in a way that is beneficial. It is important to decipher what you can control, and what you cannot.

amy's coffee

Doing any helpful thing in the midst of trouble is not only good for you and for other people, it is good for your resiliency too. Trauma research shows that people who find something useful to do during a troubling event, fair better with fewer trauma symptoms. Whether it be encouraging, attending, guarding, problem solving, helping, protecting or directing, exerting some personal power in big or small ways is helpful.

Leave the Rest. Leaving the Rest is an acknowledgement that not everything can be done quickly or by you. Releasing yourself from taking care of others’ responsibilities is brave and necessary. Leaving the rest means engaging in a waiting period with hope. You know how dog trainers will say, “Leave it! Leeeeave it,” to their dogs when tempted or distracted? We may be tempted to argue, convince, lecture, shut down, or bargain our way out of the pain or guilt. But these are not helpful options for the long run. We must let go of the things we can’t control, and do something about the things we can control.

“Leaving the Rest” actually takes more energy than “Doing what you can.” Resisting the temptation to over-function or to be a control freak takes a lot of self-control. When you are actively taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to tell yourself things like, “Don’t take the bate,” and “This ain’t your circus, these ain’t your monkeys,” and “Don’t buy a ticket for that crazy train,” and “You can let it go.”

 

Waiting can cause a powerless feeling, but waiting with purpose, hope and a plan is very different. “Leaving the Rest” does not mean “Wait and see what happens,” as much as it means, “Wait for the right time to move forward.” For the waiting period to be manageable and positive, there are Waiting Exercises that I will cover in my next blog.

If you are in the middle of a dark season, take the small steps to Do What You Can, and the faith steps to Leave the Rest. Every small step in the right direction counts.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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