Few things bring as much misery in life as being trapped in a relationship with a manipulative person. He/she may be a lover, flat-mate, co-worker or even a parent. living and interacting with a manipulative individual not only makes for a toxic relationship, but eventually saps the victim’s sense of self-worth, leaving only a shadow of the person behind. If you feel you have been caught up in such a situation, here is how to break free from a manipulative person.
Identify a manipulative relationship
Healthy relationships involve respect, trust, and consideration for the other person. So if your relationship is devoid of all this, it is quite possible you are in an unhealthy personal space. While it is relatively easier to spot a person who is using physical and verbal abuse, identifying the emotional and psychological abuse perpetrated by a manipulative person is more difficult. This is because many times the abusive person masks him/herself as a simply jealous lover or a room-mate/guardian who is extra concerned about the victim. however if this overwhelming ‘concern’ or ‘love’ for you is putting you in position where your emotional, social, financial, psychological or physical resources are fast getting depleted, then you are probably the victim of a manipulative person. A manipulative person, like a passive aggressive personality, will rarely explode in angry fights or temper tantrums, which is why it makes recognizing the harm from a manipulative relationship more difficult to recognize. Instead such a person will create situations or play upon your fears and feelings always to get his/her own way, to feed his/her ego and most of all, keep you imprisoned in the relationship. Unfortunately victims in such relationships mistake the abuse for intense feelings of caring or concern and fail to see it for what it really is. So in order to get out of a manipulative relationship, it is necessary you identify it and then honestly acknowledge for the kind of abuse it actually is.
It is not about you
A Manipulative person is a master in the art of bending the truth to make his/her victims believe what he/she wants. If you have been in the grip of this manipulative person for some time, then most likely you have been brainwashed into believing that you are incapable of thinking or doing anything right on your own and that the only way to do a thing is to do it their way. You may have acceded to this person’s wishes a few times in the past just to avoid any unpleasantness. But he/she will point this out to you as evidence of your own weakness and continue to bully you to act in accordance with their wishes. So the first step in breaking free from a manipulative person is to understand that you are not weak and incapable. The very fact that you have sensed that something is wrong means your faculties and intelligence are fine and not matter how much this person bullies you into thinking that you are helpless without them, it is not so.
Beware of a two-faced personality
A manipulator usually lives two different lies – on the outside they are hugely social people, popular and vivacious in company while only those who know them well are familiar with the vicious and controlling nature that lies beneath the surface. This is one of the reasons why other people in your life like friends and family may not understand your unhappiness in such a relationship and on the contrary praise your manipulative partner or flat-mate for the caring person he/she is. Indeed this two-faced mask suits this person fine since they can use it convince you that nobody else has a problem with who they are and so things are as they should be.
Avoid being drawn in
The manipulative personality has mastered the practice of blaming others to a fine art. He/she is never responsible for their actions. In outside life, it is always something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store that is to blame for what went wrong with them. The favorite punching bag is of course, you. Though a person with a manipulative personality will seldom level loud, angry accusations, he/she will quietly point out that you cannot go to meet your family this weekend because he/she is coming down with flu or how a missed appointment is the direct outcome of you taking a bath in the morning. That they should have got up earlier will never occur to them – this is because in their world-view, they have no faults, it is everyone around them, especially you, who has faults and they must be punished for those faults. You may feel guilty for what you have supposedly done and strive to make amends by trying to please them even further but remember this is exactly the response he/she is angling for. Thus the only way to effectively cope with such manipulative behavior is not to get drawn in at all. Ignore his/her barbs and complaints. Do not get worked up and try to defend yourself or give explanations. The manipulative person will use your emotions to point out how unstable you are and thus perhaps weak or unreliable. So if you break down in frustration at this partner’s selfish ways, he/she is most likely to retort, “I’m not mad. It’s you – you who are raving mad”. The only way to deal with this kind of behavior is to refuse to be emotionally manipulated by the person. He/she may try to make you feel guilty and make his/her problems seem your fault. Recognize this as a kind of trick that they experts at and refuse to play along.
Unfortunately people trapped in long term relationships with manipulative people usually have had their independence and resources taken away from them early on so that they no longer have the courage to strike out on their own. An impressionable guy who has long been staying with a manipulative flat-mate may find it difficult to look for a place on his own. or A woman who may have succumbed to a whirlwind romance and quick marriage to a control freak may find herself a stay-at-home mom, unable to break out from an unhappy marriage due to lack of financial resources. If ever she gets the courage to express her misery, her husband may blackmail her into staying because of the kids or threaten to leave her without any money. Here the best way to go about it is to prepare yourself financially and emotionally to lead an independent life and then face the manipulative person and force him to call his bluff. If possible, go for professional counseling to strengthen your resolve to break free from this unhealthy relationship as well as to find practical ways of support so that you do not feel compelled to remain with the manipulative person.
While it may be possible to make a relationship work with a manipulative person, it would entail a lot of hard work and long period of therapy, preferably with the person or even by you. This is because a severe manipulative behavior is a sign of a dysfunctional personality and this is not something that you may be able to repair on your own. Most of the times, the only way to deal with a manipulative person is to opt out of the relationship. Such individuals seek to control other people in their lives with their devious ways usually because somehow they lack control over a vital aspect of their own life. They may be suffering from deep-seated insecurities, in the grip of a devastating habit or unable to cope with work or financial pressures. Determining the lives of others gives them an illusion of a sense of control without which they cannot feel good about themselves.