Have you ever been in a relationship that seemed to be going be perfectly fine, and yet deep down you always felt like something was not right? Are you in that sort of a relationship right now? Well, it might just happen that you’re in a relationship with a manipulative person. But before your mind spirals into a crisis, let’s backtrack a little and ponder over a few things. Being in a relationship with a manipulative person is a great paradox, because if the person is really good at manipulating you, then chances are that you might never see the red flags and continue to be in a relationship that’s clearly bad for you. Sometimes, even if you suspect that something is off, it’s easy to rationalize their odd behaviour as normal, and be blinded by our love and commitment to the relationship. But if you feel like there are things that you want to address but can’t seem to be able to, then maybe a little introspection is necessary for you.
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Love is supposed to feel easy and light and comforting- it shouldn’t stress you out, make you feel insecure and suffocated. These are signs of a manipulative relationship. A loving relationship is one where both partners have space, a life outside the relationship and self independence. Here are some signs of a manipulative relationship that you should watch out for, if you suspect you’re in one-
They try to control you
If you feel like being in a relationship has made you lose your individuality, then that’s a huge problem. It’s a great feeling to have that one person in your life who is always going to be there for you, but this same person might seem oppressive when they try to make decisions on your behalf and always dictate your choices and behavior. They’ll tell you that they’re doing it “for your own good” and because they care so much about it; but, as you may have guessed it, they actually do it to manipulate you and make sure you behave the way they want you to. Of course, our loved ones always want what’s truly best for us, and have the right to tell us if we’re going wrong or give us advice on how certain things are to be dealt with; their advice and suggestions are often helpful and necessary in showing us the right path. However, no matter how close they may be to us, they should never try to impose these suggestions and advices on us just because they think they’re right. Even if you think someone is doing something wrong and you find yourself disagreeing with their choices, there’s only so much one can and should do to stop them. After all, you are in charge of your own life.Your partner can support you when you need them to, but they cannot impose their way of life onto yours.
You always find yourself doing things you don’t want to
As you may have noticed by now, a manipulative person will always try to control you. This naturally means that you will find yourself agreeing to a lot of things that you would not have otherwise. Whether it’s going to a restaurant that you don’t particularly like, or a movie you don’t want to watch, you will notice how they always persuade you to do things their way, even when you don’t want to. At first, it seems trivial, and you will end up blaming yourself for being so petty. I mean, it’s just a movie, right? But if you look closely, a pattern starts to appear. You will realize how you barely get to have your say in even the smallest of things, or get an opportunity to do the things you want to do. They always find a way to talk you out of it. This kind of behaviour is unhealthy, and once you realize it, you will begin to feel suffocated. My advice would be to directly approach them before it’s too late, or politely ask them to leave if they refuse to change.
It’s always your fault
A manipulative person will never, ever, admit their own mistakes. It goes against the very principle of who they are. Whenever something is wrong, they know exactly what to do to evade the blame and shift it to the other person. When you’re in a relationship with someone like that, you will often see how you are the one feeling guilty no matter whose fault it is. Trying to tell them that they are in the wrong will usually end up with them giving you a million other (made up) reasons as to why you are at fault, and you will be the one making amends. They are also very good at making you feel sorry for them, even when the fault is theirs. If these are some traits you think your partner has, then maybe they’re not as innocent as they’d like you to believe.
They make you feel insecure
One of the most common signs of a manipulative relationship is insecurity. No matter how great things might seem, there is always that gnawing feeling deep inside that everything is not as perfect as it seems. That’s because it’s really not. On the surface your partner might seem amazing and perfect for you, but that’s because it’s what they want you to think. If you’re in a manipulative relationship, you will never feel confident and secure about it. It always feels like you’re one fight or one tiny disagreement away from having the whole thing ruined. You also start to feel insecure about your own self. “Am I good enough for them?” “Do they really love me?” “What if they leave me?” If you always find yourself asking such questions, you know there’s a problem with this relationship.
You feel guilty when you spend time away from them
A controlling partner will try to cut you off from all your support systems- whether it be friends, family, or even your hobbies and interests. Abusive behavior does not always manifest itself as violence, sometimes it is subtle and beyond realization. It starts with you feeling guilty about spending time with your friends and family, or doing things on your own; and then reaches a point where you start avoiding everyone else just to keep the stress away. They’ll start by telling you how a friend is not right for you, or how a hobby is too dumb for you; soon, this transforms into complete isolation where you feel like they are the only person in your life. A manipulative person will make you believe how they are the only ones who truly care about you and want to protect you- everyone else, including your loved ones, are all bad for you. They do this because they want to be the only person in your life who you pay attention to and spend time with. They do it not out of love, but out of an unhealthy desire to control.
They criticize you for the smallest things
They always seem to find some fault or the other and waste no opportunity to criticize it. This criticism is not always violent and harsh, but is often presented under the garb of “being supportive”. They’ll tell you how they only want your good and are looking out for you. Aside from controlling what you wear, who you are friends with and where you go, they’ll try to bring about changes in your personality. It could start with them telling you how you don’t need another magazine subscription and could soon escalate to them completely taking over your finances because, “I’m only trying to help you, love.” To an extent, it’s even healthy for partners to be critical of each, it helps them grow as a couple and as individuals. But a manipulative person will always make you feel like you are incapable of taking your own decisions and knowing what’s right for you- they’re not doing it because they care for you, but because they want to be in charge of your life completely.
If you find yourself identifying with these points, then, know that it’s not your fault. There’s no way one can anticipate behavior like this in a person- especially someone they care about- without spending a considerable amount of time with them. In fact, sometimes it takes a long while before abusive behavior like this starts coming to the surface. You mustn’t feel stupid or belittle yourself for not seeing through this earlier. The scary thing about emotional abuse and manipulation is that a lot of us don’t realize it until someone blatantly points it out to us.
Suggested read: Are You In An Abusive Relationship? Here’s How You Can Find Out.
Once you do realize, though, you might feel disillusioned with relationships and love and everything else. It’s okay to take some time off to set things into perspective. The world might feel like a big, bad, deceitful place but you have to be your own sunshine. Rebuild yourself one step at a time- it’s not weakness to feel vulnerable, and to rely on loved ones for support. Keep yourself open to the idea of love and believe in the goodness of people- you will find happiness.
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