Identifying emotional manipulation – before it hurts you

Fool on me once, shame on you. Fool on me twice, shame on me. Chinese Proverb.

We’ve all been emotionally manipulated at some stage in our lives, perhaps it’s happening to you right now. Can you recognise when your lover, friend, family turns a situation around to make them the victim, making you feel ashamed, disappointed in yourself and confused? Perhaps you’ve even felt violated upon reflecting on the situation and seeing it as it was. This article will help you to identify emotional manipulators, disable their behaviours so they don’t affect you and avoid negative feelings/behaviours and toxic relationships as a result.

Read the full article here.


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5 responses to “Identifying emotional manipulation – before it hurts you”

  1. markyrog says :

    Sarah, I’ve just finished with a woman who treated me fantastic for a while but then changed. We were together for three years. She encouraged me to pack in my job to travel the world with her. She said I had to be doing it for myself, not for her. I was hopelessly in love, having been divorced by a narcissistic wife. We went to work in AK and as far as I knew everything was great, then I overheard her telling a woman in the bar we were in “He’s not my kind, he’s too nice!” Another time she told me she’d “probably leave me because that’s what I do.” (sic.) I did everything for her openly, honestly and whole-heartedly and so was very upset. Eventually it seemed as if she began to pay less and less attention to the relationship; there were arguments and we split. As I was leaving the boat we were on she was telling me what to say and non of it was to do with the truth.
    I tried to make up with her. We went out for an evening and I explained how sorry I was and that I would prove to her that I wasn’t a bad person, and that I wanted her back. She invited me to stay the night, but then late tthe next day she told me it was a mistake and I was devastated again. She had three houses that were in a bad state, one very bad (I had already done a great deal of work on them, ruining my car in the process) and needed to be renovated. If she didn’t get tennants she would lose them, so I said I would help her. Her two daughters and their partners refused to help, so she had no-one and I couldn’t bear to see her struggle.
    The house was in a really bad state. I told her I was doing this to prove myself to her and that I loved her and to prove I would stick by her. I found myself being asked to do more and more jobs on the houses, as she had told me when they were done we would spend some time on holiday putting our relationship back on track, at which I was thrilled. She became more and more detached and would not give me any idea as to how we were getting along. But the work kept coming.
    We went on holiday in September (she paid). I thought this was the time for us but she stayed away from me. When I said it wasn’t fair seeing these couples walking hand in hand and us being 3ft apart she said, “Don’t you think I feel it? Don’t you think that I’d like to hold hands? Then added, “Not necessarily with you”. I
    became more and more depressed because she would say many hurtful things and then deny she had said them, or say that’s not what she meant, (This happened continuously) that I was always twisting what she said. I was really upset. She refused point blank to let me know how things were going, but I stayed. She put a lock on her phone, using some odd excuse. I knew something was going on by the way she kept hiding her phone whilst using it. I became more and more paranoid, eventually learning the key to the lock and reading her messages. Not good I know but my fears were realised as I found a message from a man wanting to meet her “for friendship or more”, to which she replied, “Absolutely!” This was whilst I was working seven days a week to get the house renovated. I confronted her with it and she flew into a rage, saying nothing would have happened and she was using him to find business ideas. I backed down. another message was from a man who said he would meet her after Christmas when the house was done. I was doing the work because I thought we were working towards our future. She completely denied that she had done anything wrong because we were not in a relationship. She had been drinking til 4am with a man we met in a bar (I had come home, she wanted to stay out for one more drink) and she brought him back with her. I was waiting for her in my room, wondering where she was. I threw him out telling him she was doing it to upset me. She was screaming I had no right as we weren’t in a relationship. She claimed nothing would have happened because he was an old man; then she said he might have shared her bed but nothing would have happened. I was heartbroken. I had to pull over my car because I broke down in tears. I had no-one to turn to, so I phoned her daughter whom I was very friendly with. I told her everything, partly because I wanted advice from someone who knew her and p[artly so it would get back to her how much she had hurt me. I wanted her daughter to know what she had done so she couldn’t lie about it.
    I left, texting her saying I’d had enough because she was unwilling to fight for us, to which she replied of course she would fight for us. Eventually, I came back to her and strted work again. I knew things weren’t right but I wasn’t sure. She had put pictures of her posing on her desktop, saying she was just messing around. She had also taped over her webcam, saying she didn’t like it. I looked on her pc and found that she had signed up to 3 dating sites. Again I confronted her and again she got really angry, saying she didn’t know why she’d done it and nothing would have happened, and that I was closing her in. Sjhe swore nothng would have happened. I chose to believe her – even though I knew she was lying. I phoned her best friend because I wanted someone to tell me if I was wasting my time, someone who might know; and yes, someone to get through to her that I really did love her.
    Eventually, when the houses were nearly finished I had had enough. I told her I could do no more as I was exhausted mentally and physically. All along she had completely refused to tell me how things were going, where we were going, saying she needed time to herself, to sort out things with her daughters. First it was til the houses were done, then it was at easter. Then she began to say she didn’t know when and that I was putting pressure on her. I explained constantly that if she gave me some words of comfort, something to aim for then I’d be happy. I could rest easy and she could have the time she needed, then we could sort out our relationship and travel the world like we planned to. But she just refused to show any sort of commitment, I had stood by her for a year when I moved back to my house as my tenants had left. I left her to work on the final house but did help her on some of the big jobs. Shortly after I began to see less and less of her. She said she was very stressed because she was on the verge of being homeless (tenants were in the houses), and she was forced to live with her daughters and mother. She told me she had slept in her car, then denied she’d said it.
    By now I was under the doctor suffering from depression.
    We had one final night out and she stayed at mine. I asked her if she’d like to come down. She declined, saying she was busy with family but said next week.
    Then she said she was busy with family again and couldn’t make it. I didn’t believe her because earlier she asked me to fix her car door and in her car was a train ticket and a smart jacket. I asked her when she had gone to this place (we used to go everywhere together). She gave a reason that seemed thin. Unfortunately, my need to know got the better of me and I went to check where she was. She wasn’t at either of the places she said she’d be for that night, so I drove to Sam’s. Her car was not there. I told her and she was angry, saying that I was paranoid about her being with another man.
    Finally, we fell out when she said I was putting too much pressure on her and she said she didn’t want to see me anymore.
    Throughout, she has called me pathetic, an idiot, a control freak and saying I didn’t bring enough to the table. She refused to see anything I was trying to tell her, found it difficult to apologise and would mimic me with a sarcastic voice.
    Some of the things I did were controlling. In my heart, I wanted her to see what she was doing to me, I was trying to reach out to her to let her know just how tortured I felt. I did want others to see what she was doing to me. She was hurting me so much but I’d already invested so much. Her daughters told me I should leave her but I couldn’t. Everyone told me she was using me; I knew it but I couldn’t leave.
    Now the whole thing is over and her promise was never fulfilled.
    This is an honest account of some of the events. What would you think of the way she has behaved? Is it emotive control, or was I the controller?
    I’m working on my personality because I know I am suffering from low self-esteem, so your opoinion would be gratefully considered.
    Kindest regards,

    • happinessweekly says :

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for contacting me for assistance. I just want to start by letting you know that I am not a qualified psychologist or life coach. I can still offer you my opinion and best advice, but essentially my response will be on the same level as asking an unqualified friend.

      What you have been through sounds incredibly painful – please be assured that the pain you feel will ease with time and once you start recognising what you can do and taking control. I will try to avoid using labels too much as I find them unhelpful, but from the behaviour you describe, this woman sounds emotionally unavailable.

      You mentioned that she said many hurtful things and then denies it or twists it around to make you feel guilty – that sounds like emotionally manipulative behaviour and it is very toxic to you and your relationship.

      Unfortunately, the hard truth is that whether she’s in a relationship or not, she has the power to do whatever she likes. The only thing I really want to say about the relationship side of things is that communication is 90% of any relationship and you need to be able to communicate openly with each other. If you can’t do that, then how will it work?

      Your story is more about you than what it may seem on the surface – which is actually a very positive thing! What is most evident to me in your story is the self-destructive patterns. Perhaps these were formed as a way of making the relationship work, but for example there have been lots of assumptions and behavioural patterns leading you to the same frustrating results (the phone, the PC and then the driving around to find her). Sometimes we can assume painful things because it makes it easier to move on from a relationship, particularly if it is toxic or if you’re addicted to it. Sometimes our assumptions can be realised, but that’s where our choice to stay or go is critical to our wellbeing and our sense of self. It’s important that you take responsibility for yourself – your actions and the way you feel.

      You can’t let other’s emotions and behaviours define who you are and if you do, that is actually a decision you are making – people don’t have this power over you. Do you know who you are? Are you comfortable in yourself? What your values are? Have you been acting according to them? As clichéd as it may sound, you need to be ok with who you are before you can help anyone else.

      The sense I’m getting from your story is that you’re not protecting yourself and then you get hurt when she doesn’t look after your best interests. Take your power back! When you originally met this lady and you came together, you were both living your separate lives. Why does that need to change? Why do you need to control everything in order for it to work?

      Letting go can be very difficult, but take it one day at a time and ensure you reward yourself with some self-soothing activities at the end of each day for getting through it. Focus on your values. Values play a very key part in our relationships.

      If you haven’t already, I recommend getting a referral to a good psychologist, to get some more direction for your future and spend some time being mindful of what makes you happy. If travelling the world is on your agenda – don’t wait for anyone! – purchase that ticket and head off. Life is for living!

      You have the power to make the positive changes you need to get the life you want – act as the person you want to be and remain true to yourself, the rest will come.

      Thank you for sharing your story with us.

      All the best with your future,


  2. esekanayo says :

    Reblogged this on Ese Kanayo and commented:

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