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It’s important to understand that men and women alike can be manipulators and that any seemingly sincere, normal person can develop cunning traits. If your partner exhibits the following six tendencies, you should heed the warning signs for your own sake:
A manipulator comes across as irresistibly charming in the beginning. Beneath this façade, he employs Machiavellian tactics to get his way. A manipulator has two faces: the public side which appears to be the epitome of a perfect partner and the private side that only the poor individuals who have crossed into his personal space encounter.
You can expect a manipulator to act outrageously indignant the moment you accuse him of being anything close to what he really is. As months or years pass, the layers of pretense peel away to reveal his true nature.
When you first meet him, a manipulator will be on his best behavior, which is likely to make you fall head over heels for him. After you’ve developed genuine feelings, he’ll begin to exert a powerful hold over you, but it won’t be a gentle or loving hold—it’ll be a domineering, exploitative, and abusive grip. A manipulator may offer a faint trace of loyalty so that you continue the relationship, but his attachment to you will prove to be an illusion. You’re more susceptible to coming under the control of a manipulator if you’re an authentically kind and caring individual.
A manipulator’s first and foremost love is not you, but power: he must reign over all circumstances around him so that he can maneuver them to his benefit. For example, he may coax you into moving away from your family by constantly pointing out all the flaws they have. Sure, you may not always get along with your mom, or you might butt heads with your sister, but that’s no reason to abandon your loved ones.
Yet this is exactly what a controller wants: to estrange you from the people who love you and could potentially point out that your partner is dangerous. A manipulator must remain in control because the moment he feels the slightest slip in power, he’ll either lash out or terminate the relationship.
Manipulators are known to use sneaky, sly techniques that most people don’t discern as red flags. A manipulator will call you a manipulator, and he’s so persuasive that he’ll make you believe it. He’ll have you convinced that there’s something wrong with you, never with him.
One indicator of deception at play is that you have trouble differentiating reality from imagination: when is he lying, and when is he telling the truth? When does he mean what he says, and when is he putting on an act? If you’re dating a manipulator, you might never be able to tell which is which. In time, these kinds of psychological games will end up taking a serious mental and emotional toll on you.
Simply put, a schemer wants you to be whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He has little problem lying to, cheating on, or stealing from his partner; psychologically, a manipulator does not feel adequate remorse for his actions. His lack of consideration allows him to treat people as objects, not human beings worthy of respect and compassion.
A manipulator doesn’t necessarily think that everything revolves around him (as does a narcissist), but rather that nothing is off-limits. Because his conscience is underdeveloped, a manipulator feels no moral compunction to play fair or treat others as his equal. What to you or me seems wrong seems perfectly fine to a schemer, so long as it helps him get his way.
“But how will I know I’m dating a manipulator?” you might ask. Your emotions will betray the truth, as they always do, but you must allow them to reveal (a sometimes harsh) reality without making excuses for your partner.
Cognitive dissonance is the state of having thoughts or beliefs that are inconsistent with decisions—when knowing and doing are opposite. Our mind creates dissonance when the truth is too unpleasant to face. You might know cigarettes cause cancer, but that doesn’t stop you from lighting one.
Similarly, you might instinctively know your partner shouldn’t be treating you a certain way or doing certain things to you, yet you remain in the same situation. Applying cognitive dissonance to your relationship with a manipulator may help you “lie” to yourself, but it won’t change what you feel: you’ll still feel something is terribly wrong.
If your partner frequently makes you feel anxious, belittled, hopeless, frustrated, or depressed, know that he’s most likely displaying one or more of the 6 traits all manipulators have in common. Pay attention to the emotions your significant other invokes in you and know that your feelings are never wrong; they are superior sources of truth. Remember: people lie, but your intuition doesn’t.
Want to know more about what do men really want? Even people who have manipulative tendencies are capable of self-improvement, but they must want to change and undertake the necessary efforts. Cutting off contact with a manipulator is the best way to regain normality and reclaim your power. If your partner displays these telltale signs of manipulation, I encourage you to walk away now, with your sanity and happiness still intact.
To healthy relationships,
Dr. Carmen Harra
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