When you see people display a level of frigidity, insecurity, disrespect, and mistrust, do you judge them or do you try to find out why they act the way they do? Some of the demeanours you see your folks or partners display are a result of a sordid past experience that damaged their emotions and psychology – in essence, they suffered some sort of psychological and emotional manipulation.
I had a close friend who was sexually abused by her family friend only when she was 13. Part of the damaging effect of her experience led her to become somewhat manipulative, and she had a problem being intimate with her lover – she found more pleasure in her own company, which isn’t very normal.
My friend was psychologically and emotionally damaged, hence, she was exhibiting certain tendencies. I am not making excuses for any sort of manipulative behaviour, but oftentimes, these behaviours cannot be isolated from a scar.
What is Psychological and Emotional manipulation?
Psychological manipulation in romantic relationships refers to a social influence where a person seeks to control their partners through some underhand techniques.
This behaviour could even become exploitative when it is done at the expense of the other party. However, social influence is not always negative as it can be used to stop some unhealthy habits and make a person better.
Meanwhile, emotional manipulation is always a selfish means used against people and it has adverse effects on the victims.
Common signs of manipulation (Emotional and Psychological)
All types of manipulations are known to have facets and it is very difficult not to feel used after realizing your partner only wants you to please them, in the context of relationships.
There are several root causes of manipulative behaviours including toxic cycles of violence, unhealthy childhood relationships, narcissism, and others.
If you’re doubting that you’re being manipulated, check the following signs.
1 Fear of abandonment
Being manipulated leaves you feeling less of yourself and so, you develop the fear of being abandoned, you feel uncertain about the relationship.
Oftentimes, these signs appear as red flags at the start of the relationship but you find that victims dismiss it as normal. Manipulation is very different from healthy compromises, and you can tell – in the former, the question of whether your partner is going to leave you if you don’t do their bidding surfaces all the time.
If you fear before doing anything, there’s a huge chance that you’re being manipulated emotionally and psychologically.
2 Feel insecure
The insecurity of victims is a major symptom of manipulation. Recall that manipulators set out to gain control over you and make you subject instead of partners. The moment you succumb, they use your weaknesses and vulnerability against you. You feel less and less of yourself.
3. You are compared to others.
We are all uniquely built by God and so, two people cannot have the same abilities or qualities. If you are being compared to others, you know that it is the onset of manipulation because they want you to be like others. They make the victims feel they should work hard to keep them like a trophy – which makes them develop a feeling of inadequacy.
4. They want you to depend on them for everything
Imagine if you have nobody to run to when you have a problem. If you depend too much on people, you are giving them the power to hurt you. Therefore, codependence is one sure way to suffer manipulation.
5 The relationship is very emotionally intense.
If they try to make you feel an intense passion or connection, they are on their way to gaining some sort of control over you. According to Balestrieri “Love bombing, chaos, and intensity are frequent and foundational elements, necessary for a successful manipulation,” Manipulators remind their partners of their fantasies all in the bid to keep them romanticized.
Manipulation leaves a scar on the victim, either short or long
Short Term Effects
Being passive – If you find yourself around people who are emotionally and psychologically abusive, you’d likely be the passive one in that relationship. More action may lead to more abuse and so, being passive may just become the default mode of people around their manipulators.
Anxiety and vigilance: If you have experienced any sort of manipulation, chances are that you always be on your guard to avoid a repeat. You’d watch others and watch yourself.
Surprise and confusion: For every time someone exhibits manipulative behaviour, you’d likely be wondering why they act the way they do. You may even question your relationship with such people.
Avoiding eye contact: Experiencing the whims of a manipulator will likely leave avoiding eye contact. This is because if you succumb to manipulation, you’d likely be losing yourself.
Shame and guilt: Even though you’re not responsible for the manipulative behaviour of others, it is possible that you’d be guilt-tripping yourself for allowing those people in your life.