To know your Enemy is good advice when dealing with a manipulator. It allows you to respond strategically. Most people react in ways that escalate abuse and or play into the hands of the abuser to make you feel small, guilty, doubt yourself, retreat, and allow unacceptable behavior. Understanding what they’re up to empowers you.
When people behave passive-aggressive, what appears passive is defensive is covert aggression. It’s debatable to what extent their behavior is conscious or unconscious. To the victim, it doesn’t matter. The effect is the same. Being overly-empathic puts you in jeopardy of being mistreated again and again. When someone attacks you overtly or convert, they’re being aggressive.
Covert manipulators intentionally say and do things to get what they want- for power and control. For example, characterology disturbed, such as sociopaths and narcissists and some people with a borderline personality disorder. Their tactics may be unconsciously in a way that defense mechanisms normally operate. However, their behavior is so habitual that over time it becomes reflexive. They don’t even think about it, but are still conscious of it.
Goals of a Manipulator.
The goal of manipulation is to gain influence to get our needs met, but habitual manipulators. Do so for power and control and use deceptive and abusive methods. Manipulators maintain domination through continuous, recurring, emotional manipulation, aggressive, abuse, and coercive control. Often they’re passive-aggressive. They may lie or act caring or hurt or shocked by your complaints- all to deflect any criticism and to continue to behave in an unacceptable manner. In maintaining control to do what they wish, manipulators aim.
They do this to:
To Avoid being confronted.
To put you on the defensive.
To make you doubt yourself and your perceptions.
To hide their aggressive intent.
To avoid responsibly.
To not have to change.
Eventually, you are victimized and lose trust in yourself and your feelings and perceptions. Gaslighting is a treacherous, disabling form of manipulation.
Covert Manipulative Tactics.
Manipulation may include overt aggression, such as criticism, narcissistic abuse, and subtle forms of emotional abuse. Favorite concert weapons of manipulators are; guilt, complaining, comparing, lying, denying, feigning ignorance or innocence (who me!), blame, bribery, undermining, mind games, assumptions, reversals, emotional blackmail, evasiveness, forgetting, ignoring, fake concern, sympathy, apologizes, flattery, and gifts and favors. Typical tactics are described below.
Habitual liars sometimes lie when it’s necessary. They aren’t lying because they’re afraid and guilty, but to confuses you and do what the want. Some simultaneously put you on the defensive with accusations and other manipulative tactics.
Lying may also be indirect through vagueness and/or omission of material information though everything else said is true. For example, a cheater might say he or she was working late or at the gym, but not admit to a adulterous rendezvous.
This isn’t denial that’s unconscious, lie not realizing you’re being abused, have an addiction, or are avoiding facing difficult truth. This is conscious denial to disclaim knowledge of promises, agreements, and behavior. Denial also includes minimization and rationalization or excuses. The manipulator acts as if you’re making a big deal over nothing or rationalize and excuses his or her actions to make you doubt yourself or even to gain sympathy.
Manipulators want to avoid being being confronted and taking responsibility at all costs. They may avoid conversations about their behavior by simply refusing to discuss it. This might be combined with an attack, lie, “You’re always nagging me,” putting you on the defensive with blame, guilt, or shame.
Avoidance can be subtle and unnoticeable when a manipulator shifts the subject. It may be camouflaged with boasting, compliments, or remarks you want to hear, like. “You know how much I care about you.” You might forget why you were upset in the first place.
Another avoidance tactic is evasiveness that blurs the facts, confuses you and plants doubt. I once was in a relationship who claimed because I was to precise and he was a gloss-over kind of guy. He felt uncomfortable because I asked too many questions and note inconsistencies in his half truths. He was a manipulator. I’ve experienced this so many times. I need someone who is truthful and kind. Although it was easy for me to give someone the benefit of the doubt and go into denial when your hopeful about a relationship. If you have doubts don’t staying in a relationship lie this. Avoid it at all costs. Your life will reaps the rewards.
Blame, Guilt, and Shame
These tactics include projection, a defense where the manipulator accuses others of his/hers behavior. Manipulators believe” The best defense is a good defense, by shifting blame, the aggrieved person is now on the defensive. The manipulator remains innocent and free to carry on, while their victims now feel guilt and shame.
Abusers are known to blame their victims or anyone else. Addicts typically blame the addiction on other people, their demanding boss or “bitchy” spouse.A criminal defendant with no defense will attack the police on their methods of collecting evidence. Rapists used to be able to attack the reputation of their victims. In a domestic violence case, the husband, who had beaten his wife, blames her for his violence.
Guilt-tripping and shaming shift the focus onto you, which weakens you while the abuser feels superior. Martyrs use guilt when the say imply, “After all I’ve done for you…” sometimes combined with criticism that you’re selfish or ungrateful.
Shaming goes beyond guilt to make you feel inadequate. It demeans you as a person, your traits, or role, not just your actions. ‘The children would behave if the had a father who knew how to parent (or made a decent living.) comparing is a subtle, but powerful form of shaming. It’s harmful when parents compare siblings with each other or with playmates. Some spouses compare their mate to their ex to have the upper hand by making their mate feel inferior.
Guilt or shames may include “blaming the victim” for example, you find evidence on your partners phone that he or she is flirting. Your partner acts outraged that you went into their phone. Now he or she has switched the focus onto you. By playing the victim, your partner avoids a confrontation about flirting, which may also be lied about, minimized, or circumvented altogether. You, the real victim, feel guilty for spying, undercutting and justified anger, and may thereby allow the flirting to continue unaddressed.
Intimidation isn’t always with direct threats, but can be subtle. Intimidation can be achieved with a look or tone and statements alike. “I always get my way,” “no ones ones-irreplaceable,” “ The grass is always greener,” “ I have methods and friends in high places,” “You’re not so young anymore” or “ have you considered the repercussions of that decision?”
Another strategy is telling a story meant to provoke fear, such as “She left her husband and lost her kids, their house, everything” or “I fight to win I once almost killed a guy.”
I actually had a guy tell me if I ever tried to leave him we were going to go for a ride and he would drive off a cliff and kill us both. What would you do in that situation? I waited until he left for work the next day. And I packed my things and was gone. There is absolutely no reason to stay in a relationship with an manipulator, don’t try and convince yourself you love him or her.
playing the Victim
This is distinct from blaming the victim. Rather than blame you, this “poor me” tactic arouses your guilt and sympathy so I’ll do their bidding. “ I don’t know what I’ll you if you don’t help me.” More disordered personalities often threaten suicide if you leave. It can also take the form of “you don’t care about me,” “ Why do you treat me like this? Or “nobody help me.”
Compliance breeds you resentment, damages the relationship, and encourages continued manipulation. Guilt over someone else’s behavior or predicament is irrational guilt.
This tactics are destructive. Over time, you can be traumatized and your self-worth severely damaged. Awareness is the first step. You may need help to see things clearly. Write out conversations and try to identify abuse and all the tactics used. Harder still is not taking the words on the manipulator personally and learning how to respond.