Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Dealing with Emotional Manipulators

Most people have experience of a kind of relationship where the other person tries to persuade you that you should act differently or that you have acted wrongly by using emotional manipulation. This usually involves them seeking to draw you into their own emotional drama (how could you not recognise the difficult life or the noble life they have and how could you act in such a selfish way?).

I think that one of the signs in such a relationship that what is going on is emotional manipulation rather than genuine and justified criticism is if the other person shows no real interest in taking consistent practical steps themself to improve the situation but simply repeatedly represents their view of themself as a victim or a martyr and you as an uncaring, thoughtless individual, when anyone outside looking at the facts might well think the opposite.

If you find yourself in such a relationship, stay calm! My suggestions are:

1. Evaluate your own actions honestly. If you think they are reasonable, then say so. If they are not, then apologise if appropriate and seek to adapt in future.
2. Don't debate the situation endlessly with the person. When you have expressed your view once or twice, move on to something else.
3. Decide whether this is a relationship you want to stay in. If you are going to stay in it then continue to try to follow steps 1 & 2 when similar situations arise. If you are not going to stay in it, then if possible and appropriate state your reasons clearly and calmly and step out of it.
4. The above comments apply to emotional manipultion in the context of relationships which are not abusive - if you think that you are caught in an abusive relationship consider contacting an organisation who helps people in your situation for advice/support.

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