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6 Steps to Stop Being Manipulated

Throughout life, there are times when we may come across an individual or a situation where a person is very dominant, controlling and possibly even manipulative. Sometimes it is a boss who doesn’t allow us to voice our opinions. Sometimes it is a family member who is very demanding and finds ways to get us to manipulate us into doing what they want. And sometimes, it may be a friend who is very pushy and demands that others do things their way, on their time schedule, forgetting that those around them are affected in the process.

This can frustrate us, making us feel stifled, and worst of all, powerless. And although it may come to a head only once in awhile, if we are in a relationship or friendship where this happens on a frequent basis, it can take a toll, and we can lose our sense of worth and even worse, sense of self. It can be debilitating. The only way we can avoid these feelings is to take the power back, and empower ourselves.

Let’s take an illustrative example of a friend who is perpetually late. You find it irritating and inconsiderate. Moreover, you resent the fact that her perpetual lateness causes you to be late as well. With this example in mind, here are six steps to empower yourself out of her control:

  1. Take Charge of Your Life: The only person who can really control your life is you. Start acknowledging how you feel about these situations. Start making decisions for yourself and prioritizing what is important to you. Example: Admit that your friend’s lateness bothers you. Think about the ideal situation and how you would like it to play out. Picture it in your mind.
  2. Set Goals: Setting goals allows us to stay true to what is important to us. Goals can be big or small. Whatever the case, create goals that are important to you and don’t let anyone else hurt your chances of reaching them. Example: If there is an event or function that you want to be on time for, set a goal that you will be on time no matter what.
  3. State Your Opinion/Thought/Preference: Once you have a goal in mind, state it out loud. State it to yourself and to the other person so they know where you stand. Be clear in voicing your expectation, and don’t leave anything up to the imagination by assuming the person understands what you want. Example: State to the individual who is always late that it is very important to you that you are on time for the event. Let them know you are willing to go without them if they aren’t ready in time.
  4. Stand Your Ground: Wishywashiness isn’t going to help you in these situations. Don’t back down from what you believe, feel or want. Stand your ground and follow through with your plan to ensure your goal is met. Example: If the other person is late, leave without them. If you don’t, they will continue to assume that it is okay to push their schedule on you.
  5. Stop Relying on Others for Approval: Part of what allows us to be ruled by others is that we want their approval. The reality is, if you respect yourself and stand up for what you want, then others will start respecting you more for it.  Example: If after you leave and the other person gets upset. Make it clear that you informed them you would leave without them. Don’t apologize. You did what was important to you and you stayed true to yourself.
  6. Let go: There will be times when these steps aren’t always possible. You might just find that a relationship is repetitively one-sided in consideration. Instead of getting upset, let go. Realize that the person isn’t going to change and that you have the power to not let it bother you. Find ways to ensure that you take care of yourself. Example: If the person continues to be late for everything, stay true to your priority and start going alone and stop caring. Let go of the feelings and just accept them for who they are and start empowering yourself to be the on-time person you want to be.

Empowering yourself is important. Waiting for others to empower you gets you nowhere. Have you had a relationship where you felt you had no power? What did you do to address the situation?


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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body Tagged with: , , ,
  • Kelli

    I had been friends with another woman for about 1 1/2 yrs. I had asked her to my birthday party bbq. She never said yes or no. After my birthday, she acted like,”Oh was it your birthday?” I threw her a very nice little birthday party…food, dessert & gifts. She called 30 min before she was due at my house and cancelled. The next day she showed up and couldn’t wait to leave. It was obvious by her behavior. She was fastly becoming unreliable.Then she would call every 3-4 mons and ask when we were getting together. I told her when I was free each time and that was the end of it. Then she would repeat the same flaky behavior for the following year. I finally realized her committment issues were more than I wanted to deal with in a true, sincere and respectful friend. I ended our friendship. It didn’t bother me much as I was ready to check out before that time. Hold true to yourself.

  • Valerie Wilmington

    This article is so on point.It describes my mother to a “T”.I relocated fom Chicago to Florida over 13 years ago and this made her behavior worse and continues to this day.During my divorce hearing my mother,her mother, my ex-mother n law, and her mother appeared at the final hearing hoping that the judge would order me to return to Chicago,God was with me. Over the years she has made many attempts to make life miserable for me.She has publicly humilated me, attempted to kidnap my kids from school,and have me Baker Act. All to no avail.She sees nothing wrong with her behavior and continues to disrespect me. This woman is deeply dsturbed. I have decided not to reconcile our relationship.I just hate that my ex allows the kids to visit with her when they in Chicago for the summer.She undermines my authority when it comes to the kids. Do you think she needs psychiatric help?

  • Codi Kutsch

    yeah I got a comment!

    Thanks – for writing this article – very good insights all the way around.

  • lena allen

    How about the one’s that manipulate, you tell them they are and they tell you that your its all in you head! I know a person like that and they will sit and tell you black is white and think it really is. Can’t argue with those kind, I just stay away.

  • Lisa Burtress

    My former daughter in law was that way. Lies, manipulation, head-games, it never ended, one thing after another. It would have been fun to be friends with her. It took me years to catch on to it. Now, we have a new daughter-in-law, she didn’t wait to get to know us, she got rid of us at the get go. This seems to have become a “I’ll get what I want no matter what” world and a “it’s all about me” world with no consideration or love of anyone but “my four and no more”. Very sad. This world has really changed. No respect.

  • MysticMeg

    My mother-in-law has borrowed $433 from me personally. Her son is in bankruptcy because of her begging and begging. Now when I ask for the money back as I borrowed the money from the bank and they want the money plus interest. Her reply is “I don’t think I owe you any money”. She needed her car fixed and did not have the money for 2 broken axcels and 2 front tires. Her son did not have the money. I used my credit to pay the vehicle garage. Now she has told someone “The vehicle was not repaired!” She’s a senior toxic liar!!! She needs transportation to the doctor and grocery store. No regards to anyone but herself. Called son over one day for a 6 hour furniture moving marathon. Does not want to bathe or wash her hands. I cannot be around her. She tries to suck the life out of me!!!! She only cares for her needs and does not think of anyone else. Her relatives have told be “You deserve a better mother-in-law”. She pulled this as child, as a student and now as a senior citizen. I am unable to purchase groceries because of her-she has taken and taken until I am at a point where it is getting to me. Just what she wants – to upset my life. I have told her on numerous occassions to leave me out of her problems. She is old enough to go to other relatives with large large large bank accounts. She refuses. And now she refuses to pay back what she borrowed to pay for the repairs to her car. My friends will not talke to me about this. My relatives are shocked at her activities. She continues to deny and deny. What is the answer????

  • your articles realy discribes my mom. she always like me to do wat ever she wills. she never smiled @ me, & often i keep asking my self wether she is my real mother. she makes me feel inferior & always compare me wit others. how can i make her love me?

  • Noelle

    SO MANY RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN PEOPLE are BUSTED BECAUSE of the “people features”/ “types”listed in the article. I can not comprehend how totally “selfish” some people are in their personal interactions…….I truly believe pets behave more “sanely” than people do….
    Perhaps those who are and have been substance abusers are the MOST difficult to deal with and should stick with each other….they become “callous” and expect everyone to “beat to their drummer”…………….

  • JoAna

    I hate to say this but I think my boyfriend is manipulating me. I moved (and my kids) from four hours away to be with him. I changed my whole life and I feel like he’s not even giving me any credit. He only pays half of the utilities and the rent (like he’s supposed to) but then when I really need help, he is reluctant and he won’t even offer. I needed to go to the doctor and I didn’t have the money – for a possibly serious health condition – and again he didn’t offer. He doesn’t help me out in any way. Quite frankly, everyday just adds a little more to that “I am really getting tired of his crap” pile. It’s always about him – I just think that his parents spoiled the crap out of him and they still do.

  • Belle

    I truly feel for you as you feel you are not loved by your mom….We all have strengths and weaknessess and make wise and unwise decisions. Sadly, as children, we do suffer the hurts inflicted on us from our parents whether it’s psychological, abuse, drug or alcohol issues…In order for us to move on and LIVE our lives, we first have to accept and believe that we are not the cause of our parents lacks. Seek out some counseling resources to help DEAL with certain issues…Self help and discovering yourself and making your life your own is healthy for you. “Empower yourself! Waiting for others to empower you gets you nowhere!”

  • Lyndon

    I was having problems telling people NO! People would not stop asking for my help and wanted it for free. I started having medical problems and they were not around for me when I needed help. I still help others but only on my terms. I come first and if I have time, I will help. I found the 12 step program very helpful years ago.

  • daniel

    To this day I’ve yet to meet somebody who does not manipulate others myself included.That said we all should take steps not to manipulate others.

  • David

    Daniel makes a good point manipulation is a part of life.At least to some degree. If we’re all “pulling together”, for the better good of the relationship,then manipulation is actually helpful if not abused.

  • teresa

    I had a friend like this, she called herself my best friend. I tried everthing to make the friendship work. She tried everthing to use and abuse me. I finally just cut her loose. She tries to contact me, I just blow her off. If I tell her the truth she will find some way to hurt me or my family. Any one who stop’s being friends with her she tries her best to mess up their live’s. Good riddins.

  • hardatwork

    okay so what if you work for a company who condones this kind of behavior? For example, you have great ideas, many others in and out of the company have expressed that they are great ideas but because the people you work with are so self-centered that they immediately disgregard them because they themselves did not think of it. What do you do then?

  • hardatwork. Under normal circumstances, I’d say leave. If you are not appreciated or valued at your company, you are ultimately going to be resentful and unhappy. That said, in these economic times, it isn’t necessarily the best option. You might want to start networking with other companies in your industry, so that when employers start employing again, you are top of mind. If you can focus on a longer term goal, the pain of the day to day with your current company won’t feel as strong. Good luck…

  • Mana

    I interferred with my 23 year old daughter’s relationship with a boyfriend who was not ready to commit to her- i was so worried about her- and called him, and asked him to stop calling her and seeing her if he is not ready to commit- this hurted her feelings especially from her back- now i admit that i was extremely wrong – although she understood, where i come from and why i called him- and she also understand where he come from and why it is hard for him to commit- specially at 23 year old. she is in pain and somehow angry with me- i don’t know how to make her feel better about this- it is hurting me and her…any ideas

  • marie

    I feel like this is what my mom is doing rght now. She keeps backtracking about what her life has been just to support me, this is how she makes me guilty. She lets me feel that I would not be in my position right now if it weren’t for her which is true. I try the bestest I can to help her family financially, physically and emotionally. It seems that my efforts are not sufficient enough. I just started working which is not easy as well and true enough, my situation is not helping with decision makings. I feel that I need approval from somebody with what I am doing. I cant help it…
    I could go on. Right now, I am not even in talking terms with her. I don’t know where to start to overcome this problem. It has been a vicious cycle. We get back in terms because I ask sorry and then again she is upset about something and there goes again another story…
    Your article looks promising but the starting off would be very difficult. Right now, she is complaining a lot of health problem which she does not want addressed anyway. I feel bad telling this, but I feel she is using that to manipulate me as well.
    I am emotionally exhausted since my year and half stay closer to her… I can’t stay away because I know I am still responsible and they are family.

  • Marie, you are indeed in a very difficult situation. It sounds like your mother is very needy and probably doesn’t know how to get things without manipulating people. And, unfortunately, the longer an individual does this, the harder it is to get them to see what they are doing. Don’t let her guilt you into things…she made the choice to have you and as a parent, parents are SUPPOSED to take care of their children. Now that you are taking care of her, you should try to tell her that you are doing everything you can and that her lack of appreciation is hurting you. Stand up for yourself…you are the only one who can. Also, believe in yourself. Don’t let others tear you down. You deserve better than that.

  • Sassy

    I was married to a very manipulating man for over 26 years. It was very frustrating but not as frustrating as being divorced from this person and still being manipulated. I finally am taking charge of my life and saying “NO” for the first time. It is very liberating.

  • Hi, need your advice…

    Thanks for this article, now I realized that my boyfriend is a manipulator, alwyas for himself. He forget all special occasion, he never give even one flower, but always ask me some help and I always give him gift, even gift for his relatives. And I feel, he would not change. It’s hard to leave someone that you love unconditionally. But it’s disappointing.


  • Alina, I’m sorry that you are unhappy. The best thing to do is to try to take a step back and think about your future. Are you going to be happy in this relationship in the long term? Will you always feel unhappy? Further, if you have verbalized this to your boyfriend? If so, and he still doesn’t care, that seems like a bad sign.

  • Jen

    I just finished reading the 8 Toxic personalities to avoid and saw a link to this article. Well, to start off I just came back from getting married (destination wedding) and my mouth dropped when I read the first one. My now mother in-law was about 5 out of the 8 but mostly the Manipulative Mary. She seriously tried to ruin my time before the wedding, the wedding and after! Even after all her attempts, I kept quiet and played nice. I didn’t realize what she was doing until I read the article. OMG now I know! I seriously felt drained and that I really didn’t get to fully enjoy my time there. I actually cried when I got home thinking that maybe the time went by to fast. Now I see it was her, draining the joy out of everything, being manipulative and judgmental. After reading this I’m diffidently staying away from her. I mean I thought it was me and that I was crazy, but then my parents noticed it and said something when I arrived back home. I never met anyone so toxic!

  • Mrs. P.

    It’s nice to read others notes; I get a better perspective on my own situation with my family. They’ve stayed away from me because I wanted to be cheer them in their lives, you know, be that positive uplifting family member (and goofily quote movies we’ve seen) where everything is okay and life just happens. But I’m too happy, too energetic, too dreamy, wanting to do activities that are cheap and we could all do. Naw, Ma, Pa, Bro say no. Bro is a black hole, no matter how much communication I throw his way he does not respond. We are artists like Ma so that’s got to be where his solitariness stems from. Ma is a good superficial conversation laughter type person, fun for a bit and then we part until the next time: we don’t take our relationship seriously but acknowledge it with gusto! Pa is just so quiet, he can only handle my giddiness to a point then it’s time for me to go home. Boy am I glad I read this stuff because I can see I’ve been after my bro’s respect or a nod of acknowledgement in my direction, for over a decade. . time to slap myself or dunk the mind to “live & let die” (relationship speaking) the ones who aren’t compatible, even if we are related. Such is life. Been there done that don’t wanna go back. I know how you feel I felt the same way & this is what I found out: cry a river build a bridge & get over it. Dunk the mind! It needs refreshing. You you you can doooo it. You are you’re own best friend, and your worst clothes critic but that’s beside the point. Thank you.

  • mario

    I don´t speak English, but I translated this articles. Very good
    Thank you very much.

  • mel

    I’m into this situation for the longest time, my husband wants me to yield on him always, but i oftentimes fight him over such situation.He and his family have such dominant attitude/character.I’ve been wanting to get out of this relationship, but my problem is the negative effects on my kids. Everytime i would confront him for some mistakes he committed, or other issues about us he’ll always shout at me, w/c i really don’t like, he won’t and never ever accept his mistakes..he always make nonsense justification just so to show to me, he never get wronged..I am a person who would not talk or say anything if somebody is shouting/yelling at me.

  • patty

    A book that has helped me is called The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick One of the best books ive read offers alot
    on dealing with these types of people ! After being married for 20 years to someone who was manipulative and abusive i am glad to to free Is it hard yes but the peace is well worth it !!1

  • the unfortunate thing is that the manipulator is the general manager where I work. I am at the point where I’d like out of this relationship but I have to find another job. And there aren’t a lot of jobs in my field in the area and I need my job to pay my mortgage.

  • vicki

    This is hard but never allow this to take place,
    no one should do this to you,
    the promblem is with them,
    be strong.

  • nicole

    I realized that my husband is manipulative. After all these years. He is always guilting me into paying his cell phone bill and giving him gas money. We have other problems that have led us not to live together so when he asks me for money when we have 2 kids that I have to feed and clothe cause he never has money to do it, I hate it but then he would talk fancy and I would give in. Thanks goodness I have decided to move away from it all. I won’t let him manipuate me anymore. Thanks for the article.

  • Jay

    My wife of 1yr.4mon. is very manipulative when it comes to getting what she wants.And when she doesn’t get it all hell breaks loose,cussing,arguing,and shes even gone as far as throwing things at me.
    I have always tried to give her ,her way but when it comes to something for me she always puts up a fight and I either end up not doing it or on my own.
    We live in an apartment where I have to pay basically all the bills with my paycheck but she can go shopping whenever she wants.She also one time called me out saying that I was a tight wad and I never like to spend money and that I don’t help around the apartment.All I told her was I didn’t like to spend money because I have to pay the and she wasn’t helping”she said nothing”and as far as not helping I told her why should I help you if you don’t help me.”another argument errupted”
    So now I am doing all the chores around here cooking and still paying the bills.
    I’m just glad we don’t have any chidren!
    I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Naya

      Wow same thing happening to me but I have 11 month old son and she always ask to help her family where my expense is already higher then income. She twist stories, fabricate stories to gain sympathy. Isolated me from my family and friends. I pay mortgage for her fathers house where I live. Not allowed to invite anyone over but they have get together all the time.

  • Scott

    I have been sitting here this morning trying to decide if I should call my mother. Dad has Dementia and she has had an extremely difficult time. She fights with everyone in the carehome about his care, has no conversation with anyone other than complaining about that care. She has severed ties with nearly everyone she knows, including sisters, brothers, friends as she felt no one helped enough when Dad was home. She does not think I help enough, I visit my Dad once a week and try to have her for dinner most weeks so we can listen to her complain. I called her a few times this week but she has not returned my calls. I’m worried about her but know she is mad at me once again. It’s difficult as I am really her only family contact and she’ll be in a difficult spot if we aren’t speaking with christmas dinner coming soon. She has no one else to spend it with and will make sure she tells everyone she has contact with. I feel sorry for her but she does need someone – how will I ever make her see what she has done to people? I still haven’t decided if I should call her or not – Guilt!

  • TMJ

    I really enjoyed reading this. I come from a family that has a history of codependency steming from my mother’s relationship to my late father ( a former alcoholic). Setting boundaries and denying toxic people for my own personal sanity was something I had to learn on my own the hard way throughout my 20’s. Now at 32, I know how to pick good friends, speak up for myself, confront family when neccesary, and recognize crazy folks trying to get in my space. I owe this thanks to being in a good church with liberty and freedom-(I happen to be a Christian), prayer, some fasting along with reflecting, articles and books much like what Brett writes, Weight watchers to control emotional eating-(I’m looking good),some counseling and lots of journaling. Got to know the REAL YOU and not only recognize these things in others but catch these traits in ourselves as well.

  • Marcus Vittitow

    It’s amazing how some people can manipulate you into doing things for them whitout coming right out and asking you. I have a now ex friend/lover who could charm me into anything. She never had to even ask. All she did was suggest things. Like”I need a new computer or I need about alot more money to pay bills. As friend who used to be her lover that was all it took. She had me sucked in. I want all of you out there to also do a google seaxh on the Socialpath definition. You will be knocked over with a feather after you read the traits of a socialpath. this woman that has occupied my heart for so long can no longer hurt me because I now know what she is. She will never hear me say to her “I love You” ever again. To tell her that is an opportunity. I can’t let that happen anymore.
    Here is the definition link:

  • Donna B

    Boy can I relate to Nicole, with the manipulative husband! In May, I will have been married two years, and I am the victim of manipulation- big time! My husband owns his own home on 2 acres, and pays 420.00/mo. on his monthly mtg.. I live in housing, where I pay 320.00/mo.. I was paying 210.00/mo. until I got married, but now they count his income too. My husband has a son he pays child support on, 240.00/mo., and I have no minor children. He makes about 100.00 more a month than I do. My husband only stays at his place on the weekends, and lives the rest of the time with me. But he can’t/doesn’t pay his own way. He won’t give me a cent toward any of my bills, but runs out of money in the middle of his payperiod and expects me to pick up the slack. The reason we don’t live together is because he becomes a son-of-a-bitch when I am out at his house. Every holiday that I spend with him and his son has been ruined by his disrespectful behavior toward me. But he is just perfect when he is staying in my apartment; without his nine year old son. I told him yesterday, that I bet he couldn’t pay his own way, and that I wasn’t picking up his slack anymore at that he said “unbelievable” real low, but I knew he would never acknowledge it so I went right on). I told him he needs to learn to live on what he makes, and if he can’t, then he needs to make a decision. He said,”What kind of decision?” I said, “you’re gonna need to sell your house, and get into something you can afford. Do like I do, cut every bill you can, and work on it all the time”. I have suggested living together, and sharing the bills many times; but every time- he balks… and says its because of me. I love him, but I don’t love being manipulated. He also tells me that I “chicken out”, when I flirt with him in the car or otherwise. He’ll say, “yeah, but you’ll chicken out”. Can’t you tell someone they turn you on without meaning “I promise we will make love today”?I don’t know- I just don’t know.

  • Tracey

    After reading alot of these, I’ve realized for the first time just how maniuplative my boyfriend is. We’ve been together now for 21 years. We’re not married and have no children. My friends have told me that he’s nothing but a burdon on me or a mooch and to a point I agree. I have always been the bread winner of the house, I own my own house and pay for all the expenses. I work full time but having to live paycheck to paycheck is so hard and I can’t even think about opening a savings account. He’s on disabilty so he’s not able to work but does get a very small income from Social Security, none of which I see. Since he’s been unable to work (about 5 years now) he does nothing to help me. He sits around all day watching TV or driving around b/c he’s ‘bored’. He won’t help with any house work, but he will mow the lawn and rides around on his Harley all day in the summer. Through the years I have sacrified nearly everything for him and ALWAYS put him & his needs first. Now I truely see how much he takes advantage of me. Back a few years ago, he lost his trust with me b/c I was conversing with my ex… That changed everything. Now, I have to let him know where ever I go, how long I’ll be and if I’m the least bit late, I’m questioned to no end. He tracks my cell calls & emails and if I’m on the phone he MUST know who I’m talking with. He also has this new thing about telling me what I must do… Call this person, you have to get this done, why do you need to go there, etc. If I have to go shopping, I feel guilty b/c I know he’s wondering what I’m really doing. The past year has been extremely difficult and our relationship I feel is on its last leg. He keeps threating to leave but never does. He sleeps on the couch and lives out of his partially packed bags. I know in my heart that I need to start considering myself and my happiness, but I just can’t bring myself to let go. I fear what he might do (to him self) or some other type of repercussion. He also has no other place to live even though I know that’s not MY problem, I’m just not the type of person to cause heartache and I feel nothing but guilt. I need to move on, I just don’t know what to do about it.

  • Marcus Vittitow

    To Jen;
    I have some advice to you about your mother in law. Don’t think for one minute it’s over now that you are married.I had the same kind of mother in law the second time I got married. She couldn’t stop me and her daughter from getting married but she put so much pressure on her daughter afterwards that she caused our marriage to breakup. Not that it needed any help from her. In her family her mother wore the pants in the family. My former wife thought she should rule to roost in our home. Trust me I am not a chauvinist but expect an equal relationship in my marriage. Trust me it’s not over yet with your mother in law. Just a word to the wise: Keep your eyes open. Stick up for your place in your marriage and don’t let her get in the middle of your marriage.

  • Donna B

    This response is for Tracey. My husband also checks all the phone numbers on my home phone, and needs an explanation for any he doesn’t recognize. I, like you, have nothing to hide. He will ask me if I went over to anyone’s house or apartment over the weekend (he has always spent his weekends alone with his son. I told him a long time ago, sell the house, and let’s get a place together. But no, he would rather drain me of what little extra money I make. This phone checking, and demanding to know each and every move you make is his own crappy way of saying that “you’re not trustworthy”. It’s not cute or funny, or romantic jeolousy, it’s designed to make you feel like you’re putting off whore vibes. It’s an indirect put-down, and he’s doing it to belittle you. After reading the article about manipulation, and some of the blogs, I realized that I was losing my own sense of self worth. I became my own mom, and told me that I wasn’t letting this continue. I’m not allowing myself to see my husband anymore, and am now very glad we never got a place together. I’m 53, and I’m filing for divorce next month. This has been going on far, far too long- and so has your dilemma. Be your own mom, and consider this- what would you tell your own daughter? You know what you must do- and the guilt is unfounded, as is your responsibility for how he reacts when you give him the boot. And don’t feel bad that you spoke to your ex- sometimes we still have friendship feelings towards them. It isn’t something to pursue, but it was a teensy mistake and not worth the ugliness he put you thru.

  • Eli

    I just put on hold a friendship today that went back at least 25years because I have become aware that my friend (both her and myself are female) is using manipulative tactics to attention-seek and whilst it stills seems cruel of me to think this I am 90% sure that this is how she is now existing in the cyber world, mainly because of her responses to my concerns. She is exhibiting many traits which I find quite unacceptable and cannot get through to her my concerns about her becoming two people! One she shows in cyberspace to attract people and is ‘an act’ the other which she shows to me when she needs an ‘ear’ or a dumping ground. I have wised up now to ‘giving the benefit of the doubt’ too because you never imagine that someone who professes to be your friend is only really using you as crutch when things go wrong and refuses to even consider your concerns. Recognising these things within relationships does take its toll and can leave you scarred or hurting.

  • TINA

    Theres men and women out whom has mental disorders whom involved in relationships or marriages that really dish out the verbal and mental abuse wanting to push A person around having their way and extremely controling . I have found that senior citizen men that has biopolar mania whom are educatted people are the worst for manipulation being control freaks wanting the woman be mute feeling she hs no say so in nothing and she has no rights .His mental illness causes feel he must do as he pleases regardless how bad wrong he be doing . Thoses type of people defintley causes great pain in your life .

  • Kandis

    Thank you for this. I have taken most of these steps in my life after I left my ex-husband who nearly killed me on one of his drunkin’ rampages. After leaving him to save both myself and our 6 month old daughter at the time, I realized during our marriage he slowly detachted me from all of my friends and all i had left were his. These friends… when I needed support the most helped him make my life worse for the next two years during the divorce process. It wasn’t tell I realized what I give and I need to recieve needs to be the SAME. I felt empty not having anyone once I realized it was ok to let go of ppl who are toxic, however I felt a new sense of confidence, control, and self worth. Now, 2 1/2 years later, my 3 year old daughter and I are happier then ever and the journey has brought us even closer. Thank you for this blog to know it wasn’t just ME and I was handleing it right.

  • marilu

    I’m in a relationship just like it is described above, everytime I try to leave he shows change. But when it comes to reality I know is just talk no real change. I wanna leave for good. what should I do?

  • justin


    My advice would be to leave him because you hit the nail on the head. he will not change, he just tells you that he is going to so that he doesn’t leave you. i know that it is goung to hurt and give you many lonely nights full of tears, but its worth it! and believe me you will find someone better in the long run, but you have to let go of your current partner in order to find the man your looking for.

    ive seen way too many women go back to the guy that they leave because he is what they know instead of taking a risk, going out, talking to someone new, and finding the man of their dreams

    hope that this helps.

  • jylisowski

    another great article!

    …alcoholism is a family disease and i’m learning we all have a part in it. it’s not just the alcoholic who is suffering. …there are 12 step programs for both the families and friends of alcoholics and for the alcoholic that are free, like alcoholics anonymous and alanon. all you gotta do is show up. (they do pass a basket and most people usually contribute a buck or two, to pay for rent of the room, but it’s not expected).

    when people are sick, they are sick. we can become sick, too. if we don’t take care of ourselves. guilt, shame, fear of financial safety and other feelings may come into play from preventing us to move on with our lives.

    sometimes we can live with active alcoholism. sometimes we can’t, or choose not to. when people are in fear, they usually manipulate and try to control. it is scary to live like this and draining. i’m glad for blogs like this to help us and know there are others who are dealing with similar issues. thanks again.

  • C

    I’m dealing with a similar situation with a person who supports me emotionally and spiritually. Although the help is good and the person is kind and intelligent most of the time within the supportiv session, the person has a chronic problem of not being on time. There are numerous times this person has been late. Oftentimes, this person is generous in giving me extra time over the 1 hour. On a few occasions, this person has ended the session before the hour is complete, eventhough it was them who started late. I have used passive comments and humourous sarcasm to indicate how it bothers me and have asked and expressed my hope for it to not happen again. That hasn’t helped. I am afraid to demand punctuality, because, this is perhaps the least bothersome thing and for the most part, the sessions are very helpful and pleasant in the end. And also, I am getting them for free. It is a ministry and not a paid counselling service. I would say 7 or maybe up to 8 out of every twelve meetings, we have started late. It bothers me, because it disregards my future plans Sometimes, I do need to be somewhere later on and must leave within an hour of our scheduled starting time. Also, when ending early, it disregards my needs for more time and help. Some times I have waited up to half an hour, some times I have left, to later on get a phone call of apology with an explanation and a request to reschedule. Normally they are very valid excuses, because this person is always busy with many commitments due to their work and ministry and somethings are unforseen.
    However, the other day I was a bit angrier with many things going on that I was a lot more straightforward and let the person know how it made me feel angry that they were not on time this time again and what I was thinking. The person smiled respectfully as they listened to me and then went on explaining how that has always been a difficulty for them to be on time.
    I don’t know, whether, this person is able to become more punctual or doesn’t want to try harder with me, since it is just me, who they are serving for free. I don’t know if walking out of the appointment if the person is late again, will benefit me in the end. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to get to my appointments, to just turn around and leave.
    I just had a sense that I was placing a value on my boundary. Then, again, the service I receive is very good. That it seems is what has made worth the wait and the inconvenience. Nontheless, it bothers me and frustrates me each time it happens.
    What can I do?

    • Brett

      C, you seem to be going through quite a lot given your comments. Understand that in service, people can’t stop appointments early, especially if they are dealing with a crisis. That said, I do think it is good of you to have raised your concern. It is very frustrating when time isn’t respected by others. If I were you, I’d either plan on the delay (don’t schedule things so close to the time of your end), or find another resource who does maintain punctuality. I will tell you in my personal experience, medical and psychological professionals always struggle with this.

  • E

    I have a Friend who I believe manipulates me when she want something, but on other times be uninterested. We are soul mates, still live in the same area, but have separated. With much to my sadness. Do I talk to her about this? It is exam period at university at the moment, so It is not the best time, and she would not change any way. But it’s odd, that we never see each other any more as we have nothing in common, one moment she is asking me to stay in her bed, the other she gets unnerved when I talk about a new boyfriend. I want some clues to what is going on, but she won’t give them to me. It’s as if she wants to watch me dance, and try to make decisions on my own. It is quite evident that here, it is a very complicated relationship, and sometimes I think she thinks I manipulate her, when clearly I have no idea what I am doing. I think she may fancy me, and this disconcerts me, she hasn’t made a move, not one I want to give her anything for. But it’s getting long, and I dont want to be her play toy any more, but I love her. Can she not just stop.

  • Broken180

    My fiance’s mother is probably the most controlling and manipulative person I have ever met. I love her son with all my heart. We have been together for 3 years now. Engaged for 1 year. When I met him, he was still living at home. When I met his mother, it seemed we hit it off very well. She welcomed me into the family with open arms. Little did I know, this was all going to change. According to my fiancé, she is like this with all his girlfriends. But once they have been together longer than 10 months she decides they are too close and hates them. She demanded that he break up with me. She made false accusations against me and banned me from her home. Even told a mutual friend that she would shoot me if I ever set foot in her house. My fiancé came to live with me about 6 months later against her wishes. He asked me to marry him and we set the date. I guess he decided not to tell her about it. I rarely spoke to her, so I had no idea. Everytime my fiancé asked me to visit his family, I was greeted with, “I don’t believe this shit!” (as she storms out of the room) and his father, little brother (10 yrs old), and whoever else was present would not say a word to for fear of her wrath. She must have seen one of my fiancé’s friends posts on his fb wall, asking when the big day was about 1 month before the wedding. He called it off. Said he wanted to be engaged for at least a year. I said ok and then set about letting my whole family know that it would be at a later date. I was humiliated and hurt. He claimed it was just coincidence that he changed his mind when she confronted him about it, but that it was his decision. It has been a year since all that. She has bad mouthed me all over town. One of my co workers came to me in tears telling me that one of her clients had seen my fiancé with his mother in town and asked when the big day was. His mother immediately went into a rage saying that we were never going to be married. My fiancé just stood there. His excuse was that they were in a public place. I researched this behavior and found all sorts of articles on mama’s boys, mother enmeshed men, passive aggressive personality disorders, etc. I had him read these too. He admitted their may be a problem. Following these website’s advise, we agreed that he would limit his phone calls and visits to once a week. If she continued to bad mouth me or him, he would tell her to stop and if she didn’t he would leave. This seemed it would work. Nope. Now she manipulates other people into doing her dirty work. Friends of hers were sending him messages saying that he was a horrible son for treating his mother this way. That I’m not even blood. If he doesn’t spend every weekend at his parents, his little brother sends messages saying, “it’s sad that you don’t like to hang out with me.” (which irritates me to no end because he had been spending the night every other weekend at that time). My fiancé calls or texts his mother every morning and afternoon. Goes to see her almost every day wether for lunch or just to stop in while he should be working. If he doesn’t, then the next time he sees her, she sends a message saying how nice it was to see him, as if she hadn’t seen him in weeks. And yes. He is back to daily contact. I asked him about getting married, since it has been a year. He said, “yes. Let’s do it.” he still has not told his mother though. I’m starting to have my doubts though. I will not tolerate her dictating how we spend our free time, money, etc. I feel that he is not trying anymore. It’s easier for him to ignore the problem and keep pleasing her so she doesn’t put him on a guilt trip. I understand that it is difficult to grow up and have your own life. Is he just not mature enough yet? Or is he just manipulating me (his mother tought him and his brother well) so he doesn’t have to live with her and his fathers constant fighting. I don’t know anymore.

    • Brett

      It sounds like he is letting himself be controlled by his mother and isn’t capable of cutting the strings. You have to follow your heart and intuition to know whether or not this is a relationship that holds true to what you want and where your values lie. Before anything, you must stay true to yourself and your needs. If you don’t, no one else will.

      • Broken180

        Thank you.

    • Ruby

      My husband is mamma’s boy.
      They talk everyday, sometimes 5 hours a
      Day . I would not tell you what she does because the list is way too long .
      It only gets worse not better , it’s hard to break habits .
      WORST part is you would blame his mother for everything, eventhough she may not be responsible . And she would do the same.
      You can do two things-
      If you have decided he is worth all this trouble then .
      1. learn all the rules of game and play better than anyone else.
      For example my mother in law can manipulate my huband to do little things but major things no. We live in Australia she live in Canada . She wants us to move there . She would play his game by encouraging my husband to come there. She would say totally different thing to me . But I know better . I would never move there .
      Second is leave him .

      I was madly in love with my husband but if I could do it all over again I would not marry him in million years , all because of his mother , because it’s exhausting to pretend you get along well but you hate each other .

  • Joan

    I am living with a family member right now. I came to live with my aunt when my father and I were going through a bad phase in our relationship. Living here as been wonderful, she has been helping me and I have been helping her with my cousin since she is a single mother. A few months ago, I started becoming very unhappy. I felt that my aunt was taking advantage of how much I was willing to do for her, but because she is family and I am living here rent free I agreed to just suck it up and accept it. A couple weeks ago, it was revealed to me that my father was supposed to be paying my aunt rent for the past 10 months. My aunt needed help with money and asked him for the rent months after I was already living here. My father planned a dinner for my grandmother last minute and didn’t invite my younger cousin. I had no intentions of going to the dinner but I was out of class early that night and stopped over to sit and eat with my grandmother. My sister took a picture of us after dinner and posted it on Facebook. When I got home and told my aunt and cousin about dinner, they both started to cry. My aunt said she felt like she had no one. And my cousin said she hated her family. After that the rent situation got brought up again. I had no clue about this agreement and since I know my father cannot afford it I offered her my own rent that I could afford since I am a full-time student. She cried and dismissed the idea saying I was just a kid and that it was very sweet of me to offer. As time went on I began to feel more and more uncomfortable in the house. Her sister sent a text to my dad asking him to pony up for the rent. I soon realized this issue was just going to grow. I sat down and told my aunt about how uncomfortable I felt in the house and how I felt like I was walking on eggshells. She started to get very upset and started to cry and said I feel like I failed you and said I have no clue why you feel uncomfortable you living here has nothing to do with money. At that point I was telling her I wanted to move out, she said she didn’t understand why I wanted to but she understood my decision. I told her I wanted to stay until the end of August so I wouldn’t be rushing out of her house and could get used to the idea I was moving out.

    A couple days later, I came in from class and my aunt was making dinner and seemed to be in a very good mood. She told me how much she appreciated my help and how my cousin and I are the only people she had. And she wished I would reconsider moving out. I told her I had been thinking about it and if she could accept my rent that I would stay. She told me not to worry about it again that we would figure it out and that she did want me to leave the “compound”. I felt really happy that we had reached a conclusion and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I stayed. I went away that weekend and came home on Sunday and she said to me you need to talk to your father about getting the rent, he won’t answer anyone of my texts or calls. My father I knew would not be able to afford the rent and was avoiding her. But I was confused because I had already tried to take my father out of the situation but offering my own rent. Once again I felt very uncomfortable in the house. I have been spending more and more time out of the house and when i came home 2 days ago my aunt told me how much my father had hurt her and how much she hated him. she also told me how much her sister hated him and wanted to sue him but how she had told her no. Yesterday my cousin and her went into the city and my aunt told me to do some cleaning around the house and then told me she didn’t want anyone at the house. Usually it was never an issue, she was so open to me having my friends there. Then last night I came home from class and it was 9:30 all the lights were off. In the entire 10 months I have lived there my cousin and aunt have watched TV till midnight in the living room. She used to make dinner for me when I came in but there was nothing there. The two dogs usually sleep in my bed but she had all the dogs upstairs with the door closed and armed the house as soon as I got in so even if I wanted to I couldn’t leave or go out. I feel so anxious all the time. Am I overreacting or am i being manipulated?

    • brettblumenthal

      Joan, you are living in a difficult situation. If I were you, I’d remove yourself from the situation. It seems clear that your aunt and father have a very strained relationship. It is apparent, she wants you there and loves you. It doesn’t sound like she’s trying to manipulate you, but it sounds like there are issues that you may not want to be part of. You have to do what is best for you. That is what is most important. If you leave, make it clear that it isn’t about her, and that you’ll visit. She obviously is fragile and wants your relationship.

  • chachacharlie

    Thank you! This is excellent, Just what I needed. I have been pushed around for most of my life and it’s time I stand up for myself!

  • Seeking Help

    I am not being maniputated. I am just finding out I maniputate others. I am seeking any help how to rebuild my relationship after I have pushed her to the edge. Has anyone had success in thier relations stoping the manipulation that does not invole leaving the other person? The steps above is helpfull I had already thought about goals.

    • brettblumenthal

      Seeking Help – The first step is to raise your self-awareness. Think about when and why you do what you do. Understanding why you behave this way will help you to modify behaviors for the future. Also, you should speak to your partner honestly and explain why you behave the way you do so she understands..

  • Liz Vogt Mish

    My sister and brother in law, who live with me, are manipulating me. They know that I don’t want to live alone and they want to move to another state. They are telling me if I don’t move with them I will be alone and that I should sell my house and move with them. If I disagree they become mean and won’t talk to me. They are acting distant and angry because I don’t want to move but I will have to move to a nursing home if they do move. They don’t care if I do.

  • Pam

    Just realizing my husband has been manipulating me since we met 12 years ago.
    He wants certain things that I morally disagree with and has been trying to pull me away from my religious and moral beliefs so that I will accept that there is nothing wrong with what he wants and comply. When I started speaking up he got nasty saying I was selfish and lazy and how much more religious he has become than me. All very hurtful. I am scared to leave but more scared to stay. I want to think he can change but I fear he cannot. Even if he realized it and tried changing my trust is broken and I don’t know if I want to try anymore once I break free.

    • brettblumenthal

      It sounds as though you are trapped in an unhealthy relationship. Counseling might be something worth considering.

  • Nyll Washup

    My dad does this to me example I bough a trailer from him I said just sign it leave rest blank what does he do he fills it complete even the buyers side makes the title void he lives out of state now we be going round and round he has used every excuse in the book to get out of getting my title. Oh the web site wont let me long on from out of state is the best one I like or I need proof of ownership to get a new title. Found out from a friend he did not want to sell me the trailer this is his way of making it impossible for me to ever get it the games this man plays with his kid and he is rich to boot he is the kinda guy who visits his kids as they live in a trailer park and he drives a Bentley to come see them.