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How to recognize you are being subtly manipulated in your relationship

Posted February 5

Relationships change you for better or worse, and if you are dating a manipulator, you will be changed for the latter. Manipulators play on the emotions of others to get what they want. In some cases, they may be unaware of their controlling tendencies, but most likely, they know exactly what they're doing.

Manipulators can be subtle about controlling you, so you may not realize the danger until you are already in too deep. But, if you want to escape, the first step is recognizing manipulative behavior such as these:

Mood

Does your mood fluctuate with your relationship? When you are being manipulated, you feel happy and at ease, but when you make a "mistake," your mood crashes and burns. Your frequent mood swings and constant anxieties affect your sleeping and eating patterns. You feel insecure about your own actions and you rely on your partner to make all of your decisions.

Confusion

You never know where you stand in your relationship. The time you spend questioning their feelings is more frequent than the time you spend feeling secure. You feel like you never meet your partner’s expectations and you apologize when you don't know what you're apologizing for. You feel misunderstood by both your partner and your friends. When your friends ask you why you don't break things off, you can’t explain why.

Insecurity

You don’t feel secure in this relationship or any for that matter. You often feel guilty and you never tell your partner "no." You start to doubt yourself, and when you try to talk to your partner about your feelings, you end up feeling worse. You always believe you are to blame when things go wrong.

Actions

You start doing things you would never do to justify yourself. Your friends might say, “You aren’t the same person you were before” and start distancing themselves from you. Your partner has to give you permission before you can agree to anything. Saying "yes" often stems from the fear of upsetting your partner. You are more hesitant and uncertain of yourself than ever before.

If you relate to any of the above, the next step is getting out of your damaging relationship, and here is how to do so:

Talk

Communication is the key to any relationship. Occasionally, your partner may not realize what they are doing to you. If you are honest, they may be more thoughtful in their behavior. If they start making you feel guilty after you disagree about something, confront them. Explain your reasoning, and always remember you have the right to say "no."

Manipulators often use their insecurities as their reasoning for not wanting you to do certain things. For example, they may have a difficult time trusting you because of an awry relationship in the past. If this is the case, encourage them to talk to you about their fears and help them develop a sense of trust in you.

Break up

Breaking up is painful, but if things are spiraling out of control, it's time to break things off. Spend time away from their influence and clear your head. Give yourself time to heal and find your self-confidence and independence again. You will realize you deserve so much better in life.

Go to counseling

If you are unable to end things, or you don't know how to move forward, go talk to a professional to help you decipher your feelings. When you start understanding and feeling comfortable with yourself again, you will be able to confidently break up with your toxic partner.

Being in a manipulative relationship is exhausting, and breaking it off can be even more so. If you know someone who is being manipulated, support them in making the decision to break off their relationship and recognizing that they are worth so much more.

Stacie Simpson is a journalism student. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.

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