I won’t sugarcoat it – the dating world can be a minefield of deception and manipulation. Fortunately, you can develop an essential skill that will protect your heart and empower you to identify the genuine connection you deserve. Everyone wants to influence their partner’s behavior or perceptions in some way. Manipulators use deceptive or abusive tactics. They may try this directly or indirectly. It may seem harmless, just friendly and flattering. They may try to make you feel guilty or ashamed by complaining, blaming, or comparing you to others. In extreme cases, they may use rage, intimidation, or threats against you. In its worst form, it’s a cheater or an abusive partner who wants to control you or harm you. Any way they do it, these people are out for their interests, not yours.
But manipulation doesn’t only happen in a relationship. We are also potentially influenced by the advertisements, words, and actions of politicians, movies, the news, and more. Don’t forget that your dates, boyfriends, partners, boss, kids, or mother may also try to influence you sometimes. They may even have the best of intentions, but it may not be what you think is best for you.
Nobody Likes Being Manipulated
The problem with being manipulated is that it feels like you have been pushed or tricked into something you don’t want. You may feel like the other person has taken advantage of you. You feel better and more empowered when you make a conscious choice to do something.
But, here’s the most important point you want to get from this article: Nobody can manipulate you or make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them get away with it. It’s like what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If you feel manipulated, then this may seem like a strange idea. But understanding this concept can help you feel more powerful in every area of your life.
For example, let’s say you see the man you’re dating with another woman. When you mention it to him, he tells you that you must be imagining things or that you’re paranoid. You have two choices: you can assume he must be right about you, or you can wonder if he is defensive or not telling you the truth. In other words, you suspect it is his problem, not yours. If you assume he’s right and it’s your problem, you are letting him manipulate you. You have a choice.
If you’re a people-pleaser, you may have trouble saying “no” and disagreeing with people who try to influence you. You might be afraid the other person will be angry with you if you don’t agree with them. If that’s the case, you may end up feeling manipulated by someone who’s a good person, but you just can’t stand up to them.
So, how can you deal with someone trying to influence or manipulate you without feeling taken advantage of? Here are 5 tips to show you how to stop being manipulated:
1. Listen to Your Feelings.
When somebody is trying to change your perspective or behavior, it often feels uncomfortable. Maybe you feel anxious, guilty, ashamed, or even angry. You might be afraid of conflict with the other person, which might make it hard for you to be upset with them.
Feeling any discomfort is usually a sign that something is off. It can often be a sign of manipulation or disagreement. Don’t ignore how you feel as your feelings are your best GPS to guide you. Don’t agree to do things you aren’t comfortable with.
2. Hear Him Out.
Sometimes people just want to be heard. Let’s say your boyfriend tells you that you’re overreacting when you have a legitimate gripe. When you tell him that you don’t like that, he gets defensive. When you listen and try to understand his point of view, at least he will feel heard.
If you can listen without being unduly influenced, you can understand his motivations to better resolve the situation. Don’t cut off the conversation just because you don’t agree. Put yourself in his shoes. You don’t have to change your mind.
3. Hold on to Your Boundaries.
You deserve to have a different point of view. Your unique experiences and values are going to be different than someone else’s. You want to be able to hold your perspective when someone has a different one.
It’s impossible to be in a close relationship with someone and to agree about everything all the time. Conflict is unavoidable, and learning to deal with it well improves relationships.
4. Acknowledge His Point of View.
When you reflect on his comments and understand his point of view, it can help to defuse any tension. When you let him know that you understand where he is coming from and believe his intentions are good, he is less likely to be defensive and dig deeper into his opposition.
For example, you could say. “You’re right. I did overreact last week, but that’s not what’s happening now because…”
5. Stand up for Yourself.
It’s simple: all you have to say is, “It still bothers me that you said that.” You don’t have to criticize or blame. Just state your position. If he doesn’t accept your perspective, you may be able to agree to disagree.
At least you are having an honest, open discussion of your difference of opinion without any manipulation. You can compromise, you can agree to disagree and see if it blows over, or you can consider whether this relationship is really working for you.
You have the power to choose whether or not to agree to what someone else wants from you. Nobody can take advantage of you without your consent. When you know you can’t be manipulated, you will feel you have more power over your life. This can improve your confidence and self-respect.
If you are experiencing physical or emotional abuse, you will need more help than this article. If you aren’t sure if this is an issue for you, check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Are you concerned about dating as a divorced woman over 40? Discover the advantages that give you an edge over your younger self. Grab my FREE report here.