Is trying to get what you want from a man the same as manipulation?
When I suggest that a woman might benefit from some strategies to help her approach dating and relationships, many women feel uncomfortable and conflicted. They say to me, “I don’t want to play games” or “I don’t want to seem manipulative.”
The ‘strategy’ of doing what works for you is not about manipulation or deceit. You can’t control a man.
In reality, all you can do is protect yourself and do what’s best for you. You can communicate and try to remain true to yourself and your ideals.
So don’t worry – thoughtfully behaving in a relationship is not manipulation. Here’s why:
The Problem with Being a People-pleaser
When women tell me these concerns, I wonder if they feel like they don’t deserve happiness. I think about how serious the issue of people-pleasing is and how many problems it causes.
So many of us women are raised to be people-pleasers in our culture, to put the happiness of everyone else above our own feelings. As a people-pleaser, you want others to like what you do. If they don’t, you can wonder if you’re doing something wrong, even when it’s the other person’s problem. It can be hard for you to say “no” or “I disagree” because somebody else might not like it.
When you are focused on pleasing other people, it can start to feel like you don’t deserve to get what makes you happy. It can even feel like it’s not okay to spend your time trying to get what you want. When you take on this negative perspective, it’s easy to think that you might be doing something wrong like being ‘manipulative’. It’s easy to lose faith in yourself and start sabotaging your relationships.
What’s the Difference Anyway?
With people-pleasing seeming to be so common these days, it is hard for many of us to stay true to ourselves in the face of criticism. Just think about it – has anyone along the way ever criticized your approach to communication, bringing doubt to your motives and tactics? Let’s look at two examples to clarify what I mean:
Example 1: Julia has started dating Kyle, a handsome, successful sales manager. She finds him very attractive and enjoys their conversations. He seems very interested, but he usually calls her for dates at the last minute. She prefers advance notice so that she can prepare. When she accepts a date, it bugs her afterward, so she considers telling him she’s busy when he calls the next time. Her friend Annie says that modern women don’t have to play games like that with men, but doesn’t give Julia another suggestion of what to do. Julia lets Annie’s opinion create doubt in her mind, so she keeps accepting last minute dates with Kyle while becoming more and more resentful.
Example 2: Pam is on her first date with John. When the waiter leaves the check on the table, John doesn’t reach for it… and neither does Pam. She’d rather let the check sit than offer to split it with him. When she tells her friend Deb the story later, Deb says she was being passive-aggressive and that she should have just told the guy that she wanted him to pay. Pam thinks Deb is off-base. She says, “I don’t agree. I think actions speak louder than words. I didn’t want to tell him what to do like he was a little boy. In the end, he paid the check.”
What do Julia’s and Pam’s experiences say about the difference between being ‘manipulative’ versus simply strategic in your relationships?
You’ll Never Please Everyone, So Please Yourself
In the first example, Julia is so afraid of ‘playing games’ that she just goes along with the situation and ends up resenting Kyle. In the second example, Pam isn’t worried about coming off as ‘manipulative’ as long as she follows her heart and makes her feelings clear. And what happened? Pam had a better outcome because she didn’t let the criticism sway her from doing what she thought was best.
Sure, maybe some women aim to cunningly manipulate or play games with men… but they’re certainly in the minority. Women have been demonized throughout history for playing ‘mind games’ with men, at times even being burned at the stake for their “witchery”. If we dress sexy, say “no” to sex, or wear makeup, we can be accused of manipulation. Apparently, these things imply that we’re being controlling and deceptive.
The point is, you’re never going to be able to please everyone, so you may as well do what you think is best. Sometimes ‘strategies’ are simply socially acceptable ways to stick up for what you want in a non-confrontational way. When people criticize you, just try to remember to think twice before you accept their version of events as the final word and begin altering your own behavior. Be your own Brand of Sexy!
Be Your Own Brand of Sexy to Get What You Want from Men
Don’t ignore your own judgment just because some people disagree with you. Reflect on your situation and do what feels best for you. Being yourself – being your own Brand of Sexy – is the least type of manipulative behavior there is.
Want more help overcoming your desire to please others and finding the true you? I know it doesn’t happen in the snap of your fingers. That’s why I’m working on a short course to help you get to know yourself and streamline the process of overcoming your hurdles to being the true you. Sign up here if you want to be one of the first to have a chance of working through my new video: How to Become Your Own Brand of Sexy in 5 Simple Steps.
Until then, you can start reading my book Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women for an in-depth discussion on finding your way on the journey to your ideal relationship by figuring out what you want.