Perhaps you started out as friends. You were seeing someone else; he was seeing someone else. You were in the same circles — the same boxing class, the same local wine bar, maybe the same workplace. You never entertained him as a lover — you were not available; he was not available.
And yet, when you were together, there was something. He was so charming. He was gorgeous and he seemed relaxed. Nothing phased him… except being away from you.
But little do you know that he’s manipulative. And even when he ends up breaking up with his girlfriend, and you’ve broken it off with your other guy weeks before, what he doesn’t tell you is that he ended it with her today — the same day. You are his next, natural obvious choice.
You should run now. But you don’t. You’re not hip to emotional manipulation. You are a trusting person.
You give credence to your friendship. The friendship has allowed your guard to come down. You are open, willing, available. You are ready to fall deeply in love with your King. And here he is — with his ex still in his mind, his addictions still active, his truth telling a ruse so when he gets back to behaving badly you can’t say you weren’t warned.
In the back of your mind, you can’t shake the thought: “Why did she let him go?” And before you let the truth come to you, the whirlwind of your love affair begins. You are swept off your feet and your ability to see clearly disappears. You have entered the vortex of the emotional manipulator.
Here are five signs of emotional manipulation.
Now that your attention is fully on him, he tells you, on your second date:
You are my beloved.
You never have to worry again. I’ve got your back.
You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
You have the most beautiful body.
I love how you kiss.
I love your mind.
I love your heart. You have such a beautiful heart.
You understand me like no one else ever has.
I’ve never felt so connected before.
You get me like no one ever has.
What’s tricky about charm is that when people do fall in love, swooning is natural. It’s the intensity of it and the abundance of charm that you want to watch for.
You’ve been on several dates at this point. You are swimming in his “love.” He writes you poetry and text messages it to you. He leaves you love notes and sweet phone messages. The sex is mind-blowing. You are falling deeper and deeper. And he wants to speed things up.
He says, “Will you marry me?” When you pause, he continues:
“Hey, we’re not getting any younger. We don’t need to ‘wait.’ We know this is right. We can skip the courtship part.”
“I can’t wait until I’m paying for your mobile phone plan, mortgage, car, etc.
I really want to support you in paying your expenses. Let’s do this together.”
“I can’t wait until we’re living together. You’ll save so much money on rent.”
“I can’t wait until we are working together every day in the same space.”
You’ve been on your own a while. The thought of a man helping you out makes your shoulders relax a little bit. You don’t have to do it all yourself. You are happy. Relieved, even.
You aren’t seeing any warning signs. After all, several of your friends got engaged after a few dates and they’re still happily married. It can work out, you think.
However, there is this strange little knot in your stomach you can’t quite place, but you blame it on excitement. You find you can’t sleep through the night anymore, especially when he’s beside you, but you blame it on sexual attraction. You find you are forgetting things and falling behind in your work due to his demands on your time, but you blame that on your own disorganization.
You agree to marry him. And he says, “Good, let’s talk about health insurance.” Honestly, you’d think you’d be out the door by now but you rationalize he’s being pragmatic, rather than you are being a patsy, groomed to take care of this man-boy who is very good at getting people to take care of him.
3. No boundaries
The concept of no boundaries is lovely in spiritual terms. It is a beautiful thing to see that we are all connected and part of the experience called life. However, in practical, human terms, boundaries are designed to keep us safe and help us navigate our day to day lives without losing connection to our sense of self and our core values and ethics.
Your emotional manipulator has no use for boundaries. If you have boundaries and enforce them, he quickly loses interest. His goal is to use you for his own unmet emotional needs.
Typically, the emotional manipulator was abandoned and/or abused as a child and felt unsafe most of the time. They learned to manipulate, cling and take as a matter of survival. As a result, they don’t have a strong sense of self and don’t really understand the concept of boundaries. This is very dangerous for you.
Here are some things he will say and do to weaken your resolve and give your entire life over to taking care of his needs:
I don’t have use for boundaries. We are in love. We know we are meant to be together. Let’s merge all of our bank accounts. I thought you were on the same team?
Can you get me on your health insurance, car insurance, and mobile phone plan?
Can you spot me some money for the weekend? I’m supposed to take my kid on this trip with his friend and I’m about $600 short.
He flirts with your friends and with strangers. You tell him you are not comfortable with this behavior and he replies, “What’s the harm? It makes them feel good.”
You find out that he not only flirts with women, he also flirts with men. He’ll take attention anywhere he can get it.
4. Sexual control
At first, the sex was exciting, stimulating and powerful. You felt connected and loved. But now that he’s certain you are “his,” the sex isn’t happening as frequently as it once did.
You find he wants to make love when you are bone tired, or just as you are getting on the phone or walking out the door. He’ll bring you to the edge of orgasm and then suddenly stop, telling you, “You just need this too much. Honey, you’ve got to understand I’m making love to you ALL the time.” Any time you really desire him, he pulls away from you, telling you, “I can’t deal with your neediness.”
Meantime, he’s getting kinkier outside the bedroom. You are out a social gathering and spend some time catching up with some girlfriends in the bathroom. When you emerge, he says to you, “What were you doing in there? Making out with your girlfriend?” And the light bulb begins to flicker a bit. You are waking up. You think, “Huh? So that’s either what he fantasizes I was doing in there or what HE would be doing in there!”
And reality sets in. And you have already gotten engaged to, moved in with or married this guy. You get home from a night out and he intimates how he’d like to have sex with you — and a couple of your friends he spotted at the party. You feel sick. And trapped.
5. Devaluing and control
You know something is truly wrong now. Perhaps your finances have fallen into disarray taking care of his needs. That little cold you got over the holidays hasn’t gone away after many weeks.
You aren’t in regular contact with friends you used to speak to several times a week. He has been telling you, “Oh, we’re going to be millionaires together. You won’t be doing that work much longer. We’re a team.” And you think, “I won’t be doing ‘that work’ much longer? You mean the work I’ve devoted my adult life to mastering?!”
If you haven’t run by now, there is still time.
He begins to ramp it up. The charm is gone. Now that you are ‘his,’ he doesn’t have to make any effort to conceal that your sole purpose and reason in his life is to fill him up inside and take care of him.
“Oh, could you not eat onions or garlic except when I do? It reminds me of my mother.” (Control tactic)
“Your hair is really pretty. I’d love for you to see my stylist. I think he could do wonders with the color.” (Backhanded compliment)
“I can’t kiss you tonight. It’s something you ate.” (More control)
“You seem challenged at intimacy.” (Sexual control)
“You suck at taking space and you’ve abandoned me and my kids.” (Guilt-tripping and emotional manipulation using his kids)
If even a few of the above signs of emotional manipulation apply to you, please get out now. It will not get better. You will never reclaim the high of the charm stage of the relationship with an emotional manipulator.
They didn’t love you and never will because they are incapable of love. They are only capable of manipulation in an attempt to fill up the emptiness they feel inside. You are their drug… until you catch on. In the end, whether you stay or go, the emotional manipulator will quickly lose interest and find new people to seduce with his charm.
Ironically, emotional manipulators are particularly drawn to strong successful women who are going through a vulnerable time and normally would be aware of the manipulation. The woman will likely be a hard worker and have money (to support his lifestyle as he sees fit) yet also vulnerable due to a recent illness, divorce or other loss. This combination is the ideal target for the emotional manipulator.