Did you know that abuse within a romantic relationship is not as uncommon as many people think? The kind of abuse that’s talked about openly – physical abuse – is actually not as common as other forms of abuse. Emotional abuse, financial abuse, and many other forms happen all the time. As a couples therapy professional, Esther Benbihy finds it important that people are aware of any abuse that may be taking place in their lives. Let’s take a moment to check in. Is your partner manipulating you?
When you think of manipulation, do you think of ultimatums and threats? Many people view manipulation as the kind of thing a covert supervillain would do in an action movie. Unfortunately, it’s not always that grandiose and can slip under the radar of the average person very easily.
Manipulation, most of the time, isn’t something you’re aware is happening. Coercion is not the only kind of manipulation. So, what is manipulation, really?
Manipulation is not necessarily something that is planned out in some kind of evil scheme. It’s often times done subconsciously by people who have little or no respect for the boundaries of others. It can also be done by people who have a fundamental misunderstanding or lack of empathy and compassion for others.
Manipulation can start off very small, the manipulator testing the waters. When someone proves that they’re willing to lower their guard around the manipulator and make exceptions in their boundaries, the manipulator sets up shop. In romantic relationships, this can be seen in love bombing.
What Is Love Bombing?
Love bombing is a common kind of manipulation seen in romantic relationships. The manipulator will start off being incredibly sweet, gaining the trust of their new partner with gifts, encouragement, reassurances, and so much more.
However, once the victim of this tactic has reached a point in the relationship where backing out is difficult, the manipulator begins to pray on the insecurities of their partner. This can mean subtly withdrawing their affection and reassurances when they’re displeased. It can be only giving gifts or praises when the victim goes out of their way to please them. Another form is giving the cold shoulder when the victim tries to enforce any kind of boundaries. Then, they force the victim to beg for forgiveness and give in to their demands before they’ll stop being upset.
Is Your Partner Manipulating You?
The question is, what does manipulation look like when you’re neck deep in it already? It’s hard to see these things objectively when you’re so sure that your partner doesn’t mean any of it badly.
Here are some signs that you may be being manipulated:
- Do you feel like the amount of work you put in is unfairly high?
- Do you feel like you have to ask if you’re allowed to have a certain boundary, rather than just stating it?
- Does it feel like you’re never doing enough, even though, factually, you know you’re doing more?
- Do you put in more time trying to fix your partner’s upset than they do for you?
- Does your partner ignore your own negative feelings?
- Does your partner rarely show you affection unless you’ve just done something for them?
If you said yes to any of these, your partner manipulating you might be more of a reality than you realized. Your partner manipulating you doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of a relationship. If your partner is doing this subconsciously, couples therapy might be enough to break the pattern of emotional abuse.
Give us a call if you feel like you’re being manipulated and would like to seek counseling with your partner.