It seems to us that we are able to instantly recognize when somebody is trying to play with our feelings or make us do what we don’t we to, for instance, our boss or friends. Yet, a situation gets worse if we are talking about a romantic relationship: many people fail to notice they are being manipulated. Thus, how can we understand that love has become a co-dependence and how to withstand a psychological vampire?
Manipulators are quick to make you admire them, they make you feel the most beloved and desired so that their attention becomes your drug… As a rule, a relationship with a manipulator develops according to the same scenario, and a victim merely doesn’t notice that they start experiencing an unhealthy need for a beloved person. Here are some other distinctive features of a symbiotic relationship.
Typical features of a co-dependent relationship
· a relationship makes you suffer, but it’s impossible to quit since the very thought about it causes more pain;
· a victim is constantly trying to “correct” themselves so that a manipulator would like them, but they don’t succeed;
· a victim hopes that a manipulator will change for better and looks for new excuses to support this expectation (e.g., “everything will be fine once we move to another city”);
· a victim doesn’t imagine how to live without a manipulator and a relationship with him;
· victim’s emotional state constantly changes: from despair and frustration to flames of enormous love;
· victim becomes socially isolated, they lose friends, acquaintances, and other social contacts, interests, and hobbies;
· A victim is constantly dealing with self-analysis trying to understand what to do to make a relationship function properly, but all efforts are in vain. A victim feels guilty and suffers from the feeling of running round in circles;
· Anxiety, boredom, despair, jealousy, mental confusion are typical victim’s states;
· A victim is always thinking about a manipulator and wants to know every detail of his life;
· A victim tries to conform to the object of dependence in every way possible – in routine, beliefs, and emotions;
· If a partner uses or deceives you (cheats, robs, or behaves aggressively), you find rational excuses that are likely to justify his behavior. You may also accuse yourself (“I’ve done something wrong,” “I need to change”)
What will help to withstand a manipulator
A manipulator’s goal is to make a victim do the things they don’t want to by breaking their personal boundaries. The following principles will help you to defend against his attacks.
It isn’t enough to tell him once to leave you alone: you have to repeat the same things regularly, constantly, always. For days, weeks, months. Manipulators are very patient and like wolves, they can hunt prey for several weeks in a row. Everything they are waiting for is for you to give up. Thus, you will have to be more patient.
Remember that you are fighting for your life and freedom, defending yourself against a metaphorical wolf. Talk about your boundaries constantly, don’t let ruin them. If you stick to this strategy, in some time, a manipulator will leave you alone and concentrate on another, more accessible prey.
A manipulator is trying to get under your skin since when we are guided by emotions, we stop thinking logically and start making mistakes. Speak calmly, quietly, monotonously. Repeat the same phrases as long as a manipulator tries to cross your boundaries, and he will understand you are a hard nut for him to crack.
Ability to forgive yourself
Most of all, “psychological predators” like to play with the feeling of guilt. They are waiting for the slightest mistake, create a mountain out of a molehill, and make a victim feel guilty; as a result, a victim will be trying to do everything a manipulator requires.
To withstand this, learn to forgive yourself. The following affirmation may help you: “It’s normal to make mistakes. Like any other person, I have a right to make mistakes and let myself do that. Sincere regret is enough for the redemption of any sin, even the most severe. I admit my mistake. I take the measures I consider sufficient to correct it. I am not obliged to do something more.”
Repeat this affirmation every time you feel a desire to reproach yourself for something until it becomes your deep conviction.
Ability to cope with fear
Fear is another emotion manipulators usually play with. They may tell scary stories about acquaintances, use general phrases like “everyone knows that…,” make a victim feel scared and anxious.
A psychological vampire may combine different episodes of somebody’s life and pretend they are constantly repeating. For example: “Who will want to live with you after 30, provided you have a child?” Do you remember when X broke up with Y and is still alone? 10 years have passed since then. Besides, your grand grandmother also died alone. You will also be alone if you leave me now.”
To withstand this pressure, learn to turn on the reasonable part of your mind when necessary and differentiate between episodes and regularities. Ask yourself a question: is it a rule or an exception? Say, are all divorced women with kids unhappy or just some of them?
As you see, it’s not that hard to notice that your partner is a manipulator. You just need to be more careful and attentive to the signals he is sending. They say that love is blind, but if we want to stay in a healthy relationship, we should keep our eyes wide open. The most significant thing you should bear in mind that any relationship, especially romantic, should make you happy and let your inner growth. When we love, we want our partner to grow and become a better version of themselves. We will never cut their wings because of our selfish desires.
Thus, pay attention to your feelings in a relationship. If negative feelings dominate in your union, you’d better think once more if you really want and need to be with a toxic person. All in all, our mental and physical well-being is the matter of self-respect which defines the choices and decisions we make.