To control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage, that is what Merriam-Webster defines as manipulation. Manipulation: exploiting a person’s mind. Also called emotional abuse.

I was speaking with a friend some time ago about how her sister is being manipulated and she doesn’t even know it. She was angry because she could see the abuse but her sister could not. Isn’t that always the case though? Our loved ones can see how we are being used and abused but because of love or loyalty or some other poor excuse the victim can never see what is truly happening. 

After our conversation I was curious. I’ve been in a friendship where people insisted I was being used and this person was no good. But, I refused to hear what they had to say because I couldn’t believe it was true. It wasn’t until I began to research this that it dawned on me: they were right.

So, here I am today, hoping I reach someone out there who is wondering too. Here is how I knew I was being manipulated:

  1. They made me feel they’re somehow smarter than me. I’m not the smartest crayon in the box but, I’m not an idiot. Whenever I said something this person found ways to  make me feel discredited, all the while puffing me up.
  2. My mood depended entirely on the state of that relationship. I “had” to be so ingrained in the friendship that if we argued my life sucked. I always asked what was wrong to the tune of nothings.
  3. They pretended to be listening but didn’t really care about what was happening in my life. We talked often and it felt nice to have someone to talk to. But then, I realized every time I said something about my life this person didn’t put in the effort to talk about the good or bad of it. Even after I kept trying. But, when they talked about their life suddenly they were animated and I was required to be so as well.
  4. They always made me feel guilty. I hated the, “After all I’ve done for you…” Or, “Everyone knows I”m right.”
  5. I had to constantly control my thoughts, actions, words, feelings because they would withdraw. Walking on eggshells is never fun. But, not being able to express myself unless it allowed this person to be the “hero” was exhausting.
  6. They always had to be the boss. This goes with being the hero. There would be issues whenever I told this person I was wrong. Or tried to help this person. If I wanted to do something differently than how they did it all hell broke loose.
  7. I did things outside of my boundaries to make them happy. I thought I needed this friend. So, I did everything I could to ensure they stayed as a friend. Even if that meant doing something that I was against to keep them happy.
  8. They don’t have time for me. Ok, this one didn’t really hit immediately because I’m always busy. But, after sorting things out, there was only time for me when it suited their purpose.
  9. Overwhelmed me with negative things to say.  They often disguised their sarcasm with humor. They always made me feel inferior, like I could never get a leg up. I always felt constant judged.
  10. The Silent Treatment and/or feigning ignorance. They would not talk to me and make me wait for an answer, even when we were face to face, to show power and control. They used the silent treatment for leverage. And feigning ignorance? They know what you want or are asking but they pretend they don’t because they are being passive aggressive.

This list isn’t exhaustive. But, these are the things that made me realize this person wasn’t good for me and it was better to cut ties than to stay friends. I can tell you that it wasn’t fun to be in a relationship where I wasn’t valued, where I was used. But, realizing the detriment to my psyche, understanding the signs also helped me create a sense of self and find friends who valued me and where our friendship benefits each other.

Just remember, toxicity shouldn’t be a part of a positive and healthy relationship – family, friend or lover. You deserve happiness. You deserve to be valued. You deserve to be loved and cherished. You deserve to live freely. You DON’T deserve abuse. xoxo