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Ep #171: Understanding Manipulation Tactics in Relationships | Becoming You Again Podcast

Is your partner manipulating you? In this episode you will learn how to spot five common manipulation tactics, how they may be showing up in your relationship and how to decide what to do for yourself if you find yourself being manipulated by your partner.

You will learn practical steps to recognize and combat these manipulations, ensuring you can navigate your relationships with confidence and clarity. If you are in a relationship right now, going through a divorce and the end of a relationship or hoping to find someone in the future, knowing the signs of manipulation and how to use your power and self authority to decide what is right and best for you will help you live a life of fulfillment and authenticity.

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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it shows up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

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Full Episode Transcript:

You're listening to episode number 171 of Becoming you Again, and I am your host, karin Nelson. Welcome to Becoming you Again, the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life, so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, karin Nelson. Welcome back to the podcast.


So you may have just picked this episode to listen to because you were curious about the title. Obviously, understanding manipulation tactics can be very important to you, especially if you're asking yourself questions about your relationship. Specifically, should I leave my marriage? Should I stay in my marriage? What direction do I want to go in this relationship that I'm in right now? Now I want to start this podcast off by saying I will never know the answer to that, saying I will never know the answer to that. Someone in your family, a really close friend, even your therapist or coach, will never know the answer to that question for you. Only you will know whether or not you should stay in your marriage or leave your marriage. That is 100% up to you and we don't know all of the ins and outs of your relationship and we don't know everything that you have gone through in your life and the experiences that you have and the meaning that you make and how you're feeling and what you're going through and what you think about yourself and what you think about your partner. Like, we don't know and haven't experienced any of that from your eyes, your viewpoint, and so I just want to start off by saying this isn't a podcast where I am going to answer that question for you, because it's impossible for me to do that. What I am going to give you is some examples of five different types of manipulation that are very common in relationships where one person is showing up from a very manipulative standpoint over another person in the relationship. I'm going to give you what they're called examples and then I'm just going to give you a few tips on how to handle the manipulation If you are noticing that it might be present or it might be something that is in your relationship that you want to address. This podcast is all about gathering information for yourself and then from there, after you have that information and if it feels resonant, that's where you have to start asking yourself questions about what you want to do with this information with regards to your life and what that means.


All right, so the first manipulation tactic that I want to talk about is gaslighting. I know most of you have probably heard about gaslighting. Sometimes, gaslighting is actually very much overused in today's world. My kids and I joke all the time about gaslighting, and not that it's something to joke about, but it is definitely an overused word where people will use it in situations where it's not actually gaslighting. So I'm going to tell you what gaslighting actually is and how it's a manipulation tactic, and so you can just kind of notice for yourself if this fits or if it doesn't.


So gaslighting is a manipulation tactic where one person is trying to gain more power over another person, is trying to make the other person question their own reality or their own sanity. What's interesting is the term gaslighting was actually coined from a movie that was made in like the 1920s or the 1930s or something called gaslighting or gaslit or something like that. I probably should have looked that up before I started recording this podcast, but I didn't know. I was going to go into the history of it, but it's basically a movie about a man who does this to his wife. He manipulates her into believing that she is going crazy by doing all these different things to make her question her sanity. So this is a term that has been around for a very, very long time. It's just kind of taken hold and been brought back into, I think, our consciousness, maybe more because of social media. So it's around a lot. There's a lot of information about it, a lot of stories and memes and reels and TikToks right about gaslighting, and so I'm just going to give you the information. Again, you do with it what you need.


So someone who is trying to gaslight you might tell like 100% blatant lies to you about you, or to you about others, or to others about you. Often they will deny that they ever said or did something, even though you have proof that they did or said those things. Often they will make you question your own reality. They will use what is very important to you as ammunition against you. Often they will just keep doing these things over and over and over over time and it just is to like wear you down, to wear your defenses down, to make you want to just give in, give up, go along with it, believe what they're saying, anything like that. A lot of times they will actually throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you so that you're not sure if you can trust them or not. Or you think that you can, and so you start to trust even the things that you know aren't true. Sometimes they will project their own shortcomings or the things that they've done wrong onto you. They will try to align people against you. They will tell you, and often other people, that you are just crazy, that you don't know what you're talking about, and they will tell you that everyone else is a liar, especially the people who seem to be on your side.


The interesting thing about gaslighting is it only works when you aren't aware that it is happening to you. Once you start to see the pattern, once you start to kind of question, hang on, what's actually going on here? It is so much easier to combat because you start to recognize none of this is true. This person is lying to me constantly and telling me things that aren't true. Now I might have the opportunity to step outside of this and see it for what it actually is.


All right, moving on, the second manipulation tactic is love bombing. You've probably heard of this one as well. Love bombing is when someone kind of you start dating and they just overwhelm you with affection and gifts and love and adoration, wanting to be around you all the time, never being able to be apart from you, because they just love you so much and they just can't step away. Like they do this in the beginning of a relationship often, or after they've, you know, been acting terribly toward you and then they want you to come back to them so they'll love bomb you again to kind of pull you back in, and they do it to gain control of your behaviors. Manipulation is all a tactic to gain control. Right, they want control, so this is a way that they can control your behavior.


So someone who is trying to love bomb you might give you lavish gifts, like over the top gestures, like flowers every day or beautiful jewelry, or even trips that you just weren't expecting or something. And not to say that any of those things are bad or wrong, they're not. They're beautiful, they're amazing. Right, we all love flowers. For the most part, we all want to go on an amazing trip, or we want jewelry or surprise presents or something like that. But the point is, when they give you these things. It's always like there's strings attached, and that's what you kind of want to look for to decipher whether or not this person is love bombing you. Are there strings attached? Are they doing these things to make you feel as if you owe them something now because of they've given it to you?


Love bombing also can include lots of praise, lots of adoration, things like oh, you're the only person I want to spend time with. I love everything about you. You're perfect in every way. I've just never met anyone that I like or that I love as much as I like, or I love you, and, of course, those are all nice things to hear. We love to be validated by our partner. However, if this is happening a lot and you're starting to see something or question something, just consider the context of where these instances of praise and adoration are given, how often, and what is happening before or after. It might give you a clue as to the intent behind the words.


People who love bomb often want to be in constant communication with you, constantly calling, constantly texting, constantly messaging over social media like all day long and I don't just mean like good morning and then good night, and maybe a text in between somewhere. I mean like all the time. They are constantly monitoring your messaging and texting and they are not okay when they are not the number one person that you are communicating with Constant communication. It might feel good in the moment, but take a look at it and figure out where the intent is coming from, and often people who are love bombing get very upset when you start to implement boundaries. Now, remember boundaries are always coming from what I'm going to do to protect or take care of me. Of course, someone who is using this manipulation tactic is not going to like that. And so if you were to say, I think we need to take things a little bit slower. I have to work, I'm not going to be able to text you back until I'm done with work during the week. Or, you know, I have these other commitments that I'm taking care of in my life. Right now. We can only see each other on Tuesdays and Fridays or something like that. They're not going to like that. They are going to get upset to them. That means that you don't love them, that you're not as committed as them, and they might use that idea against you to try and get you to commit deeper into this relationship that maybe you're not even 100% into or maybe you're just not ready for. So, again, take it all in the context and decide from there.


All right, the third manipulation tactic is the guilt tripper. Now, guilt tripping often shows up in marriages, right. Often shows up in marriages, right this is a very commonly used tactic with husband and wife or sometimes even with, like family members, parents with children, uh, friendships it can show up in. But again, we're talking about specifically, I'm talking about your marriage, and so I want you to take a look at this in relation to the person that you are married to. So, someone who is trying to guilt trip, you might point out how hard they work and all of the effort that has gone into whatever it is that they've done, and they do that in order to make you feel as though you've fallen short, like you're not showing up as much as they're showing up, and they're guilting you into either trying harder, working harder, doing something that they want you to do, that you don't want to do anything like that. They might be really sarcastic or like passive aggressive in certain situations. Now, again, depends on your relationship. Maybe you guys have a really sarcastic relationship. These are only things that you will know, and it's just. Can I take a look at this? What's the intent here?


Often, if you try and talk to a guilt tripper about what is happening, they will ignore any of your efforts to talk to them about the problem. They will ignore the conversations, they will walk away. They don't even want to address it. A common manipulation tactic that guilt trippers use is the silent treatment. The silent treatment is, to me, one of the most infuriating manipulation tactics that is out there. So pay attention.


If you have a partner who is often treating you with the silent treatment, they are very much doing it to manipulate you, to show up in some way to make you feel guilty about something that you supposedly did or didn't do, that they wanted you to do or not do. It's a manipulation tactic. They will often act like everything is fine or pretend like nothing is wrong, but then they act wrong completely opposite, like not everything is fine and something is wrong. So they're clearly like their words and their actions are not lining up in some way. Often they will use their body language to communicate how unhappy or displeased they are through very passive, aggressive ways, right Like sighing, like crossing their arms, maybe slamming down objects, but not really saying anything, just using that body language to try and communicate how they're feeling. They're expecting that you are just going to be able to read their mind, okay.


So the fourth type of manipulation tactic is called negging. Negging is a word that I just barely was introduced to within the last like six months. I hadn't really heard about it up until then. Maybe you have, maybe it's something that you recognize, maybe it's something that you know about, but it's. It was kind of a newer term to me, although I don't think the manipulation tactics are anything new. It was maybe just a word that I didn't know fit all of these things. So nagging is when a person tries to manipulate you into feeling bad about yourself, and they do this to literally have almost complete control over you, because they're the only person that you will go to for validation or trust. Who you think is actually telling you the truth about things or telling you the reality of things, when what they're actually doing is making you feel bad on purpose.


So they will often give backhanded compliments like oh, don't you look fabulous. I would never be brave enough to wear those leggings out in public, or you know something like that. They will compare you to other people, like, wow, your sister looks so good, she's totally been working out. Maybe you should take a cue from her. You should maybe start working out. Or they'll say something like that.


Oftentimes, whatever is happening, they'll say something and it can be very mean, and then they'll follow it up with well, I was just joking, like if you said something like I can't believe you just said that to me. They'll say well, I was just joking, you don't have to be, you don't have to take everything I say so seriously. I was just kidding Like come on, can't you just find it funny that I'm telling you these horrible things about you? It's so funny, right. So that's another example of nicking.


They might insult you, but then they say well, I'm just giving you some constructive criticism, I'm trying to help you better yourself. They'll give you the insult or they'll be mean to you in some way, but then they'll cover it up by saying well, I'm just trying to help you be better, I'm just giving you that constructive criticism. And sometimes they'll even, like, say the insult disguised as a question, because maybe as a question then you'll start to question yourself. And then they you won't like blame them for pointing out what they think is wrong with you. Like you know, don't take this the wrong way, but are you really going to go out in public looking like that, or are you really going to eat all of that food by yourself? They kind of try and disguise it so it doesn't make them look like the bad guy, it makes you look like oh yeah, I guess I should take a look at this and really question is this the person that I want to be, when what they're actually doing is just being rude in every way, making you feel bad about yourself, so that you'll go to them for the validation that we want? And they can kind of control you in that way by giving you a little validation and then putting you down, giving you a tiny sliver of validation and then putting you down, and then, lastly, usually what happens is they make you feel bad for voicing concerns by minimizing anything that they're doing. I'm just helping you get better. It was just a joke, like anything that you do. In response to that, they're going to minimize their actions and make it seem like they're the good guy and you're actually the bad guy. You're doing something wrong, all right.


And then finally, our fifth manipulation tactic is emotional blackmail. Emotional blackmail is very dysfunctional. They will be placing demands on people, on partners, to get what they want, and kind of the undertone of this blackmail, this emotional blackmail right, is if you don't do what I want you to do, then bad things are going to happen. You will suffer in some way.


So someone who is an emotional blackmailer typically is not very good at coping with their own emotions. Often they will probably pretend like they don't have emotions at all or the only emotion that they do have is anger, and that's not actually an emotion in their eyes, even though we all know it is right. They aren't very good at communicating or interacting with other relationships that are in a healthy manner. Often they will turn to stonewalling, they will turn to slamming doors. Really, emotional blackmailers are very good at acting out on their emotions and again it kind of goes back to this idea that their main emotion is anger and they're really good at acting out on it, on showing you that they're angry, right, they're slamming doors, they're threatening, they're engaging in damaging behaviors to get what they want. They typically do not have any other tools available to them to understand how to get across what it is that they actually need.


Somebody who is an emotional blackmailer might say something like well, if you ever leave me, I'm going to kill myself. Or if you ever stop loving me, I'll kill myself. We've all heard of situations where someone has said that to someone else. They might say something like I've already talked to my friends and they agree that you're being unreasonable. I've already discussed this with my boss at work and he agrees with me You're the unreasonable one. You're the one that's showing up wrong in this situation. Or I'm putting my foot down and I'm going to take this vacation with or without you.

Karin Nelson: 19:35

Now, again, we want you to look at the intent and the context of where any of these things might be happening. So if any of these things are being said in your relationship, look at the underlying message that is going on. Is it to manipulate you, to do something that you don't want to do? We always want to take the context and the intent behind it and figure out where things lie from there. What's really interesting is the impact that manipulation can have on someone, especially if it happens for a very long time. So just start to pay attention If you notice any of these things in your life.


You might feel depressed. You might feel deep anxiety constantly. You might have developed coping patterns that are not helping you, that are unhealthy. You might turn to people pleasing, which I've talked about in a previous podcast episode. It was pretty recent to go, so if you haven't listened to that podcast episode, I would go. Listen to it to understand what people pleasing actually is. You might pretend about how you're actually feeling because you don't want to upset them, because you don't want someone to feel a certain way, which kind of ties into people pleasing right, but it's also lying to yourself about what you're feeling.


You might put other people's needs before your own, and again, these are tricky because I've talked about this a lot. But society really teaches women and raises women, especially in the Western world, to put people's needs before their own. To people, please, to forget about ourselves and about how we're feeling and whether or not we want to do it, and just do it if somebody else wants it or if it will make them happy, and so these manipulation tactics are kind of tied into how we're raised and so it can be tricky to decipher. Well, is this just like social programming that's been going on in my life forever, or is this actually showing up in my relationship? Again, only you will know and can answer that question for yourself, but maybe it's worth taking a look at. But I do want to say that there are ways to address dealing with manipulative people, especially if they are someone that you are married to right now.


I teach a lot about mindset work. I teach a lot about understanding our body and what's happening in our body, and sometimes I think mindset work can be used against you, like you can use it against yourself, I guess is a better way to say it because someone might take mindset work and go. Well, if I can, if I'm in one of these relationships and I can just work on what I'm thinking about in this relationship, then maybe I can just make peace with my circumstance, because maybe these people, maybe my partner is being kind of manipulative, but they're not really necessarily like outright abusing me and so maybe I should just play nice, maybe I should just stick it out, maybe I should just change the way I'm thinking about the relationship or about this thing that they're doing and decide that like it's okay, and if that's what you're thinking, I'm just going to put my foot down and say no. Do not use mindset work to make peace with a circumstance or with a relationship where someone is mistreating you, where someone is treating you unkindly, where someone is manipulating you to do things that they want you to do, to be a person that they want you to be. If you're not that person. Do not use any kind of coaching or therapy or thought work or anything like that against yourself in this way to stay in a situation where these types of things are happening. I just don't find it healthy, I don't find it useful and I think it's really important for you to ask yourself why would you want to make peace with a given circumstance? Because your reasons of why are going to help you understand.


If you are using thought work against yourself, if you're trying to make peace with someone who is manipulating you, who is abusing you in some way, if you're trying to make peace with someone who is manipulating you, who is abusing you in some way, then that relationship most likely is not one that you want. I'm going to say 100% of the time. But again, I'm not you, so I can't decide that for you and only you'll know. But generally, if you feel like this is a relationship that you want to stay in and you've decided that you're just going to make peace with living with a manipulator or living in an abusive situation like this. My guess is that's coming from a place of insecurity, where you don't believe that you're good enough, you don't believe that you're worth finding a relationship where there's mutual love and trust, or scarcity, where you don't believe that there's enough people out there to have a great relationship, or you don't believe there's enough options out there and you'll just never find anybody, and so you might as well just stay where you're at, and I just don't believe that's true.


So, when it comes to deciding whether or not you're going to address this manipulative behavior, if you recognize it in your relationship and you turn to thought work, or you turn to self-help, where you're going to work on yourself to try to make things better, which I think is great the way I do when I'm with them, or do I start to recognize that I have breathing room, that I have the ability to have opinions that are different from theirs? Do I feel safe in my body when I'm disengaged from them? Those are some things that you can look at. You can start to ask yourself does this relationship help me feel bold, help me feel like I'm stepping into my own power, or do I feel small? Do I feel disengaged with myself and with the people around me? Do I feel like I have to hide who I truly am, like I have to hide who I truly am? Those are questions that you could be asking if you want to decide, come to terms with, if this is a relationship you want to continue with, because the reality is, you are lovable, you are worthy of being loved, you are good enough. You are good enough exactly as you are. And if there is someone around you who is making you feel inferior, misunderstood, small, not good enough, it's worth questioning why you are continuing to be in this relationship.


All right, my friends, I hope that you find this helpful. You are amazing. I love you so much. Thank you for being here. I will be back next week. Hi, friend, I'm so glad you're here and thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change, then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life with weekly coaching, real-life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to KarinNelsonCoaching dot com. That's W-W-W dot. K-a-r-i-n-n-e-l-s-o-n coaching dot com. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating. Wherever you listen to podcasts and for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.




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