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In any relationship, there is a certain level of trust needed to be achieved in order for the connection between two people to flourish in a happy, healthy manner. Manipulation is often a causation to a sense of imbalance felt between a relationship that strains it due to all of the “power” shifting to one side. Manipulation can be defined as an unconscious intimidation tactic used to misinterpret someone’s emotions and feelings in order to receive a certain sympathy from others. Manipulation tactics are used when someone feels entrapped by their own emotions, and they begin to twist these emotions onto other people, so the burden is shifted to the one the blame is placed on. Often, people who are being manipulated are unaware that their emotions are being played with because the control is masked by endearment, as manipulation usually stems from an emotional imbalance in a relationship.

1. Not taking responsibility for their actions

When dealing with a person’s manipulative behavior, it is often frustrating to express your feelings and confront them about the psychological abuse they are putting you through. Confrontation sparks manipulation tactics from abusive people, and, more often than not, their response to you confronting them about their wrongdoing is met with hostility that insinuates that the fault is yours, and you should be the one apologizing to them instead. If the response to feelings of emotional discontent is faced with hostility and maliciousness, then the person delivering those bitter sentiments doesn’t value or respect you enough to consider your feelings are as valid as theirs.

2. Making assumptions without communication

Communication is the key to any healthy relationship, and if there is an absence of healthy communication, it is safe to assume the relationship has no real foundation and isn’t worth the trouble. Part of open communication means talking with your partner about troubling things that may make them, and yourself, uncomfortable. The alternative is having your partner generate assumptions about your actions and intentions, which creates a narrative of misinformation and guesses that may be entirely unrelated to the actual objective of your behaviors and emotions.

3. Emotional blackmail

Forgiving your actions, but bringing up old fights that ignite new arguments, obligating you to react/feel certain ways about their problems or treating their problems as more urgent or larger in comparison to yours are signs that your partner is reducing and invalidating your feelings. An indication of this type of toxic environment is not feeling like you are able to talk to your partner about their behavior and the way it affects you because of how they will respond.

4. Defensiveness

Part of abusive partners not taking responsibility for their actions is them being perpetually defensive in regards to you confronting them about problems you’re having within your relationship. If communication is met with defensive, accusatory language that makes you feel as if your partner has disrespected your feelings, then their ego and reputation is more important to them than your happiness.

It’s never comforting knowing that your feelings aren’t being taken into consideration, and it can be disheartening to find that your partner’s response is apathetic and uninvolved, but being aware of the signs of manipulation and responding to it in an up front, confrontational manner is necessary in keeping healthy, open communication in any relationship.

Photo Credit: Cover, 1, 2

Taylor is a junior at VCU majoring in English and caffeinated beverages. She likes reading books and writing short fiction as well as marathoning terrible reality television shows.
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