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How to deal with manipulators

Discussion in 'Dating, Friendships, and Relationships' started by Corvid, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Ok guys and girls, manipulators. I sense that most people on this forum prefer people to be straight with them, and as such, may have had memorable experiences trying to deal with manipulators. What do I mean by a manipulator?
    • When someone wants something from you, but rather than ask directly, they try to con you into voluntarily doing whatever it is they want by telling you hard luck stories, acting helpless etc.
    • Someone who may act pleasant towards you when in your company, or in the company of others, but turns on you when you're alone with them.
    • Someone who spreads rumours about you to other people in your family or social group, usually in an effort to turn as many people as possible against you. This serves the skilled manipulators aim of getting other people to do their work for them, i.e. the manipulator may act pleasant towards you or around you whilst others who have been negatively influenced behave coldly or distrustfully towards you.
    • Gaslighting is a form of manipulation, and can go on for years much to the frustration of the targeted individual. Many, many people do not appear to be sensitive or attuned to subtler forms of manipulation like gaslighting, and some people keep quiet about it for the sake of peace, or so as not to appear "crazy" for calling attention to it.
    • Twisting of words and conversations, forcing a narrative that may show the manipulator to be the victim and the manipulated to be the aggressor.
    • Excessive victim narratives, even a persecution complex, in which others are evil, mean, unethical, brutish, etc, but the perpetual "victim" is seldom at fault in any significant way.
    • Conning you, your family, or friends out of money, possibly isolating them in the process of the con.
    • Convincing people that other people are their enemies, sometimes for sport, other times to isolate an individual.
    These are just a few examples. One of the most important thing to note about manipulators is that sometimes there may be no clear motive at all for their behaviour. Some people have a crooked disposition, some fear confrontation, some are cowards, some think that manipulating people is funny, some feel that it places them in a position of power over others so they themselves must feel powerless and weak to begin with.. Often, the more logical and rational minds among us are confused by the apparent lack of motive in a manipulators actions, which in itself can shield a crafty manipulator from discovery and negative attention. Above all a manipulator fears being exposed, so simply being aware of their nature can make you a target.

    Post stories of encounters you've had with people like this. With enough contributions, an article that might be helpful to people could emerge from this thread.

    What did they do?
    How did you detect them?
    Did you try to take action against them?
    Did you lose friends/family/jobs because of a manipulator?
    How did you ultimately deal with them?
    Any tips for detection, and dealing with manipulators?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  2. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Ok, to get the ball rolling, let's talk about how to detect manipulators. Before we launch into detection, some context. Some people may not think much of someone who tells lies behind closed doors, puts on acts, spreads rumours.. But these people should not be underestimated, should not be taken lightly. They can ruin relationships. They can end friendships. They can divide families. They can get you fired from your job. They can get you a police record (happened to a friend) or jail time. They, if determined enough, can turn you into a social pariah.

    Manipulators can be difficult to detect and there are different types, and most of them blend a few techniques. The smarter the individual, the more difficult they are to detect and deal with. The best way I've found to detect a manipulator is to pay attention to the details and observe them over time. All manipulators are frequent liars, and will contradict themselves eventually if you've been paying attention. For skilled manipulators, it could take as long as a couple of years to confirm any suspicions you might have. Other manipulators of lower intelligence can be rather reckless and tactless, manipulating compulsively and carelessly. These ones are the most obvious and easiest to detect. By no means does that suggest that they are harmless, as a well placed hard luck story bends many an ear, and manipulative stories and accusations can easily do the rounds through casual gossip. So, even a low skilled, low intelligence manipulator can do damage by communicating the right story to only a handful of the right people. Human nature will do the rest of their work for them.

    There are benign manipulators, as in, ones that subtly manipulate people to get out of paying for a round of drinks, to avoid doing a difficult job, to play a joke on someone.. These benign types are mostly harmless, but pay attention none the less, because they could easily turn on you and you might not realise that you have become their target until much later.

    Victim narratives, or persecution complexes are one of the easiest ways to spot a manipulator over time. Is this person always telling you stories about how badly they've been treated by other individuals? Listen and pay attention. Are they always the victim? Do they ever own up to something they may have done or said that puts them in the wrong? Are both of you in contact with the person or people who are supposedly the "bad ones" from the stories - if so, how does the storyteller behave around them? Extra nice or normal pleasant behaviour around someone who is supposed to have dealt the storyteller a terrible wrong is a good indicator that something is amiss. Do they show any animosity or do they behave extra nice or normal? How do they handle direct confrontations, as in, is it possible that they cannot handle direct confrontation at all? Many manipulators fear confrontation, so they behave passive aggressively, and sometimes try to use other people to fight their fights for them. Can you have a discreet word with the "bad one" from the stories you've been told - if so, what's their take on it? Is their story more plausible, do they seem more legitimate? Have checkable details been left out of the original story you've been told?

    Watch their body language at the beginning and end of interactions. Does the person's whole demeanour change on greeting you? Look back after you've left, have they changed again? Do they look angry, or stern? This isn't always an indicator of a manipulator, as some people have social skins they use harmlessly. But if you get the impression over time that the person in question is putting on an act when interacting with you, or that they have nasty undertones, then you could be face to face with a manipulator.

    Watch other people in your social/family group. Have you suddenly and inexplicably lost friends? Are family members acting cold or aggressive towards you? Is there a reason for this, any reason you can think of.. Can you ask someone about it, someone who'll tell you the truth? This might seem like a long shot, but often the behaviour of other people towards you can indicate that someone has a problem with you and they've been telling everyone else about it except you.

    Gaslighting - Do they say things or act in a certain way only to deny it later on? Pay attention. If this happens a few times, a manipulator could be gaslighting you. Write down things they say, with dates and places if you have to. It's not advisable to confront a manipulator with this data, or any proof that they've been detected. All manipulators fear detection, and many fear confrontation, and you can be assured that you've presented yourself as a dangerous enemy if you show that you're keeping track of them, or have become aware of them.

    In the case of a friend or family member being manipulated by someone - has their behaviour towards friends and family changed? Are they becoming hostile and isolated? A manipulator often tries to isolate a target, for sport, for monetary gain, to have better control over them and so on. They may twist things around so that your friend/family member sees you as an enemy. They may engage third parties in arguments and confrontations, goading them into a fight and then acting upon any retaliation they make, relaying it to their target, twisting the details, playing the victim. For example, if your friend/family leaves the room, the manipulator may engage you with a distasteful remark or insult, directed at you or your family member, and shift their behaviour back to normal when your friend/family returns. They want you to know that you're not welcome there anymore. They want to make you uncomfortable and angry. They want to show you to your friend/family member in a bad light.

    Are they constantly bad-mouthing other mutual friends and acquaintances? Watch for this. You can be almost certain they do the same thing to you when you're not there. Do they sometimes keep going until you agree with them? Do they try to get you to say something bad about the person/people they are bad-mouthing? Every lie contains a sliver of truth, and a skilled manipulator will often tell selective truths. That is, they may try to get you to say something bad about a friend so they can relay the information in your exact words. Also, out of their own weakness, they like to get everyone "on their side". This makes the situation even more difficult, because anything you may or may not have said will be quote mined and relayed out of context. So keep your mouth shut about any one else around a manipulator, even if you were just going to nod or agree with them to get them to shut up, or even if the remark you make is harmless - because it won't sound harmless when the manipulator relays it.
     
  3. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    Good thread Corvid!

    I have come across them before and I believe manipulation is to some extent is what most humans do, if not all whether they realise it or not. I'm open to being convinced of others ideas, but fortunately because I posses the ability to manipulate and also the stubbornness of a mule buried up to its knees in concrete, I might be a little more aware than others when I'm being manipulated. I feel this is a natural thing though, that may likely have evolved by people not possessing the skills or strength of others in times where having these attributes may have meant life or death, but then there is the kind that are out to get all they can from people and there is the sociopath, the most skilled of game players that has little emotion.

    Firstly, manipulating others usually involves tugging at their emotions in some way, so trust your gut! If you are getting angry or uncomfortable with someone, but can't quite understand why, its probably because they are trying manipulating you.

    Manipulators being in touch with what pushes others emotional buttons are most likely emotional people themselves and therefore can be pushed or pulled back in this direction, so learning the skills of the manipulator and practising the art of deception may come in handy. If they are of the sociopathic kind this won't be the case, but they you can frustrate them by not playing their game as they would like or may get them to reveal themselves by saying something that would cause a strong emotional reaction by your average person, but be careful with this, it may work to your favour or detriment if you haven't considered all the possible implications of saying something like "I practice Satanism and regularly cook live cuddly animals".

    Stillness also helps. What I mean by this is not reacting to their attempts to leverage what they want, they may try many subtle ways to attack and gain the advantage, but by not committing yourself in any particular direction, you give them no opportunity to twist the things you say. Or possibly asking them lots of probing questions about their behaviour can prove to be their unravelling if their is actually no legitimate reason for the way they act.

    Appearing to cooperate can fool the manipulator into thinking they have gotten their own way, so momentary yielding to them may offer advantage to the one who would be manipulated. Or continued yielding and gathering evidence of incidents with them or alerting others who are don't appear taken in by them in an employment type situation may offer some defence.

    In serious situations camera phones can be your ally. If you have a dictaphone function on it, get in the habit of recording your conversation with manipulators, even though recordings may be inadmissible as evidence in court unless both parties are aware, simply having it can neutralize your feelings of mixed emotion/uncertainty and assure you of this persons motives. Just the threat of having it may be your leverage to end this persons reign of terror though.

    Best to think of it as a live game of chess, consider your moves carefully if you think you have a manipulator on your hands.
     
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  4. Corvid

    Corvid Active Member

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    Great contributions Burt. I agree RE manipulation being a natural survival attribute, and I theorise that this attribute follows gender lines, for the most part. Generally speaking, men are strong, capable of self defense and able to provide/produce food and other resources - that is, men, generally are gifted with the attributes and strengths necessary to do the afore mentioned. There are almost always exceptions to a general rule, but the exceptions are not the rule themselves, which is a misconception that seems to pop up around gender generalisations these days. So men are strong and capable of hunting, gathering, building shelters, hard physical work, generally speaking. Women, generally, are not gifted in these ways. They are smaller and weaker than men, less suited to hunting, less suited to self defense, less suited to intense physical labour. Now, we're expected to believe, according to feminism, that gender is nothing more than a social construct, something that evil men invented to suppress women, and that by believing in yourself (or whatever) you can overcome any physical or mental impediment. This is affectionately termed "magical thinking", as it has little basis in the mechanics of evidence based reality. There are always exceptions of course, but the exceptions are not the rule. So, what I'm getting at is that men are granted the skills to gather resources and offer protection, and women are granted the skills to extract resources and protection from men. As they are weaker than men, they usually extract the resources using various forms of manipulation. This is a naturally occurring thing, a sort of invisible agreement we seldom speak of or challenge. I believe that is why the most persistent, aggressive and skilled manipulators I have encountered have been female, as in, these are the skills naturally gifted to women, or skills they are naturally predisposed to develop; the ability to manipulate men for their gain and the gain of their offspring - Pure survival programming.

    Somewhere within the realm of free will, we decide which skills we will use and which we will not, or how we will use the skills granted to us. So even if we are capable of manipulating people unscrupulously, men and women can decide not to for ethical reasons, on principle. Or we can decide not to intentionally cause people harm for no good reason. This is where the distinctions of character enter the equation, and morally bankrupt individuals, or even sociopaths will not stop to consider the harm that they are doing to people, or they may be actively deluding themselves and others into believing that they are always in the right, or that the person they are attacking is bad so it's all ok, or whatever excuse that a mind may develop to cause mayhem or take the easiest route out.

    So, while an individual may understand the mechanics of manipulation, they can choose not to attack people with it, or to not use it unscrupulously. And you are right to draw that distinction between benign manipulation and unhealthy manipulation, because there are individuals who read a little psychology and then swing the accusing finger at everyone over anything. The downside of understanding the mechanics of manipulation is that you become capable of spotting manipulators easily, even intuitively. (At times, the expression: Ignorance is bliss, comes to mind.) Of course, you can gain the same skill by being manipulated a few times and learning from it.

    Regarding chess games with manipulative opponents, that is something that should be considered carefully in a Cost/Benefit Analysis context. If you find manipulation distasteful, if there's lines you won't cross, then you should not engage a manipulator at their own game. They will break rules you wont, and they will usually persist longer than you. The "game" may escalate to places you don't want it to go. If you're dealing with a female manipulator, they have cards in their decks that men cannot wield, moves men cannot make. People may imagine a scenario where they finally confront the manipulator and catch them in the act, and everyone witnesses it, and the manipulator is shamed and all the harm they've done is exposed and healed - but that occurs so seldom in reality that it also belongs in the realm of magical thinking..
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
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  5. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    I would agree that it does generally tend to be a female trait, but men can be skilled at this too. I think there is a problem with this when it comes to the genders as often you hear the word manipulative you may associate it with a controlling man. This isn't a coincidence in my opinion and feminism has played a part in asserting this dynamic, for example they managed to convince law enforcement to adopt the Duluth model when investigating domestic violence, which assumes the female is always the victim even if there is evidence to the contrary. This kind of sexist prejudice against men runs counter to my personal life experiences, as most of the women I have gone out with have hit me in some way. Maybe this is because I'm an asshole? But its still no excuse. I find this has happened when they have tried to manipulate a certain response and have failed, so then resort to another method of reasserting control. My wife the other week tried to jab me a few times in the arm when I wouldn't do as I was told, it was more of a "why won't you do what I want?", it didn't hurt and I just laughed and took the piss, saying something like "oh its okay for you to beat your husband, you cruel wife", to which she started laughing, called me an "asshole" and forgot all about trying to get me to do whatever it was she was trying to get me to do. This was a funny example and I don't think people are always aware of when they themselves are doing it for the small things, but I believe they must know when it involves lots of mental gymnastics.

    Going back to the domestic violence thing, I believe generally despite feminists convincing everyone that men are just mindless violent creatures that need to be tamed by them, that for the vast majority of men, they don't view their female partners as a threat this way, there is always an exception of course and I believe men who just routinely beat their wives because they can are cowards. However again because of feminism, I feel that many women feel they have to challenge their men, which just creates divides and kind of subconsciously tells the male that he is not the "man" in the relationship, which is disrespectful and not conducive to a happy couple.

    Female manipulators always have an ace in the hole, so to speak, if they claim to be the victim I feel they are more likely to be believed, Karen Straughan argues this point could be the reason why in Sharia law that a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's. I watched another video the other day that is very interesting on the subject of gendered violence and I may be going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I found this somewhat enlightening once you get past the cuddly sharks (?) part.



    Generally when I have a female ranting at me trying to get me to do something I don't want to, I put up "the wall". If I have already made my decision, if they are offering calm reasons why I should then fair enough, but if they are using emotional blackmail and shaming language, up goes the wall and nothing is getting through it and I'm not interested in anything else they have to say.

    I had an experience of a female manipulator on another site aimed at men, she tried to assert all kinds of things that pissed me off and regularly played the victim. She managed to get lots of members banned from this men's site and no one ever thought she was in the wrong, but I recognised the manipulator in her and I managed to throw a spanner in her works on a few occasions, it did amuse me as I could sense her level of infuriation at not getting her way. One particular instance was she put up an article about "Stone-Wallers", which in essence blamed men for closing themselves off emotionally and claimed that they were trying to manipulate their female "victims" emotions with this tactic. When in reality they are simply closing themselves off emotionally so they themselves can't be manipulated into doing something that violates their morals or just something they don't want to do. I went back and tried searching for this article a few times to challenge its assertions, but I can no longer find it.
     
  6. Kitsune

    Kitsune Staff Member

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    Really great thread Corvid. I have a good chunk to add, mostly when I can funnel and condense the 20 page essay bouncing around in my head with all the info.

    But, I'll start with at least answering the questions you posed, and maybe working through your informative posts. I'm pretty private with stuff like this, but feel it would do me, and others, some good to just have at it. Why not.

    Initially, I'd like to say that dealing with some skilled manipulators is not an easy task. From my own experience and shared info with others in similar situations, it's common to hear that people almost have to go into detailed research mode. Seemed a bit much at first, but that's exactly what happens. One piece of info draws you to the next, and it's fairly addictive when something so confusing for so long, starts to finally make some sense. Also, as mentioned, this can happen in relationships, family, and friendships. But, before I get carried away...


    Over time, pretty much everything in your top list there, minus only a couple. Although, some others as well, which I will get to later.

    Slow revelations. It was a fuse to an explosion, so to speak. Small things along the way that raised red flags. Mild lies and deceit. Gentle confrontation when realized, then more lies to cover old lies. Blaming and shaming me for everything from insecurity, to being judgemental, jealous, and yes, crazy. But always my fault, and always exclusively. I started keeping detailed notes, originally to help myself be a better friend (I know, I see it now too). But this helped me confirm to myself that I was not wrong for what I said, and eventually to save me from wild accusations. Eventually, a massive blow up when confronted with everything.

    Not at first. I truly believed that this was a dear, good friend. And that I was doing something wrong, constantly. That I was unreasonable, demanding, needy. I spent a great deal of time trying to "correct myself", in hopes of salvaging what I could of the friendship. Unfortunately, this played right into the game. And I kind of lost myself, trying to fix something that wasn't broken.
    Eventually, my eyes started seeing the truth. And I started to get vocal, still trying to maintain a friendship. As time went on, the truth became clearer, and my disgust grew. Only when forced at the end, did I really lay it all out, and drop any pretense that what I was seeing was even close to what I thought. And as the depth of the issue was revealed, I realized what I saw was only the tip of the iceberg.

    Sort of, no, and sort of. HA! Clear as mud.
    What really happened was I lost people posing as friends. Fake friends. But strengthened a few true ones. A few that stood up, even knowing it would come at a cost. I will always be thankful for that.
    No family lost, but it did affect some positions that took hard work to achieve. But, the benefit was the work, not the title. And, it was a title among the false friends. So, maybe that was more of a gain, than a loss, eh?

    Not like I ever thought it would go, to be honest. But that's probably common in these things I imagine.
    Ultimately, after calling out brutal truths, there was a parting of ways. Probably the best thing.
    Strange, even knowing all that happened, I couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to at least clear the air. Closure, right? To use a cliche term. It was hard to believe it had gone like that. I really cared for this person, like family.
    But, it's much like caring for a ghost. Or a piece of moving water. It was never really there. It wasn't real. It didn't exist. Just a really great mask, which I could relate to (again, more on that later).

    Some you state really well. Listen close to what's said, and not said.
    Trust your gut! When intuition is screaming loud, listen.
    When actions don't match words, or personality changes greatly in different company, pay attention to why, and who.
    A manipulator's greatest asset is emotion control. As much as possible, keep cool, calm, and collect.
     
  7. FossilHead

    FossilHead Staff Member

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    I have dealt with manipulators many times in life.

    The first one was literally a little girl. She was a couple of years younger than me, and I was only around 8 or 9 frigging years old!
    Not shitting you, this girl was GOOD at it. Now, granted, all she was manipulating me for was to use my lunch money to buy her candy, but HOLY SHIT, guys, what she saw/heard at home to learn to do this so well at 6 or 7 years of age is beyond me??!!
    Hell, maybe she was just a "natural"

    My first real girlfriend was manipulative in a mean way. I was always wrong, no matter what, and she rode my ass constantly. She was just a "user" and would lie in any way she had to in order to get her way. She vould be clingy as hell and all lovey dovey one minute, pushing me away and running back to old beaus the next.
    In looking back on it I understand, now, that she was just compensating for personal issues she dealt with growing up, as well as a really tough deal she went through a couple years before I lucked up on her. And she ended up having MAJOR issues down the line.....wish I knew now what her diagnosis ended up being, lol.

    In fact, a lot of the girlfriends and female friends from the time I was in my teens all the way through until I was probably in my late 20's or early 30's had the manipulative gene! Saw it used any number of times with my guy friends, and literally heard some of my female friends talking together about it, and laughing at the guys they were putting through the mill.


    Unfortunately, I have always been too trusting and too gullible, and just recently had a guy who I considered a friend manipulate me, and beat me out of a few thousand dollars.
    So it definitely isn't just the females......tho, in my experience, they damn sure got it in spades!


    Regardless, whenever something like that happens to me I recall a good buddy of mine in the Army, and what he had to say about it, back in the day.
    He said, "Screw me over once, fuck you; screw me over twice, fuck me."

    Once I believe that I have been taken advantage of, people who have chosen to do so don't ever get a second chance with me.
     
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  8. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    Sorry Fossil, that sucks ass!

    They say you live and learn, but sometimes I have to have to be taught the lesson a couple of times, just to make sure its sunk in.
     
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  9. Dick Whammy

    Dick Whammy Member

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    Hey everyone! Thanks for great forums as well as a great topic. This is my first reply/interaction here, so no better way to get involved than to just jump in! Actually it's a good way to make friends, enemies, lovers, haters, and even just inject a few laughs as well as piss people off! Okay, now that I've gotten all that stuff out of the way..... Thank you BurtMeister for keeping on my butt until I pulled my head out of my own long enuff to at least get here! I appreciate being thought of in a good way as you have proven.

    So far, I've enjoyed reading this thread. As Corvid said, it has the makings of a whole "saga" in itself. I can easily see this happen,,,because it will no doubt cross over into many different types of behavior and behavioral issues. Or should we just jump right in and get to the cluster B personalities without delay! LOL Anyone who knows me will vouche for my past experience with Borderline and Narcissistic personalities. I would so very much like to trade everything I've gone thru since 2010 for,,,lets say a puppy, but I know that this stuff has etched itself into my deepest darkest "hard to clean" spots in my mind! Ever since I've discovered the "manipulators" back in 2010, life has never been the same. Aside from that, I've had an ex wife with schizophrenia (unfortunate), 2 ex's with personality disorders, a narcissist daughter in law trying to sever me from my son, and a non-stop barrage of tetched women throughout 2015.......WOW, I'm tired just thinking about this stuff!! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  10. BurtMeister3000

    BurtMeister3000 Staff Member

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    Yep, you sure have had a rough time, sorry you are still having difficulties too.

    Have you found any way to insulate and protect yourself against their attacks? Or do you come right out and call them on their behaviour??