ManipulationManipulative people are those who try to get other people to do what they want, sometimes without the person knowing they are being manipulated, but not always. This can be because they don’t want to do the thing themselves, they don’t want to be responsible for the consequences, they don’t want to expend the necessary funds/favors/friendships/connections/reputation required, they need to maintain a certain self conception as the victim/injured/incapable person in the scenario, they want to cause drama/trauma, or they want to cause harm. Most manipulative people will not look like a villain wearing a black hat, have a handle bar mustache, have an obvious scar/tattoo, or in any other way label themselves as the Master Manipulator. Unless the point is for the manipulation to be obvious such as blackmail, it’s far more effective for the person to seem completely normal.

Everyone experiences this at very mundane levels.  There’s always one friend who is short on cash, even though you just saw them get paid, and will pay you back but never does.  Their song and dance about it is lame, but it works. They manipulate their way into never paying for anything they don’t want to pay for. Others seem to always show up when they need something, but are never around when there is work to be done.  They never offer to help when you are in need of something and seem miffed if you ask. It’s annoying, but usually fairly harmless. Once we figure out the game, we stop playing. But what if we never figure out that it’s a game? Manipulators don’t just work to get us to do what they want in the moment, they lay the groundwork for manipulation by manipulating our reality.  The true manipulation is not in the act, but in our perception.

A Manipulator counts on the fact that we don’t see people as manipulative. We think others are like ourselves, therefore we give second chances, forgive mistakes, work to help others improve, and think that everyone is basically good with good motives for their actions. A Manipulator takes advantage of this, of our good nature, by constantly questioning our perceptions of things, making excuses, telling us things are one way when they are actually the other. They promise to never do it again when they get caught, fully participating in the process of remorse and redemption, knowing we’ll give them a second chance all the while shouldering a measure of blame for the situation and try to figure out our part in the problem so we can do better next time. Good people tear themselves up inside trying to figure out why they would invite this trauma into their lives, why they would go back time and time again knowing full well that the person is not acting in integrity, thereby doing exactly what the Manipulator has worked so hard to accomplish, having the good person take on the blame for the manipulation.

Before you ask what lesson you were meant to learn from the situation and you contributed to it, first think that you would never ask that of a child who had been molested. They didn’t ask to be manipulated into a sexual encounter with an adult, they are unable to consent, and they in no way invited this person into their life or their bed. They are a child, a victim of egregious manipulation and are to be supported in healing from the aftermath. A you less deserving of healing, support and unconditional love? It is good to look at what factors contributed to the situation, but instead of shouldering responsibility, instead it is very helpful to look at what healthy and completely appropriate needs/wants/desires/abilities/qualities/skills you have that were exploited. That way you can begin to see with ever clearer eyes the nature of the manipulation and gain wisdom.