Emotional manipulation is a tactic some people use to control or victimize others. It’s one characteristic of a dysfunctional relationship, and it can be highly successful. Someone who knows you well might turn your weaknesses and triggers against you, gradually increasing the pressure over time. Emotional manipulation might be so subtle that it’s hard to recognize, but knowing the warning signs and taking steps to manage them can help you regain control of your life.

What Is Manipulation in Relationships?

Manipulation is a way some people attempt to get what they want and avoid taking responsibility for their actions – at someone else’s expense. Manipulative people use strategies like lying, gaslighting, guilt-tripping, passive aggression and the silent treatment to make you question your judgment and self-worth. You may feel confused about what to think or feel and find yourself apologizing, even when you haven’t done anything wrong.

Emotional manipulators are sometimes emulating behavior they learned from an early age by watching their parents. Manipulation can also be a symptom of mental health issues like borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.

How to Handle Emotional Manipulation

To improve your self-worth, you should understand that manipulation is a form of emotional abuse, and you don’t have to accept it as an inevitable part of your relationship. If you frequently feel hurt, confused, frustrated, angry or resentful toward your partner, here are four ways to handle it.

1. Set Boundaries

Many people never learn to set effective boundaries, which can lead to confusion and strained relationships. However, your time is precious, and setting boundaries can help you make the most of your limited energy. You cannot control other people’s behavior, but you can be specific about what you do not want them to do. If you feel an emotional manipulator isn’t treating you respectfully, don’t be afraid to politely challenge them about it.

2. Let Go of Guilt

Some women have trouble standing up for themselves because they worry doing so will make them seem rude or pushy. Still, you should not be guilty about prioritizing your needs. When you learn to put yourself first, you can be more present for those around you. The more your self-esteem improves, the less guilt you will feel.

3. Practice Self-Care Strategies

You can’t maintain healthy relationships with others if you don’t make time to look after your physical and mental well-being. Self-care isn’t selfish; it means honoring your needs and giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When you’re relaxed and refreshed instead of overwhelmed and frazzled, you can be a better friend, romantic partner, co-worker or family member.

4. Ask for Help

The ability to recognize and admit when you’re over your head is valuable. Asking others to help you demonstrates trust and a willingness to learn and grow. It shows those around you that you value their advice and have a genuine desire to improve areas of weakness. Requesting help can also improve your mental health by fostering camaraderie and reminding you that you’re not alone.

Women’s Mental Health and Addiction Treatment in California

At Rising Roads, we provide comprehensive treatment for women dealing with mental illness and addiction. Our goal is for women to gain valuable knowledge about themselves and improve how they relate to the world around them. To begin your healing journey, contact us today.