Emotional Manipulation: Is it abuse?
Emotional manipulation is when someone - including your significant other - plays mind games with the aim of gaining power and control over you. Unlike someone in a healthy relationship, an emotional manipulator looks to use, control, or even victimise their partner by using emotional tactics. While some notice this behaviour quickly, it may take a while for others to pick it up. Emotional manipulation is a serious red flag and can cause a lot of psychological harm. Here’s what it looks like.
Using your insecurities against you
This type of abusive partner knows your weak spots, and they tend to use them against you. If your partner makes nasty or harmful comments about things you’ve told them about yourself and your past, then this may be a form of emotional manipulation and abuse.
Guilt trips or ultimatums
An ultimatum is a demand which, if not met, will end a relationship or result in some other unwanted consequence. Guilt tripping is when someone makes statements or behaves in a way that makes you feel like you’re in the wrong and deserve some kind of punishment. An emotionally abusive partner may use these behaviours by making statements that put you in a difficult spot, in order to get an apology. For example, they may say things like, ‘’If you wear a condom it means you don’t love me,” or “If we can’t have sex, I’ll leave you”.
Passive aggressive tactics
Passive aggression is when your partner indirectly expresses negative feelings through actions instead of openly addressing them through clear communication. They do this to show their anger without directly telling you how they feel, making you feel confused. Remember that a healthy relationship involves openly communicating your feelings to one another.
Lying and denial
Lying is the most common tool manipulative people use and most often, when this type of partner is called out, they’ll either deny any accusations or attempt to cover it up with another lie, which might leave you feeling confused and doubting yourself.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where someone makes you question your memory and experience of events. They can make you feel like you’re wrong for thinking something happened a certain way and may deny saying something altogether. An abusive partner may deny that any sort of abuse happened, telling the victim that there’s something wrong with their memory.
The ‘silent treatment’
This is when someone doesn’t respond to your calls, direct messages or any other form of communication. They use the silent treatment as a form of punishment, to gain control and make you feel responsible for their behavior. The silent treatment is not a good way to resolve problems, Choma, only communication can help you do that.
If you find yourself questioning your partner’s behavior towards you, it may be a good idea to take some time out to reflect on whether the relationship is making you feel good or not. You’re worthy of being with someone who respects you, is honest with you and doesn’t try to control you. Remember, you’re not responsible for your partner’s controlling behaviour and you don’t have to tolerate it. Reach out to family, a friend or even me, if you need support. It’s also a good idea to get counselling if you’ve been in an unhealthy relationship. You can contact Lifeline on 086 132 2322 to get free counselling.
Did you find this article helpful? Yes No