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We turned to life and love strategist Stacie Ikka for some pointers on how to handle a manipulative partner. She shares some tips on how to recognize the signs of manipulation and how to handle it.
1. Understanding manipulation in a relationship
If your partner appeals to your insecurities or makes you feel guilty in order to get his or her own way that counts as manipulation. It can manifest in various forms, including passive aggressiveness, sarcasm and unfair teasing. Every case is different and manipulation is not always easy to pinpoint.
"If it was easily identifiable it may not be considered manipulation," says Ikka. "If you suspect you are being manipulated it's likely because you find yourself doing things contrary to your gut reaction at the prodding of someone else's wishes or requests."
Sound familiar? Take a step back from the situation to determine whether the way you're feeling is a result of your partner's attempts to control you.
2. Be objective: Recognize the signs of a manipulative relationship
To identify signs of manipulation in your relationship, it's important to look at your partner's behaviour with practical eyes.
"The most challenging element of manipulation is acknowledging that it is happening. To do so requires objectivity, self-awareness, courage and being conscious of patterns of behaviour," explains Ikka.
Be honest with yourself and consider your partner's behaviour without rose-coloured glasses on. Talk yourself through your feelings and ask yourself what you would think if a friend described the same situation in his or her relationship.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover two more helpful ways to deal with a controlling or manipulative partner on page 2. 3. Approach your partner with a plan
To find out whether you can resolve the issue, you have to bring up your feelings to your partner. Before you do, spend some time thinking about the way you want to approach the situation. Be aware that your partner may respond to your feelings by acting offended or hurt, thereby further appealing to your insecurities.
"Confronting a manipulator runs the risk of being further manipulated, depending on their level of skill and the self-awareness of the person being manipulated," says Ikka.
Continue to maintain an objective attitude and don't accuse your partner. Emphasize the way you are feeling rather than speaking directly about your partner's actions.
"Before approaching your partner, itemize the ways in which you feel you are being manipulated using 'I' statements, so that you can offer concrete examples," suggests Ikka. If you steer clear of any critical language your partner will be more likely to respond positively and the conversation will be far more constructive.
4. Be open to your partner's opinion
How your partner handles your feelings will give you an idea of whether or not the problem can be solved. Allow him to explain himself. After all, he may not even be conscious that he is acting this way.
"Manipulation comes with a negative connotation, but it's not always a source of evil," says Ikka. "If the manipulator is willing to own his or her behaviour then the resolution comes down to effective communication. If they're not, an exit strategy may be necessary," she advises.
If your partner becomes defensive and angry or is otherwise insensitive to your feelings, consider your next moves carefully. Ask yourself if you really want to be in a relationship with someone who handles your feelings in this manner. It's up to you to determine if you and your partner can work together to break the manipulative habits in your relationship. What's most important is that you recognize your partner's attempt to control you and that you voice your concern.
"Once someone identifies that they are being manipulated, how they choose to handle it will vary," says Ikka. "Being able to identify signs of manipulation in a relationship is the key to either getting out of one that isn't going to work, or managing it. It's the trickiest part."
Continue to be self-aware and share your feelings regularly with your partner. You may be able to get to the root of the issue and resolve it together.
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