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Wayward Side :
Manipulator vs Manipulative

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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 5:49 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

I'm making a new thread here because I think this is an important topic to separate from my own personal work in my other thread.

My BH has a hard time accepting the actions he does as manipulative. I have a hard time seeing him as someone who is not a manipulator. It's only recently that I'm open to considering him as MANIPULATIVE and not as someone who is a MANIPULATOR.

There's a fine distinction, but one I think would be useful to make.

MANIPULATIVE PERSON:
-participates in manipulative behavior
-is in denial or unaware of the effects the behavior has on those around them
-is genuinely contrite when it's pointed out and can make efforts to change
-has the ability to show some empathy for those targeted by their manipulations
-horrified that their means obtained their ends.

A MANIPULATOR:
-intentionally manipulates
-doesn't care about the effects their behavior has on others
-has no contrition when pointed out, doesn't bother to change
-cannot/will not show empathy for their targets
-satisfied with the results, ends justify their means.

It's so subtle. I'm only now starting to call BH on his manipulations. He has a hard time accepting, but when he does, he is truly sorry and is TRULY working to change. There's hope.

What do you guys think? Is the subtle difference in the terms enough for you to be willing to work with manipulative people who can and are changing? Or are the manipulations themselves enough to make you walk away?

I'm willing to stay with mine, as I am a manipulative person myself. I'm humbled by how much work I have to do and hopeful from the amount I've been able to get done. BH is making progress too, which in turn, is enough for me to continue on with him.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8709564
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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 7:53 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

BS here. No stop sign.

I don't really see the need for the distinction. Manipulation is a maladaptive (though often very effective!) communication strategy. I have heard it called a learned defense mechanism for getting your way. We are all capable of it, some people revert to using it more than others (manipulative tendancies??). I'm sure, for many people, it is unconscious.

Instead of arguing the semantics of who is a manipulator and who is manipulative, I think energy would be better spent identifying and calling out the behaviour when it occurs and improving communication so that it occurs less frequently and you are able to speak more directly with one another. For me, openness to change and empathy for one another would be the important factors here.

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 6 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
5 years (and two toddlers) into R. Happy.

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id 8709599
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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 8:05 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Hi emergent,

You're right- it is probably better to focus on getting rid of the behavior.

My struggle was with identifying my BH with the behavior and not seeing that the behavior was being done by him.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8709603
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 9:32 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Great topic, I struggled with this a lot as well. It was difficult for me to see myself manipulating someone else, when (as you described) there was no conscious thought in my head, such as, "Ha ha, I'm going trick this person into doing what I want to get my way, and screw them, they don't matter..."

What I eventually came to understand was simply that, just because there wasn't a "haha, I'm getting away with this" kind of thought in my head, it didn't mean I wasn't manipulating someone else.

A good example of this was simply the idea that I had an "outcome" in my head that I desired. I wanted my wife to stay married to me and to attempt to R. It wasn't a bad or evil goal, and there was no malcontent involved in it. But still, it was MY desire, not necessarily hers, and so by doing anything in order to try and convince her to go that way (against her will), I was essentially manipulating her. If I purchased something that maybe she wouldn't approve of, and didn't tell her, then that was lying, but it was also manipulating. The more I started to observe my own goals and behaviors, the more I realized that a lot of the ways I interacted with her, and others in my life, was by subtle manipulation. In most cases, I was completely unaware that I was doing it. Instead, I thought of it as "convincing her", or just doing what I wanted and that it didn't involve her.

To me, manipulating someone means that you are trying to get them to do something they otherwise would not want to happen, AND not telling them that's what's going on. Convincing someone is different, that is when the other person is AWARE that you are trying to change their mind, and they have the opportunity to respond, and to come to their own conclusions. Doing something and hiding it from another, when you know they would not approve, is lying and hiding, but in my book, it is also a form of manipulation. In the same way that you can "lie by exclusion", I think you can manipulate by exclusion also. I'm sure not everyone will agree with that, but I find that for a wayward mind, it is better to be hyper-aware of what you do and why you do it.

I think many waywards fall into this trap. It can be very easy and convenient to convince yourself that you are doing something for the "good of everyone" or for a "positive outcome" when in fact, it is really just for your own good.

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 9:33 PM, Thursday, January 13th]

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1190   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8709626
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icytoes ( new member #79512) posted at 10:49 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

MIgander,

I am totally intrigued by this idea of manipulator vs manipulative person. It seems to come down to whether or not there is malicious intent.

I wonder if someone can discover why and how they manipulate, they can develop healthier strategies to get what they need in a relationship.

Here are some reasons why people manipulate others from an article called Red Flags: Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated on a site called goodtherapy.

WHY DO PEOPLE MANIPULATE OTHERS?
Not all manipulation has malicious intent, even when it causes immense harm. Some common reasons people engage in manipulation include:
•Poor communication skills. Some people may be uncomfortable with direct communication. Others may have grown up in houses where manipulative communication was the norm.
•A desire to avoid connection. Some people treat others as means to an end and use manipulation to control them. This is sometimes a symptom of a personality disorder such as narcissistic personality.
•Fear. People may engage in manipulation out of fear, especially fear of abandonment. This often happens during breakups or relationship fights.
•Defensiveness. Manipulation can be a way of avoiding blame. While some people avoid blame as a way to control or abuse another person, others do so because they fear judgment, have low self-esteem, or struggle to face their own shortcomings.
•Social norms. Some forms of manipulation are normal, and perhaps even beneficial. For example, most people learn that it is important to be friendly and cheerful around work colleagues in order to professionally advance.
•Marketing, advertising, and other financial or political incentives. Entire industries are dedicated to manipulating people’s emotions to change their minds, convince them to buy products, or urge them to vote a certain way.
"In many cases, manipulative individuals were not taught effective communication skills. Or worse, they were punished by an influential figure for expressing needs or wants. As a result, the original means for connecting gets overridden and replaced by strategies centered around avoiding any sense of fault. This is adequately achieved in two primary ways: indirect communication and a refusal to be accountable for actions," Stringer emphasizes.

Thank you for bringing this up. I can’t stop thinking about it. I wonder why your husband resorts to manipulation. Is it for the same reasons you do? So interesting. Thank you.

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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 10:58 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

It seems to come down to whether or not there is malicious intent.

Agree.

But.

Whether they intended to hurt me or not, they still did hurt me or cause me damage. At some point the intention doesn't really matter, only how they address the damage they did. Do they show empathy? Are they understanding of the pain they caused? Do they take steps to make sure they don't do the same actions again?

I think that is more the difference between a manipulator and being manipulative.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

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Repossessed ( member #79544) posted at 2:30 AM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

I'll weigh in with this simple observation which is manipulation is at its core dishonest. Manipulation effectively prompts another to do/behave in a way that pleases the prompter unbeknownst to the mark. There is no transparency, no disclosure of the prompter's self-interest; it is not above board behavior and it robs the mark of their agency.

And as its been established here, dishonesty is antithetical to a healthy working marriage.

Edited to add: malicious intent or no, does not matter. Dishonesty is what is key here.

[This message edited by Repossessed at 2:38 AM, Friday, January 14th]

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

posts: 117   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2021   ·   location: Chicagoland
id 8709705
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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 2:38 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Ellie, this is these are the core questions to ask when considering continuing a relationship after manipulation:

At some point the intention doesn't really matter, only how they address the damage they did. Do they show empathy? Are they understanding of the pain they caused? Do they take steps to make sure they don't do the same actions again?

Both myself and BH are working toward this.

Repossessed:

Manipulation effectively prompts another to do/behave in a way that pleases the prompter unbeknownst to the mark. There is no transparency, no disclosure of the prompter's self-interest; it is not above board behavior and it robs the mark of their agency.

This is why my A was the ultimate manipulation. I wanted to have all my needs met, but by 2 people. That way, I could keep BH around as a convenient co-parent and housemate I could enjoy the comforts of my home with. Then I could have AP be my source for "kibbles" and fake emotional intimacy. YUCK.

Recovery from manipulation does take radical honesty. Getting to the point where I can feel safe enough to be that open with BH has been a long road, and I've been struggling lately. Vulnerability hasn't been either of our strong points.

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Repossessed ( member #79544) posted at 10:02 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Getting to the point where I can feel safe enough to be that open with BH has been a long road, and I've been struggling lately. Vulnerability hasn't been either of our strong points.


Roger that. You are absolutely right regarding vulnerability. It is foundational to honesty. The person delivering it has to be able to trust that the one receiving is adult and reasoned enough to recognize the risk a person takes when they deliver honesty.

The counter to that is 'delivery matters.' One has an obligation to deliver the honesty appropriately (gently if necessary).

Don't laugh but I was thinking about the whole 'baby, is my ass big?' thing the other day. If wifey wants the truth, then hubby has to be able to trust her with it. On the other hand, how he says it matters as much, or more. And why was I thinking about it in the context of 'honesty?' Cuz that may be one of the ultimate marital tests of truth telling. <chuckling as I write this; don't hate>

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

posts: 117   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2021   ·   location: Chicagoland
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Babette2008 ( member #69126) posted at 6:44 PM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

As I read your distinction, the manipulator gets pleasure out of making people do things they don't want to do. The manipulation is the pleasure.

The manipulative person is basically selfish and uses their knowledge of the other person's weakness to get their way, getting what they want is the goal, not the act of forcing the person do do something.

Both are unhealthy behaviors and both have an orientation towards pleasing the self at the expense of the person being manipulated. I imagine that a manipulator is less likely to change because what pleasure would replace the manipulation?? I guess the manipulative person could learn new, more cooperative and empathetic ways of achieving their goals in a healthy relationship. BUT they would have to WANT to do that and be willing to be held accountable. You can't make them change, you can just refuse to engage.

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id 8710044
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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 2:48 PM on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Repossessed:

Don't laugh but I was thinking about the whole 'baby, is my ass big?' thing the other day. If wifey wants the truth, then hubby has to be able to trust her with it. On the other hand, how he says it matters as much, or more. And why was I thinking about it in the context of 'honesty?' Cuz that may be one of the ultimate marital tests of truth telling. <chuckling as I write this; don't hate>


laugh

OHHHH MY! Yeah, I think every marriage has those... landmines.

Roger that. You are absolutely right regarding vulnerability. It is foundational to honesty. The person delivering it has to be able to trust that the one receiving is adult and reasoned enough to recognize the risk a person takes when they deliver honesty.


THIS: I have a huge struggle with this. I'm often so anxious and triggered and defended that I can't see the huge effort it takes BH to open up to me.

Babette:

I imagine that a manipulator is less likely to change because what pleasure would replace the manipulation?? I guess the manipulative person could learn new, more cooperative and empathetic ways of achieving their goals in a healthy relationship. BUT they would have to WANT to do that and be willing to be held accountable. You can't make them change, you can just refuse to engage.

This is the distinction I have had to make recently- whether BH was someone who got pleasure out of the practice of manipulation or just used as a tool to serve his selfishness. What was making the discernment more difficult was it didn't seem that he wanted to be held accountable or even want to change. It was usually about how I needed to change and how I needed to figure out my life so he would be happier. I did need to change (and still have a ton of work to do). I refused to during the earlier part of our marriage because he was unwilling to look at himself and see what he needed to work on as well.

It wasn't a partnership.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8710453
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DIFM ( member #1703) posted at 7:18 PM on Thursday, January 20th, 2022

BS here. I think if you manipulate, you are a manipulator. How can you do a thing and not have that action be a part of who you are. No one thing defines a person for all that they are. But, if you cheat, you are a cheater. If you steal, you are a thief. If you manipulate, you are a manipulator.

You cannot escape from the realities of the actions you have taken. You can change and you can heal, but as of the time you executed the action, it represented you. I think the rest becomes semantics. If you manipulated someone, get your shit together, heal the hole in you that allowed it, and become a better person.....all other labels aside.

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Repossessed ( member #79544) posted at 12:55 AM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

I think if you manipulate, you are a manipulator.

Kind of tough to argue with that assertion.

[This message edited by Repossessed at 12:59 AM, Friday, January 21st]

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

posts: 117   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2021   ·   location: Chicagoland
id 8710939
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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 1:33 PM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

Manipulation is a maladaptive (though often very effective!) communication strategy.

Manipulation, for good or bad, is done all the time by all the people, to help shape the world around them in their favor. It works, we’ve adapted to it. Call it influencing if you want, that’s a distinction without a difference.

I'll weigh in with this simple observation which is manipulation is at its core dishonest. Manipulation effectively prompts another to do/behave in a way that pleases the prompter unbeknownst to the mark.

That’s only because they don’t know to look. Once you do look, it’s pretty obvious, and then you can ask what’s behind the manipulation. In fact, I’d say you are often more aware of it than the manipulator at that point. Manipulating is what we do so much as humans, without thought or effort.

But definitely it’s not truthful..

You see BS on here all the time, when discussing the 180, asking if that will influence/manipulate the WS into a different feeling state leading ultimately to a changed behavior, which is not its purpose. It’s purpose is to detach and heal. When the BS does it to manipulate the WS, they are not being honest.

You can certainly get better at it with practice, and WS are very well practiced by necessity. As a BS, you do not want to get into a manipulation/influencing wrestling match with the WS, because they’re better at it. Yet you see it here all the time. Of course, because humans do it all the time.

Daddydom, your post was on point. You know yourself.

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 2:33 PM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

DIFM:

BS here. I think if you manipulate, you are a manipulator. How can you do a thing and not have that action be a part of who you are. No one thing defines a person for all that they are. But, if you cheat, you are a cheater. If you steal, you are a thief. If you manipulate, you are a manipulator.

This is what I'm trying to figure out. As you said, we can grow and change, but we still were manipulators when we were manipulating.

What I'm trying to sort out in this thread is what happens when it becomes obvious to the one manipulating, that they're manipulating. Do they realize what they are doing and work to change? If so, then they have a chance to move on and redeem themselves. If they are aware of it and resort to it anyway out of laziness/lack of empathy/just don't give a shit, then they're the kind of person that I don't want to be around.

I guess I can forgive myself because I'm doing the work and trying to be more honest with what my wants/needs/boundaries are. It's other people who aren't open or honest about the hurt they cause (unconsciously or not).

An example: my husband's EA partner gaslighting me about whether or not her EA with my husband was even a big deal. Situation, I was having a discussion with her about a year out from my own DDay about how her relationship (EA) with my husband contributed to my mental breakdown before the affair. What I wanted: an acknowledgement of the EA, her to take some ownership. Came to her honestly and told her of the pain and jealousy I had to swallow for 2.5yrs while she drew my BH in with their intimate discussions of spirituality and emotional difficulties in their marriages. EA! What she wanted: to absolve herself of responsibility for the level of emotional intimacy and emotional boundary crossing she had with my BH. Since she couldn't get me to absolve her and dismiss the EA's existence, she resorted to triangulation and gaslighting, "Well, everyone I talked to about it laughed. It wasn't a big deal." It was a tactic to isolate me, deny my pain and excuse herself. Manipulation.

You can hurt and manipulate a person without knowing it, which she did. HOWEVER, when it's brought to your attention, it becomes your responsibility to apologize and start working on it. At the minimum, ACKNOWLEDGING the manipulation is important for me. I don't feel safe around people who walk around thinking their shit don't stink.

That's where I'm looking to grow- become aware of my own manipulations, others' manipulations and being honest with myself and them about it. BH and I are doing a better job sharing when we're feeling manipulated. The next step is for me to figure out where my boundaries/needs/wants are and express them honestly. And not to cave to the manipulations I experience in our relationship.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
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 MIgander (original poster member #71285) posted at 2:42 PM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

Babette:

Both are unhealthy behaviors and both have an orientation towards pleasing the self at the expense of the person being manipulated. I imagine that a manipulator is less likely to change because what pleasure would replace the manipulation?? I guess the manipulative person could learn new, more cooperative and empathetic ways of achieving their goals in a healthy relationship. BUT they would have to WANT to do that and be willing to be held accountable. You can't make them change, you can just refuse to engage.

THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^^

It exactly encapsulates what I'm trying to discern. Am I learning new honest, healthy ways to have my needs met in a relationship or am I not caring and manipulating anyway. Is BH working toward the same goal- healthy ways of obtaining needs? He is, and I am. I'm rather stuck with that right now as I'm getting a new IC going, but I hope to make more progress with that this year.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 9:37 PM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

Migander

What I'm trying to sort out in this thread is what happens when it becomes obvious to the one manipulating, that they're manipulating. Do they realize what they are doing and work to change? If so, then they have a chance to move on and redeem themselves. If they are aware of it and resort to it anyway out of laziness/lack of empathy/just don't give a shit, then they're the kind of person that I don't want to be around.

… That's where I'm looking to grow- become aware of my own manipulations, others' manipulations and being honest with myself and them about it.

That’s good stuff.


Repossessed

Don't laugh but I was thinking about the whole 'baby, is my ass big?'

It’s crazy, isn’t it? "Lie to me to show me you love me." smooch

People really tend not to want the hard truths. They’re fully capable of manipulating themselves.

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

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Repossessed ( member #79544) posted at 11:35 PM on Friday, January 21st, 2022

Don't laugh but I was thinking about the whole 'baby, is my ass big?'

It’s crazy, isn’t it? "Lie to me to show me you love me."

Oh, believe when I say that I learned early to 'love' her right when the question came up. Think cowardice borne of self-preservation. laugh

Here to keep myself mindful that I don't always see what actually is. I certainly didn't when I married her.

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