We’ve talked about Person X as a new acquaintance or coworker, and we’ve talked about you. Now let’s talk about talk about what happens when you and Person X are together. It’ll be fun. No, wait, that’s not quite true. It’ll be fun for me. If you’re hanging out with an abusive Person X, it’ll totally suck for you. All the more reason for you to know what to look for, so you can cut your losses quickly!
Without further ado, here’s Part Four: Manipulation. If you’re here, there’s really not much question about your Person X. Manipulation is a mild form of mental and emotional abuse, so it’s already happening. The question is, how long will you tolerate it?
- Does Person X want you to lie about your relationship? Normal people have no reason to keep those kinds of secrets.
- Is X irritable or more aggressive when not in control of a situation?
- Does X ask for money or “borrow” cash/checks/bank cards without your knowledge or permission? You know that’s wrong, right?
- Is it difficult to check on X’s past?
- Does X often say you “make” him or her feel good (or bad)? If X has a temper tantrum, is it “look what you made me do”?
- If you’re a girl, does X keep a hand on the back of your neck or on your arm in public? If you’re a guy, does X keep an arm around your waist? This is a really casual but effective means of physical control. Didn’t feel like a leash until now, did it?
- Does X threaten self-injury or ending the relationship as a way of getting attention? Does X have problems recognizing anger?
- Does X have unrealistic expectations of children or animals, in terms of behavior, knowledge, or affection? Is discipline appropriate?
- Does X tease too much? Or say “I was just teasing” when it’s clear that behavior or words are irritating others?
- Is your family very traditional in terms of gender roles? This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s a factor X will try to exploit by expecting you to conform.
- Do you spend too much energy trying not to upset X? You never have to walk on eggshells in a healthy relationship.
- Is your life suddenly about what X will think, how X will react, or whether X will get mad?
- Do you spend too much energy trying to make X happy? Do you carefully orchestrate your wardrobe or schedule, or even talk a certain way because “that’s how X likes it”?
- Do you find yourself frequently apologizing or making excuses for X? Perfectly nice people have to cancel or reschedule once in a while, but not regularly, and you never have to apologize for it.
All of this assumes it’s you on the brink of some kind of relationship with the abuser known as X. But it could be a friend or relative. And yeah, sometimes it’s just emotional immaturity at work. But it could be a skilled opponent. And if so, more than feelings may get hurt.
For the sake of those who haven’t seen these checklists – and for the sake of the one in three who are victims – please share the information in this series. There’s a great assortment of handy buttons just below so feel free to click on a couple!