MANIPULATIVE people...how do you deal with them?


#1

Oh my goodness! I have a couple of people in my life right now who are sooooooo manipulative. One is a family member, the other an acquaintance. I’ve developed a backbone, and have been trying to block their manipulations. I’ve always been a sucker about “helping” people, etc. I’ve reached the end of my rope. Since putting up my little blockades, these 2 people have been coming at me something terrible! I have daily emails from one, constantly asking for favors, etc. After I decline several times, then she confronts me either in a voicemail or email, in a very nasty, awful way. I understand, from several people, that she is speaking very poorly about me and my husband. The family member, I give more leeway, as it’s family. Same thing there, though. The family member also speaks terribly about me to others. I’ve actually been verbally attacked by her friends about how “mean” I am. sigh I’ve tried not to complain about them and create scandal about them, but lately I’ve found myself talking about them to others in a NOT so gracious manner. I feel the need to go to confession about it.

Anyway, how can I deal with these people gracefully? It’s difficult to totally cut them out, as I have to see them on a somewhat regular basis. It makes me almost sick to have to be around them. I’ve taken to just deleting the emails from the acquaintance before reading them…but, as we are involved in some activities together, the emails may actually be important. It’s really hard not to complain about them to people, but sometimes I feel the need, just to make certain I"m not crazy or something. Help!


#2

Find someone you can completely trust to vent to. That’s helped me tremendously. Secondly, try to limit your contact with them. It sounds mean, but sometimes that’s what it takes. My MIL is manipulative and abusive towards my husband, and, when I’m not around, she’ll start criticizing me to my husband. The world revolves around her. We’ve just try to limit the time we spend with her, which helps us deal with her when we have to.

There is nothing you can do to change these people, so you’ll have to change how and when you relate to them, and if possible, work on your attitude towards them. I’ve been working on the “kinder, gentler Aurora,” which sounds cheesy and stupid, but it’s helped me tremendously. Whenever I feel that surge of anger, I think of that phrase, and it’s actually helped my outlook with difficult situations that I can’t really control. I don’t have to like the situation, or the person, but I don’t want to walk around fuming, either.

You’re probably not crazy! Just think, if these people are doing these things to you, they’re doing them to others too, so you aren’t alone in your frustration.


#3

G:

The best approach is ignoring them. First, find a nice person to get that necessary email information from, not the manipulative friend. That way you can “reject as spam” her emails and no longer receive anything from her. You need to put yourself into a situation where you do not need to contact these people at all. Get them out of your life in every area that you can, even if it means skipping a few social functions. If you have caller ID, then don’t answer the phone. Delete her messages at the first sound of her voice.

Next, when a third party discusses either of these manipulators with you, you need to kindly and quickly cut off the conversation about your relationship with the manipulator. It is none of their business, and certainly they have no right whatsoever, to bring the grievences of their sorry friend to your attention. Although they don’t know it, they are being manipulated to extend the suffering that is being dished out to you. Find a set line to shut down these third parties inquiries, like, “While I appreciate your concern, so-and-so, this is between Manipulator and me and I am unable to discuss this with anyone else. But tell me, how are things with you going?” And then proceed to completely end the conversation as soon as possible and get out of there as fast as you can. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your actions or replies. Stay upbeat and calm. When attacks become too much for you, just leave by telling the person that you no longer want to speak to them on this matter. Stay strong and consistant. If either of these people are speaking poorly about you or your husband, be confident that those who know and respect and love you will be unswayed by such gossip. Do whatever you can to refrain from gossiping about them, but don’t be afraid to clarify the truth, using wisdom to understand what the other person can accept about either manipulator.


#4

I’m with CofK on this one…both of these people cannot be controlled by you. However, you can control your reaction and whether or not you are going to jump into the mud with them and role around.
A great technique someone taught me was to repeat everything the person says back to me, when they are angry and trying to tell me off, to them in the form of a question.

Like this:

You are a mean and selfish woman because you won’t do (whatever).

me: I am a mean and selfish woman?

That’s right. You should help me with this (or go somewhere or do something).

me: I should help you/go somewhere/do something?

That’s what I said! Why won’t you do this or that or whatever?

me: Why won’t I do it? Because (and this is the only direct answer I was allowed to give) I said no. And no is a complete sentence.

It took me a long time to learn how to deal with these types. I realized that one of the reasons I had a hard time doing it is because I wanted everyone to like me… My reasons, in other words, were pretty darn selfish and self-centered. Once I realized that I was the reason I was making all these dumb choices, my choices began to change.


#5

Yeah these people are difficult at first.

But, envetually you get the hang of it.

Generally, we should explain **briefly **


“No, can’t help you with that beacause I’m too busy right now.”

– response about modifiing your scehdule

"I’m sorry, “No” I am very happy with the way that I have planned my schedule right now. "

– response about your motivations or excuses

“I don’t question your motives or excuses. Friends don’t do that. If you need to question my motives or excuses You might need to re-evaluate if I’m a good friend to you.”

“I really don’t need to discuss this any further with you. You asked for my help, I said “No”. If you are not ready for a response of “No” then you don’t need to ask the question.”

“Please don’t hesitate to ask me for help again, but you need to respect the fact that I may indeed say “No” for my own reasons that I don’t need to justify to you - You are not my mother !”

As for bringing in other people …

You only need to explain a few simple ideas.

“So-and-so asked me for some help and I was unable to help her at that time. I have my own reasons for refusing. This is between me and her”

“Wouldn’t you want that same kind of respect from a friend ? Would you want me to to ask you for help and then speak negativley about you when you honestly have said “No”. We are adults. We really don’t need to justify ourselves, except to our spouses.”

“You and she may feel that I am not being charitable and Christian. That is between and my Lord. I’d rather take this up with him since he knows my heart and my situation the best.”

“I value your friendship and don’t want my difficulties with so-and-so to affect us.”

These are just a few suggestions.

Good Luck.


#6

Some good advice here!

aurora- LOL! I like how you said I was “probably” not crazy:D You’re right about not wanting to be “fuming”. I was mad all morning. It really bothers me when these people can get to me.

CofK–I know you’re right. I have begun to seriously block out these people from my life. I think that is why I am suffering such an onslaught. I really do want to refrain from the gossip and venting. I’ve been very good until recently. Since it has gotten so bad, and they’ve been bad mouthing me and my husband, it is soooooo hard to NOT defend myself. I have to work on that being “strong and consistent” thing!

Leslie—I do care too much if people like me. That’s always been why I attract this type! It helps to see how selfish that is. (You still like me, right? Even after you know I’m selfish, right?:wink: )

uncleauberon–I was thinking today, that in the past, I would do anything for these people just so they wouldn’t get mad. Now, that I am saying “no”, they are sooooo angry! It’s like they’re trying everything to get me to do what they want. I just feel like wilting under the pressure. Honestly, I just want to run and hide. It’s difficult for me to even be at the same event or function! I’m so tired of my life being so disrupted!

Thanks for your responses everyone. It has given me a little courage and food for thought.


#7

Gianna, a line from a Psalm (146:3) has been a close companion through the years to help fend off just those sort of feelings of wanting to be approved of in what I do - or don’t do:

“Put not your trust in princes, in man in whom there’s no salvation.”


#8

YOU BET YOUR BOOTS, my sister in Christ!


#9

You might be interested in a book called, “How to Say No without Feeling Guilty” It has some great techniques in how to handle such people. I know that reading it made a big difference to me.


#10

I saw a great bumper sticker on a rack one day, and just had to buy it. It’s now proudly on the back of my vehicle…

Yes, This is my Truck
NO, I won’t help you Move.

I’ve got tools, equipment, a couple of trailers, just a ton of “guy” stuff. Somehow my friends & neighbors seem to think they can pop over and borrow something on a whim.
I’ve got no problem lending out a tool or gadget, but after awhile I started writing down on a clipboard who borrowed what & when. After the 2nd time “borrowing” the same gadget I tell them NO. “You’ve used it twice, now it’s time to buy/rent your own.”

NO is not a dirty word. As mentioned it is a complete sentence in one word. If the other party requires an explanation/reason flat tell them that you just don’t want to do (whatever) it!

Manipulative types circle around a “helpful/friendly” type like buzzards over a carcass - usually with the same intent and level of respect. Don’t be carrion, show 'em you’re alive & can kick back.


#11

:smiley: Awwwwww…


#12

I’ll definitely look for it! I have really been working on saying “NO”. It’s tough for me! Yet, my plate is so full right now, that I have to start changing how I respond to the manipulators around me. Thanks!


#13

I laughed so hard reading this! What a visual! This sounds terrible, but that is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately----carrion!


#14

Everyone has given great advice here. Once these folks realize that you mean what you say, they will give up and go find someone else to torment.

Don’t explain yourself to them. There’s no need. They don’t want to know how you’re feeling (nor do they care); they just want one of two things: either for you to do whatever they want; or to have an ongoing fight. Don’t give them either.

I had a very manipulative neighbor once. She asked and borrowed and asked and borrowed until I began to really feel used. I tried half-hearted refusals:

“I would babysit your kids but I can’t because I have to go the store.” Guess what: that was met with “Oh that’s OK, I can wait til you get back- can you keep them then?” And so on. Any excuse I gave her, no problem, she had a way around it.

The final straw- she asked to borrow my car once (no one has ever asked me for my car before!) to take her husband to work because he’d lose his job if he didn’t make it and their car was not working.

I loaned her the car, against my better judgment. She kept it for four HOURS (she was only running him to work) and when I voiced my surprise— well she had some shopping and things to do. Not so much as an “I’m sorry.”

From then on, her requests (“can you watch my kids? can I borrow your blow dryer? can I…”) were met with a simple “I’m sorry, I can’t.” or “I’m sorry, it’s not a good time for me.” No further explanation. That way she couldn’t weasle around it.

(The blow dryer??? She’d borrow it, and the next morning at 5 am while I was getting ready for work I’d be standing there with a wet head and realize my dryer was next door!!! The last time I let her use it I marched over at 5:30 a.m. and rang the doorbell and got her up to ask for it back. She looked like she couldn’t believe I rang her bell at that hour).


#15

Hey girl! :wave: Just poppin’ in. Can’t add too much to the advice you’ve got so far. Stick to your guns! :thumbsup:


#16

hi Little Mary…so far I’m sticking to my guns. It’s getting less uncomfortable, and the abovementioned manipulators haven’t been at me in a couple of days.
It sort of gets me sick thinking about what they may come up with next!!:eek:


#17

Oh my! That would be terrible to have a neighbor like that!! At least my manipulators don’t live in my neighborhood! Yikes!~


#18

Just a tip for dealing with people generally. I think some saint, maybe St.Therese, used to do this, but it works for me. I ask my angel to have a word with their angel, not to get my way, but to smooth the path and make it easier to deal with people. Oddly, after a few years of doing this on my own, my pastor, fr. Rutler, recently suggested this to me in the Confessional.


#19

when it turns to harrassment consider legal means or the threat of legal means. I am serious.

for just general pain in the neckedness, send one email informing them why (in one sentence: “I will no longer be accepting yoru emails because they are abusive and offensive” and then block their emails, get caller ID and don’t answer their calls, do not give them the wedge to get to you. If you have to write them out of your life do it, I am talking about those toxic people who drain us of the will and energy to do our jobs, take care of our family, and help people who really need us.

get out of the mindset of “If I don’t help this person nobody else will” and work on knowing when to say “Eeets not my job, man”.


#20

wrong sentence
it should read
NO, I can’t do it.
no excuses, no explanations, no inlet for another question.
But why?
because it is not possible for me to do it.
Why
Because I can’t I’m sorry this discussion is over unless you would like to talk about the weather or the superbowl.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.