Thought Catalog
February 17, 2017

Don’t Be That Asshole Who Manipulates People

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Today, I promised myself that I would complete my grad school application. Lol. Here I am. But WordPress is so much more funnn!!!

So, I hope Georgetown University is the next chapter in my book. A “Public Relations and Corporate Communications” Master’s degree wouldn’t look so bad hanging on the wall of my future office. This degree could also be titled, “The Art of Storytelling and Manipulating Perceptions.”  It sounds evil, and back in college my liberal professors would label it as just that, evil (s/o to Set Jhally, the O.G. GOAT).

Yet, I find the field to be equally as fascinating.

I opened my personal statement to Georgetown with a testament about myself. Because you all know how much I luvvvvv talking about mahself!!!

One could say that I’m a decent story teller. This part of my identity dates back to grade school. I can picture myself now: running through the front door of my childhood home in my light up sneakers, hair matted, embellishing the story of how I managed to cover my new white pants in grass stains, or how Johnny from class schemed to take the last cheesy bagel at lunch because he had a ginormous crush on me. It was impressive how the mind of a 10 year old could turn any seemingly insignificant encounter into a life-changing, outrageous,  “MOM, the CRAZIEST thing happened at school today!!!” ordeal. I saw life through my own creative lens and always had an innate ability to share it with people in an entertaining way. Am I attempting to place a prolific mask on what some may call a “drama queen?” Never.

I tried to find a creative way to draw Georgetown admissions in. I wanted to showcase my writing abilities without listing my credentials in a less-than-exciting format.

Figuring out what I wanted to study in college was a no-brainer. I hated solving for “x” almost as much as I hated “joules” that didn’t have anything to do with the necklace I wanted my ex-boyfriend to buy me for Christmas. After a quick process of elimination, “Communication” had my name written all over it.

~~I’m so funny and clever!!!~~

…And then there’s my Tinder profile:

Boston-area suburbanite who decided to pack up and move her life to DC.

Fast forward 18 months of living in the District and I have yet to visit the top of the Washington Monument and am not entirely sure how to work my French press (which apparently is a huge thing here?) Sarcastic sense of humor and laid-back persona. Hobbies? Chatting with strangers, photographing my sub-par cooking abilities, and blogging about my first world problems. Turn ons: men who use proper grammar, listen to podcasts, and tip 25%.

~~Date me!! I’m cool AF!!~~

I sound like a sort-of funny hilarious and semi-self-assured confident kinda gal. I didn’t talk about the rough week I had, or the self-doubt that has crept up on me the past few months. I won’t mention the dude I was sorta seeing who royally fucked me over, the breakdowns, the inevitable fear of mediocrity, or the amount of times I fail to listen to my own sound advice. There are countless times where I find myself feeling emotionally unstable and putting my self-worth into the hands of others while losing faith in my ability to be extraordinary.

It’s normal, and it’s me, but it’s not how I want you to see me. You’re supposed to accept me on a full scholarship and swipe right too!!!!

Not to label myself as fake, but there’s no way in hell that I would respond to a Georgetown admissions officer the same way that I would respond to a Tinder message (which is usually no response at all lolz). We change personas constantly which is sorta fucked up but also necessary at times to get by.

Like, right now, I’m writing this blog post as Beth, the blogger. While I try to stay true to myself in every post, there are times where I sound far more knowledgeable and stable than I actually am. I know my audience, and I know what I have to say to keep you around. *evil laughs* Again, sorta manipulative and sorta fucked up. But, it’s never with malicious intentions, I swear!

I’ve been manipulated by countless people in my life. You know, used for personal gain or to fill some type of void or insecurity the other person has within themselves. I’m generally a nice person and often think it’s my “duty” to fix broken people. So, as you can assume, that shit gets me into trouble. I’d like to think that I help people out through tough times. I’ve been told I have “positive energy” that’s easy to feed off of. I like helping people. Correction, **good people**

But then there’s the assholes who just see me as a doormat, and that’s no fun.

I’m hyper-aware of emotionally manipulative and abusive tactics given my own personal history with it, but it doesn’t mean I’m immune to it.

The art of manipulation isn’t always with painted with malevolence, but when it is, what do you do?

In my experience, it’s usually the broken people who manipulate with malicious intentions. The people who cover their insecurities and emptiness with band-aids, never doing anything to actually heal themselves. In turn, they feed off of perfectly good people to help them out temporarily. Or, worse, people who are equally as broken. Woof.

The art of manipulation isn’t always with painted with malevolent brush strokes, but when it is, what do you do?

I found myself attempting to answer this question not too long ago. I had yet again, found myself wrapped up in something that left me feeling weak, small, and naive; feelings I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I tried to justify the actions of the perpetrator, labeling him as “broken and lost” and started labeling myself as the “positive influence” in his life.

I wanted to fix him.

He came to me for advice, guidance, and support, which was a nice feeling. However, my life was never important to him, despite his continued assurance that it was. Yet, I found comfort in the fact that I was helping him…for a while any way.

Essentially, I was his doormat. His band-aid.

I knew I meant something to him, but it was never defined. A “How are you?” never meant “Tell me what’s going on in your life.” It was more like, “Can I tell you about my day? I have no one else to share it with.” He was seemingly genuine enough to keep around, but I never let myself fall too hard, even when he told me he was falling for me.

He knew what words to draw me in, how to spin any story to maintain some level of trust even if it was minimal. He knew his audience, of one (me), and what to say to keep me engaged, or rather, how to keep me at his disposal.

The media manipulates. Your favorite brand of sneakers manipulate. As consumers, we all fall victim to manipulation every day which we usually pass off as “just life,” thus, remain comfortable bystanders to it.

Is there a difference between brand to consumer manipulation and human to human manipulation?

Maybe not, but one hurts far more than the other. One is more tangible, more real. One is more prone to leave victims contemplating their competence and self-worth. One has the ability to inflict physical, emotional, and mental damage.

One is abusive, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

I didn’t create this blog to be a bystander.  Although my voice may be small, I understand my readers often turn to this page for comfort. I may “manipulate” my content to some degree, but I manipulate with the hopes of helping, not hurting.

I don’t have all the answers, my brain is not always screwed on as tight as it may sound at times. I have always been one to act on my emotions over rational thoughts. I tell my readers to do one thing, and then do something completely different myself.

I tell Georgetown I’m so sure of myself and my abilities, and then find myself questioning if I’ll ever make it to where I want to be.

I’m a repeat-mistake offender. “WTF, Beth?” goes through my head many times day. I know when something (or someone) is not right for me, but I’ll pursue it anyways with the hopes of turning it into something more positive. It’s not always smart, but it’s how I choose to live my life.

I will never judge women (or men) who fall victim to these types of manipulative relationships. It doesn’t make you less of a person for settling for less than you deserve. It’s life. It’s choices we make and grow from. We’re told “never to settle,” but what happens if you do? Who are we to judge?

I won’t tell you to stop settling for less than you deserve, because quite honestly, there will come a time in your life where you will. And that’s OK. I hope you don’t get stuck there for too long because there is always something (or someone) better out there. But you know that.

I will tell you to take something from these experiences and the next time you make the same mistake (which you probably will), be proactive about it. You don’t have to write a blog post, but try to gain a new perspective on it. Draw inspiration from it. Literally, or figuratively.

Understand that manipulation is an integral part of being human. All kinds of manipulation are man-made to some degree, however, that doesn’t mean it’s all acceptable. We manipulate to get what we want out of a certain situation, but you should never do it at the expense of someone else’s self-worth. Don’t we learn this shit in preschool? Apparently not everyone does.

Like, for example, I manipulate because I’m just tryna get into grad school or land a Tinder date with the hot guy from Denver. Harmless, right? I’d like to think is.

However, when you find yourself attempting to justify the actions of others at the expense of your own sanity and worth is where the problem lies. When you know you’re falling victim to abusive manipulation, but feel as though you’re too weak to move on. Too small to stand up. Too far deep to see any real end to it. When you smile and say “I love you, too,” because you feel like you have to, not because you want to. When you tell yourself “this is the last time,” very well knowing it’s not, and they won’t let it be either.

When you start to identify yourself as someone less than who you are is when you need to walk away. When manipulation becomes more harmful than harmless is when you need to stand up.

Don’t be the asshole manipulator because nobody likes the asshole manipulator. Fix yourself before you break yourself. Or I break you. Whichever comes first. TC mark