Thought Catalog
May 15, 2017

8 Red Flags Your Boyfriend Is Micro-Manipulating You

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What is the issue?
Riccardo Fissore

Chances are if something doesn’t feel right in your relationship, there’s a pretty good reason. If you are being manipulated, you can begin to second guess yourself, without even realizing why.

Instead of second guessing what you are doing wrong in your relationship, you might want to make sure you are actually in the wrong first.

Even though we put blame on ourselves for many reasons, sometimes we don’t realize that we are blaming ourselves for someone else’s insecurities, and that is because they are manipulating our own.

Here are some tell-tale signs that your boyfriend is micro-manipulating you:

1. He controls your decisions.

It’s normal that when you are in a relationship your decisions change based on your partner, but think about why you are making certain choices. Is it because you don’t want to make your partner angry, or is it for the greater good of the relationship?

There is a fine line between making decisions together and having your decisions made for you. If you often find yourself cancelling plans with friends, not wearing certain clothing, or not getting that hair cut or tattoo that you wanted in order to please your partner, then you need to take a step back and decide what you are giving up for this person.

Some decisions may seem smaller than others so you take a few losses, but what starts as simply being told, “You look better with dark hair,” or “I don’t like that shirt on you, you should wear this one,” turns into a life you never wanted with the person who molded you into what he saw for his own life.

2. He embarrasses you in front of friends or family

Your friends or family might not say it to your face because they want to protect you, but if you feel like they’re worried about you, or they’re judging your partner, you may start to feel a sense of shame or embarrassment.

Maybe you bring your boyfriend around your friends and family a little less because you don’t want them to see what’s really going on behind closed doors. Or maybe they think everything is fine, but you’re nervous your boyfriend might get a little drunk at the family party and things will start coming out.

I will say this over and over again; if you’re boyfriend is getting in the way of your relationships with your friends and family, then he is manipulating you in ways you probably can’t even recognize. The loss of important relationships is not worth the price of an abusive relationship.

3. He makes you feel incompetent.

Manipulative people want you to believe you are weak, so they never have to give up their power over you. They might say things like, “What would you have done without me?” or use intimidation, guilt, or even threats against you so that you second guess yourself.

Your boyfriend might think he has to teach you something, or tell you that your way of doing something is wrong. But if it goes against what you believe in, then there are ways to work through things without giving in to what someone else tells you.

Sometimes, your boyfriend seems like he is doing something to support you; telling you that he just wants to help and make things easier. But that is only to hide the fact that he’s actually criticizing you and implying that you are unable to act, talk, or even think for yourself.

It is normal to want to help or support your partner, and sometimes we criticize the people we love. But if you just have a DIFFERENT way of doing things, and are constantly told it is wrong, then you are being deceived and manipulated.

4. He blames you for how he acts or feels

Funny how a manipulative person will make you feel incompetent, but then the second things are not going well for them, it’s all your fault. But regardless of what they tell you, you are not responsible for anyone else’s actions or feelings but your own. You may affect someone’s mood, but that doesn’t make you responsible for it.

Is it easy when someone is angry for them to say YOU made me feel this way, or this is happening because of YOU, but it is not okay for them to turn around and blame everything on you all the time, not taking responsibility for their actions and feelings.

Your boyfriend might say he doesn’t want you to come over anymore because you were being fussy, or he’s getting dinner with his friends instead of having the dinner you planned, because you put him in a bad mood.

If you start blaming yourself for his actions, and say you could have done something differently then please cut him out right now. I am telling you, there is nothing you could do differently. You are simply being manipulated into thinking you are the cause for someone else’s grief when you are not.

5. He points out your weaknesses and uses them against you.

Manipulative people have a super power where they are able to detect every single one of your weaknesses. And not only that, but they get high off the idea of controlling you with them.

It is NORMAL for a human being to have flaws, but when your boyfriend uses your flaws against you every chance he gets, then he is a deconstructive person and could be the source of your self-doubt.

If you are feeling insecure about something, you will obviously feel worse about it when someone points it out. Manipulative people can see that; they can feel that, and if they see an opportunity to get you to comply, they will take it, even if it means pointing out something you hate about yourself.

6. He asks you to give up something in order to serve his own best interests.

You want to go hang out with your family on the holidays? No. You want to take a vacation with your friends to get away for a while? Not happening. You want to move because it’s a big step in your career? No conversation will be had. But any time your partner wants to do something, do you go out of your way to at least try to talk about it and make things work?

If someone is doing something that only serves themselves all the time, then they are not committed to your best interests, or your well-being. Sometimes people have to give things up to make their relationship work, but giving up a part of who you are just to comply with your significant other? That’s not the same thing.

7. He has difficulty handling emotions.

If you are getting emotional for the way you have been treated, ESPECIALLY in an abusive and manipulative relationship then you are not wrong. You partner should come to your aide, or at least recognize that you are not your best self, and that there is room for improvement.

If your significant other is contributing to what is causing you pain, but they are unsure of how to handle it, or worse, ignoring it, then you need someone who can take care of you, even if that means just taking a while to take care of yourself.

There is no harm in feeling sorry for yourself every so often. We are all human, and sometimes we need a break. Emotions help reconnect our minds with our souls, but difficulty in recognizing and handling those emotions can cause us to break down.

If your boyfriend doesn’t understand the significance of emotions, and resists them rather than accepts them, then he is manipulating you into ignoring your own.

8. He makes you question your own sanity.

I will put this as simply as I can: there is a difference between questioning your own sanity, and actually going insane.

We ALL question ourselves. It is normal to reflect and wonder if we are making good decisions and doing what is right. It is normal to take a look at how we are affecting people and try to recognize areas for growth.

Manipulative people don’t do that.

They never take a look at themselves. Instead they look for ways out of their insanity, completely missing the fact that it only exists inside of them. They point fingers. They place blame. And if you let them, they will cause you to second guess every single thing you believe in.

If your significant other is guilty of any of these red flags, then you need to keep your distance from them, whatever that takes. I know it is hard, because they have forced you to believe that you are nothing without them, but I promise you, you will be so much more once they exit your life.

This is NOT what real love looks like, regardless of what you’ve been told. Real love is accepting, forgiving, and makes you feel complete on your own. There is someone out there who will make you feel that way, even if your partner makes you feel like things are as good as they can get.

Regardless of what your boyfriend has told you, someone else WILL love you, someone else WILL treat you well, and plenty of people out there WILL be there for you even when you feel alone.

All you have to do is recognize that, and I promise you will be in control of your own life again. TC mark

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