A few more characteristics of Lifestyle Manipulators are particularly important: they help us understand how to exert enough power to get out of manipulative situations. Keep in mind: The Lifestyle Manipulator is only as powerful as a 3–4-year-old child, or as powerful as we allow!
More from Chapter Six
“Believe in Action Only”
“Because the adults in a child’s life have not confronted and dealt with manipulative behaviors, he grows up to be a Lifestyle Manipulator who has a long history of having people request a change in behavior but not setting the boundaries or exerting the power to actually stop the draining behavior. This means that most Lifestyle Manipulators
- believe their behavior cannot be seen
- believe they cannot be stopped
- believe in action only”
“They do not expect others to take action.”
For example, from our history…
“In 1987, US presidential candidate Gary Hart, in an interview that appeared in New York
Times Magazine responded to rumors of his womanizing by saying: “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’d be very bored.”[i] Clearly, he did not expect anyone to take action on this. The media did. With photographs and prose, it was revealed that he had spent the weekend on a boat with a woman, Donna Rice, who was not his wife. It was a revelation that began Hart’s downhill slide and ended his run for the United States presidency….”
Why would Hart throw out such a challenge when he knew he was culpable?
“My contention is that he had hardly ever been caught or exposed as a manipulator in his life up to that point…. He initially attempted to deny it. Only when the media showed definitive proof did Hart admit to his indiscretion. If you have a Lifestyle Manipulator in your life, be prepared to stop talking about what you would like to have different. Instead, take action….”
“One of the most widely held false beliefs we human beings have is that we can actually
control things! …. Nowhere is this more aptly demonstrated than in manipulation, where one of the personality traits is controlling. Why is controlling behavior so prevalent in manipulation?”
“…. the way we get energy from others through the manipulative process is that we put a little bit of energy into other people, so they return to us a larger amount of the energy we believe we need.”
“There are two practical problems with a system like this.
- People do not always make themselves available at the time, in the place, or to the extent that we need them to. This puts the Lifestyle Manipulator in the position of not always being able to get the energy that he needs….
- Not only does the agent not place the same value on the manipulator’s needs but also the agent—like any broker—takes a percentage of the energy for himself….”
“But…. the Lifestyle Manipulator needs his agents to respond, be in the right place, and have the right attitude to give him energy. This leads to the manipulator’s controlling behaviors.”
“Only Believes and Responds to Person in Authority”
“As a marriage and family therapist for half a century, I have been privy to lots of couples going through divorce. Especially in cases that are being bitterly contested, one estranged partner may refuse to cooperate…. Only when the situation is decided by a judge—a person who has authority—will that person cooperate (even then, often not without a fight) ….”
“In one divorce case, things dragged on for nearly three years. One of the parties was obfuscating. The judge, not wanting to take the time to find out who was doing what, ordered both parties to pay a $500 fine for taking up too much of the court’s time. One party paid the $500; the one who was obfuscating refused…. in this case, the judge did not enforce his own ruling. The obfuscating partner died about 5 years later, with the $500 still unpaid.”
“If you believe you are dealing with a Lifestyle Manipulator, save your breath…. go directly for authority. It may not work perfectly, but it is bound to save you a lot of time and frustration.”
“When I take responsibility, then I separate from others. Taking responsibility for decisions or actions is too scary for a Lifestyle Manipulator because it separates him from the people with whom he desperately needs to stay connected…. “
“…. If there is no person to blame, then “circumstances” or “fate” are to blame…. the purpose is to keep everyone safely connected, regardless of who or what takes the blame.”
“Quick Reattachment To ‘Energy Broker’”
“We see this characteristic in operation frequently, but usually do not identify it as a sign of co-dependence…. Look at a married couple, when one of the partners has an affair.”
“Something in the marriage is not working right. As adults, the two people sit down and work to figure out what that is, correcting all that they can. If they can’t fix it, they call it quits.”
“In manipulative relationships…. people put their heads down and refuse to look. Instead of facing the difficulties of the marriage, one (or both) of the partners has an affair.”
“The problems in the relationship foreshadow the loss of the other person as agent. Since the Lifestyle Manipulator believes he cannot survive without attachment to an agent, a new agent needs to be found—quickly. Having an affair gives the Lifestyle Manipulator security because he lives with a foot in two relationships. If the marriage works out, he needs merely to step back into the marriage. If the marriage ends, he needs merely to step into the new relationship. Never a moment alone.”
Next time, we’ll identify Passive and Aggressive ways people manipulate. Let’s see how the manipulative system works before we step out!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.