Manipulative Relationships

All of us, at some point in our lives, have been in a manipulative relationship. We were either the victims of manipulation or the perpetrators. Some of our friends pointed out that the relationship is toxic and that you are either a perpetrator or a victim of manipulation. Manipulation does not happen only in romantic relationships but in marriages and with our friends, family, or work. Manipulation is the skilful way of making someone do what you want without regard for their feelings, desires, opinions or what the outcome might mean to them. Manipulators are driven by selfishness. It is always about them, about what they want, and they must get it.

You can call manipulators machiavallist -These are people who have a personality that denotes cunningness, the ability to be manipulative, and the drive to use whatever means necessary to gain power or have their will done. Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian philosopher who lived during the renaissance, the age of reason (14th C.). In his famous book The Prince, he advocated for the use of treachery, deception and crime when you want to ascend in politics. He is even quoted in the same book to excuse leaders who use violence in establishing a republic if the outcome of the violence is beneficial. His thinking is basically saying that the process is not important. The result is.

In the Bible, we see Rebecca and Jacob manipulating their way to blessing against Ishmael. Their concern at that moment was selfish by nature and design. Therefore, according to Machiavellism, they should be excused from their actions. But that is not so with God; every act of sin, regardless of the outcome, must and should be punished even if the result turns out to be good (Romans 3:5-8). 

How do you know you are in a manipulative relationship? Here are some signs that you are a victim of manipulation and how to deal with them as a Christian.

1.Guilt-tripping.

This is when all the time anything happens, you are the one to blame. And if something doesn’t happen as s/he wants, s/he will always remind you of your former mistakes so that you do as s/he wants. So you always feel guilty and want to make it up to them.

Now, if it is God whom you have wronged more than anyone, and he says he doesn’t hold it against you when you believe in his son, why would you let man guilt trip you (Romans 8:1)?

2.Using your insecurities (Ezekiel 34:4)

Sometimes it’s about your looks, economic status, self-esteem, past failure, or even traumatic experiences you had. They always make you feel less of a person than who they are. Here is where you always feel like you owe them so much, and they are doing you a favour to be with them.  

God loves you with all your weakness, and he calls you to be part of His kingdom; remind yourself that God won’t judge your insecurities, but he will use them for his glory. In our weakness, his grace becomes sufficient, and his power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9-12).

3.Telling a lie or twisting reality (Proverbs 21:6; 12:22)

Remember, the goal of manipulators is to get what they want. They are easy to not only hide information but to fix it in their favour. They do this to confuse you and play victims so that they seek sympathy. When they see you are sympathetic with them, they twist and turn you are as they wish. 

Unlike the manipulator, God delights in the truth (Proverbs 12:22). He wants you to know the truth about yourself and the truth about him. That is why he gave us the Bible. The truth from God sets us apart (John 17:17), sets us free (John8:32). Remember, when someone is lying, he is talking the language of his father, the devil and the truth is not in him (John 8:44; 1 John 2:4). 

4.Diminishing your issues (Philippians 2:3)

They make your experience look lesser than theirs. If you lose someone, they will want to make you feel like your loss is nothing compared to what they have lost. They love invalidating your problems or your situations. By doing so, they make you see them as the victims of circumstances, and you are making a mountain of a molehill

Whatever you are feeling or going through is valid. However, it is nothing compared to other people’s experiences or feelings. Jesus cared for our everyday needs. From healing fever to raising the dead. From commanding the fig tree never to bear fruit to calming a storm on the sea. In God’s eyes, Jesus is sympathising with your weakness since in every way he suffered as you are suffering. Trust him and don’t feel bad to raise your issues, especially to him, so that you might obtain grace and mercy (Hebrew 4:15).  

5. Gas-lighting (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Making you question your perception of reality so that you feel stupid to the extent that it will make you look bad and a lunatic. Making you question your emotions or intelligence. They do this by creating false situations. They run this narrative to you; that you are crazy or losing your mind. For example, to confirm that you are a lunatic, they might let you inside the house, and if you closed the door behind you, they will open it and then accuse you of forgetting. And if you stand your ground on that, they will tell you it is a small matter, and you are acting crazy. The goal is to make you see them as over intelligent, and therefore you need them, with even mundane things.

Cursed is the man who puts his trust in men (Jeremiah 17:5). You only want to trust in God. Avoid any situation that makes you feel dependant on one person. We know that only God has a good plan for us; his plan is for our prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11). His plans are pleasurable and good (Romans 12:2). Run from such a relationship since it will make you trust in the flesh and draws your heart from trusting in God.

6.Over complementing/ sweet-talking/ flattery (Proverbs 29:5)

They tend to be so flirty with their words. This makes you lower your self-defence and so pushing you to do what they want. 

Someone who loves you will not always get you to the point you are self-absorbed. Flattery makes you over qualify yourself. God wants you to remember who you are in the light of who he says you are, not what people say. Jesus was not into flattery. Instead, he spoke the truth in love, even if it meant people were leaving him. The devil tried to use flattery words with Jesus on his second temptation, “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:5), but Jesus did not let those flirtatious words get to his head. He knew who he was and needed not to prove it to anyone. 

7.Complaining about you or shifting criterion of what they want (James 5:9)

They don’t have standards, and there is nothing good you will ever do to them. They are always uncertified with what you do, no matter how hard you try. But they are always making you see how they have gone far and beyond whenever they do something. They can publish it in newspapers if they could. You might have done so much good stuff, but when a manipulator does one good act. He blows the horn so hard and so loud that you feel like you’ve never done anything good for them.

God did not put us on earth to seek to please fellow humans. Therefore, they will not be satisfied with all that we do. But in everything we do, whether eating or drinking, we do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our aim is not to seek the praise and acceptance of men but only of God (Galatians 1:10).

8.Throwing tantrums/toddlerhood (Judges 14:16-17)

Especially when you stand your ground, they cannot be reasoned with because they are always certain. They may call you names, they may accuse you of not loving or caring for them, and they may be physical, cry, deny you something or even refuse to eat. Their goal is to cave you in so that you will do as they demand. 

Conclusion

Manipulators seek to control and cause you to do everything that is in their favour. At its extreme level, it can give birth to narcism. Manipulators are like witches who seek to control your will and make you believe that you are the one in charge. Manipulation is a sin. Suppose you are in such a relationship. It might be with a friend, lover, parent or employer. Whatever the relationship is, know that you need to run from it or, in love, speak to the perpetrator about it (That is, if your relationship allows). Seek the help of a Christian councillor if you are married. Suppose you are a manipulator and do the above. In that case, you need help, first by repenting your sin and ask your victim for forgiveness. Then, break that relationship for their good and seek help and accountability from a Christian friend. Would you please reach out to us if you need help in this area?

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