At first it feels like love ... then you start to notice something's wrong. Your guy is making your relationship the center of your world while also making your life unbearable. When things start to go sour you may try to fix it, but if your man is trying to manipulate you emotionally he won't let that happen.
Here are three signs he's doing just that:
A man who is trying to manipulate you will often attempt to alienate you from others. Isolation is a common way to gain control of another person and is the first step in many kinds of relationship abuse.
Your partner is trying to manipulate you if he is feeding you negative ideas about the other people in your life. People who support you and can potentially protect you from his influence are suddenly unworthy of your trust.
He will go to great lengths to poison you against your friends and family, hoping to convince you to only trust in him. If everyone else is out to get you, he can swoop in and be your knight in shining armor. He'll then assume the role of your sole protector and when he decides to attack your self-esteem or control your life, there won't be anyone around to protect you from him.
Manipulators want to get in your head. They exact control by using your psyche against you. Even if they never actually do any of the things they claim they're capable of, a man who is trying to manipulate you will use the constant threat of negative consequences to keep you from speaking up or fighting for freedom. The threat of arguments, destroyed property, losing your children, being kicked out or losing financial support are common tools of control.
Beware of statements like, "If you leave I'll take the kids and half your stuff, so you might as well stay." — It's the hallmark of a manipulator. But other warnings like, "If you tell anyone no one will believe you or help you," are also typical and damaging. A manipulator wants you to feel helpless and alone, and uses your own mind to do it.
Manipulators also threaten their own safety to keep partners chained to their chaos. A man will threaten to harm himself when he feels he's losing his grip on the relationship, or wants to reel his romantic interest in even further. This becomes a cycle of emotional blackmail, where you are made to feel responsible and guilty for whatever harm may come to your partner. Most likely this self-harm never happens ... But sometimes men will overindulge in drugs or alcohol (or physically hurt themselves) then blame you. This keeps you from trying to leave and gain back control of your own life. You let him lead to keep him safe while putting yourself in harm's way.
Manipulative men often start out charming and chivalrous. But this is all part of their game. Inevitably things go south because he wants to run the relationship his way. He doesn't believe in equality or partnership. He needs to create his own self-serving world and have you live in it.
The first signs of isolation, manipulation and control mean it's time to leave. Don't let his threats, warnings or empty promises stop you from protecting yourself. And never be afraid to ask for help getting out of a bad situation. You deserve better, and the people in your life who really love you will help you get it.