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Look for a Cooperative, Not Coercive, Lover

By Claire Aldrich

Relationships are tricky, and so are the people we get involved with. Some of us whine and complain to get what we want. Some of us simply tell our partners what we desire and expect. Some of us express our feelings in temper tantrums. And some of us are far too good at manipulating the people in our lives to make them do what we want.

How do you know if you’re being manipulated? It’s often much easier to recognize after the fact rather than in the throes of the experience.

Recognizing the Game
Example: You’re having a lovely evening at your sweetheart’s house, and he attentively refills your wineglass throughout the night. When you make noises about going home, he warns that you shouldn’t drive after drinking so much. You know he’s right.

But you hesitate because you haven’t slept together and you aren’t yet ready for that move. He suggests you sleep in his bed and that he sleeps on the couch. He says, “I don’t want to worry about you driving home. You’ll be safer here.” Safe--that’s what you want. So you decide it’s the best thing to stay over. You’re an adult and can handle yourself, after all.

Then as you borrow his toothbrush and are doing that bedtime ritual together, he starts voicing some doubts. He’s not sure if he has any extra blankets for the sofa.... The last time he slept on the sofa, he had a stiff neck for a week.... The dog begs to go out all night long if someone is out in the living room with him.... And so on....

So out of politeness, you offer that it’s okay if you both sleep in the bed. But you reiterate that you’re not ready for the most intimate act yet. He insists that he understands and thanks you for being willing to share the bed.

Then when you get in bed, he leans over to kiss you goodnight, and lingers, turning things to a more passionate tone. You respond, and one thing naturally leads to another.

Immediately after, bedder’s remorse sinks in. You feel confused about how that happened.

Hello! It happened because he manipulated you, and you let him.

Similar situations happen with women in the lead as master manipulators. Through flattery and a “woe is me” attitude, she sneakily gets you to buy her a luxurious present or take her to a very expensive dinner, even though you know you can’t afford it. Then sucker’s remorse sets in.

Recognizing the Signals
Master manipulators are everywhere. You just have to pay attention to your instincts and that sick feeling in your stomach when you’re being tempted or pressured to do something you aren’t comfortable with.

The people that you want to build a relationship with are not going to play those games; they’re going to respect your feelings and let you make up your own mind.

When you start to feel manipulated, remember the phrase “mind over matter.” If you truly matter to your sweetheart, he or she won’t mind if you differ on views sometimes. So don’t let things get twisted...set your sweetie straight.

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