A genuine fear I had after I divorced my husband of 17 years was being sure to NOT pick the same type of man again. You know how they always say, “Oh, she has a type!” or “He’s always picks the crazy ones.” I didn’t want those scenarios to be me! After all of the shit I dealt with during my first marriage, the last thing I wanted was someone who was ego-centered, negative or possessive and jealous.
This man, my man, is nothing like that.
I was still seeing my counselor occasionally when Brandon and I first started dating. I expressed my fears of choosing the same type of man–I was kind of afraid my “picker” was broken. I remember specifically stating to my therapist, “It’s not like there’s a book on guaranteeing second marriages.” She quickly replied, “Actually, Lori, there is proof that marriages that are real and vulnerable–the kind of vulnerable where you can show someone your darkest sides or deepest fears, work. And from what you’ve told me, you’ve already shared that side of you with Brandon.”
She was right.
Through all of the growing I had done on my own after my divorce, I had learned to be open and vulnerable with Brandon. Because he made me feel safe. He made me want to be a better person, and if I had to break down and cry and tell him how scared I was before I could be a better person, I would do it.
Brandon wouldn’t try to fix me. He still doesn’t. But he listens.
He looks at life as an experience–not a contest.
He has a relationship with his parents–this is important.
He has a relationship with his children–this is more important.
He wants to protect me and care for me. I’ve never had someone be that person for me.
He doesn’t expect anything from me.
He looks at my children as if they’re his own and he feels their pain and their happiness.
He supports my goals, my dreams, and is proud of who I am.
He is nothing like my ex.
If you’ve been in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s very common to choose the same type of person again. Very. So if you’ve been there, how do you help yourself and how do you recognize if you’re falling for the same routine?
- Stay connected to family and friends. Manipulators like to get you away from loved ones and friends. If they have you all to themselves, your self-image is tied directly to them. You begin to feel happy when you do for them and sad when they tell you you’ve missed the mark–then you over-do to try to make it up. If you have a support system, you have other people who will help you to see that everything isn’t always your fault.
- ALWAYS work on your self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself, you’re less-likely to fall for their tactics. You’re also less likely to blame yourself or let the manipulator “label” you or put you down. A manipulator will try to get you to give up the things you love or that make you feel good. Again, they’ve got you right where they want you if you aren’t happy.
- Recognize when you feel shame or anxiety. When you are in a relationship, you shouldn’t feel shamed or anxious around your partner. If you feel “not good enough” or your partner is always angry or explosive around you, your response is to try harder to do better or to keep the waters calm. This is how they get you to do what they want.
Are you in a manipulative relationship?
Answer the following questions with a True or False.
- I sometimes feel confused about what my partner really wants.
- I feel that my partner frequently takes advantage of my giving nature.
- Even when I do something that pleases my partner, the positive feelings never last long.
- With my partner I feel that it’s hard just to be myself or do what I really want.
- Around my partner, I feel taken for granted.
- I seem to work harder on this relationship than my partner does.
- My partner has a very strong impact on what I think and feel.
- I sometimes feel that I am trapped in my relationship and there is no way out.
- I don’t feel as good about myself in my relationship as I once did.
- I feel that I need my partner more than my partner needs me.
- No matter how much I have done, I feel that it’s not good enough for my partner.
- I feel that my partner does not understand who I really am.
There are twelve questions in this quiz. If you answered more than half of them with True, you might want to consider exploring whether you are in a manipulative relationship.