If you have ever met or encountered someone who is manipulative you will know the kind of personality I am speaking about. This type of behavior is a well-described psychological disorder. These personalities are generally aggressive and narcissistic. As a rule they use people for their own advantage and care very little about relationships. Their aim in life is to get what they want and they don’t care how they achieve their goal. Of course the word selfish seems to describe this type of person quite accurately.
In my view manipulative relationships are toxic and generally have no future. I have seen the harm these types of people bring to a marriage and I have also seen how draining they can be on friendships. We all need to be wary of these types of relationships and ensure that we avoid them or that we handle them with real caution. The Bible is full of stories of people who are manipulative. The word may not be used in the text, but the patterns of behavior are obvious for all to see. If you read 1 Kings 21 you will see how Jezebel manipulates circumstances for her and Ahab’s benefit, but eventually they pay a price for their controlling behavior.
Here are some points you need to consider in your relationship with a manipulator:
· You deserve to be treated respectfully: Do not allow a person to walk roughshod over you. That is not the biblical image of humility. We are all made in the image of God and we should treat other people with respect, but we should also recognize that we deserve respect.
· You should be allowed to express your own feelings: Your opinion also matters. No relationship should ever be about one person. If your feelings are not taken into account then you can know that the relationship you are in is headed downwards. If you cannot express your own heart then there is a problem!
· You need to set your own priorities: Remember this is your life. Just as you respect others so you must respect yourself. You cannot have someone set the priorities of your life for you.
· You must learn to say no: If something makes you uncomfortable, or is outside of your realm of expertise then you can and should say ‘no!’ If you cannot say ‘no’ to a person then you know the relationship you are in is a one-way street and it is heading nowhere.
· You can express your own opinion: Your opinion does matter and you should be able to express how and what you think.
· You have the right to protect yourself: You should not feel threatened in any way and you should ensure that you protect yourself from all forms of abuse. Manipulation can be emotional, physical or mental – you must protect yourself from all these types of abuse. Don’t allow it!
We have probably all tried a bit of manipulating at some time in our lives. However, I am certain you understand that I am talking about people with personality disorders. You can quickly detect these types of people by identifying aggression, (sometimes passive aggression is even worse) narcissism (love for self) and obsessive selfishness. We need to pray for these people, but we do not have to succumb to their toxic ways. Remember, you are made in God’s image and He loves you and you should love yourself. Of course, I don’t mean love in a prideful or in the narcissistic way that I have been describing in manipulators, but in a good and wholesome way. So if you are in a relationship that is toxic and manipulative please take time to reflect on what I have shared. And above all else, let each one of us ensure that we will never ever use manipulative tactics in our relationships with others.
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,