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How to Recover from a Relationship with a Manipulator

Spotting toxic people who manipulate others is not an easy task for many of us. These individuals operate in a covert manner and make their relationship partners feel as though they’re losing a grip on reality. Manipulative behaviours often take place in abusive relationships.

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Tactics utilized by toxic people often fly under the radar; they’re deceptive and intentional, yet presented indirectly. Here are some clues someone is manipulating you:

● I feel guilty when I have done nothing wrong.
● I feel pressured to do things or make decisions that make me uncomfortable.
● My partner/friend gossips about me to others but says it’s “concern.”
● I feel emotionally blackmailed to control my behaviour.
● My friend/partner does/says something awful and then says they had no idea it would hurt me.
● They buy me gifts and then make me feel guilty.

Manipulators have an arsenal of tactics; even seasoned professionals can be initially duped by them. Sometimes, you do things their way because they have “done so much for me,” and then realize you’ve been abused.

Toxic people can range from a parent to someone you just started dating. One thing is clear, once you realize you’re being manipulated, you must protect yourself.

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“Low Contact” or “No Contact”: Distance yourself from this person. Gaining insight into the dynamics of a toxic relationship requires physical and psychic distance from the offending person. Many victims of covert abuse begin by taking a low contact stance. Time spent with the manipulative person is reduced and spent on an as-required basis. Reduce visits or phone calls to once a week instead of every day. If established boundaries are crossed, then time spent together is further reduced — possibly once a month. If limiting the time spent with the other person is not helping, then it might be necessary to sever contact altogether. This is called going “No Contact” and can be an important step in your healing process.

Create firm boundaries and enforce them: Learn how to create firm boundaries and stop saying “yes” when you really mean “no.” This can be one of the hardest things to learn, especially if you grew up in a home where boundaries were not respected. Master manipulators cross boundaries because they are skilled at deception. These individuals will lie, deny, and stalk until they get what they want. To recover from this experience and avoid another toxic relationship, learn how to maintain strong personal boundaries and consistently work on those skills. Be able to say “No” and enforce that “No” without explaining or apologizing for yourself.

Get trauma therapy: Seek therapy from professionals who treat patients who have suffered from psychological trauma. You need the help of someone who knows how to treat patients who have suffered through psychological and emotional abuse. Many victims of abuse don’t realize the damage they have received, perhaps because they believe their abuser never physically abused them. You don’t need to be hit in order to suffer and survive abuse. Psychological and emotional abuse are just as important to address.

How to Recover from a Relationship with a Manipulator

York Region Psychological Services offers individualized counseling and therapeutic services to anyone who experiences psychological and/or emotional abuse. You are not alone. We want to hear your story and talk with you. Call us for help in Thornhill and Cedar Valley at (416) 602-3230 or email us at info@yrps.ca. Reach out and recover.