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How to Spot and Stop Manipulative Behavior

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, there is a chance that they are using manipulative behavior to get their needs met.  Recognizing and addressing this behavior is essential in loving them the way they need, though that may not be how they want love.  The more aware and proactive you are in loving them, the greater their chance for recognizing their need for help and rehabilitation.

People use manipulative behavior for one primary reason: to get their needs met. They feel they must be manipulative in order to take care of themselves because they believe that they cannot rely on anyone else.  Whether it is to get their next fix or cover their tracks, in their mind, self-protection and power is key in order to maintain control of their situation.  This is done at the expense of everyone else.

How can you spot manipulation? Here are some things to look for:

  • They always wait for you to talk first. Here, they are trying to learn your weaknesses to be used against you later.
  • They use charm to get things accomplished.
  • They utilize coercive behavior to get what they want. They use phrases like “I won’t do this until you do _____”
  • They misconstrue facts and resort to lying.
  • They have a victim mentality and blame their circumstances or other people for their problems.
  • This is a regular pattern of behavior. All people use manipulation at times, but manipulative people primarily operate out of this mindset to get what they want.

Once you’ve recognized manipulative behavior, it is important to not give into their tactics and see it for what it is. Here are some practical ways to engage your loved one without allowing them to control and manipulate the situation.

  • Know that it is okay (and a good thing!) to say “NO”. Though you should be polite in saying no, do not feel guilty for doing so.
  • Create healthy boundaries and enforce them with consistency.
  • Avoid blaming yourself, and do not let them make you feel inadequate. You are not the problem.
  • Be assertive. If you sense that facts are being twisted, say so. And if they are guilt tripping you by saying, “You never care about me”, etc., respond by saying, “I do care, remember when I cared for you by doing ___________?

Because this is someone that you care about, it may seem harsh to be so firm and upfront with them. Realize that by cutting off their manipulative behavior, you are ultimately loving them in hopes that they realize what they are doing.  Be consistent in the way you love them, and encourage others to do the same.

If you would like to speak with a treatment specialist, call us today at (888) 507-1355. It is easy to feel alone in this process, but we would like to connect you with resources in order to better cope with your loved one’s addiction.  Perhaps a drug intervention or assessment will be the first real step towards recovery.