If you’ve never been manipulated, you’re a very lucky person. Or oblivious. I’ve had several experiences of being manipulated, from a few different people. I’m a smart girl, I’m sure plenty of victims of manipulation are, so how the hell did it happen?
It’s pretty complicated, and yet so simple…
So, I’d known this guy for a long time. He had moved away, so we chatted online until circumstances brought him back home, to his parents. This is when things started to go downhill.
Sad thing is, he’s a nice guy. He’s an absolute charmer – aren’t all those pesky manipulators though? He’s confident to the point of arrogance, he’s ‘deep’, thoughtful, ridiculously intelligent and seems to have it all worked out. Somehow though, he’s also a massive, walking fuck up. This, to me, is an important part of the manipulation. He has so much potential, he just needs some nurturing and pointing in the right direction…right…
What I failed to realise is that he isn’t as much of a fuck up as he would’ve had me believe. He has all the skills he needs to get what we’re expected to want from life; a job we like, an income, supporting ourselves and society. It became more and more clear throughout the few weeks he imposed himself upon me, that he could get any of that, but he didn’t want it. He wanted the care-free life that many of us crave but aren’t sociopathic enough to get.
He was also an alcoholic, part of the fuck-uppery; it did exacerbate the manipulation, but it wasn’t the cause. I thought it was at the time, but thinking back, no, it was there before. He saw the nurturing side of me and used this alcoholism as a reason for me to look after him, and I put myself out much further than I would if he didn’t have this problem.
“I have nowhere else to go” was often his greeting at 11pm. “My dad would kill me if he saw me like this”, he would say, reeking of Special Brew and looking like he hadn‘t showered for a few days. I would agree, and in he would come, often keeping me up until well into the morning, past dawn, talking and listening to the same songs on you tube. Iggy Pop was a regular. His wide-eyed insanity and lack of inhibitions related to a cocktail of various psychotropic substances seemed to be something to be admired. Kansas’ ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ was outright banned, I simply couldn’t take it any more. Usually, he passed out drunk and I would then be too worried to sleep, often curling up in my chair next to the sofa where his comatose body lay, periodically checking that he was still breathing.
I enjoyed his company. I live on my own and despite being an introvert, I love having people to talk to, especially people that I don’t have to pretend around; I didn’t think I had to pretend around him. He was excellent at flattery and at first, my confidence sky-rocketed with him around. He would compliment my style, my strength as a person and my overall personality. He didn’t like a lot of people, but he loved spending time with me, because I was ‘Interesting’.
Nothing unpredictable really happens in my life either, and he brought that element of chaos; going for a walk and chat down the beach at 2am rather than going to bed and to sleep like a normal person generally does. Showing up on my doorstep at random times, making me alcoholic-by-proxy, having drunken rants and ridiculous conversations; he brought out my wild side, and I loved it. Until it started to affect my life, my real life.
He promised to make up for his fuck uppery, he’d take me rock climbing, take me out for a meal, he hoped that I was paying attention to how much he owed me, that he would pay me back, every penny. The promises became less and less; the meal wound up being a couple of bottles of wine and his company for an evening, and yet that was still too much. It was clear after a while he never had any intention of repaying my hospitality either financially or even by offering a solid friendship any more.
I’m not sure if he started to get lazy or I worked out that I was being manipulated, maybe a combination of both, but the end of the ‘friendship’ came after he didn’t bother showing up one day. We had previous talks about how this made me feel worthless; if you can’t make plans with someone, at least make a phone call, send a text, e-mail, face book message…communication isn’t exactly hard these days. But it carried on. We would make plans, he wouldn’t bother contacting me and wouldn’t bother showing up. The last straw for me was when this happened one day, I was beyond pissed, and I heard nothing from him. Until I sent him a message wishing him a happy birthday four days later. No apology, but contact was made. I asked him to make it up to me. He was far too busy, naturally.
It was at this point I think it fully dawned on me; I had my inklings that I was being manipulated before but whether I was having too much fun to care, or I was lonely, or I just didn’t want to accept it; I’m not sure. Possibly a fatal combination of all three, and a few more I haven’t thought of.
Some of the last words I said to him were along the lines of, if this situation was happening to a friend, I’d tell them to drop the dickhead, he is no friend. What kind of person takes you for all your worth and can’t even be arsed to pick up the phone if you can’t make it the half mile to see them? After all I’d done for him, the stress, the worry, the sleepless nights…
He didn’t take it well. The power he had in this relationship was over once I took control and said I wasn’t standing for it any more. It was an invigorating feeling, wrestling that power away from him. If you find yourself in the same situation, trust me, it might be heart wrenching at first; they sure as hell don’t make it easy for you. Why would they? You’re a metaphorical goldmine. But do it, the relief you feel once you’ve realised you’ve rid yourself of a sociopathic vampire is indescribable and more empowering than you could really believe.
I still half expect him to call me at 2am when he has ‘nowhere else to go’ or ‘needs a true friend’, but that bridge is well and truly burned. I know his true face now, you can’t unsee that level of disregard for your well-being, emotions and self worth.