Tag Archives: self-esteem

Being Emotionally Manipulated: 101

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.

Hey! Fancy a Fuck?

I don’t know if I’m surprised or not. I mean, dating sites are easy ways to hook up aren’t they? But does any girl ever actually put out because a guy showed the slightest bit of interest and said ‘Hey’.

They always seem really surprised when I don’t literally fall to my knees, thankful for the attention and go get it on with a stranger that has literally said 5 words to me before insinuating a hook up, one would assume in the privacy of one of our homes, or perhaps they were thinking somewhere classy like a car park in the back of their old style corsa?

You meet a guy on the internet, a place where we all know is full of the insane, some in a nice way, some slightly more psychotic, many just plainly awkward, oblivious and/or slightly fucked up (raises hand). You barely exchange pleasantries let alone anything else, and invite them over to your place for a bit of action?

There was an article in the local papers recently about an ex-nurse who attempted to meet a girl off the internet. Fine, great, no big deal. He was intending to cannibalise her. He told her so, apparently. Strange she never showed, but the police did…

So, I’m more confident now than I ever have been I know my worth, it takes a little more than ‘Hey (babe/gorgeous/sexy..etc)’ to get me to throw caution out the window and drop my pants. Not much more, admittedly, we’ve all made drunken mistakes. But usually it takes attraction, rapport, humour, feeling safe/comfortable and/or a shitload of alcohol. ‘Hey babe’ just doesn’t really cut it, and I can’t see it ever will (but, never say never, right?).

There was one guy who I would normally have veered away from. Copied and pasted witty one liner opening – I figured he put in a little effort at least. After a couple of messages of witty banter and an explanation from him that he just wanted a bit of fun (meh, at least he was honest), he proceeded to send me pictures of his junk. Then ridiculed me when I refused to send photos of mine. Apparently that makes me ‘no fun’ and ‘boring’. Insults are always the best way to win a girl over apparently.

Being a fan of lectures these days, I gave him the honour of an education. Had this worked well for him before? No? Shocker. Here’s why not. I’m not just a vagina, fuckwit! His answer was ‘But I just wanted a bit of fun!’. Great, me too! Except I prefer to be viewed as a human being with a personality rather than literally a hole that’s a goal. Bless him *rolls eyes* He was educated in grammar school too. My grammar school. Standards have clearly slipped.

 

ask me xxx

So…online dating. You have a profile, it has information in it in the hopes of attracting a like-minded mate. You might pore over it, making sure it really reflects you as a person. You give a few of your likes and maybe dislikes (not too many of these though, you don’t want to be *that* person). Then you receive a message…exciting right??

“hi how r u”

OK, so…several problems with this. The grammar, or lack thereof. Txt spk – ‘nuff said. They clearly haven’t looked at your profile or if they have, they were too lazy to ask questions or attempt to make conversation based from the information you quite generously gave them to use in order to make it easier to connect. They’ve probably used the same message to contact every other person in their dating radius. Hell, they might have even lacked the energy to type for 3 seconds and instead copied and pasted the sentiment!

But let’s just for a moment ignore those glaring errors in dating etiquette and have a glimpse at their profile. You wouldn’t want to give up too easily, right? Give the guy the benefit of the doubt, right?

Interests
“ask me xxxx”

*headdesk*

Why do people use internet dating? It can be really daunting trying to generate conversation out of nothing when meeting in a bar, for instance. You could compliment their shirt, or hair, or maybe even the choice of drinks. You could start talking about the bar itself, and drop in that ever so corny line ‘Do you come here often?’. It’s difficult, unless you know something about that person.

Which is why internet dating should be so much easier. It doesn’t take much, just a couple of sentences about stuff you like, then it gives someone a chance to gauge whether you would be a good match or not, and it also allows the chance for your interest-related conversation to blossom!

I often wonder why people don’t seem to like filling in that section – is it arrogance? ‘My picture is enough to get interest’ (often, not the case). Do they really have no interests? I refuse to believe this is a possibility. Or is it based in low self-esteem?; ‘no-one wants to hear about me.’

Whatever the cause, I don’t give these profiles the time of day. They can’t be bothered to write a few lines about themselves, they can’t be bothered to ask any questions about my interests or even mention their own, and I can’t be bothered to pretend I’m really interested in them based on a picture.

Being Talked At: The Death of Conversation

“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That‘s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers rarely meet.” – Truman Capote

I’m inclined to agree. I have recently discovered that I seem to attract people that ‘talk at’ me than ‘talk to’ me. What do I mean by that? They monologue at me, my part of the conversation is non-existent. The point of me actually being there, being involved with this ‘conversation’ is negligible – I am literally there to hear what this other person has to say – they may as well be talking to themselves.

In conversation there should be give and take, questions and answers, turns taken in talking and listening; it doesn’t always have to be in equal parts. Information should generally be exchanged, commented upon and the conversation often ends up going in tangents onto other subjects as one party or another interjects with a related piece of information. You know how it goes.

Some previous articles on this phenomenon have called those people that talk at you as broadcasters, they monologue, like the villain in a movie. When in the grips of a ‘broadcaster’ you feel about as helpless as Mr Bond strapped to a table with a laser slowly inching towards his junk. There’s little you can do to stop a broadcaster from monologuing. They don’t care if you’re bored, they won’t pay attention to the fact you stopped listening half an hour ago, they won’t notice your eyes wandering, your hands fidgeting or even your attempts to interject with questions, comments or opinions of your own.

It’s impossible to have a conversation with a broadcaster, I’ve found. I have been dating a broadcaster for approximately two months; the amount of actual dialogues we’ve had can be counted on one hand. I wrongly assumed that this monologuing would subside, and conversations would be borne from the rants and we would get to know each other.

The broadcaster’s diatribes tend to be rather superficial; about interests, or hobbies, or things they want to advertise about themselves; never about the intimate details of their lives. If you’re lucky enough to share the interest the broadcaster enjoys rambling about, you might be able to enjoy their company. But it wouldn’t matter if you lacked enthusiasm; the ‘conversation’ would remain the same. Mostly, the speech is not altered for your lack of understanding on the subject.

If you feel the need to comment, several things could happen. The broadcaster could wait for you to finish speaking and continue with whatever they had to say before you had any input, clearly having not acknowledged your ‘part’ in the conversation, giving perhaps a small nod, ‘mm’ or ‘yeah’ before continuing what they were going to say before you rudely invaded their monologue. More often than not, they would begin to talk over you after you begin to speak. You could either stop and let them carry on, giving up on your attempt to interject an opinion or observation, or they could talk over you louder and louder until they have effectively drowned you out.

When I met this man that I’m dating I admired his passion about the interests we share, at first. I put his behaviour down to perhaps meeting someone who shared his interests, wanting to show off his knowledge a bit and mainly, down to nerves on the first few dates. As time wore on I started to realise that it’s incidental whether I was interested or not, and actually; this outgoing, confident, passionate man, was incredibly socially awkward and did not know how to carry out the give and take of a conversation. I empathised, being a little socially awkward myself, and waited it out to see the more we got to know of each other, the more he would relax and conversation and intimacy would blossom.

Two months later, after a lengthy dialogue with a friend of mine, I’m giving up. I still know little of him, and despite my occasionally getting to interject with some of my experiences, he knows nothing of me. All I can wonder is, what is my point in all this?

With some people it seems like bragging; I understand this, to a certain extent. When you discover something new and exciting you often love to share this new found whatever it is (a new boyfriend, a diet and exercise regime or a hobby for instance) and it can end up being a bore to your audience. I’ve done this on numerous occasions! But this doesn’t seem to fit the bill here.

With other people, it can come across much more as egocentrism; their monologues have a self aggrandising, narcissistic tone. It appears as if the role of the audience in this relationship is to affirm their opinions, massage their ego, laugh at their antics and admire their insight. It seems at first glance as a person who thinks a lot of themselves! However, I feel this ‘broadcasting’ is a sign of poor self-esteem, and certainly a sign of lacking self-awareness. A lot of these episodes seem to be seeking validation; validation that they are smart, that they are knowledgeable and that they are perceptive.

Perhaps this is why true conversations never come; perhaps the insights of the audience may be threatening to the broadcaster; the audience is not allowed a plinth in these monologues as it would undermine the broadcasters’ own observations, either because the audience came to the same conclusion as they did and the significance of their ideas and opinions are less noteworthy as a result, or because by disagreeing this renders their search for validation void.

It seems innocent enough, however…However, what about the psychological impact this type of behaviour has on the you, the audience? You do not have a part to play, you are the audience; a faceless mass, an observer. You could be anyone! If you speak, you are spoken, or indeed shouted over. Your comments are left unaddressed. You may have learned something from the monologue, but you would not have imparted anything. Your opinions are not worth hearing. You have nothing to say that is important enough to be heard. You are nothing.

It is most likely subconscious on the part of the broadcaster, but spend enough time with one without being heard, and you begin to feel belittled, and perhaps a little worthless. You add nothing to the relationship, after all. It’s a slow process of eroding the audiences’ self-esteem.