Feelings can be manipulated

Not only the great love can be damaged, also the relationship with parents, grandparents and children or the solidarity with friends. Why is it that something breaks that should belong together? Emotional manipulation can be one of the reasons relationships fail.

People are connected to one another in a relationship system. This can be the family of origin, the partnership, a working relationship or a friendship. It can fail if the relationship gets out of balance due to emotional manipulation, also known as psychological play. Emotional manipulation means consciously or unconsciously making the other person feel guilty with subtle reproaches, delaying tactics or withdrawal of love - practically punishing him or her and thus burdening him with strong negative feelings. Everyday sentences like these are typical for this:

"If you really loved me, you wouldn't do that."
"I do so much for you - and what do you do?"

Emotional dependency on both sides

People who are manipulated feel under pressure ("suppressed"): They often feel guilty and are consequently restricted in their freedom of choice. They strive for harmony in order to stabilize the relationship again - by giving in, giving in, quickly fulfilling a need of the other person or simply wanting to "function properly". You do this out of fear of rejection and in the belief that you will otherwise lose love or affection. It is harder for them to say no, but easier not to give importance to their own desires and needs.

Even people who manipulate are under emotional pressure - rather, suffering: by shifting the responsibility for fulfilling their needs to others, they are usually frustrated and disappointed because they have to experience the painful experience of not getting what from those around them they wish. The focus is on their own well-being, without taking other people's feelings into account.

But why do people even use manipulation? They act this way because there is obviously no other avenue available to them: adult communication. They are unable to clearly articulate their real needs. That is why they resort to other ways of satisfying their needs - and in this way make themselves a victim. As a rule, the manipulations are based on unconscious behavior patterns learned in childhood. Because many people experience from an early age that there is a connection between their behavior and the feelings of others:

"If you do that, you'll make mom sad."
"Because you still haven't done that, Dad has to get angry."
"Grandma will be disappointed if you don't visit her."

In fact, there is an emotional dependency in both directions, technically referred to as "relationship brackets": "I want you ...!" Or "As long as you ..., I will ...!" Are then appropriate expressions in adulthood. When people make their well-being dependent on the behavior of others, there is hardly any personal responsibility involved. Instead of dealing with their own unpleasant feelings, they often try, often almost obsessively, to manipulate the other so that he changes his behavior. This can be seen in the fact that they develop strategies so that the other person does what they want.

One would like to change the other - while at the same time refusing to change oneself! Those who make themselves unfree in this way make themselves even more uncomfortable and are caught in the spiral of their manipulations. In order to achieve a kind of satisfaction, he becomes increasingly necessary to manipulate the other person. This bracketing has major disadvantages:

  1. You give up part of your self-determination. However, someone is self-determined who - in the truest sense of the word - determines their dependencies themselves.
  2. You create resistance and withdrawal in the other person because they feel that they "should" do something.
  3. One relies on means of satisfaction instead of taking responsibility for one's own needs.
  4. You lose the confidence that others are there for you gladly or voluntarily and that you respond to your own wishes.

A person who deals independently with his needs lives much more freely than a person who remains in his avoidance system for a lifetime. Who pursues his need avoidance impulses - and is thus dependent on the reactions of his environment.

Ways out of the mind game among adults

  • The first step is for both sides to recognize and become aware of the drama. It is important to learn how to give up their victim attitude and take responsibility for their own wishes and needs. It is advisable to research with professional support which internal conflicts prevent you from being able to express your feelings and emotional needs clearly.
  • For the manipulator this means taking responsibility for himself: if he wants to be seen, heard or loved, he has to show himself with his wish. He cannot expect the other to “do something” on his own initiative. He has to stop blaming other people for his feelings.
  • For the manipulated, this in turn means defending themselves against such mind games and getting out of the toxic bracing. He has to learn to become more sensitive to his own emotional world, to recognize what role he is taking on in the relationship and to draw boundaries in an appreciative attitude.

The search for the ideal environment occupies some people throughout their entire life and is a guarantee for unhappiness and bad feelings, because the world does not “deliver” what one expects from it. This is understandable, because people mostly try to strive for something pleasant and to avoid emotional pain. But the likelihood of being loved by others is much higher if you love yourself. Those who succeed in doing this become more independent and self-conscious and can lead fulfilling relationships on an equal footing.