Why do people manipulate others? Is it because they’re an asshole? Is it because they need to feel powerful?
I manipulated an ex-girlfriend once. Years ago, when I was in a toxic relationship with someone I loved, I lied to get a reaction out of her. I told her I was going to watch her soccer game, but I never showed. It was something very out of character for me to do.
When she confronted me on it, I told her I was busy talking with someone else. Even when I wasn’t. I mislead her to believe I was with another girl. She was devastated and hurt. She was sick to her stomach. I felt justified.
Throughout the year of our relationship, I always had the feeling that I was investing more into our relationship than she was. I never felt like a priority in her life. It felt like she had a secret life, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that she did. I wanted the security that she’d be with me, but she never seemed to care enough to give me the reassurance in the way I needed it.
I didn’t trust her, but I was obsessed. So I lied because I wanted her to feel the same way I felt. I felt neglected. Confused. Sick to my stomach.
I lied to prove that she cared about me. My lying to her proved that she did. But it also created an argument that ended our relationship forever. So why did I do it?
Our relationship was a classic toxic relationship. Something would happen in my life and I’d seek closeness to her. She would reject me. She would tell me I was “too needy” or “too sensitive.” Her need for distance would push me away during the times I needed reassurance. Like all toxic relationships, this only amplified my anxiety and insecurity.
So I would behave in batshit crazy ways to reconnect with her. I would do anything and everything I could to get the reassurance I wanted in the relationship. This only caused her to push me away even farther, neglecting my needs.
Extensive research on intimate relationships have shown that people behave in very predictable ways when we are in love. The toxic relationship I’m describing above is a typical avoidant and anxious relationship.
These types of relationships are full of ambiguity. The avoidant partner sends mixed signals about their commitment in the relationship. They may say they are committed, but their actions make you feel differently. You are left guessing. And every time you get a mixed message, like me, you become preoccupied with the relationship.
Even though you know it’s not healthy, you can’t seem to stop thinking about them. Friendships, hobbies, and career opportunities fall to the wayside.
Next thing you know, you’re doing the craziest things just to reconnect with them. Even if you know it’s unhealthy. This could be driving by their house or snooping through their phone.
We often seek relationships that confirm our self views and run away from those that don’t. Like many anxious lovers, I believed that I was too much for my lover. Below you can see how clear my relationship reinforces this.
5 Major Differences That Make A Relationship Toxic
|Anxious Lover||Avoidant Lover|
|You crave closeness and intimacy||They want distance – emotional and/or physical|
|You are highly sensitive to any signs of rejection or threat to the relationship||They often send mixed signals that come across as rejecting|
|You find it difficult to express to them what you need and what’s bothering you (indirect communication), and use crazy behavior instead||They are terrible at reading your verbal and nonverbal cues. They don’t think it’s their responsibility to do so
|You need to feel loved and be reassured that they love you||They put you down to create distance as a way to deal with their own insecurity about closeness|
|You desperately want to know where you stand in the relationship||They prefer to keep things fuzzy. Even in a serious relationship, questions still remain|
Not such a healthy relationship, huh?
So why was I so obsessed with her? Why couldn’t I move on, even though I know I should?
Because my beliefs about myself reinforced my insecurity. Like 25% of the population, the life experience of an anxious lover have taught us that we are unworthy of love. We often blame ourselves for the lack of responsiveness from those we love. It reinforces our feelings of unworthiness.