A manipulative boyfriend can cause you stress. He may control and exploit you emotionally by finding your weaknesses and using them to get what he wants. He may force you to do things and make you feel guilty if you refuse. Ending this toxic relationship altogether may be the best solution for you. To avoid conflict, confrontation or falling back into his manipulative trap, you need a well-thought-out plan.
Your boyfriend may try to make you feel guilt and shame for breaking up with him, creating self-doubt and insecurity in you. These feelings can undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence, and create further stress, warns psychotherapist Zita Fekete, in her website discussion on emotional manipulation. Avoid blaming yourself so you can overcome any guilt or shame and be mentally strong enough to break up. Remember that you were being manipulated into feeling bad about yourself. Plan whether you will break up in public or private and whether someone, such as a friend, will be present when you give your manipulator the boot.
You must take action now to end your emotional nightmare, says clinical psychologist, George K. Simon, in his article, Moving on After a Toxic Relationship. If you choose to break up privately, you may do so face-to-face, by phone or email, or just stop communicating without explanation. Breaking up in a public place, with a friend presents, may reduce the chances of an argument. Get straight to the point, saying something like, “I don’t think this is working for us. I’m moving on.” Then leave or quit the conversation, immediately. If you live at his place, leave with your belongings so you will not have to go back.
Cut Off Contact
Do not take his calls or respond to his messages. Avoid mutual friends who are still in contact with him and places you frequented together or where he knows you go often. If it becomes necessary and is practical, change your phone number and email address. In extreme case, you may wish to switch jobs or relocate. Ignore his promises to change or requests to “talk things over.” If you have a chance meeting with him, remove yourself as quickly as possible. At first, you may feel sad and alone and be tempted to go back to your manipulative boyfriend, but you must maintain your distance. Contact will only create hope and empower him to manipulate you again.
Get emotional support and regain your self-confidence and self-esteem by spending time with friends and loved ones. Take a vacation. Go out and meet new people. Rebuilding your self-esteem and self-respect is your best defense for stopping and avoiding the manipulation now and in the future, says marriage and family therapist, Darlene Lancer, in her article, How to Spot Manipulation. If you find it difficult to move on emotionally, you can talk to a relationship counselor or therapist.
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- Who's Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control; Harriet B. Braiker
- In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People; George K. Simon
- Live Bold & Bloom: How to Recognize the 8 Signs of Emotional Manipulation
Olivia J. Scott is a former television broadcast journalist with more than five years' experience in television journalism. Scott has been writing and editing for her blogs since 2010, and has written extensively on relationships, family and domestic violence. Her new book, "Battered Woman's Dilemma: In a Struggle for Survival," is releasing in March 2015.