Not only are we deceived more than we realize, manipulators often forget they are doing it. The behavior was ingrained during childhood. It got them what they wanted, out of trouble, into good graces. It went unchecked for years. By the time you deal with them as adults, they are very good at what they do. Here are four signs their smile means you are being played like a fiddle.
The curse of gifts
Years ago, my ex-girlfriend gave me a pair of Bluetooth headphones as a birthday present. I tried so hard to make them work. But they irritated my ears and always fell out. I went back to my regular wired headphones.
Unfortunately, this decision became a source of torment. Every time we went to the gym she brought it up, “It’s a shame you aren’t using those $150 headphones I got you.” She brought it up for months and months. It felt like I’d loaned money to the devil.
Humans are strongly reciprocal in nature. Healthy relationships are built on giving and getting in return. A gulf in reciprocity creates a power imbalance. This is why gifts are a common tool for manipulation.
Even worse, bestowing presents is a common tactic by abusers. Each of Michael Jackson’s accusers made similar claims of him showering them with amazing gifts. They felt a sense of loyalty to him, particularly when it came time to defend him.
With my aforementioned ex, we eventually reached a resolution that once a gift is given, it is released. There are no clawbacks. There is no weaponizing them during arguments. Thank god it only took us 300 fights to figure that out. Reciprocity is important but don’t let it stray into scorekeeping. Beware of gifts.
The Ben Franklin Effect
The most advanced manipulators use this trick and you can too, in a good way. It’s one of the easiest ways to get someone to like you.
Ben Franklin had a political enemy who was making speeches against him. Franklin remembered an old quote, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” Then he asked that political enemy to loan him a rare book. Then, Ben returned it to him with a nice thank you note. Suddenly, their political rivalry vanished and Franklin had a new friend.
Asking for a favor is a conveyance of trust and need. That person feels chosen. You are suggesting they have something you don’t: knowledge, ability, resources. It appeals to their insecurities. If you don’t know the requester or are angry at them, it creates a cognitive dissonance: why am I helping someone I don’t know or am mad at?
Your brain watches you behaving in conflict and creates a subconscious conclusion: you must like the person. After all, we ask favors of people we trust and care for. Beware of favor requests from people who have something to gain from you.
There was never an issue
Gaslighting is a common and very misunderstood form of manipulation. It comes from the 1938 play, aptly named “Gas Light”. It features a controlling husband who keeps moving objects in their home while his wife is away. When his wife questions things changing, he insists nothing happened. Then, he begins slowly lowering the brightness of their lamps over weeks and months. When she brings it up, he continually asks her if she is seeing things and if she’s feeling OK. She eventually asks herself the same question.
Gaslighting is a form of control where the victim begins to question reality. For example, your parents might insist some trauma in your childhood never happened. They’ll smile and say, “Oh you are just imagining things, that never happened!” Your partner may swear they were never late getting home, even though you’ve seen them come home hours late every night. Gaslighting will cause some of the biggest fights you’ll ever have in a relationship. Don’t back down from calling it out.
The threat of breadcrumbing
Breadcrumbing is common in the dating scene when a person shows you a bunch of interest. But anytime you take a step to actually get together, make plans, or do something more substantive, they slip away.
As the name implies, it means they give you just enough signals to keep you engaged. They like all your social media posts, send you messages, flirt with you in person. They may have very sporadic communication or seem to come and go in bursts. Or, if you are already dating, and bring up making a commitment, they may get dodgy or turn into a sudden zen philosopher on the virtues of independence.
I got breadcrumbed by a woman I met on Bumble. Too late, I realized she’d just gotten out of a relationship and was rebounding. She was never serious about dating. The biggest sign of breadcrumbing is mixed signals, which almost always means the other person isn’t into you. Trust your original gut instinct. I’ve found that mine has gotten better with time, but even when I was young and dumb, it was pretty accurate with people. I’d reckon yours is too.
The problem with articles like this is that I’ve unintentionally taught each of you how to be more manipulative. But therein lies your defense mechanism.
Just know that telling the truth is good for you, literally. And when the temptation to lie is at its highest, overcoming it and being honest is proven very good for your physical health.
Recap for memory: four fake nice signs of manipulative behavior
Asking you to do favors to endear themselves to you. Beware of the Ben Franklin Effect.
Bestowing you with gifts as a way to create a debt to them. Humans are reciprocal in nature. Strings are often hidden.
They pretend there was never a problem in the first place. They gaslight you into questioning reality.
They show just enough interest in you to keep your attention. They are feeding you crumbs with no intention of providing the meal.
tratto da un articolo di Sean Kernan su http://seanjkernan.substack.com/