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Mental Health Relationships

Three Tactics To Stop Relationship Manipulation

“Look for the best in everyone!”

“Everyone has good in them!”

“Be more trusting!”

Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is that not everyone has your best interests in mind. Most people are self-serving, and not setting boundaries and methods of self-protection will make you a feeding ground for toxic individuals.

For most of my life, I let friends, partners, and family walk all over me. I was the “nice” girl, the “dependable” friend, who didn’t ask for anything in return and thought that providing love, trust, and reliability meant I would get it.

I was wrong.

This mentality might as well have been an “open for business” sign for toxic partners, friends, and family to take, take, and take from me until I had nothing left. It was exhausting, devastating, and in the most extreme cases, dangerous.

Please don’t make the same mistakes I did, and begin protecting yourself by enforcing the following boundaries.

Stop taking someone at their word when they have a track record of being untrustworthy.

I have a cousin with whom I have decided not to have a relationship.

Over the years, there have been numerous transgressions where I would keep catching her in lies.

“We have a free place for you to stay!”

It was the story we were told until my husband and I got on the plane to visit her and her family, and suddenly we owed $250 a night. Which would be fine, but it felt shady.

She constantly promised she would visit for over a decade and continuously bailed and broke my heart.

During my wedding weekend, she didn’t even say she wasn’t coming until the morning of, and she tried to blow up my maid of honor to have her read me a letter.

I had told everyone I was worried she wouldn’t show up from day one, and I felt embarrassed and angry. Then I realized, with so many unique and reliable people in my life, why would I ever allow someone to remain part of it that, for over thirty years, had continually disappointed me, bailed, and never been reliable?

I cut her out and haven’t looked back.

Take a moment to go over your version of events.

Recently my friend, Sara, told me about a fight she got into with her childhood best friend.

The toxic childhood friend went on a tangent and screamed at Sara because she dared to ask the toxic friend how her sick mother was feeling.

The following day Sara woke up and had a speech prepared in her head. Before she could speak, her childhood friend told her that she had been “hysterical” the night before and “screaming at her.”

Sara had a moment where she wondered if she was losing her mind and then reminded herself of what had happened.

Manipulative people will gaslight you to push their version of what happened and make you feel insane. Don’t let them, and remind yourself that you are secure in what you experienced.

Don’t back down when you are guilt-tripped after expressing your truth.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression, especially throughout my teenage years.

Growing up in a religious community meant therapy didn’t exist; you simply needed to pray harder, and God would fix your ailments.

A few years ago, I brought this up to my Dad and said how much I wished that my parents would have been a bit more aware of the pain I was experiencing, especially when I had such a destructive eating disorder that I had to be hospitalized.

Immediately my Dad shifted the conversation, saying that he had been busy working and that I should have been able to pull myself out of my “funk.”

At that moment, I only wanted to acknowledge that my pain was valid and things could have been handled differently. However, I reminded myself of what was true and didn’t allow myself to be guilt-tripped into feeling anything else.

It took me years to learn that maintaining healthy relationships and living a fulfilling life is possible by enforcing the above boundaries and taking proactive steps to protect yourself.

Ultimately, the healthy people in your life will respect the choices that align with your values and priorities and won’t resort to manipulative tactics to control your decisions or actions.

Carrie Wynn



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