Constantly Hurt Feelings Is A Form Of Manipulation


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Everything you say can be a bomb in relationship manipulation

How many forms of relationship manipulation are there. We count hurt feelings way up there. Here’s why. One of the most painful forms of relationship stress is walking on eggshells with someone you love and want to please. Not feeling safe to tell the truth for fear of setting someone off means that person is successfully controlling your behavior for his/her benefit. It’s a form of manipulation.

It takes two to make a relationship, whether it’s a healthy one or not. When one person constantly has hurt feelings, he/she may be using so-called “sensitivity” to guilt-trip and control. Here’s an example.

Sensitivity Or Manipulation?

Josie was married to Fred, a man who was offended by everything she said, and pretty much everything she did. His “sensitivity” to insult and discomfort would erupt without warning and made her life a misery.

“Sometimes Fred would come home from work, find me happily playing with the kids and feel hurt. Just seeing us happy without him put him in a angry mood. He was always looking for reasons to be offended, and I was always the one at fault.”

You Don’t See It Coming

Josie never knew what was going to “hurt” Fred. Her playing with the kids at the end of the day seemed innocent to her, but Fred raged because no one paid enough attention to him. He wanted to be included no matter what they were doing. He felt left out if others were happy. Talking on the phone with her mother or a co-worker or friend after dinner seemed innocent to Josie. But this activity hurt Fred’s feelings because he felt ignored even if the call was short.

Fred felt he had to be the center of attention all the time. Going to a movie when Fred was at a meeting or out of town seemed innocent to Josie especially if it was a movie she knew he’d hate. To Fred, Josie was depriving him of the experience of seeing it with her. She was showing disrespect by going to something without him.

Wearing a red dress seemed innocent to Josie. To Fred, it meant she was disrespecting him by looking temping or adorable to others. Josie was a fair person, eager to please. She tried to figure out what was going wrong every time it happened, and thought at first it might be her. Fred habitually took offense at anything Josie did that gave her happiness not attached to him, or expressed her own views or wishes. Fred felt these actions were direct hits to his emotional well being. Josie was powerless to assure him that wasn’t the case.

Destructive Conditioning Wears A Person Down

Josie worked hard to anticipate Fred’s reactions and consider his feelings so he would stop erupting, but she could never anticipate enough. Josie found that she was walking through a mine field of Fred’s sensitivity–constantly apologizing, trying to smooth things over and make him understand that she hadn’t meant anything by whatever had offended him. In his eyes she was the bad guy. He was the victim. She began seeing herself as a hopelessly insensitive and unlovable person.

Super Sensitivity Is Also A Red Flag For Addiction To Drama

In reality, though Fred claimed he wanted peace and tranquility, he loved feeling offended. He loved the drama and the fights. He’d be energized by them while Josie would be shattered. Fred used his “sensitivity” to dominate and control Josie. Fred made it appear that Josie had the power to hurt him, but he was always the one pulling the strings.

Recognizing Someone Will Never Be Happy

Over time Josie began to understand that no matter how perfect she tried to make things for Fred he would never be satisfied. It was up to her find a solution. Ultimately her solution was to leave him. It took more than a year to prepare for her exit and a new life. Josie made her transition carefully and with the help and support of those who truly love her.

Making the decision leave a controlling person, who relies on manipulation, requires a plan, support from therapists, lawyers, family, friends, and others who can back you up, help you cope with reality, and protect you. If you are at risk for violence, call the national victims of abuse hotline.



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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. Leslie is also the creator of Recovery Guidance, the information website for those seeking addiction and mental healthcare for professionals nationwide. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation.

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