My mouth always gets me in trouble. I don’t always know when to shut up and just blurt things out when I shouldn’t. My good friend and I talk every day and I appreciate her support because I’ve had a rough year with a divorce and getting back to dating hasn’t gone so well. My problem is that I’m beginning to feel that my friend has been baiting me, manipulating me and getting me to fight her fights. When she has a problem with one of the girls from our group of girlfriends, she will talk to me and tell me things that I now feel are shared hoping that I will be the one to confront our friend. I’m starting to feel like she’s been using me to do her dirty work. Could this be happening and how can I deal with her manipulations?
Yes, this could be happening, especially if you are seeing a pattern of this in your friend, but there are many more questions that need answered before jumping to the conclusion that your friend is manipulating you. Manipulation is acting intentionally to control someone. The manipulation can be done through either covert actions, such as talking to two people behind each other’s back to try and turn them against each other, similar to what you describe, or their actions can be more overt. Overt manipulations take the form of angry verbal threats and bully tactics. If any of these actions seem to fit the behavior of your friend, she just may be using you.
You ask how you can deal with this and the first thing you need to know is that, generally speaking, you can’t change a manipulator so don’t even try. Don’t waste your time trying to point out their behavior, or how it distresses or hurts you. Unless they are asking for feedback and wanting change, you are wasting your breath. Focus instead on changing your involvement with their baiting by not cooperating. Don’t bite on the hook they’re throwing out. Manipulators are good at fishing for people they can use and reeling them in. Don’t let them catch you by taking yourself out of the pond…don’t play their game…and soon enough they will tire of trying to manipulate you and will go fishing in another pond for other unsuspecting prey.
For more on manipulation, the traits of manipulators, the traits of their victims and how to avoid getting used, listen to my talk radio show this Saturday!
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• Review all the ways you think your friend may be manipulating you.
• Now, consider the ways in which she is not trying to use you and may just be sharing her thoughts and feelings.
• Could you be blaming her for the problems you create by “not knowing when to shut up and just blurting things out”?
• If you identify manipulation, how will you plan to not get reeled in?
Who is Joan? What is a Board Certified Life Coach? How do I call her show or send her a life coaching question? Find out @ Joan Jerkovich