Ugh. Just thinking about this red flag exhausts me.
Highly manipulative people by and large don’t change. People love to debate this point with me–well, I should say that the two main types of people who love to debate this point with me are either codependent or manipulative. Healthy people don’t debate this point at all. They see this behavior for what it is, avoid it as soon as they do see, and then go about surrounding themselves with healthy people and situations.
Just take a moment and think about how hard it is to make a change–even if you are really motivated to! Now think about how hard it is to get someone else to change. Now think about how hard it is get a person to change who doesn’t have a sincere desire to change.
Sounds like an exercise in crazy-making to me.
Highly manipulative people (Narcissist, Antisocials aka Sociopaths/Psychopaths) aren’t motivated to change, because, well, why would they be? Their life might be a mess, but in their mind it’s everyone else’s fault–and they are relying on other people to be there to pick up the pieces. And there alway people there willing to help them pick up the pieces because they do such a great job with their Victim/Hero speak (red flag #12).
So basically, they lack insight into the fact that there’s a problem (well, they might acknowledge that you have a problem). They’re not motivated to change (because according to them they don’t have a problem to change), they generally always get their way, and they never really suffer any consequences. Sounds like a pretty good gig they have going–and for that reason is why you’ll continue to see the same behaviors from them over and over and over again.
Actually, that’s not 100% true. A manipulative person’s behavior will change…
It’ll get worse, and worse, and worse–because now they know what you’ll put up with. This is called “Managing Down of Expectations,” and it something that all highly manipulative and abusive people do.
It’s where they start getting away with more and more, and the victim start expecting less and less of both their partner and of their relationship. This is why is often takes really extreme circumstances for a victim to leave. It’s kinda like the story about how to boil a frog: you can’t simply put a frog in a pot of boiling water–it will jump out. You put it in luke warm water so it gets comfortable, and then you slowly turn up the heat.
Any type of abusive relationship starts off the same way. Abusive people don’t show extreme behavior on the first date. They start slowly by doing a series of boundary pushes, like a slight dig at your appearance, or grabbing your arm too hard, or insisting on seeing you that night–and insisiting you cancel your plans to make that happen. It’s these small boundary pushes that lead up to the extreme behavior. By the time the behavior is so bad, the victim is often really embarrassed to ask for help. They’re embarrassed that they’ve stayed for this long. They don’t want their friends and family to blame them. They don’t want to be single again. They know that if they didn’t have issues before, they do now, and are concerned that no one is going to want them because of these issues…and so they feel stuck. They cling to the threads of hope that their abuser gives them that this time things will be different–if the victim is even given that much of an excuse.
I’ve seen many abusive partners that are so indifferent (lack of empathy and remorse) that they don’t even bother to pretend that they’ll change–because they don’t have to. They’ve already managed that expectation down to nothing. And oftentimes, the victim is so focused on them not leaving (maybe the abuser has all the money, the house, the only car–or maybe they still love him), that they don’t even care about getting an apology, they just want a sense of normalcy back. So nothing is even discussed, because by now the victim knows it doesn’t matter–nothing is going to change anyhow.
The moral of the story is don’t stay in a relationship with a crocodile hoping that it will turn into a bunny rabbit. If you feel the need to see if a crocodile can turn into a bunny rabbit, then I highly recommend you decide how much time you are willing to invest in this person and in this relationship in order for that to happen. At the end of that amount of time, then you will have your answer as to whether or not you gave it your all, and will hopefully feel better about closing that door (and ideally nailing it shut).
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 30: Book Club Discussion on “Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse” by Joanna Moore - June 27, 2017
- Live Stream from June 21, 2017 - June 25, 2017
- Episode 28: Gratitude Can Help Keep You Grounded - March 21, 2017