Sep 04

What if he makes me feel not good enough?

 

Question: “I have this feeling in my marriage that I’m never good enough. My husband often compares to his mother who was perfect, or his sister who does no wrong, and I am really resentful. How can I show him what this is doing to our marriage?”

 

Answer: “Great Question! You are not alone with overly critical husband. Sometime critique can aim to correct some important issue, but most of the time habitually critical people might raise their own weak self esteem by look down on their environment, families and friends.

 

What does it mean?

One: you take his critiques seriously and personally.

Second: he can control your behavior with this critique.

 

How can you handle this situation? I can summarize you in four points:

 

First of all you have to see that the critiques has a goal. The goal is to control your behavior for some way. You need to figure out what is this way. What he wants to get out from you. Is it more housework? Is it more money? Is it more dealing with his needs without return? You have to figure this out!

 

The second point: Dismiss this feeling! Now you see that this is not about you! This is just a tool of the manipulation. It has nothing to with your real qualities. So don’t care about it!

 

(Third point.)What I would suggest is: Don’t jump into the defensive. – Don’t take me wrong! It is instinctive! Every one of us jumps into defensive mode when we feel critique, but most of the time this is just oil to the fire. – Don’t engage to the argument and don’t try to convince him that he’s not right. Just dismiss the feeling in this way.

 

(Four.) And the main point is that no matter… eh find out what he wants you to do and resist to this point. Not because I think that rebellion is so good in a relationship, but this is only for manipulation. Because when you comply, it reinforces the process. He sees that he pressurizes you, criticizes you, and this critique will result to the behavior what he wants you to do.

 

Your change of behavior will change the whole relationship.

Jul 23

Manipulative girlfriend – will I attract another one?

Question:
“My last girlfriend was extremely manipulative and I never saw it coming. She had me twisted around her little finger until her every whim was met and then she dumped me. I’m really worried I’ll attract another girl like this, what do I need to look out for?”

 

Answer: “Thank you for this excellent question. Many-many kind, nice guys suffer from the same situation when they are overly nice to their girlfriend just to get nothing or hardly anything in return.

Your worries are reasonable. If you once get involved in a manipulative relationship you have a good chance that you will attract another one; until you don’t understand the reasons and act against them.

We have some personality traits which serve as magnet for manipulators.

For example:

The people pleasing habit.

When the approval is way too important for you.

If you fear from the negative emotions, therefore you avoid conflict.

If you don’t know how to stand up, assert your rights.

Or if you feel guilty when you say no.

If you are not sure about who you are and where your boundaries are.

If you are not 100 % sure about your judgment and opinion.

Or if you think that our lives are basically influenced by outside factors like friends, family of destiny rather than our own choice.

 

These personality traits serve as magnet for manipulators because they sense that they can exploit the person with these traits.

 

Recognize the pattern in the long term relationship if it begins like a manipulative relationship!

At the start it seems like enthusiastic. You feel like all of your needs are fulfilled. Then, after a couple of months a transition period is coming, when you feel yourself criticized, judged. From this point on you would do whatever it takes to get wonderful beginning back. And this is the point when the manipulator controls your behavior.

 

If your girlfriend wants to know too much, too soon about you especially if she want to know about your weaknesses. Watch out for guilt trips, victim games, if she doesn’t take responsibility. Watch out for lies, if she behaves differently before and in the back of the others, and if she generally wants to take more than to give.

 

 

Personality Traits that make us Vulnerable:

 

  • People pleasing habit
  • Approval is over-proportionally important
  • Fear from negative emotions
  • Conflict Avoidance
  • Blurry Self  “Who am I actually?” – Fluid Boundaries
  • Low Self Reliance – “I don’t know! I’m not sure!”
  • Believing that the control is outside anyway

 

 

Red Flags in a new relationship:

 

  • At the start it is enthusiastic, you feel all of your needs are fulfilled. After a transition period you feel yourself criticized, judged
  •  Your girlfriend (boyfriend) wants to know too much, too soon about you, especially about your weaknesses
  • Guilt Trips
  • Victim Games
  • Not taking responsibility for actions, decisions, feelings
  • Lies
  • Behaving differently before and in the back of others
  • Take more than give

 

Warning!

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Mar 10

When will the manipulator stop manipulating?

Stop Manipulating

When you stop complying with his demands forced by manipulative techniques.

 

There is many-many ways to ask something!

 

For instance your partner wants to go to a concert in the weekend when everybody in the family wants something different to do.

 

He can ask straightforward:

“I know mom wants us be there for dinner and Gabi wants to go to a party, and you are not a big fan of this kind of music, but there is a concert that I really would like to hear. Please let’s go to the concert!” – In additionhe can make further arrangements what other time can you go to mom’s house and maybe he can miss Gabi from the concert so she can go to the party.

Managing things democratically might take some time, courage and hassle, but in this way everybody’s wishes and wants will be at least considered.

If your partner wants to avoid the negotiation part or not willing to give and take, he can reach for manipulative tools like:

 

 

Silent treatment: Don’t communicate with you until you cave in and chose to go to the concert.

Threat: He can yell at you until you give in and agree go keep up with him. Or he can calmly threat you with anything you don’t like: not going for hiking with you or simply with divorce.

Put downs: He can give you a lecture about the importance of music and art, indicating that people who are not regular concert goers are in some way inferior compare to the concert goers. So you can be ashamed if you are not enthusiastic about his offer. If he is rather rude, he can call you outright simpleton if you are not interested.

Guilt trip: He can engage in a long conversation in which he brings up past events when he fulfilled your wish dramatized by how difficult it was for him.  He can come up with sob stories of how much he does for the family therefore he deserves some repayment. The meaning of the whole scenario is that you have to feel guilty if you don’t fulfill his wish.

Constant Badgering:  If the atmosphere at home is very critical, if you are questioned for every decision you make, you might not want to oppose anything anyway to avoid further critique.

Persuasion: At first it does not seem manipulative, because he comes up with arguments. You can get suspicious if it never ends and when he accepts none of your counter-argument or feelings: he just not takes No as an answer.

 

So why does he do that?

 

Historically – surely this was what he learned, or simply he did not learn the democratic, cooperative way of communication.

Economically – negotiating, give and take needs lots of effort, patience and “let go” of our will. Maybe it’s not worth for him.

Functionally – when he considers your opinion as well, his wants will not be always fulfilled. If he applies manipulative force – which does not consider your wants – his wants will be fulfilled.

 

Here is the key, when he will stop manipulate:

He manipulates because it works. He pushes you with one of the unfair tactics and you do what he wants. Next time he wants something, he will apply the same force that worked before.

 

Sooner or later he will stop manipulation when it does not work any longer.

If you want to stop manipulation:  stop complying with his requests communicated by manipulative force.You can even sharpen the edge by putting emphasis on being very agreeable when he asks something straightforward but not fulfilling his needs and want until he pressurizes you with manipulative force. This tactic might re-train the communication between the two of you.

 

Warning!

Do you want to be more successful in stopping manipulation?
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Photo is courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

May 16

Keep smiling? – or Tell the Truth?

“What is on My Heart is on My Mouth!”Maze of cultural expectations

“Keep Smiling!”

“Who is the Boss?”

In the maze of cultural expectations

 

When I first came to the US, it was definitely comforting that people were polite to me and to each other. They kept smiling and kept sending encouraging messages to me such as that: they liked my accent, or my English was good enough to launch my practice. It was really reassuring and helpful.

 

“Keep smiling!” is the complete opposite of what I experienced growing up in Hungary. I’ve heard millions of times the old Hungarian saying: “What is on My Heart is on My Mouth.” Frequently, it is a simple expectation being honest in everyday conversation and sharing even negative opinions as well. Other times, it is the excuse of hurting other people’s feelings by disclosing negative evaluations and judgment. Naturally I am not a fan of the latter.

 

Bragging about difficulties is almost expected in Hungary. Even people living in the upper classes find reasons to complain, not to mention the fact circling around in media almost with the overtone of pride that Hungary lost all of its battles in the last 300 years.

 

There is another telltale proverb:” Hungarians cheer up with crying.”  I’ve never been impressed by these messages.

 

Acknowledging and encouraging was absolutely refreshing after a trip to Germany While there, I heard many times: “Sie Mussen Deutsch lernen!” (You have to learn German!) as if I haven’t talked in German with them. The message is clear: your German is not good enough. (You are not good enough?) Quite discouraging, isn’t it?

Not only that, many encounters with neighbors, strangers, and first meeting with acquaintances begin with a sting. Your answer – or rather the way you answer – decides for decades where will you stand in the pecking order.

 

I was especially uncomfortable with it. I prefer symmetrical-reciprocal relationships, but this start does not leave me any other options than fight or flight. I could be either dominant or submissive, but there is no easy option for cooperation.

 

Therefore arriving to America, I enjoyed pretty much the convenient: “How are you doing!” – “I‘m doing fine.” –  “Excellent.” – type of conversations. I still remember the astonished face of a cashier woman when we answered her question with details of how we were doing today.

 

Once, a woman happily told me that her boyfriend was moving from  another state over  the weekend in order to be with her. The following week I saw her with cried out red eyes. I asked what happened – sure enough he did not come – but the kind lady stated that she is all right. – “What?” – I thought. – “You are deceived, you are betrayed, you are disappointed, you are devastated, you cried alone three nights in a row and you tell me that you are all right? Why?”

 

Then I’ve heard children falling off in the playground, hitting their knees or butts, crying. In response, their parents tell them: “You’re OK!” – What? No, he is not OK! He fell off, he got scared, he hit himself and needs someone to name him the feelings and comfort him. No, he is not OK until he gets it!

 

Along the way I’ve learned – sometimes with painful experiences – that the expectation in this situation is to: “Keep smiling. (No matter what.)” By the way; nowhere else did I see that many fake smiles.

 

I try to comprehend: why do we want to forcibly cram down the throat the negative feelings into the person already experiencing them?

 

The first reason is quite obvious and suffering for a while from the opposite, I cannot agree more: don’t put a burden on the shoulder of our friends with our whining. I’m OK with that to a certain point. Don’t overload everybody with the least significant struggle of our lives. Let’s chose carefully with whom and what to share.

 

The other reason might be full of good intention: we want the other person’s pain to disappear; we want him to be OK. With the magical thinking saying you’re OK, they might realize themselves that they are OK.

This is a mistake: and a very dangerous one. Every problem solving begins with identifying the problem. It’s not instant. Sometimes we need to think about it. Some difficult situations need investigation from more sides and fresh perspectives.  It needs elaboration. Without identifying the problem, we have no opportunity to solve it. Therefore it is basically important to be able to talk about our problems with our friends, colleagues or our acquaintances.

 

The other back side of keeping the negative feelings inside is that they can turn against us. It can evolve into depression, hopelessness, alienation, anxiety. It can manifest itself into bodily illnesses; it can cause a myriad of other psychological issues as well.

 

But maybe the third disadvantage hit me the most: what type of relationship is it when I cannot speak about my difficulties and suffering?

 

Superficial. We lose the advantage of social support. We cannot share our thoughts and true feelings with anyone. We stay alone with our pain. We think about when and where and with whom to go out because it is so hard to maintain composure in times of distress. We avoid our acquaintances in order to stay in secrecy. We get alienated, and then we suffer from loneliness.

 

All of society has worked out its rules on how to handle love, joy, loss, grief, changes of life, and tragedies. It’s all social. If we don’t allow sharing the negative feelings, we run the risk of making ourselves sick: psychologically and biologically.

 

My personal solution: a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I try to find the golden middle ground. Not too much complaining, but no pretending if possible. Finally, we should be working toward equal cooperation instead of vertical hierarchy and control.

 

What’s your golden middle ground?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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