If you're a fan of the AMC original series, Breaking Bad, you've observed the main character's transformation as it relates to relationships.Walter White has shifted from a caring, empathetic man to a pathologically dishonest villain. What began as him wanting to make quick, easy money to pay for his cancer treatments is now a full-blown criminal enterprise. This past week's episode magnified his intense character flaw.
After getting his home laced in gasoline by his estranged partner, Jesse Pinkman, Walter White explains the damage and pungent smell by blaming it on a faulty gas pump. His wife looks at him in pure disbelief, while his teenage son just begs him to tell the truth. The dramatic irony of the scene is that Walter Jr.'s truth is nowhere near the actual truth. Watching it play out displayed the dynamics of dealing with a master manipulator.
Physical and verbal abuse are obvious to point out. Even if you choose to not address it, a person knows when they're being abused. However, it's interesting at how many of people will subject themselves to emotional abuse. Manipulation is a form of emotional abuse. It's often harder to identify and thus harder to avoid. Based on this scene from Breaking Bad, there are 4 major indicators that you're involved in a manipulative relationship.
- They want to control the narrative: Whether it's an argument, a discussion, or even a story being retold in other company, a master manipulator wants to have power over how the story is packaged and delivered. For example, Jesse decides to go and torch the White home because Walter has him cornered. Walter is well-aware that Jesse is falling apart at the seams. All of the evidence needed to unveil who Heisenberg really is in Jesse's hands. So Walter reaches out to reason with Jesse and attempts to calm him down. Manipulators often control the narrative by making it appear that it's in your best interest to see things their way.
- Their lies get bigger and bigger for no reason: There's a difference between lying because you have something to hide and lying because you don't want to hurt the other person's feelings. Manipulators are deceptive by definition. On some occasions, what they're lying about isn't as big of a deal as they think it is. What they often don't realize is that the bigger a lie is, the less credible they are when they do decide to tell the truth.
- They're always on the defense: If you're dealing with a manipulator, calling them on it will often lead to make them feel like they're being attacked. Some of the things they'll say are "oh, you don't trust me now?", "so you're calling me a liar?", and "you trippin". Manipulative people have a way of making you 2nd guess your own intuition and the evidence in plain sight. They're masters at deflecting and finding ways to make you feel bad about calling them out. Dealing with people that are like this can be especially taxing because they'll never deviate from what the narrative is.
- They lack empathy and accept responsibility for nothing: For Walter, his whole purpose for getting into the meth business was sort of honorable and selfless. He didn't want to compound the worry of his health with money troubles. But as with anything pertaining to money, he got greedy. He morphed into a power-hungry kingpin and as a result, his wife is pulled into the vortex. She now has to continue lying for him and deal with him lying to her. She became a cohort in the operation, because well, "I'm doing this for you". They'll dress actions up that are done for them as actions being done for your benefit. And if things get too thick or plans go wrong, you automatically become the scapegoat.
We've all been in a manipulative, toxic relationship at some point in our lives. When you love someone, you seek their acceptance and approval. Sometimes that comes at the cost of your pride and common sense. This is why you have to take inventory of your relationship once it's become exclusive. A person's true self will come out once they feel safe. Being manipulative isn't something you can hide well for the very reason that it's so methodical and deliberate. When a person is able to consistently pull you out of your nature, you have to step back and pay attention to the signs of why. If any of these 4 signs become apparent about your partner's behavior, for your own emotional health, you have to cut them off.