Manipulation: Are You Being Played?

Scenario #1:

June and Alec are shopping for a new dining room table at the local furniture store. Lesley, the salesperson makes her way over, introduces herself, and asks the reason for their visit. June points to the dining room sets and tells Lesley that they’re looking to purchase a new one within their budget. Because Lesley has bills to pay and a sales quota to reach, she shows June and Alec the most alluring and expensive sets. She offers an extended warranty plus a 90-day interest-free loan if they purchase within the hour.

Scenario #2

Kelli and Randall have separated and ceased all communication. Randall is suddenly diagnosed with an incurable disease and is hospitalized. Enter Zach: He visits his friend, Randall, and together, they come up with a plan for Kelli to contact Randall. In Zach’s attempt to please his sick friend, he then reaches out to Kelli in hopes that she will have a heart and contact Randall. Zach, acting as the go-between, while also needing to be the hero, attempts to persuade Kelli to contact Randall so Randall’s spirits will be lifted. Randall will be happy and Zach will be happy. But will Kelli be happy?

Scenario #3

Cameron was served divorce papers and has gone to the local bar for a drink. Denise, the bartender, asks Cameron what he’ll have. Cameron tells Denise he’d like something strong enough to dull his feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. Ding-ding-ding! Denise, upon the hearing of Cameron’s intense needs and because she has intense needs of her own, buys Cameron a few more drinks and uses her charm to lure him to her apartment after her shift is over.


According to Merriam Webster, manipulation is a tactic used to control or play upon by unfair or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage; to change by artful means so as to serve one’s purpose.


How can you KNOW you’re being played? What are the signs there’s a manipulator in your midst?


  1. You suddenly feel uncomfortable in a situation. Whether it be feelings of confusion, guilt, fear, or anxiety, your intuition (gut) says something isn’t quite right.
  2. You begin to doubt your reality. You find yourself questioning the level of your integrity. Because you don’t agree with the manipulator, you soon feel you’ve been wrong or that, deep down, you must be a bad person.
  3. You suddenly feel responsible for the manipulator’s pain. It’s all your fault the manipulator is alone or angry.
  4. You begin to question your sanity. Maybe what you saw or thought happened, didn’t. You could’ve sworn you saw the manipulator in a compromising situation.
  5. You wonder about the level of your compassion. You thought you were a decent person with a sensitive heart, but now it’s under consideration.
  6. You feel inadequate. Your self-confidence has sunk to a new low, and since you’re such a loser, you’re unable to have honest and lasting relationships.


Now what?


What are some steps you can take prior to your own scenarios with the manipulator so you don’t get the short end of the stick or end up in a dumpster somewhere? If you’re ready to make a lasting change for the sake of your emotional and physical well being, read on…


  1. Decide that you simply won’t be manipulated. Determine your limits. Know beforehand what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship (family included).
  2. Choose to listen to your inner voice (Holy Spirit) and stick with it. It was given to you for a reason.
  3. Be gutsy enough to face your manipulator. After the manipulation tactic has been used, confront it head-on.
  4. Be willing to let go of a manipulator. Even though you might be receiving some benefit for staying, walking away might be the safer choice in the long run.
  5. Be your own advocate. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you except you. If you need certain things, that’s your business. Learn to stick up for yourself.
  6. Get some wise counsel. The Bible says that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. (Proverbs 11:14)

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Suzanne Sommerville

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