How Do I Recognize Manipulation in Relationships?

Willa Williams - July 24, 2018

Dear CMR,

"I am in friendships that I am worried might be manipulative. What are some ways that I can recognize manipulation within friendships or relationships?"


Curious and Questioning

Dear Curious,

We are made for relationships. We need each other.  We need the connectedness that relationships bring us. Relationships, when healthy, are incredible conduits of growth, connectedness, and joy.  Unfortunately, however, relationships can also be unhealthy, and at times harmful.  One of the factors that can make a relationship unhealthy is when manipulation is an issue.  Manipulation can be overt, and it can also be subtle, flying below our radar. What are some ways that we can recognize manipulation in relationships?

In healthy relationships, there exists a robust consideration of the other and their wishes.  Both parties take the time to find out what the other is thinking, feeling, wanting, and needing.  If you find that in your relationship you seem to be making all the effort and your partner is not really attempting to find out what you think and feel, want and need, that should give you cause for concern. Does the other person ever ask your opinion? Do they seem interested in what interests you? Do they have your best interests at heart? Begin to pay attention to that detail.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. Stay tuned for a longer blog article exploring the issue more in depth!

Willa Williams

Willa Williams is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She works at the Biola Counseling Center as a therapist and at the Biola Center for Marriage and Relationships as the Consulting Therapist. She has a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) and a Master of Arts in Counseling in Psychology from Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). She is Level 3 Trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy and also is a Certified Prepare/Enrich Facilitator. Before coming to Biola, she served overseas at the Spanish Bible Institute in Barcelona, Spain, where she taught a class on counseling skills for pastors and served as the staff therapist for the students. She has been married for more than 30 years and has two teenage children. She has a passion for healthy relationships and enjoys working with couples as well as individuals. She appreciates the immense impact that healthy marriages and relationships have on couples as well as future generations. 


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