No one can, to date, say with absolute certainty what evolutionary pathway, what combination of genes and environmental aspects, leads a child to develop manipulative behavior. Similar starting conditions can lead to very different outcomes and vice versa. There are, however, a variety of hypotheses from clinicians’ reconstructions with respect to the developmental history of manipulative and narcissistic people.
The childhood of the affective manipulator
A first hypothesis is that of a child growing up in a family where everything revolves around success and recognition, where the child’s grandiosity is watered abundantly minute by minute, day by day. No one is as special as he is, no one his equal. Every slightest failure, every deviation from perfection, however, is categorically forbidden, on pain of disappointment and deep disappointment on the part of the parents.
The child breathes competition into the air, inhales massive doses of agonism, the message he receives is that nothing matters except excelling, everything else is insignificant. demands for care, affection and closeness are completely ignored and scorned by the parents.
The second path is the Scarface style path, of the manipulative narcissist as a reaction to the adversities of life, to a harsh, ruthless world, which, however, has failed to crush, to subdue the person, the shout of victory and an omnipotence that is to be tawdry displayed. The third path concerns those cases in which the child has been denied to indulge in play, to be able to roll around in the mud, to make mischief, that is, he or she has been denied to savor the taste of a carefree childhood.
The reversal of roles
He thus finds himself bearing, at an age when he would like to be supported, the burden of the family; caring for parents who cannot take care of themselves, protecting himself from threatening parents who have the look of someone who wants to do harm.
The child, therefore, equips himself to hold this burden in his hands, does whatever it takes to get by, including praise and the giving of recognition that, instead, he would need to trace in the proud gaze of his parents. Such a context produces in the child an inappropriate sense of strength that then, over time, may turn into wanting to dominate over everything
Things the manipulator cannot stand
Although the manipulator is a person incapable of feeling and letting go of emotion, he too has weaknesses that, if touched, are capable of bringing him to his knees. What can’t a manipulator stand? What are the behaviors he just can’t tolerate that drive him crazy?
The manipulator is too afraid to look inside himself because he believes that the truth he would find would be devastating. Emotionally, he is a dull person inside, unable to connect with his emotions, his inner wounds. He is unable to appreciate love. He can pretend to love himself and others, but he is unable to do so.
He hates affectively independent people because he cannot have control over them and thus manipulate them. Being, therefore, in a context where the manipulator knows he does not have a great deal of influence tends to destabilize him a lot!
The manipulator thinks he or she should be the only one to receive all the acclaim, attention, and recognition. He or she is pathologically jealous and envious if another person receives recognition. He or she is likely to engage in passive-aggressive behaviors to destabilize his or her prey.
Among the things the manipulator just cannot stand is being ignored. He cannot accept that he is not thought to be interesting by someone, so if he finds someone or someone who is not impressed by his or her manner, he or she will try to attract his or her attention to boost his or her ego.
Being laughed at
Being made fun of for the manipulator is something catastrophic. Particularly if it happens in front of many people. Feeling like some kind of superhero, he/she cannot conceive that someone could humiliate him/her in this way. This is because he/she is usually the one who denigrates other people.
The one who can catch the attention or be more successful than he/she.
The manipulator harbors a deep jealousy toward those who are naturally charismatic and brilliant. Successful people make him feel competitive, and this discomfort of his leads him to practice any tactic in order to belittle them. He is capable of making up lies about them to make himself feel superior.
Not being in control
The manipulator can’t stand it if something doesn’t go as planned. But also if someone does not behave as he thinks he should. His every action should correspond to a precise reaction in the outside world, and when what he had planned does not happen, he can become wrathful and vindictive. This also happens with him/herself if he/she fails to maintain total control of his/her emotions.
Being rejected is not a possibility considered by the manipulator since he feels superior to everyone around him. His very strong (fake) self-esteem therefore is undermined when someone does not give in to his charm and manipulations.
The manipulator cannot stand to fail; his life should only be studded with successes that he can brag about to his victims. Even when he fails, he never takes the blame and tries to shift it onto other people. When there is no one to blame the manipulator feels great frustration. Aggressive behavior toward the first bad person may follow.
A manipulative partner will condition your life, is that what you want?
Do you want to suffer for this person, while he/she doesn’t care if you are hurting? Remember: the manipulator performs on his prey an action of devaluation and erosion of personality, creating a strong emotional dependence. When he has finished his operation, he abandons her. Someone who, in the initial phase of the relationship, felt herself to be the luckiest and most loved person in the world, finds herself to experience a real withdrawal crisis after the abandonment.
The manipulator thinks only of himself; he is unable to feel empathy for your suffering. What to do? The most sensible solution is to end your relationship. Leaving a narcissist is not easy. His powerful manipulative strategies are aimed at keeping people close to him to boost his ego even more. Texting, crying, moral blackmail, threats: the manipulator is willing to do anything. You will need a lot of moral strength and firmness not to give in to his attempts.
And to succeed … to leave an emotional manipulator you will have to overcome your fears and decide to be the one to put an end to it with real detachment. And you know the thing the manipulator resents more than anything else in the world?
What the manipulator can’t stand more than anything else is seeing you rebuild your life, move forward and create more success and happiness than before. In fact, he thinks he is forever devastating your life, which makes him feel really important. But you can heal and flourish again…it is the time to rediscover yourself, to start living again and to appreciate freedom as an indispensable value, not to be bartered for any form of love, although less so for a love that only brings pain.
It is not easy to process that sense of lack that hurts so much inside, but you have to reshape yourself on new balances. And when you’ve taken all the time you need to regain your energy, try to experience your “being alone” as a wonderful gift that life has given you: putting you in a position where you have to walk to build the life and relationships that you really want and to which, perhaps, you would have given up if he/she hadn’t closed love in your face!