Is Your Partner Being Manipulative?

Is Your Partner Being Manipulative?

When you love someone who struggles with addiction, it’s hard to know what to believe. Are they lying to you? Are they being manipulative with their words? Chances are, addiction knows exactly what to say to pacify you in the moment. Today we’ll dive into how to know if they are truly lying and being manipulative or if they are telling the truth.

Listen to the podcast episode here: 

Read the transcript and find more details here: 

There is an expression my dad taught me many, many years ago. And for those of you that know, my dad is an Englishman who came over from London many years ago, and he has all these expressions. I could probably recite 20 of them. He’s that kind of dad where you say your troubles, and you tell him what’s going on in your life, and he’s going to bring up one of his expressions.

And when I was younger, I didn’t quite appreciate them. I kind of rolled my eyes, and thought oh gosh, not this again. But now, as I’m older, I am grateful for them.

He always told me, “It is deeds. Not words. It is deeds. What are they doing? Not what are they saying?” And this is our lesson today. This is where we’re going to park. We’re going to park on the fact that you have a loved one who is trying to get sober or at least, so they say. But what are they doing to back up the claims and promises they’re making to you about getting sober?

I know exactly what it feels like to love somebody that struggles with addiction.

How painful, full of rejection, anger, and disappointment that can feel. I know what it feels like to constantly wonder if they are lying or if you’re being manipulated. But one of the ways that we heal ourselves is not through them getting sober. That’s a common misconception. It’s like a rookie mistake.

No, our healing has nothing to do with their recovery, believe it or not.

Which is actually kind of relieving, isn’t it? Because you can feel better and be really happy in your life, whether they get sober or not. It has nothing to do with them. The real recovery is being honest with ourselves about our current situation.

So if you’re willing to be honest with me, I’m willing to be honest with you. Let’s take inventory of what’s going on in your life right now.

What actions is your loved one doing?

Let me give you an example. Okay, so they have a rough night. They decide, okay, they’re not going to leave the house, but they grabbed their vodka or grabbed their big pack of beer or made that special drink. The one that you hate, because as soon as you smell it, or soon as you hear the bottles, or as soon as you see them making it, your heart just sinks because you know, it’s going to be a rough night.

You all know what I’m talking about. Right?

So let’s see that they had a terrible night in and they got drunk. Or let’s say, if your loved one has a problem with addiction, you could see it in their eyes that they were stoned or they were high, or they were on something.

You and I both have a fantastic radar where we can tell somebody who’s not sober from miles away. And instantly, almost like it’s like from the first sentence out of their mouth, you can tell they are not sober right now.

So they have a bad night. They got wasted. It may have ended up in a fight. It may not have ended up in a fight. Regardless. The next morning you are mad. You are so done with these shenanigans in your life. You are ready to call it quits, but you’re not quite sure if it’s the right time.

Once and for all, you just want them to finally admit, without any kind of drama, that what they did last night hurt and that it was out of control, right? So you confront them the next morning. You wait until they’re awake and walking around the house. And you got your speech lined up in your head.

You’ve been rehearsing it all day. Maybe even from the night before about precisely what you’re going to say. And you’re going to say it with conviction and passion because gosh, darn it, this is ridiculous.

You know they are lying to you.

Once again, they broke their promises to you. You don’t know how much longer you can do this and live like this and think about all the bad choices and all the hurtful choices they’re making to not only you but also the people around them.

Right. I get it. I’ve made that speech so many times. So you give the speech, and they look at you, and maybe they receive it. Maybe they nod and let you talk. Maybe they’re not defending themselves. Perhaps they understand just how mad you are and what do they say back to you.

What do they say back to you? They say you’re right. I’m sorry. I was out of line. Maybe I did drink too much. Maybe I do have a problem. I’m really going to try. I’m recommitted to my sobriety.

They might promise you that they’ll go to AA meetings. They might promise you that they’re only going to drink on weekends and not during the weekdays. Maybe they’ll only drink beer and not hard liquor, or maybe they’ll only smoke pot and not do all the hard stuff, cocaine or meth. They’re going to throw away the pills, right?

So they make these promises, and you want to believe them. You want to believe that this time was the last. Even though you’re skeptical of their manipulation, even though you’ve heard these words before, you’re tempted to accept them.

They’re saying it a little differently this time. They’re tweaking it just a tad. That makes me think that this time they might mean this, right?

We all want to believe that our loved ones genuinely want to get better.

But then here’s where I come back to the simple lesson of today and what my dad’s wise words are. And you all know where I’m going with this.

So they give you a speech and you kind of buy it but you wonder if they’re being manipulative. There’s always a part of you that’s skeptical and doesn’t really believe they mean it. Then what do they do? What if they give this speech on a Friday and Saturday night comes around: are they going off to the store? Are they creating excuses to leave the house to go meet up with friends at the bar? Do they stay present with you and give you their full undivided attention?

Are they actually going to their AA meetings? Are they doing the research necessary to create the tools that they require to get sober? Do they have appointments scheduled with their therapist? Are they getting a team of experts surrounding them so that they actually have the tools when they are tempted to relapse? These are all common denominators of what it looks like to get sober, good people who are successful at long-term sobriety.

It doesn’t matter if you do it cold turkey or if you kind of slowly walk into it. What matters is you are creating the desire to have coping skills outside of drugs and alcohol. And the only way you acquire them is through learning. So ask yourself if your loved one is learning coping skills. Are their actions lining up with their words, or are they just relying on a brief monologue to you with no real intention to get sober for good? Look at their actions.

This disease is so freaking manipulative.

It knows exactly what we want to hear. It knows the right buttons to push. And it has to be manipulative, right?

Because any addict that isn’t manipulative, usually doesn’t get away with very much. The tool that they have mastered in their addiction is manipulation.

Now I know that sounds harsh, and you might get defensive and say, I love them. I’m not questioning your love for them. I’m not saying they’re bad people, but I’m saying let’s be freaking real here.

They are master manipulators.

The way to cut through that and get your sanity back is to look at their actions and look at their deeds. Look at what they are doing. And if what they are doing is lining up with long-term sobriety, setting the stage for long-term sobriety, then great, pay attention to those words.

Believe in those words, trust in those words, and your trust will start to build. If what they’re doing doesn’t line up with what they’re saying, then it’s just lip service.

I’m not saying you need to walk around angry or pissed because they’re not following through with their sobriety. I’m saying just know in your heart and your gut and in your soul, that their intention is not to get sober at this point in their life.

Whether they’re aware or not, they are still being manipulative.

And so you don’t have to waste your time worrying about whether they’re telling the truth or not. You don’t have to sit there, mark the bottles, check the hiding spots, or follow them around in your car late at night, wondering where they’re going or who they’re hanging out with. You don’t need to look through the phone and see who they are texting.

Are they texting their drug dealer? Or are they texting someone else they shouldn’t be? You don’t need to do that. All you need to do is look at their actions and ask, does this line up with somebody who’s trying to get healthy and better?

And you know what that looks like because you’re doing that. You’re listening to this podcast, you’re growing, right? Compare your growth to theirs and ask, are they giving me an example of someone who’s trying consistently and consistently committed? Or are they not?

You can detect the truth. Especially when addiction is being manipulative.

You have a lie detector within yourself. Trust it. Don’t be fooled or fall for the manipulation. Don’t fall for the trap of the words. I did it for many, many years, and it drove me crazy. It’s really disappointing and hurtful. This is how you tell if they are lying: look at what they’re doing.

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.

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