Are You Being Manipulated By Addiction?

Are You Being Manipulated By Addiction?

We’ve been doing a series about covert and passive aggression. And being manipulated can be part of that, as many of you know addicts and manipulation often go together. And I know you guys, for those of you that are new to this blog, it sounds kind of boring and kind of technical, but I promise I’m keeping these super short, super sweet, to the point and incredibly simple.

(If you want to catch up on the series you can do so here and here.)

So, I’m gathering examples from this masterful book called In Sheep’s Clothing. It’s an oldie, but goodie and you can find it on Amazon.

And then I’m tweaking them, specifically for loving someone suffering from addiction. If you’re a reader and you enjoy a good book, I highly recommend it.

Being manipulated is a sign of covert aggression.

Now just to refresh, for those of you that are joining, covert aggression is different than passive aggression. Covert aggression is basically wanting to be bad while trying to look good. And the first sign of covert aggression that we covered a few weeks ago is playing dumb when something is awful or when something awful they did is called to their attention.

Today we’re going to cover the second example of covert aggression and that is never giving a straight answer to a straight question. If we were in a room together, I bet you’d be like nodding your head right now, saying, “Oh, that is something I can so relate to.” Right?

Now this can look several different ways, and they’re all forms of manipulation. For example, changing the subject if you’re talking about something sensitive. They could use distractions, or diversion techniques to keep the focus off of their behavior. They try to move us off track to keep themselves free and promote their own self-serving agendas. And here’s the thing, sometimes this can be extremely subtle. You may confront your manipulator on a very important issue, only to find yourself minutes later wondering how did you get off the topic and why are you talking about this? This is really, really common with someone suffering from addiction.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you go into the conversation talking about how they were four hours late last night. And then minutes later, the conversation will be focused on how there’s always clutter around the house. They’ll change the subject and they might even try to blame you. My sisters, this is manipulation.

My ex-husband was notorious for bringing up the past. He’d always divert the attention to something that I had done. It was extremely hurtful, because it would usually be stuff that I had shared with him about my childhood. It was dirt from years and years ago. And we have to remember that addicts are usually desperate when they are caught or busted. They will do anything they can so they don’t have to give you a straight answer.

Here are some more examples: When was the last time you asked them a question like, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” And they answered with something like, “Oh. I’ve had six and a half beers.” That never happens, right?

Or you say something like, “Have you been using drugs? Are you high?” And they answer something like, “Actually, yes. I smoked marijuana two and a half hours ago.” That doesn’t happen.

I mean, that would be really foreign to us, right?

Because we’re used to being manipulated.

Wouldn’t you just fall on the floor if they answered a question like that? But here’s the deal, that’s what we need. That’s what a mature and healthy and responsible person would answer. They would answer just like that. They would tell the truth. That’s being honest instead of manipulating.

Let’s say you came over to my house and we sat down on my couch and I asked you a question. Now, I’m known for asking difficult questions, even to strangers. So, chances are it would be a question that would be hard for you to answer, but I know you. You and I are sisters and I would put money on the fact that you would answer directly and clearly. Why? Because you are a mature adult who is excellent at taking accountability. We’re honest with each other. We’re mature and we’re willing to take accountability for our behaviors.

The desire in our hearts that we truly have, is the desire to change.

And when somebody really has the desire to continue to evolve into a better person and a better life, the first step is taking accountability for what is wrong and looking for how they can personally improve.

And you and me, we’re willing to do that. That’s why you’ve joined the programs. And that’s why you’re reading this now. Because you’re willing to say, “Okay. I understand that there’s some tools and techniques that I need to master and there are some things I can improve on.” That’s huge.

You have the maturity level that is required to be in a healthy relationship. When someone doesn’t answer you directly and take accountability, it means they don’t have that maturity level.

And you my love, deserve to be treated with respect. You don’t deserve to be manipulated. Respect is when someone doesn’t change the subject if you’re talking about something sensitive, or use distractions or diversion techniques to keep the focus off of their behavior. Or try to move us off track to keep themselves free, or promote their own self-serving agendas.

Those things I just mentioned, that’s manipulation and you deserve honesty.

You deserve the truth, all the time, no matter how difficult it is to share.

So, this week was all about being manipulated, and next week we’re going to talk about lying. If you’ve ever been lied to, this is a must-read post. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast (or join our email list) so you don’t have to remember to look us up.

And I want to talk about one other thing before I go. Please do not roll your eyes. You are going to be tempted.

Instagram, here’s the deal. I have never really been a big fan of social media. I think it’s a time suckage. I’d rather be reading a book or talking to my kids and it usually makes me feel like crap about myself, because I look at everybody else’s life and think it’s better than mine.

So I’ve been really resistant until my team had kind of an intervention with me and they said, “Listen, you have got to get out there more. This is part of serving other women.” And so I was like, “Okay. If it’s put that way, if it’s about serving other people, I can do that. If it’s about bragging, I’m not interested.”

So I repositioned it as serving…

And as long as I can do Instagram in my way, which is being real and not putting out there stuff that looks prettier than it is. As long as I can be completely transparent with you, I’m going to do Instagram. And I’m going to have fun with it. So, I’ve been doing this for a couple weeks now. I even did my first story and you guys, I’m loving it. And you want to know why I’m loving it? Because you leave comments. Because you’re DMing me and I learned what DMing is just a couple weeks ago. And I love hearing from you. It’s our way of being real friends. I love it.

So if you have not followed me, please do. You guys, I want to hear from you. I love reading your comments. I love seeing that what I’m sharing with you, which is my very real, personal life, is making a difference.

And I love serving you. So that is my cheesy attempt of saying, “Get on over there so we can connect.” And I love you guys. You know that. I’m here for you. You’ve got this. I know it’s difficult.

This is a season of your life that you are going to get through.

What are their ‘go to’ strategies? What have you seen before? We can all relate. It helps us not feel alone. And name this manipulation when it’s happening. Now you know what it looks like.

It’s not going to be like this forever. And if you’re willing to listen to me, if you’re willing to do the work, you are going to come out such a happier, healthier woman. This is a good thing. It’s going to be okay. I promise. I love you guys.

Similar questions from women in our community:

What are examples of manipulation?

Manipulation can look different based on who is doing it, if they’re sober or not, and the specifics of the situation.

Manipulation can look like playing dumb, acting innocent, changing the subject, purposely confusing the conversation, pure avoidance, assigning blame, or becoming aggressive in order to avoid the conflict all together.

What is manipulation in a relationship?

Manipulation in a relationship with addiction means they’re using manipulation as a tactic to let their addiction thrive. Through blame, aggression, avoidance, or other tactics, they’re trying to avoid the actual issue of addiction, and focus the attention elsewhere. They may try to blame or shame you in order to take the attention off them and their addiction, and put it on you instead.

Do manipulators change?

Of course any person can change. We believe that these people suffering from addiction are good people. And they are using manipulation so their addiction can thrive. In theory, if they were to chose long term sobriety, they would no longer need to use manipulation as a tactic for their addiction to thrive. Addiction would be out of the picture, and so would manipulation.

If they choose to keep using their substance(s) of choice, we can expect for them to continue to manipulate you.

How do I know if I am being manipulated?

The short answer is that you know. We believe in your intuition, and you know when things aren’t quite right. Even when you’re being told otherwise, you know the truth deep down.

When someone is suffering from addiction, it’s very common that they’re using manipulation as a means to get what they want. So if you love someone suffering from addiction, you’re almost certainly being manipulated in one way or another.

Do manipulators known they are manipulating?

Often times, yes. Often times they know they must lie, avoid, distract, or otherwise manipulate in order to get what they want (ie their substance of choice).

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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