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Jerks who Fuck with Your Mind

Did you ever meet someone, start getting to know them, and have this nagging doubt creep into your mind about them...? ("Creep" being the operative word here...) Something in the way they say things, the body language... something you can't quite put your finger on? Well skip putting your finger on it, and get your whole hand out there so you can SMACK it down and walk away.

What am I talking about? It's the "emotional manipulator" shit that some people try to pull on you.

From the woman who whines "if you really cared about me... if you were REALLY my friend, you'd...." to the guy who insists he couldn't possibly be an asshole because he worships women, manipulators are not worth wasting your time and energy on. The damned thing is that manipulators are usually so subtle and insidious, we often spend far too much time and incur too much heartache before we wake up to the kind of shit they are pulling.

Many people use emotionally manipulative techniques because it's what they learned while growing up, and sadly, the tools work all too often for them.... But the scariest kind of manipulator is the one who knows EXACTLY what he/she is doing.

The first step in avoiding manipulators is recognizing them. There are lots of different styles of manipulators out there, but in relationships the 2 worst seem to be the "co-dependent emotional blackmailer" and the "patronizing mind-fucker". This little diatribe is about the latter kind, though both types of manipulators have the ultimate goal of controlling people. It's just that the first kind does it by playing the "sad puppy" and sulking, and the second kind, by being patronizing and supercilious. Whatever the type, manipulators get what they want by fucking with your head and your heart, instead of using open, emotionally honest communication and negotiation.

So, without further adieu, Heartless Bitches International presents a compiled list of things to be on the lookout for when getting involved in a new relationship or....

"How to recognize a Man who is a Patronizing Mind-Fucker"

(For the guys who are reading this, just change the gender references around, 'cause most of this applies to manipulative women too... and honey, they're OUT there...)

1.) He has lots of psycho-babble books on his shelves.

The primary toolset for the mind-fucker is the psychology text book. He is an expert at understanding the way people think and feel. Many have the added value of having attended "personal development" and "motivational" courses.

2.) He has had more than a few people tell him that he is "arrogant".

The manipulator has more than his share of detractors. His "friends" typically will not be his intellectual equals, because anyone with that level of intelligence has usually gotten pissed off with him, and told him which bus he can take to hell. It doesn't bother the manipulator that others find his behavior patronizing, because he believes he is just "self-confident". The manipulator will insist that "insecure" people perceive someone who is "self confident" as being "arrogant".

3.) He says he "Worships/Adores/Idolizes Women" (or words to that effect).

This is supposed to make you feel like he MUST be a good guy, since he doesn't denigrate women. Bullshit. It's patronizing. To worship anything or anyone immediately sets the worshipper apart from the object of his worship. It objectifies the worshipped person(s) such that true emotional intimacy is not possible. Not only that, but it subtly pressures the idolized person to try and live up to the guy's lofty expectations. His claim to worship also gives him a firm wall to put his back up against when he starts putting you down later on.... "I couldn't possibly dismiss your feelings or denigrate your actions, I WORSHIP women..."

Manipulators often use patronizing behavior because it allows them to control a situation, place themselves in a position of superiority, and yet claim that they are "caring" for and understanding you. If you point out that their behavior is "patronizing", they will counter by insisting that you are either insecure or misinterpreting them.

4.) He says he's "Not like all the other guys...."

A manipulative man will often try to tell you how he doesn't relate well to other men - how he is much more sensitive, and non-competitive than the vast majority of men out there. That in itself is oxymoronic, since he is by his very statements, comparing himself with, and competing against other men. Think about it:

If he really was more sensitive and less competitive, he wouldn't have to brag to you about it....
(and he wouldn't have so many people who dislike him)

Don't ever believe (or take seriously) someone who says "I'm not like the rest of humanity/men/women/dogs/whatever..." They're the least qualified judge of that... (and have the most to gain by lying/faking/misbelieving about it...)

5.) He uses thinly veiled insults

A manipulator is a control freak. He always has to be on top, especially in a discussion or argument where you are not in full agreement with him. To that end he's honed the skill of using subtly derisive comments in such a way that it's very difficult to accuse him of insulting you. eg:

The manipulator says, "Brand X cars are the best, most reliable cars on the market."
You say, "Hmmmm... I'd have to disagree. I had one for three years, and had nothing but trouble with it."
The manipulator replies, "I know many people who have never had any problems with their Brand X cars, and are all highly intelligent and excellent drivers."

It's a style which cannot be -directly- attacked as ad hominem. Sneaky, isn't it? Derails the discussion, doesn't it?

The adverbs and modifiers on his statement have no basis for being there. The subtle implication is that YOU must not be as "highly intelligent" nor "as good a driver" as the other people he knows.

If you call him on it, he'll just deny that any insult was intended, and imply that you must have self-confidence problems if you are seeing his simple conversational statements as personal attacks...

6.) He rationalizes his power-tripping as "altruistic"

Manipulators love to power trip. While they rationalize their behavior as altruism, the real reason these guys "help" others is because they get off on the sense of control that it gives them. There is also the added bonus of being able to sprinkle references about your good works in casual conversations. Many manipulators are on a mission (which borders on the evangelical) to "help" other people, even if those people don't want or appreciate the help. A manipulator is the kind of person who will make an unprovoked attack on someone's beliefs, couched in sarcasm, and then justify his behavior by saying that he was "just encouraging them to think more deeply about their convictions."

To which I say: "What the hell gives YOU the right?!"

7.) He can't handle you disagreeing with him.

If you disagree with something he says, or some opinion he holds, (and especially if you strongly disagree), he'll imply that you obviously must have some hangups about the subject matter, because it certainly couldn't have been what he said or how he said it that was the problem. He'll even go on to suggest that your problem is REALLY one of being a control freak, and that you evidently cannot handle someone not being moved over to YOUR opinions. The manipulator is a skilled wordsmith, and headgames are his forte.

8.) He asks for your opinion so he can shoot it down.

A favorite ploy of manipulators is the pretense of interest in your point of view, ideas, or solutions to problems. But a manipulator really isn't interested in learning or adopting new ideas you might have. You will also notice that he rarely asks about you, or shows much interest in what is happening in your life. If a manipulator asks you for your ideas, it's so that he can shoot them down.

9.) He deflects any responsibility for the effects of his statements.

While we are all responsible for ourselves and our feelings, we cannot deny our own responsibility in contributing to a relationship. All parties involved in a relationship bear the responsibility of making it work. If there are problems, the manipulator will insist that his actions have not impacted the relationship in any negative way.

To this end, the manipulator has all kinds of verbal tools for deflecting criticism. Any misunderstandings are always YOUR fault for choosing to perceive his actions/words the way you did.... If you're really lucky he may even go so far as to accuse you of "trying to change him", or pressure him to "stop being himself". (My response to that is: "I wouldn't DREAM of trying to change you. You can stay EXACTLY the way you are, just so long as it's FAR away from me!")

If he's on a roll, he'll accuse you of "personally attacking" him when you tell him what you find painful or unkind in his behavior. He will play all sorts of word games, in order to twist the perception, such that it looks like YOU are personally attacking him. For instance, if you tell him that you perceive one of his statements to be belittling and/or demeaning, he will insist:

  • that was not his intention,
  • that you are projecting your own interpretations on his actions,
  • that you are trying to tell him WHAT he was thinking and intending,
  • and based on all that, your comments are a personal attack on him.
  • QED.

Nice little ploy there, eh? He twists your statement about your feelings around to be, "because you feel it, you are implying I must have intended it, and because I didn't intend it, it means you are attacking me."
Bleah. If you run into this kind of thing, don't waste your breath trying to get him to understand, because this kind of person is not open to accepting your feelings as valid. Just turn and walk away.

10.) He never REALLY apologizes.

The manipulator can never truly admit he is wrong. At best, he will suggest you "agree to disagree". If he DOES apologize, it's a back-handed apology, that usually has a "but" in it:

"I'm sorry that you were upset about my not attending the party, -BUT- I had alot on my mind that day. You should have reminded me."
Notice the careful phrasing? Notice that there is NO acceptance for any responsibilty in the statement? Notice how the onus of responsibility for his non-attendance has been shifted to YOU?

A non-manipulator would likely have said something like:

"Damn. I screwed up. I'm sorry I missed that party. I know it was important to you. Next time, I'm going to have to write it down on BOTH HANDS..."

What to do when you come across a Manipulator

If you spend too much time with a manipulator, and your self-esteem is at all on shaky ground, his comments will eat away at your self-confidence. He'll talk the talk about wanting you to be self-confident and independent, but he'll undermine it with subtle and twisted contradictory statements, and even warp his body language such that it doesn't match his words. In a "relationship" we tend to trust, and CARE about what our partner's think about us, so a relationship with a manipulator can be deadly to a woman's sense of self. (Unless you have reached the pinnacle of Heartless Bitchiness, and you don't require validation from anything or anyone other than yourself.)

If someone you know is pulling stunts like those mentioned here, ditch the asshole, FAST. Because if you don't, the next thing you know, he'll be trying to suck you back in by saying that YOU are avoiding responsiblity for your actions and feelings by walking away from him. This is just oh so much CRAP. Despite what he says, "not responding" any further to him, and exiting (stage left), is VERY responsible of you. You are taking control of your life and your emotional well-being by actively dropping a severely stressful situation into the dusty bin of old memories (and minor scars) where it aptly belongs...






Forward this ARTICLE to someone who needs to answer the CLUE PHONE


Copyright© Heartless Bitches International (heartless-bitches.com) 1996, (with wonderful contributions from Richard Seymour) All Rights Reserved

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