Any interaction with another person has the potential to involve some type of mind game. In fact, many of us are quite good at playing mind games in relationships. The problems start when the mind games are used for dubious purposes. Unscrupulous people want to be in control and many have learned how to push other people’s buttons and pick up on subtle emotional signals in order to manipulate the other. Mind games involve manipulation, twisting the facts and creating doubt to destabilise another person. Here are some examples of mind games in relationships and tips to counteract them:
The more tumultuous someone’s childhood was, the more likely they are to engage in mind games. As a powerless child faced with unfair and unreasonable parents, children learn ways to manipulate the situation in a subtle passive way in order to cope emotionally. Many take these dysfunctional coping mechanisms into their adult relationships.
Twisting the facts
Playing mind games involves twisting the facts of a situation in order to suit the manipulator’s version of events. They will see the situation their way and will generally lack the empathy to understand another person’s point of view. They will ignore feelings and repeat their version of events, effectively voiding any other point of view of a situation. This can be extremely frustrating for the partner who feels misheard and misunderstood.
Deflecting and dismissing
Someone is definitely playing mind games when they dismiss your feelings. They will say something upsetting and when you react, you are told you are “Too sensitive”. A healthy, carting person will not like upsetting someone else and make a point not to do it again. A person playing mind games will make a mental note of that weakness and keep it as a weapon to be used in the future to control and manipulate. Another tactic is when you try to talk to your partner about their behaviour or about something you don;t like that they do. Instead of listening and communicating, a person playing mind games will merely deflect the conversation and your concerns with a reply such as ” Well you did the same thing last week and that’s why I do it”. There is no acceptance of responsibility – somehow their behaviour gets blamed on something you have done.
Creating self doubt in another
“What are you doing that for?”, “Why are you thinking like that?” etc. A mind game player will do their best to shake the foundations of your beliefs and ideas about the world. The more confusion and self doubt, the easier it is to influence you.
“If you truly cared, you wouldn’t do it” is an example of emotional blackmail. You are made to feel you do not care enough and in this way they control your behaviour.
Subtle erosion of confidence
Over time, mind game players ‘groom’ you into doubting yourself and this undermines confidence. They may also throw in comments like, “You are lucky to have me, no one else will love you like I do” or “You on’t find someone else to love you”. Instead of bringing out the best in you, they chip away at your confidence to keep you feeling unworthy. As a result, you will be less likely to leave the relationship.
If you think you are experiencing mind games in your relationship, you probably are. Second guessing yourself is common in relationships where mind games are rife. Learn to recognise the types of mind games and don’t play the game.