You Don’t Have to Be Overrun by Manipulative People - Finds.Life.Church

You Don’t Have to Be Overrun by Manipulative People

by Michelle Meisner

It’s easy to love people who are sweet to you. But what if the people you love the most end up hurting you the deepest? How are you supposed to respond when you begin to see someone in your life is using you as a means to their own personal gain? First, you don’t have to be overrun by manipulative people! It’s our job to love, yes, but there’s a line between being loving and being overrun. To find that balance, we’ll need boundaries, more love, and wisdom!

So many of us have experienced manipulative people without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes not so much. It’s the cousin who calls only when he needs something. It’s the friends who show up when there’s free food or fun plans. Even worse, it’s the spouse who always gives compliments or gifts in return for your loyalty to them—without giving you the time, energy, or vulnerability to make the relationship stronger. It’s manipulative, it’s self-serving, and the good news is: You don’t have to be overrun by manipulative people.

How to have healthy relationships with manipulative people.

  1. Set boundaries. This isn’t mean; this is wise! Psalm 55:21 NLT says: His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers! Just because someone is nicely asking you to do something, be something, or say something doesn’t mean you have to. Example: If your kids want to stay up until midnight on a school night, even if they ask very kindly, they probably already know they can’t. Why? Because you’ve set wise, healthy boundaries for bedtime! Likewise, we all need boundaries in our relationships—especially those that are wearing on you.
  1. Be loving but clear. Whether you’re enforcing your boundaries or you’re asking for clarity in language, you can do so with love. You can gently say no to going to dinner on Friday night. You can tell your spouse you need more vulnerability and honesty. You can enjoy time with someone without agreeing to let them hang out with you 24/7 and buy all of their groceries. Don’t love people by giving in. This doesn’t deepen the bonds of friendship in the long run. Choose to love with honesty and grace, and trust your relationships to God to help them grow in the right direction!
  2. Ask God for wisdom. God wants us to ask for His wisdom! He even says this in His Word. James 1:5 NIV says: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. What a promise! Do you need wisdom to handle a manipulative situation? Ask God! Do you need help knowing how to respond to a spouse, a friend, or a child? Ask God for it in prayer. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Try these three words next time you’re at a loss: Holy Spirit, help.

I wish I could say that it’s always easy to deal with manipulative people, but it’s not. It can be tiring. However, people can change! Some people just need to learn your limits and preferences. Boundaries may seem harsh at first, but boundaries may be the very things that hold you together. It could mean sending people who force themselves into your life to voicemail sometimes. They’ll be okay, and it will help you set some boundaries. Maybe you need to tell your child that you’ll no longer be helping with their rent. Just because they made some bad choices on how to spend their money doesn’t mean you’re going to continue to enable the process and bail them out. Sure, they may struggle for a few months, but they’ll figure it out, and you’ll both likely be stronger because of it. Maybe you have to say no to going out on Tuesday night because you need to be home putting your own kids to bed. It’s okay! Ask God for His wisdom and grace, and you can be sure that you’ll receive it!