I am not an enthusiast of history; in fact, history sounds like a hive of bees droning in the space above and around me and unfortunately, it creates no buzz for me. As soon as I could, I dropped the history option in my O’Levels like a hot potato and said good riddance to the ennui of it all. History enthusiasts will differ with me but worry not, I am about to make history look a little bit sexy.
From the little I have read and watched about Cleopatra, there are many adjectives that have been used to describe her: a woman of great beauty (what about that large nose?), cunning and persuasive; some scholars and dare I say feminists will applaud Cleopatra for using her beauty, wit and knowledge to charm her way through life. Others might differ and say that Cleopatra was manipulative – that she used her beauty, wit and charm to wile others and get what she wanted. I am no historian or feminist, but I have heard it said that where a woman schemes, a man is seen to strategize and where a man commands, a woman is seen to manipulate.
Back to the present day, some Eves and Adams have mastered the art of manipulation – no, not the physical aspect (to handle or operate with the hands ;)) – but the psychological aspect: to adapt, change or influence to suit one’s purpose.
Manipulation plays to the psyche of a person in order to yield certain demands or reactions. Sometimes, when one partner is unhappy with something in a relationship or wants things to go in a different way, there is an inclination to resort to forms of manipulation such as pulling the waterworks (tears), provoking jealousy in order to get the ‘right’ attention, using flattery or exaggerated compliments, taking a partner on a guilt trip, withholding the cookie, silent treatment, etc.
Think of the example of a wife who stocks up the fridge and pantry with beer and nuts in order to get her hubby to stay home with her instead of hooking up with the boys. It would be difficult for her husband to explain why he needed to drink beer and pick on nuts in a bar. Apart from missing his mates (and the flirtatious waitress ;)), this man will feel manipulated into staying indoors and will soon feel asphyxiated. In essence, manipulation is an unfair way to get what you want and very possibly at the expense of another.
Manipulation involves a lot of mind games. Men can promise the world just to get a woman into bed but women can promise a man a lot in bedroom ways just to have things go their way. The truth is that in a game, there is always a winner and a loser. So whilst one partner may think they are having their cake and eating it, the danger is that the other partner may grow immune to such manipulation or even tire of the games. The likely result is that the relationship will have suffered more than gained.
One of the characteristics of manipulation in relationships is people who don’t want to deal with the truth – they are averse to tackling issues directly and go around in circles so that the other partner is left confused and wondering whether or not they have been involved in a witch dance of some sort. In the same vein, such people avoid responsibility in a relationship and always want to play – in short, things are always done ‘TO them’. Such persons may appear as very sensitive but in actual fact, they are on a constant unquenchable quest for empathy, mostly undeserved or unnecessary.
There are tons of tips out there, especially on the World Wide Web about how to manipulate your Eve or Adam and have your way with them. However, I doubt that there is enough advice on how to keep them after you have roped them in with your scheming ways but who knows, we can all get very creative!
I remember some time back reading a magazine article about manipulation in relationships and I have to say that I did not like what I read at the time. However, in hindsight I think that the article made sense and it was I who was not willing to accept what I was reading, or rather the realization of it all. The article talked about how people contribute to being manipulated in a relationship – whether it is at work, within the family or in a romantic relationship. People who manipulate others are good at identifying people they can control because there are certain characteristics that allow for that manipulation to take place. These characteristics are such as: people who feel loved or appreciated when they constantly do things for others; people who have a hard time saying no (and meaning it); people with low self esteem or who are constantly seeking approval, etc – you get the drift. The article was encouraging ‘enablers’ of manipulation to recognize these tendencies and do something about if they wanted their relationships to be less manipulative. This is what some people would call growth.
If you think of it, to succeed in manipulating the other, one needs a reasonable amount of thought to craft and execute the mind games. Wouldn’t it be better to put such thought and effort to work on open communication skills in the relationship that would more likely produce a win-win situation?
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