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What's New:

  • Our Moving Beyond Challenge started yesterday – there is still time to join us. You can click here to take part in this free challenge.

  • The 2018 Conquer Conference: Be Brave, Grow Strong tickets are here. This event happening October 2018, will be amazing. You can click here for more information.

Moving Beyond the Manipulator's Tactics

By Leslie Vernick

If you want to stop being easy prey for a manipulator understand this important truth. You will never change the manipulator by confronting their tactics. They will simply switch to another tactic. So if you want to stop being easy prey for manipulators, change beings with you.

You must recognize that someone is attempting to manipulate you.

Awareness is the first step of all change. But you are not going to change the person doing the manipulating. You are going to change you. Manipulation is only effective if it works to control you. Therefore you must begin to identify what’s going on in you that keeps you easily manipulated by others.

Here are the three most common reasons we allow ourselves to be manipulated:

Fear: Fear comes in many forms. We may fear the loss of relationship, we fear the disapproval of others or we fear making someone unhappy with us. We also fear the threats and consequences of the manipulators actions. What if they actually succeed at doing what they threaten?

We’re too nice: We enjoy being a giver, making people happy, and taking care of other’s needs. We find satisfaction and our self-esteem and self-worth often comes from doing for others. However, when we don’t have a clear sense of self and good boundaries, manipulators sense this in us and exploit it to their own advantage.

Guilt: We live under a lie that we should always put other people’s wants and needs ahead of our own. When we try to speak up or put our own needs out there, manipulators often exploit us and attempt to make us feel like we are doing something wrong if we don’t always put their wants and needs ahead of our own. Manipulators define love as always doing what I want/need you to do. Therefore, if we have a different opinion, need, want or feelings, we are told we are unloving and feel guilty if we express or want to do something different.

How to move beyond a manipulator’s tactics.

Develop a clear sense of self. You need to know who you are, what you want, what you feel, and what you like and don’t like. You need not apologize for these things. They are what make you, you. Sometimes we fear that if we state what we need, feel, think or like, that means we’re being selfish.

That’s not true. It is not selfish to know who you are or what you want. That’s healthy. Selfishness is defined by demanding that you always get what you want or that other’s always put you first. In the same way, when someone else demands that of you, they are being selfish and disrespectful of your personhood.

Jesus knew who he was. Because of his strong identity in the Father’s Word, he was not manipulated when people wanted him to do things the Father did not call him to do. He also was not derailed when other’s defined him as crazy, or demon possessed.

Develop your ability to say “no” in the face of someone’s disapproval.

Healthy people live in reality. The truth is when you can’t accommodate someone else’s desires or needs, they naturally will feel disappointed. That’s human and most people will adjust and move on. Healthy people know that they don’t always get everything they want even if what they want is legitimate.

However, when you are not able to tolerate someone else’s disappointment or disapproval when you say “no”, then it’s harder for you to say it or to have good boundaries. Manipulators capitalize on this weakness and use disappointment and disapproval in extreme forms to get you to do what they want.

Read Mark 1:29-39 and see how Jesus said no to Peter and his friends who were waiting to get healed. Do you think they felt disappointed? How did Jesus handle that?

Develop a higher tolerance for the other person’s negative affect (disappointment, sadness, and/or anger) without backing down.

Of course we don’t like it when someone is disappointed in our no or angry when we won’t do what he or she wants. However, you can show empathy for someone else’s sadness or hurt or even anger without backing down and reversing our decision.

For example you can say something like, “Yes Mom I know you are disappointed and angry that we can’t come home for the holidays this year. I know it means a lot to you and Christmas just won’t be the same for you (all the tactics she’s using to guilt you into changing your mind), but this year it just isn’t possible for us to do it.” In this you acknowledge the other person’s hurt, disappointment or even anger and sit with it without giving in to their demands.

Remember, a healthy relationship is characterized by mutuality, reciprocity, and freedom. If you are in a relationship with someone who uses manipulation regularly, as you get stronger, you can invite him/her into healthy change simply by not allowing yourself to be manipulated. This will create a crisis of sorts in your relationship.

Either the manipulator will begin to back down and respect your time, your feelings, your desires and needs, or they will move on to another person who is more easily manipulated. Don’t let that be you.

My Moving Beyond People Pleasing Class will be starting at the end of this month. If you’re interested in learning more about it click here.


Forging a Strong Mother-Daughter Bond

Leslie Vernick shares two stories of moms and daughters who learned how to move beyond the cycle of manipulation and control and give and share love honestly and without fear.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter.

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus by Janet Holm McHenry are Joanne L and Lisa W.


Upcoming Events

September 28th and 29th
Conference Dallas, TX

October 12th and 13th
Conquer Conference

October 26th and 27th
1st Baptist Church
Houna, LA

November 2nd and 3rd
AACC New Life Summit
Charlotte, North Carolina http://charlotte.cmhcsummit.com/

Want to have Leslie speak at your event? Click here to find out more information.

Am I Being Too Passive in My Marriage?

Question: I’ve been reading much of your material for the past several months as I try to “figure it out.” My wife shared you with me. This is the first time I am contacting you and feel very vulnerable. I’m sure you understand.

I have struggled with pornography and sexual addiction issues since I found my Dad’s “stash” when I was 7 or 8 years old. It’s a powerful hold on a man. Dang….. I’m a Christian man who loves being a father and husband and wanted/wants to do better than my father and follow Jesus whom I love.

I’ve totally come clean with my friends, family, and church…..from the pulpit as a former elder. I hid my struggle for such a long time but now am “out.” Refreshing for me but I understand that was the beginning of my wife’s/family’s journey.

We have 2 adult children and soon to be 4 incredible grandchildren. Dear God. As they run to me saying “Papa” it gives me hope that I can still make a difference.

I’ve been in recovery for almost a decade now thru a couple of incredible ministries that maybe you’re familiar with.

New Hope in Lawrence KS with Darrell Brazell is an awesome resource. Also, the Watermark Community Church in Dallas TX ministry called Regeneration. Powerful. Both have a wonderful balance of grace and truth.

Your recent topic from a man whose wife avoided all intimacy is particularly sensitive to me.

My wife hasn’t felt comfortable with intimacy for almost 6 years now. Not just sexual but she hasn’t been able to kiss me during this time. I feel like a baby in a crib that wants to be picked up. Just the way it is. I ask on occasion but it isn’t received well.

Honestly, sometimes I handle this well…lovingly…sometimes it is frustrating and I’m sure she feels that. I plan/try to be the man God wants me to me no matter what. It seems as if she won’t ever be able to be close to me again in that way. That is really hard but I am committed and will be “here” no matter what. I’m thankful she has been willing to stay with me also. No small thing for sure.

It feels as if I’m getting more “passive” in this area and I’m not sure that is good…but it is safer and comes with less hurt.

Thank you for any wisdom/ help/suggestions you can share my way. I know you deal with a lot of men who are selfish jerks. I’ve been there but have seen our God humble me during this journey. I have so far to go.

Thank you again.

Answer: Thanks for reaching out. I suspect there are a lot of men who have gotten my material in one way or another and hang out in the shadows here trying to figure out how to heal their broken marriage. And I’m going to be working on a webinar soon for couples on how to heal broken trust.

Once trust has been broken, true intimacy with that person is impossible. You can have sex with someone you don’t trust, but you can’t have intimacy. Intimacy requires feeling safe and secure with someone. It is the ability to be vulnerable and not afraid of being mocked, rejected, or harmed in any way. I love the verse in Proverbs 31 where it says of the virtuous woman, “Her husband trusts her to do him good, not harm all the days of his life” (Proverbs 31:12).

Here’s What People are Saying About Last Conquer Conference

The Conquer Conference was the highlight of my year. I was in the thick of a messy divorce, and I had just lost my church friends because of their belief that divorce is always wrong. I found some local women who were also going, and we flew from Minnesota to PA together, bonding in a special way during our trip as well as during the conference. Just being in that large auditorium with women who had experienced similar marital distress was like a healing balm. The messages in the main sessions and the workshops were practical and inspirational. Everything was dripping with love and compassion, and we all just ate it up like starvation victims. I’ve been looking forward to the next Conquer Conference for a long time, and I’m inviting everyone I know to take advantage of this opportunity to get some tender loving care and wisdom for their healing journey.

Natalie H.


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States