Surviving the Manipulators and Head Game Players In Your Life

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Surviving The Manipulators and Head Game Players In Your Life

Surviving the Manipulators and Head Game Players In Your Life is written by James C. Tanner, Author of Excelling In The Face Of Personal Chaos .

Everyday our lives cross paths with friends and strangers. Some people we have known for a long time, while others we have known for perhaps only a few seconds. Every relationship, whether it be new or old, involves some form of economic systemic exchange of deposits and withdrawals. The exchanges or social “investments” we make, bares witness to our true social economic skill set.

“There are those whose primary ability is to spin the wheels of manipulation. It is their second skin and without these spinning wheels, they simply do not know how to function.” – C. JoyBell

Why He Doesn't Love You Anymore by James C Tanner. Self-help for those struggling with the pain of a broken heart, rejection, and emotional abandonment.

Every business coach knows and understands the underlying necessity of being able to accurately analyze business ventures in an attempt to identify an accurate past Return on Investment (ROI), as well as a projected ROI. Our social interactions are no different. Every now and then, we find ourselves, directly or indirectly, taking time to analyze our social ventures in an attempt to determine if we are experiencing a positive social return on our relational investment. In the midst of our social analysis, we can and will discover those who relationally take more from us, than invest in their relationship with us. In short, their social account with us is continually running “in the red”, and we are having to over invest our personal energies and social interactions in an attempt to fill the void their lack of investment has created. Social management often parallel’s in appearance the same checks and balances found in financial management.

Healthy social interaction involves a balance of giving to, and receiving from each other. Some individuals continually walk through life out of balance in the way they relate to others. Manipulators, and head game players continually run their social interactions “in the red”. They rarely add to a relationship they are involved in for one reason…they simply do not care about you!

Psychological manipulation (a.k.a. manipulation, head game playing, etc.) is simply defined as the use of subversive, or undue influence through some form of mental distortion, deliberate manipulation of facts to create a more personally acceptable outcome, excessive use of power of suggestion or emotional exploitation with the intent to hold power over someone, steer a person in a direction they would have not otherwise taken, control, gain some form of personal benefit or privilege from a person at that person’s personal expense. Manipulation can take on the guise of “being in your best interest”, when in reality, it is only in the best interest of the manipulator.


Distinguishing Healthy Social Influence From Psychological Manipulation

It’s often been said that marriage requires a relationship where two parties each give 100 percent of their effort and commitment to building a solid relationship. A healthy marriage reflects the style of interactions which occur inside most healthy social exchanges – it is a healthy balance of giving and taking.

Manipulators and head game players use another person for the benefit of the manipulator or head game player. The act of a manipulator or head game player is “self” focused, and as such, has no genuine benefit to the party being manipulated.

Directly or indirectly a manipulator or head game player is declaring to the targeted party, “You are not good enough as you are, and I must change you into my puppet before I can accept you.”   Manipulators and head game players, through their actions, openly declare their lack of ability to relate to you from a position of integrity, choosing instead to relate to you from a position of deceipt and deception.


Common Characteristics of Manipulators and Head Game Players

In any scenario where a manipulator or head game player can thrive, there are common characteristics or common denominators which exist:

  1. They have studied you long enough to already know your weaknesses, or how best to covertly locate them.
  2. Once identified a manipulator or head game player exploits you by using your weaknesses to his or her benefit.
  3. When you initially stand up for yourself, manipulators or head game players love to spin matters sending you into a guilt trip, trying to make you feel bad for thinking and feeling the way you do towards them.
  4. Through complex and the shrewd knitting together of events, interactions and circumstances, manipulators or head game players convince their targets to give up (sacrifice) something of themselves in order to satisfy the manipulator’s and head game player’s often psychotic self-serving interests.
  5. They continually bombard their target through pleading, begging, and repeating their request over and over again until they wear their target’s resistance down.
  6. In advance stages, manipulators and head game players will often resort to name calling; personal attacks; belittling comments; subtle public put downs where only the manipulator as well as target understands what is being referred to; and sometimes private threats of physical attack; all the while in public acting as if nothing is wrong and the problem is all in the victim’s head.
  7. Manipulators and head game players continually discount and diminish their target’s feelings.
  8. Manipulators and head game players, when confronted, blame their target for their behaviour (“If they didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be this way.”)
  9. They appear to treat their target quite normally while in public, but in private the manipulative nightmare goes on and on.
  10. Manipulators and head game players rarely explain themselves, but often justify their actions by telling their target, “Everyone agrees with me, you have a problem.”
  11. Manipulators become great liars, who are filled with empty apologies, and empty promises.
  12. In school, work, romantic, social, or family situations, once a manipulator or head game player succeeds in taking advantage of their target, just as with a blackmailer where the blackmailer says, “Pay me and I will go away never to be seen or heard from again”, the manipulator or head game player will never stop at “just this once” but will repeat the violation until the target puts a stop to the exploitation, refusing to dance like a puppet on the ends of the manipulator’s strings.

Most of us walk through life wanting to be the best friend we possibly can be to mankind. We enter relationships with the best of intentions, and over time as relational walls come down, our vulnerability increases. Sadly, in this world, there are those who walk through life with deep-seated and psychologically entrenched patterns whereby they seek out the vulnerability in others for their own pleasure. There is only “a cost” (relational withdrawal) when it comes to befriending and investing in relationships with manipulators or head game players.

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How Do We Correct Manipulative or Head Game Playing Relationships?

Sadly, due to the deeply entrenched make up of a manipulator or head game player, ending a relationship with such a person is most often the healthiest direction to take, rather than trying to correct it over time while trying to stay inside the relationship.

Manipulation and head game playing is, in any form, psychological or emotional abuse. It is a form of bullying. The family court system recognizes this and strips parental custody from parents who conduct themselves in this manner with their children, especially when it entails turning the children against the other parent.

There are several things a manipulated or head game played person needs to know:

  1. You are worthy of a healthy relationship.
  2. You are worthy of respect in your relationships.
  3. This isn’t about your faults or weaknesses, but about the abusive behaviour of your manipulator or head game player.
  4. In any manipulative situation, you always have the opportunity and/or right to look your manipulator in the face and say “No” without personal endangerment or harmful consequence.
  5. A psychological manipulator can escalate in their intimidation (bullying) tactics, and as long as they perceive you to be weak. In most cases, they will persist in targeting you.  At some point in time, a safe form of confrontation may become necessary.
  6. You are the only author or your own personal relational boundaries, and when a manipulator or head game player persists in violating your boundaries (figuratively speaking — cross the line you have drawn in the sand), you must be prepared to deploy enforceable consequences. This might include ending the friendship, job, romantic relationship, or marriage. It might also require a legal, or police intervention.


Manipulators and head game players, may be approachable, but don’t fool yourself into thinking, maybe I can get through to him or her.  At their core, manipulators and head game players are not interested in communicating, they are only interested in having control, and being right. If you are the target of a manipulator or head game player, then your only interest should be in getting yourself into a healthier social environment. In life, some doors open, and there are a few doors where we must, for our own well-being, slam shut!


About the Author:

James C. Tanner is a highly published writer, author and business coach who has written heavily on topics related to business, marketing, and psychology.  In June of 2007, when all publishers had completed their tallies, it was found that the accumulated writings of James C. Tanner was reaching a potential audience of 12,000,000 readers per month. James C. Tanner has founded, built up and sold his own businesses.  He has written and taught business skills courses for clients such as the Government of Canada.




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