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On being manipulative and self-absorbed


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What should I do if my best friend calls me manipulative and self-involved every time we get in an argument, usually because I'm depressed/lonely and feeling needy? I suppose that yes, I am or at least seem self-absorbed. It's hard to think about anything or anyone else when you are in that much pain. But the word manipulative really upsets me. I don't feel like asking a friend to be there for you because you aren't feeling well is being manipulative.

 

For example I would say something like: "I really need you right now, I'm in a really bad place."  NOT: "If you don't tell me you love me I'm going to go self-harm."

 

Can someone just tell me if my thinking is right or wrong or what because I don't really know anymore. 

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One suggestion,  you could ask her to give you a specific example of when you are 'manipulative.'

This will help you to understand her point of view and determine if you need to change your behavior.

Just tossing the word at you does not help you to understand, or grow, or decide you disagree.

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How much are you asking? I mean, are you there for her when she needs you to be there for her? Because if it's a one-way street in your direction, I can see how someone could see that as being self-absorbed, or say they feel like they are being manipulated.

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I'm always there for her. I don't always say the right thing or respond the way she wants me to, but I always try. She claims its a one way street though, that it's always about me. And I can admit that I need her more than she needs me, but I'm NOT selfish. I'm not self-absorbed. I ask how her day was. I ask if she needs to talk. Most of the time she just won't let me in/won't open up. So fine, I leave her alone. 

 

I want to know how I can make her see that I'm not trying to manipulate her. That I do care about her.  

 

I'm all out of ideas. I guess we're doomed. 

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Is she your only support?

Sometimes people feel very overwhelmed if they feel they are responsible for someone, even as a friend, especially if they perceive that they are your only support, which your friend might because you use the term ' I really need you' which places the onus of responsibility on that person, since you specified that you need them, them alone and not other support.

 

 It can make people nervous and stressed, because whilst they might want to do the right thing, and I believe that they probably do, it may be beyond what they are capable of providing.  Often people are not in any shape to offer support to someone else and attempting to do so will cause them great distress and be of little help to the person who requested help. Some times it's necesary to understand what your friend is and is not capable of responding to. I think you need to consider that people are fallable, and it's not really their fault. Some things need professional attention. 

 

I suggest that for a short time to make your relationship less about 'need' and more about enjoying each other as people, not as saviours. 

If you feel in need of support I recommend voicing your want in less specific terms, such as asking her if she feels like chatting on the phone, and giving her the option to say no, ask for specific non demanding activities, such as ask if she would like to come over to watch a movie ( you still get her company but she will likely feel less pressured).

 

The term manipulative is unpleasant, your friend is probably struggling. I would as people have said ask what she considers manipulative and see if there is anyway to avoid acting in that manner. Or it might be that your friend is un - reasonable.

 

I do think that some things are best left to people that are well equipped to deal with serious emotional crisis, mainly tdocs or support lines, how about in times of distress you post on the boards? or chat? Chat is good because there is an immediate response.

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Thing is, while friendship is about supporting someone, it isn;t about being their therapist or saviour. Nor is it about shoring up their self esteem or being on call for their crises. I hear that you care about her and show it, but your question doesn;t seem to acknowledge that you're asking her for something she feels that she cannot give. Manipulative is a word she is using, maybe not the best one, to try to get across that she is putting up a boundary.

 

If your reaction to that is to insist that she is wrong and she ought to give you what you need because you do it for her, then yes, that is manipulative, it is making her 'owe' you for what you do for her. Even if your two reciprocate and the support is mutual, you both have limits. You are both well within your rights at any time to put up a boundary and get some space.

 

If your reaction to what she says is not to consider asking someone else for support or seeing if you can cope with some of this yourself, rather than push her to do it for you, then that is probably what she talking about.

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I can relate to Titania's assessment of the situation because it sounds eerily similar to what I now understand as the reason one of my friendships fell apart.  

 

I had a very close friend that I came to rely too much on.  Similarly to yours, she put out boundary signals.  I feel guilty now that I should have read those signals more carefully but at the time I just found it to be confusing.  I already knew I was being too needy and had even apologized previously for being a needy asshole.  But I didn't know *how* to change that, and my personal confusion over her boundary signals just compounded my needy feelings and behaviors.  One last incident was the straw that broke that camels back.  She wouldn't even let me try to apologize at that point.

 

The friend I hurt used to remind me a lot that she stood behind all sorts of advice she gave by saying "I promise, this isn't just lip service."  When I didn't listen to the words coming out of her mouth she REALLY showed what she meant with her feet instead, and walked away for good.

 

Sometimes just seeking to talk about the problem comes across as needy.  Some things can't be resolved through words alone and require visible action to communicate change.  Can you try to channel your feelings elsewhere and show her through actions (I guess in this case actually a sort of lack of action toward her), rather than just words, that you do hear what she is saying and you do respond to the feelings behind her words?

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