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HowlingWolf

Manipulation?

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Thank you so much to anyone who reads all of this. i feel that i am in a very bad situation and I dont know what to do.

I have only ever been manipulated and abused in relationships. I have even been manipulated by my own family. I don't know how to tell and I always want to see the good in people. I know I'm vulnerable and an easy target, but that doesn't mean that only manipulators would try to date me. My problem is that I've been dating this guy for 3 months and I have no idea if he is genuinely trying to help me, or if he is a good manipulator. He has proven that he is extremely intelligent, thus very capable of manipulating me if he wanted to. He's even told me that someone could easily manipulate me, and he seemed to be saying this for me to realize it and be aware of it. However, it could also be one epic game. How do I know or am I being afraid because I don't know any different? 

So here's what's been going on to cause me to start to question things. When we first met, he seemed a lot more interested in trying to help me. He was more listening, less judgemental, and more open minded. The only odd thing about him to me at the time was that he told me upfront that the clothes I wear was going to be a problem. I know I'm far from conservative, but I always grew up learning as long as I cover up what's important, the rest doesn't matter. Well, it's a big deal to him if I'm wearing short, shorts. Other than thtlay, it was all great. He even quit smoking because I didn't like it.

Things started going a little down hill when one, I was caught on dating websites. He admitted to me he is paranoid about being cheated on again, so he searched to see if I ever took my profiles down, which I didn't. I was also active on them, genuinely only talking. He got hurt. Soon after, he started getting into a depressive rut. I think a lot of things piling up between me, his job, other life things. So his mood shifted and it was obvious. He got colder towards me and started showing no empathy, but talked plenty about his own issues. Now this is common among a lot of people with depression from my personal experiences from trying to help friends and volunteering on websites. So, of course I make excuses for him not being so nice. Though, I wouldn't go as far as to say he's being really derogatory either. Cold and lacking empathy as well as selfish. All not so good. 

 

It got worse when he went on my facebook (he had my permission to access it even though he expresses he feels kinda bad for looking probably because he would have even if he didn't have my permission) and found messages between me and ex where we were flirting. granted, I blew him off, but it was enough to hurt him more especially after still being on the dating websites. At this point, he hasn't been the same. He got more cold and started to have zero empathy what so ever. It doesn't matter how hurt I am, he turns it back on himself. He started to make some jabs at me to some degree. Like saying immature and pointing out some of my flaws. He also called me a whore.... which I felt was unfair given the situation. He started smoking again and keeps saying he will quit, but hasn't. When I pointed that out he got upset and said thanks for making me feel like a failure. Then I told him all I did was point that out which is something he does to me all the time. he said nothing back. Typically when I point out something he does that I don't like he will apologize and say he will try to work on it, but it's too soon to tell if he is going to keep with it. We have only been dating for a few months. 

 

Now for the big stuff. As some background he does have PTSD from his job. He sees a lot of bad things on a regular basis and is around a lot of bad people all the time. So he often is going to expect the worst probably. Anyway, after awhile he started to tell me he believes my entire family (except my mom who he thinks I'm being too hard on) are manipulative. He is on the fence with my grandparents who are very important to me. Anyway, he has made it clear he won't be friendly or nice to them because of this. My dad started dating his current wife when she was 16 and because he's treated me poorly, he said he won't be able to contain his anger if he ever meets him.

He claims my aunt is likely plotting custody of my son. She did make a statement about taking him and me going to stay with my grandparents because she didn't like my parenting methods. However, this aunt is letting me and my son stay in her home as long as I want rent free so I can save up money. She paid for our flight from out of state when my husband had thrown me out because he was done dealing with my depression. She has given us a place to stay. Throughout my stay she has been rather controlling, but I always assume it's because she cares. For example, she attempted to put an 11pm curfew on me. Before that she would stay awake waiting to see when i got home. she was extremely pissed off when i came home at 2:30am. As a disclaimer, she agreed to watch my son all night or i wouldnt have stayed out. I'm 27 with a 4 year old child. So, I felt this to be ridiculous.Her reasoning was so I could get enough sleep for my son. Then, she tried to tell me that I have to earn my babysitting hours and that I wasn't allowed to have my grandparents babysit. This majorly pissed them off. All of it seemed to be with good intentions, but a poor method of getting what she wants. Others have also said she can be a controlling bitch. No one's perfect though. 

The real issue is that my boyfriend claims she has 5 security cameras in her house. He is extremely talented at programming and building computers. So he used my laptop to hack into their server. I watched the first part of him getting in, but didn't see him actually access it. He deleted some of the videos the first time. After that, my aunt called me to tell me about their thermostat and that they had a camera in it. the camera stream goes to an app on her husband's phone. However, one camera in the thermostat is not 5 through the house. My boyfriend said legally she cannot admit to that, because he says one is in my bedroom. Later, he hacked them again to delete some of the video of us. This time, he said he accessed the videos where as last time he did it to see if there were cameras and how many. Anyway, he said he found that one video in particular (it was sexual) was watched 26 times. Whether both my aunt and uncle have seen it, we don't know. Either way, he wants nothing to do with them. In addition, there have been cars driving by the house that I don't recognize (I've seen them with my own eyes). He claims one of them followed him half way home one night. 

In the middle of all this, he claims he got a Facebook message from an anonymous user that told him he was verbally abusive to me, that I'm keeping him at arms length, etc. These are things I talked to one of my friends about via Facebook messenger. So either she sent that message, or he hacked my facebook (this would be well before he saw the messages between me and my ex which he admitted to going on there for) And read our conversation. He told me that he thought I sent it to him and it were things I didn't have the courage to tell him. Which isn't true. He was extremely upset over that message. I told my friend and she swears she did not send that message. she is known for being a major gossip, but I have no idea if this is something she would do or not. She said if she would, she wouldn't have done so anonymously. 

 

Some other things about him is that he has been encouraging me to be more independent which is new for me. He usually only points out issues, but he's given me some advice on a few things. he's normal thing is that he can't make that choice for me, but that could just be him manipulating me. Manipulators won't need to tell someone what they want them to do, right? Not if they are e good. it could be part of the game so he doesn't seem manipulative, or am I being paranoid and he's trying to help me? None of my friends have a clue. He also wants to see me everyday if possible. He gets along great with my son. He is really good with him and shows genuine interest in him. He's even gone out of his way for him and wants to help. Has given me ideas for how to help him with some of his issues and helped me look into getting him into a better school. He hates that I have two male friends and doesn't believe opposite genders can just be friends. He claims he has nightmares of me cheating on him. 

Through much of this (hence the camera issues and people driving by the house), my aunt and uncle have been out of state. They came back a few days ago and have been acting normal. I haven't gotten any bad vibes, except that I've only seen them once since their return. This could have something to do with my grandparents wanting them to leave me alone more. My grandparents always take my side, which pisses a lot of people off. Also, when I got home I found dude clothes in my bathroom. my son and I are the only ones who use it. My initial thought was that my boyfriend left them from one of the times he stayed over. He says he didn't leave anything and is very careful knowing where all his things are at all times because of his job. So that is extremely unlikely. I never saw them before they got there either.... They weren't in plain sight. So that means either my aunt and uncle planted them there to pretend they were found, or my boyfriend put them somewhere to piss them off. My aunt and uncle have said nothing. if I knew where it was found, that would help answer it, but my anxiety would choke me to death before I could ever ask. 

 

What are your thoughts and thanks again for reading all of this. 

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Girl, you know. Trust your intuition. It's quite hard to do in the middle of all the confusion, but you do know how to tell ìf people are good or bad to you, and why. If you didn't know he is manipulating you, you wouldn't ask us. Trust your intuition, dont' let anybody make you doubt yourself.
Try to talk about this with people you trust, people that had been there for you for years, and people you know want the best for you always. I think the most safe think for you to do is to get away from him as fast as you can.

You'll figure everything out better if you don't spend so much time with him.

Best wishes ♥♥

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Howling Wolf - By your account, I'm considerably more inclined to be concerned about the manipulation from your aunt, which is not at all subtle. Threatening to take away your child, applying a curfew to a 27-year-old woman, keeping you under video surveillance? All of these things shout C-O-N-T-R-O-L, which is the goal of the manipulator.

With regard to the boyfriend, the pattern is less clear. It must be pointed out that you have directly contributed to the behaviors of his that you question as being manipulative. If you are aware that your being on dating sites concerns him, why do you persist in going there? You say that he saw a place where you and your ex had been flirting - flirting while you are dating this man? Why would you do that? Did you tell him you would remove your profiles? If so, why did you not do as you said you would do? Even though you are aware that these things concern him, you give him access to your accounts so that he can see them. Is this sensible? While you may have had no other motive than to chat with friends, the overall appearance of your behavior might easily lead the casual observer to conclude that you were unsatisfied with your relationship. Your boyfriend, who has a committed stake in the affair, would have to be a model of forbearance not to form a similar conclusion. The fact that he has reacted negatively, or has withdrawn somewhat, does not necessarily point to manipulation on his part, although it may be an exaggerated reaction to cause you to notice his distress, as you seem to be unaware of your ability to cause it.

From your description, it sounds to me as if he can see through the manipulation your aunt exerts on you, does not like it, and is trying to both protect you (subverting the surveillance system) and encouraging you to be more independent (i.e., get out from under your aunt's control). Your suggestion that he is encouraging you to be more independent because a clever manipulator encourages the person they want to manipulate to be independent is illogical. A manipulator might encourage you to be more dependent upon him than upon others, but not more dependent upon yourself. The more dependence you have on yourself, the more resistance you have to any manipulation.

If he suffers from PTSD, it is not improbable that he deals with a certain amount of paranoia himself, which could translate into a degree of paranoia about you cheating on him or leaving him. This could cause him to behave in ways that he hopes will draw you closer to him or endear you to him, which is not the same thing as manipulation. Were that the case, every human interaction would have to be termed a manipulation because we are each always trying to encourage another to behave the way we would like. Is he trying to court you? Probably. Is he trying to control you? Probably not.

Your aunt, on the other hand, sounds like a whack job, and dangerous. The cameras would be a signal, at least for me, to get the hell out of Dodge.

Edited by Cerberus
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Thank you for the links. They were helpful, but my answers were all over the place on whether or not the signs are present. Based on the quiz you posted, I'm in a healthy relationship.

 

Cerberus, 

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I did not continue to go on the sites. I stopped immediately when he said something and that was very early in the relationship. I've been all over the place and went through a sabatoge period, but I've gotten past that. 

 

Your reply was helpful and I appreciate it. I do plan on leaving the house as soon as I am able. My aunt is insanely controlling, however, she spends little time in that house. She has been staying in another house out of state so that helps until I can get on my feet. 

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UPDATE: So instead of making a new topic, i thought I would post here again. I could really use some more advice. 

 

Things with my boyfriend have been alright, but again there is a huge issue. So, there is some evidence of cameras in the house, but not enough that I am fully convinced he is not lying to me. He is not a people person and works in an environment where seeing death is normal. He is convinced that my aunts husband is watching videos fron the cameras for sexual purposes (no evidence of this except for a suspected camera in my bedroom, he says why else would it be there?). Now, he is so angry about it he has threatened to confront them about it which for him would not be pretty. Now my aunt has been there for me throughout my life and asked for nothing in return so it makes no sense that she is the bad person despite her controlling behavior. But he makes excuses. He hates my dad who did treat me terribly as a child, i will not deny that. My dad has been saying he wants a relationship with me again. But, my boyfriend says if he ever meets him, same thing.... Serious confrontation. He says he will not pretend if he has something to say he will say it. Even my grandparents who have been more like parents to me. He has no ill will towards them, but is still rude to them because they encourage me to try and have a relationship with my dad. He also hates that they try to influence me to do what they think is best, though in the end, they still support my decisions. My grandparents mean a lot to me and he says i am expecting him to bend over backwards for them. Keeping the peace with my family is very important to me, but for him, i am asking too much. So where does that leave me?

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19 minutes ago, HowlingWolf said:

UPDATE: So instead of making a new topic, i thought I would post here again. I could really use some more advice. 

 

Things with my boyfriend have been alright, but again there is a huge issue. So, there is some evidence of cameras in the house, but not enough that I am fully convinced he is not lying to me. He is not a people person and works in an environment where seeing death is normal. He is convinced that my aunts husband is watching videos fron the cameras for sexual purposes (no evidence of this except for a suspected camera in my bedroom, he says why else would it be there?). Now, he is so angry about it he has threatened to confront them about it which for him would not be pretty. Now my aunt has been there for me throughout my life and asked for nothing in return so it makes no sense that she is the bad person despite her controlling behavior. But he makes excuses. He hates my dad who did treat me terribly as a child, i will not deny that. My dad has been saying he wants a relationship with me again. But, my boyfriend says if he ever meets him, same thing.... Serious confrontation. He says he will not pretend if he has something to say he will say it. Even my grandparents who have been more like parents to me. He has no ill will towards them, but is still rude to them because they encourage me to try and have a relationship with my dad. He also hates that they try to influence me to do what they think is best, though in the end, they still support my decisions. My grandparents mean a lot to me and he says i am expecting him to bend over backwards for them. Keeping the peace with my family is very important to me, but for him, i am asking too much. So where does that leave me?

First of all, I have to ask in regards to the cameras, are you sure that he is not mentally ill and having delusions?

Secondly, I think you need to set boundaries and stand up to him when he tries to interfere in your relations with your family. Just because he is your boyfriend doesn't give him a right to interfere. Are you afraid of standing to him on these issues? If so, what are you afraid of? People generally negotiate relationships as to what they will or will not tolerate. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.

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No, im not sure. He claims he was able to hack them once and saw 5, then got locked out. He was saying that there was a camera in the thermostat and the next day I got a call from my aunt with her telling me there was a camera in the thermostat. He said that to test her. So that's all the proof i have if that's even enough. She said all those thermostats have a camera, but I looked them up and they so not. So i dont know what to think of that. However, she genuinely does seem to be oblivious to any of my conversations i had with him there except for that one. Her behavior seems relatively consistent despite him denying it and making excuses. 

 

He thinks it does give him the right to interfere and that he should not have to be nice to them. For example, my dad dated a 15 year old which is something that goes against my boyfriends morals and something he cannot tolerate. My dad married that girl when she became an adult. He also blames him for a lot of my depression issues. My dad even used to have me help him pick out a mail order bride (before he met the young girl) and they were a bunch of 18 year olds in string bikinis. Just bad influence for a young girl and he says he cannot be nice or civil to that. He also says he cannot tolerate a camera in my bedroom. 

Edited by HowlingWolf

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I had a similar question as jt...the camera doesn't sound real.  it sounds like you're not 100% sure it is either, though I'm not sure what exactly to do with that. 

It seems like at a minimum you could have him not make contact with them.  Is that at all a possibility? 

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Just to be clear ... he doesn't have to like your dad's choices or agree with them. He has every right even not to be nice to him. HOWEVER, he has no right to tell you how your relationship with your father should be. That's your business. And you need to set a boundary here.

As for the camera in the bedroom. If I really thought that there was a camera in my bedroom, I would not tolerate that either. However, the question is whether there really is a camera in your bedroom or not. If so, get rid of it. If not, then it is a delusion of his, and he needs to seek medical help.

As I read this, I do not see him being deliberately manipulative. I see someone who feels righteous with regard to your father, and I see someone who is of questionable mental health with regard to the cameras. You should ask him to show further proof of a camera in your bedroom. And if he hacked the camera, he wouldn't see content that was recorded, only what the camera is seeing at the moment he hacked it. To hack the recorded content, he would have had to hack somebody's computer. It just seems like a long stretch and far-flung story to be real.

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17 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

I had a similar question as jt...the camera doesn't sound real.  it sounds like you're not 100% sure it is either, though I'm not sure what exactly to do with that. 

It seems like at a minimum you could have him not make contact with them.  Is that at all a possibility? 

I am afraid to talk to him about the camera thing because he is so convinced it seems. We even talked about it with his own family some. He even wants to confront my aunt about them. Like, whoa. Is he just convinced there must be a camera out of paranoia (he does have PTSD) and i understand paranoia because i get it in waves. 

 

And yes, keeping them apart is a possibility, it is just a sad one. 

 

19 minutes ago, jt07 said:

Just to be clear ... he doesn't have to like your dad's choices or agree with them. He has every right even not to be nice to him. HOWEVER, he has no right to tell you how your relationship with your father should be. That's your business. And you need to set a boundary here.

As for the camera in the bedroom. If I really thought that there was a camera in my bedroom, I would not tolerate that either. However, the question is whether there really is a camera in your bedroom or not. If so, get rid of it. If not, then it is a delusion of his, and he needs to seek medical help.

As I read this, I do not see him being deliberately manipulative. I see someone who feels righteous with regard to your father, and I see someone who is of questionable mental health with regard to the cameras. You should ask him to show further proof of a camera in your bedroom. And if he hacked the camera, he wouldn't see content that was recorded, only what the camera is seeing at the moment he hacked it. To hack the recorded content, he would have had to hack somebody's computer. It just seems like a long stretch and far-flung story to be real.

I have asked him to prove the cameras and he said he cannot since he got locked out or something like that. Something to do with the security. I thought his story was far fetched as well and i will have to confront him about it. He is quite sensitive to me not believing him. 

 

As with my dad, he never said i cant have a relationship with him. He only said he will not be nice. He will confront him about the things he disagrees with and he can be very, very nasty and a real instigator. He is law enforcement, so he feels very strongly against the things my dad has done. But he is even rude (not mean) to my grandparents who have done nothing wrong. He just hates that they try and influence me sometimes and encourage me to have a relationship with him (they dont know the things my dad has done). Though he agrees with me that it is better that they never know. 

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Well, in that case, I agree with dances that keeping them apart is the best solution.

You said he is in law enforcement. Is he in cyber security or cyber crimes? Because it takes a lot of skills to be able to hack into a camera. You almost have to be trained in that area or have it as a serious hobby that you have devoted a lot of time to. I certainly don't have those skills.

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One other thing. You mentioned that you are afraid to talk to him about it. People in intimate relationships really shouldn't have anything they are afraid to talk about with each other. That right there would worry me more if I were you than whether he is manipulating you.

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1 minute ago, jt07 said:

Well, in that case, I agree with dances that keeping them apart is the best solution.

You said he is in law enforcement. Is he in cyber security or cyber crimes? Because it takes a lot of skills to be able to hack into a camera. You almost have to be trained in that area or have it as a serious hobby that you have devoted a lot of time to. I certainly don't have those skills.

I dont know that I can keep them apart 100%. For the most part yes. For the past 6ish months I have been able to. Another issue is that I am supposed to be going to California to see the west at my aunt's other property. He will not be ok with me going without him (which I agree with him i dont think we should be apart in a serious relationship and if roles were reversed i would be the exact same way, like we agree really well with what we expect from our relationship). But he will not go there with me because he will be nasty to my aunt and uncle. He wants nothing to do with them because of the supposed cameras. So that is a hurtle i will have to figure out. 

No, however, he does have a computer science degree. He knows a lot, but ill enough to say if he can do that or not. Maybe enough to lie about it convincingly? I really dont know. 

I am not afraid of him, i am afraid to tell him because i don't think i will like his response. He will tell me to do what i want, but that he doesnt think he should have to pretend to like them or be nice to them at all. And I feel he should out of respect to me because this is something that is important to me and can cause long term turmoil. 

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My question is, if there really is a camera in your bedroom, and from the videos you should be able to tell where it is, why not find it and remove it?  If you can’t find it, hmmm, well does it really exist?  You said he was cold and had no empathy, that seems concerning. I think you are right to have concerns. But it’s hard to know what exactly is going on. 

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