There is a certain type of people who seem exceptionally kind and caring at first. They will listen to you going on and on about your issues, they will offer solutions and they will even give you a call to check on you later. This may seem like a dream come true — your life may not be perfect, but you have someone to support you at all times. But then, you may begin to realize that something is off.
Signs you are being preyed upon by a manipulator
- Your “well-wisher” is overly enthusiastic about fixing your problems.
- They seem to be fascinated by your struggles.
- You feel overrun by unsolicited advice.
- It feels like you don’t have privacy anymore.
- They won’t allow you to disagree with them.
- They don’t want you to accept help from others.
- Despite their friendly front, you can sense that any positive progress irritates them.
What may be going on
Your so-called well-wisher may be spending time with you for reasons you can’t begin to imagine. Here are some:
- They are seeking attention and admiration.
- They want to control you.
- They are narcissists looking for another prey.
- They have “Cluster B” tendencies.
Cluster B personality disorders include
- Antisocial Personality Disorder,
- Borderline Personality Disorder,
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- and Narcissistic Personality disorder.
People in Cluster B personality disorders tend to be overly dramatic, overly emotional and unpredictable. They are people who tend to seek attention, disregard others’ feelings and seek to manipulate them [source]. The emotion of pleasure in others’ misfortune is also called Shadenfreude.
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Depending on situation, your experience may vary in intensity. Not every person who gives unsolicited advice and checks on you more than you want to has a full-blown personality disorder. For example, clinical narcissism is in fact very rare, but we all seem to know someone with narcissistic tendencies. Whether it’s just a lame personality trait or a real pathology, the underlying theme is common:
- their need for self-importance,
- their desire to control you.
Your real friends will naturally want to support you, express their opinions about your situation and maybe even give you some advice; yet, their support should not feel intrusive, nor should you feel manipulated. They will not act as your therapist, and they definitely won’t feel disappointed when your problems are solved.
Unhealthy manipulative individuals, on the other hand, take a great pleasure in other people’s misfortune and, despite the appearances, don’t want them to become well. Think about it: Once your problem is solved, you are less vulnerable and they lose their power over you. This is the reason why they prey on people who are having a hard time, and this is the reason why it may seem like once you have a problem, you seem to attract unhealthy relationships like a magnet.
Here is why narcissists and other manipulative types particularly enjoy advice-giving:
- They believe they are more intelligent, and their ability to advise others confirms that (albeit in their eyes only).
- It gives them a sense of superiority they crave for.
- They typically lack self-awareness so they cannot see how their actions are uncalled for.
- Once again, the issue of control over the other person.
If the individual is truly malicious, they will likely emphasize how they want to help you and how nice, generous and smart they are. This is a big red flag because when somebody is sincere in their efforts to make your life better, they don’t have anything to prove. Sincere people consistently show love, support and kindness without asking for admiration or any other favors. The manipulative types, however, know they have a hidden agenda — their desire for praise and admiration — hence the need to magnify their own “virtues” to make sure you see them.
If the issue you are having seems too big to handle alone, stick to good old friends and professional help. When passing through emotional turmoil, it’s better to avoid making new friends or jumping into new romantic relationships simply because you are too vulnerable. Not everybody has your best interests at heart and when passing through a hard time, you may be unable to see that.
Recommended download: Recover from a Manipulative Relationship