Micro-manipulations, the scourge of toxic relationships

Micro-manipulation spoils your relationship with someone close to you because it is indicative of narcissistic behavior. You can't stand them anymore, but you don't know what to do. We give you some tips on how to spot them and put an end to them.

<! –


Video by Virginie incerto

In every relationship, whether it is romantic, family, or even friendly, everyone knows that communication remains essential to keep them healthy and balanced. But misused, and with bad intentions, simple sentences thrown on the fly like nothing to hurt the interlocutor. You often find these kinds of phrases in narcissists: "Thank you for letting me down. " (while not) ; "This dress is pretty, but you look fat in it. "; or blackmail, "You don't want to come see me on vacation, well you won't see me on your birthday." These are classic examples of micro-manipulations.

Micro-manipulations are defined as the delicate art of manipulating someone by getting their attention, sympathy and control over them. The person who undergoes the micro-manipulations becomes a permanent victim, always at the mercy of an endless tragedy and who waits for someone to come to his aid. Micro-manipulations represent little phrases or attitudes, but when repeated they tend to lower self-confidence. We looked into the issue alongside Patricia Delahaie, an author specializing in human relations (in particular toxic relationships) whose book These loves that hurt us, Editions Marabout, sheds light on the subject.

See also : Emotional blackmail: how to recognize it and free itself from it?

Who are the micro-manipulators?

According to Patricia Delahaie, "we all do micro-manipulations, but it becomes problematic if it's a system". Indeed, you have all already said a phrase meant to hurt another, because you felt bad, you wanted to get something, or for some quite other reason. However, if your relationship with a loved one is based on micro-manipulations, at that time, they become "perverse", says the specialist. It’s a sign of a toxic relationship.

These micro-manipulations leave a deleterious trace in our psyche and damage us.

This narcissistic behavior is generally found in a couple, but not only. It is very common for this to happen in a family setting, between a parent and their child for example. Have you ever heard from a parent, "You'll see when I'm gone. Repeatedly? This is an example of micro-manipulation. According to the author, "This is a dreadful sentence because you can't answer that. And if the child protests, he is led to believe that he is at fault, or that he is narcissistic. Whatever happens, you end up with toxic behavior. "

The micro-manipulator is very often such a self-centered narcissist that he needs all the attention and sympathy he can get from his partners and relatives. And when he finds himself confronted with his toxic behavior, he manages to turn the situation around and deal with his own suffering. That way, it's never her fault. Micro manipulation is almost even worse than classic manipulation, because according to Patricia Delahaie, "It is aggression, as long as it does not present itself as aggression. Indeed, it's never overtly mean, but enough to hurt you.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, you need to protect yourself from this type of behavior, but it is not an easy step that requires courage and personal investment (and external support!).

See also : Toxic friendship: what are the signs to recognize it?

Micro-manipulations: how to recognize them?

Micro-manipulations differ from classic manipulation by their intention: the toxic person claims to be the victim in front of whom it becomes impossible to blame him for anything. Although invisible, micro-manipulations distort your perception of reality and control the way you think and act. "It's kinky in that you're bound to be at fault, paranoia, or blame, to make you feel bad for being yourself. »Certifies the specialist.

Micro-manipulators operate under the guise of self-hatred, convincing everyone that they are vulnerable. They often start by pretending they hate each other by talking about them in a negative way to build sympathy.

  • Constant need for support

Do you know someone around you who relies on loved ones more than they should? This constant need for support is unhealthy and hinders the long-term mental and emotional growth of the manipulator. This behavior is another way for the micro-manipulator to exert control and get the attention he so desperately needs.

Because they spend so much time obsessed with their own whims and needs, micro-manipulators are usually people who express themselves with a lot of resentment and bitterness. As arguments and disappointment escalate, contempt sets in.

  • Self-destructive behaviors

Did you know that self-destructive behaviors can be a way to get the attention of others and even to control them? Micro-manipulators are well aware of this. The problem is, they drag their loved ones into this toxic behavior as they try to help them. We can thus find the phenomenon of the syndrome of the savior.

Micro-manipulators are very often cleverly disguised narcissists, and like any narcissist, this is never their fault! Instead, they prefer to blame others at the slightest misstep. This is how they never take responsibility for their actions.

See also: What if we adopted "Kondo-ing" to sort out our romantic relationships? (video)

<! –


Video by Sarah polak

How to protect yourself from micro-manipulations?

Once you've identified the micro-manipulator in your life (and it's not necessarily obvious), it's important to protect yourself at the risk of completely destroying your self-confidence. Obviously, the safest and most effective way out is to cut ties … But that is not always possible. In case you have no choice, "learn to cut arguments short and confront the manipulator with detachment and self-confidence. »Advises the human relations specialist.

  • Don't try to argue

Micro-manipulators love conflict above all else, because that way you become their “emotional puppet”. And when you choose to fight back, you give them a chance to victimize themselves. No matter what you say or what you do, it will be used against you. Cut the grass under their feet by pretending to be indifferent. Even if you come across as the “bad guy” in front of him / her, it shows that you are doing it right. Toxic people become all the more toxic when they don't get the reaction they want from you.

  • Don't try to help them on your own

When you realize the deception, and you think it will be enough to manipulate him / her in the same way for him / her to realize his / her toxic behavior. Fault. You cannot change others, it will have to come from him / herself. But if, with the help of those around you, you encourage him to go to a specialist who will help him, you can make a difference.

Protecting yourself from micro-manipulators sometimes means saying "no", even if it's your mother, and it breaks your heart. It’s for your good (and hers). Figure out what you can tolerate and what is over the top, don't let micro-manipulators get into your head. No matter who this person represents to you, you have the right to stand up for yourself.

Sometimes, no matter how well you behave in the face of a toxic person, nothing helps. You just have to let it go and "take your distance to avoid suffering" according to Patricia Delahaie. It’s far from an easy decision, especially if it’s someone in your family or your partner, but it’s for the best. You have the right to be happy without someone coming in and knocking your spirits down as soon as they feel like it.

For further…

Want to learn more about toxic relationships? We recommend Patricia Delahaie's book, Ces amours qui nous du mal, available for € 6.50 on Amazon. This book helps you take stock and heal – together or separately – from a toxic relationship.