An Example of a Manipulator
You’ve recently met a new co-worker named Shannon who is very kind, caring, and compassionate. You find yourself drawn to her charismatic, charming, and energetic personality. And although you don’t agree with many of her opinions, you find her humor controversial yet hilarious. Shannon always seems to be in the know–the new fashion trends, the latest gossip, and the trendiest places to socialize. She hosts the best parties at her enormous home which is nothing shy of gorgeous. From the couches to the wine glasses to the small antique pieces arranged around her home, everything seems so intentional and thoughtful. You haven’t met her close friends but your opinion of them isn’t positive. Every day, Shannon has stories about how “awful” her friends are and how mean they can be.
One day, Shannon comes into work, and you immediately notice something is off. She is quiet, withdrawn, and doesn’t even acknowledge your existence. You grow concerned so you approach her to say hello. She gives you a forced smile and appears to be on the verge of tears. You ask her if everything is okay. At this point she begins crying. You can feel her pain, so you sit down and ask her what’s going on.
“No one gives a shit about anyone but themselves. I can’t believe I thought I had friends.”
You recognize her statements as being a bit extreme but you can tell she is suffering emotionally. You really want to be there for her. Shannon goes into a long story about her friends and how they treat her.
“I feel so used.”
She tells you how her friends only contact her or reach out to her when they need something or want something from her.
“If I didn’t know the bouncers at the best nightclubs or I didn’t have my beautiful home, they wouldn’t have anything to do with me.”
Soon you find yourself spending more and more time with Shannon. Your family and other close friends take notice. While you want to make the time for your family and close friends, Shannon makes you feel so special and important that saying no to her becomes increasingly more difficult. The last thing you want to do is let her down or disappoint her. She has idolized you to the point where you feel trapped on a pedestal so tall that the thought of falling off scares the shit out of you. It doesn’t help that Shannon has a way of asking for things. You recall a recent text message exchange:
It doesn’t take long before you begin to feel responsible for Shannon’s feelings. When you can’t be there 24/7 or whenever she needs you, you feel guilty. You start questioning your own loyalty as a friend and you feel really mad at yourself for not being a good enough friend to her.
Shannon’s birthday is approaching, which happens to be on the same day as the music festival you look forward to all year because you get to reunite with your closest childhood friends who you rarely get to see. You plan on inviting Shannon once you have the details because you know she will want to know all the logistics. You panic when you receive a voicemail from Shannon:
“My life is falling apart, but at least I have you. I am so grateful I get to spend my birthday with you. What do you think about having a spa day at that place you’ve always wanted to go to? I know the owner and she is giving us the deal of a lifetime!”
You feel stuck, but you think maybe she will enjoy the music festival. A few minutes pass and you see your phone light up. Shannon is calling you. You don’t pick up.
An hour later you receive a text message:
You bite. You respond with a long message about how grateful you are for the invitation and then you tell Shannon about the music festival and how you were waiting for the details before officially inviting her.
While at the concert you get messages from Shannon:
That hits deep. So many emotions begin to surface. You love Shannon and wish she was having fun with you, but you are angry and frustrated because you feel responsible for her pain. You vacillate between anger and guilt to the point where you start questioning things.
Maybe Shannon is right. Maybe I am selfish. Maybe I’m not good enough.