Those who manipulate often masquerade as lovers. Apparent care and concern are a tempting lure for those who are hurting and vulnerable. But the heart of a manipulator is really the heart of an abuser. Once someone commits to the masquerade, the care that appeared to be love morphs into the servitude of enslavement. The changes begin subtly. But the reality is that they were always present. Biblical love cannot be duplicated, only mimicked. Learn the true characteristics of love so that you can recognize the true intent of masquerading manipulators.
Biblical love that is genuine will not be diminished by your failures. A manipulator will at first appear to tolerate or dismiss your shortcomings. He or she may even offer helpful suggestions to make you a better person. But underneath there is a seething heart waiting for the day it can pounce and control. Love must be defined by God, specifically by the work of his son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit tells us that we know what love is by how Jesus loved (1 John 3:16).
By looking at Christ we see that love is other-centered and God-centered, not me-centered. This exposes the facade of the manipulator. He is not about loving but controlling. Love is dying to one’s own wants, desires, and dreams. The manipulator only wants to revel in his desires and lusts.
Here is a key indicator of a manipulator: his life will always be marked by frustration. There are at least two reasons for this.
The first is that other people cannot possibly provide what is needed for happiness, no matter how much the manipulator attempts to control. At some point, others will fail the expectations, desires, and lusts of the manipulator. He can never grasp that no person can provide what only God can give. This drives the manipulator to anger, abuse, and an addictive need to control.
The second is that the manipulator’s construct of what will please him is tainted by sin. So instead of growing in genuine love, the manipulator becomes more bitter and toxic as his expectations are unrealized. These unmet expectations then become opportunities for violent verbal and even physical abuse.
How can you protect yourself and identify early on the masquerading manipulator so that you can avoid being trapped and enslaved?
You must learn to recognize and discern genuine love!
Real love that is focused on bringing honor to God will not be marked by disappointment. It will not manipulate. Love does not respond to kindness with indifference. Biblical love cherishes weakness and builds up instead of tearing down.
Loving biblically is a tremendous blessing of God and will bring stability to your life and the lives of those around you. A manipulator is not interested in pleasing God, but only himself. If someone uses God and his word to shame you or make you feel inadequate, you are viewing the dark heart of a manipulator.
Don’t go there! Instead, flee that relationship and run to the gracious, healing love of Christ.