I love reading, and so do many of you – after all you are reading this blog. So I happily recommend a book Nan and I are reading right now: Scary Close – dropping the act and finding true intimacy – by Donald Miller. It is well written and an easy read – and it also brings a significant message.
Chapter 9 is entitled “Five Kinds of Manipulators”, and I thought I would excerpt from each type. It is always valuable to assess whether you are in a romantic, work or other relationship with one or more of these people. But I believe it is even more important to determine which one of these types Donald Miller is describing most resembles us. If we are honest with ourselves, we will get uncomfortable reading through this list.
- The Scorekeeper Whenever somebody starts keeping score in a relationship the relationship begins to die. A scorekeeper makes life feel like a contest, only there’s no way to win. Scorekeepers are in control of the scoreboard and frame it any way they want, but always in such a way they’re winning. Scorekeepers keep tabs on whatever favors you owe them and call in those favors when they want to control you.
- The Judge A Judge personality strongly believes in right and wrong, which is great, but they also believe they are the ones who decide right and wrong and lord it over others to maintain authority and power. Right and wrong are less a moral code than they are a collar and leash they attach to others so they can lead them around. When a Judge personality is religious, they’ll use the Bible to gain control of others. The Bible becomes a book of rules they use to prove they are right rather than a book that introduces people to God.
- The False Hero The False Hero manipulates by leading people to believe they have something better to offer than they do. The dark side to the (False Hero who is a) visionary personality is they can lead people to believe they have a future when it might not be possible or realistic, to actualize that vision. You might be dealing with a False Hero when the future they’re describing seems too good to be true.
- The Fearmonger Fearmongers rule by making people suffer the consequences of insubordination. The mantra of the Fearmonger is: If you don’t submit to me I’ll make your life a living hell. Fearmongers manipulate by making people believe they are strong. They are never vulnerable and fear being perceived as weak. Fearmongers are completely incapable of vulnerability and, as such, incapable of intimacy. You know you’re with a Fearmonger when they overemphasize the concept of loyalty. Certainly loyalty is a virtue, but what a Fearmonger calls loyalty could better be described as complete and total submission.
- The Flopper A Flopper is somebody who overdramatizes their victimhood in order to gain sympathy and attention. Floppers assume the role of victim whenever they can. This is a powerful and destructive form of manipulation. In order to be a victim, a person needs an oppressor. If you enter into a relationship with a Flopper, sooner or later that oppressor will be you. A Flopper’s internal mantra goes something like this: If people hurt me they’re in my debt, and I can hold it over them to get what I want. False victims are, themselves, passive oppressors. They seek control by making you feel guilty about what you’ve done. They don’t want to reconcile, they want control. If you consistently feel responsible for somebody else’s pain, but you can’t figure out how you caused it, you’re likely in a relationship with a Flopper.
I hope this excerpt whets your appetite for a deeper read – as in the whole book.