My Name is Jennifer and I am a Manipulator

manipulatorI wasn’t always this way. Okay, maybe I was. Honestly I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to influence others to ultimately get my way. According to Strengthfinders, I am strong in the area of Strategy, meaning I am able to look ahead and see the easiest, most efficient route to the goal. This could be a strength when used in many fields, but I have learned that it can also be a weakness, particularly in relationships.
When my guy and I were dating and ultimately engaged, we fought a lot. That may not be totally accurate, because there wasn’t much fight left in the poor guy after going a couple of rounds with me. We joked that I could probably murder someone and convince him that he had done it. I would go for the jugular every time, and if I saw that my argument was going to nowhere, I could change the trajectory slightly so that I always had the upper hand. Honestly I saw it as a weakness in him that I could always win the argument.
And then we broke up. For almost three years. Apparently it’s not very fun to always be wrong in a relationship. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t get my way, no matter how hard I tried. He closed down and shut me out. Suddenly he had the upper hand, all the power.
During the years that we were apart I found myself in a relationship with someone far more advanced in the art of tearing down arguments and for the first time, felt the hopelessness of not being heard, only defeated, in a relationship. I also leaned into Christ more than ever, and began to see that although I had some skills in the area of arguing, I was no expert in strategy. Turns out winning every battle doesn’t mean that you win the war. Having all the power in a relationship means being willing to hear the heart of the other and to try to come to an agreement.
Over time, God brought my guy and me back together. I learned that God had been working on him too, and my husband started to push back and show me boundaries. I realized I had been like a child, craving rules and consequences because how else do you know that someone really loves you? I needed boundaries to feel loved and he needed to be heard.
I wish I could say that today I am free from manipulation. But like an alcoholic, I will always have this weakness; if I am in an argument or a power struggle, my fight reflex kicks in to win at all cost. I can usually see every step to take to be declared the winner, but that’s not really the goal, is it?
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

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