Can You Master The Master Manipulator?

Name: NERDgirl  |  | Location: Atlanta , GA |Question: First I’ll start with background info: over the past 2 years a male friend and I have gotten closer, hanging out, spending time at each other’s apartments, going on “dates” etc…We already expressed that we “liked” each other and clearly enjoyed spending time with one another. Perfect. One night via text message he asked if I wanted him to be honest, of course I said yes. He said that he had been “considering taking things more seriously” with me which I assumed meant that he was trying to gauge whether he wanted me to be his girlfriend. Fine. But in the same message he says he’s not ready to be serious with someone….ok?? I asked if he felt like I was pressuring him in any way and he said “I don’t feel any pressure from you and I love that about you”…ok?? He later goes on to say that he’s scared and doesn’t know if he’s mature enough to handle a relationship with me which is completely okay with me since I NEVER even brought up the boyfriend/girlfriend thing with him. My question is why would he even bring all of this up if I never talked about it or hinted at it and he claimed that he never felt any subliminal pressure from me about it? Was I supposed to say that I wanted to be his girlfriend? Was this some strange kind of “test”? I’m so confused. If you can help please do.  |Age: 21

I want to say right off the bat that I think my response is going to be heavily influenced by personal experience. I’m going to say what jumped out at me and what I think, but I really want you to pay just as if not more attention to the people leaving comments. I think they are more objective.

He said that he had been “considering taking things more seriously” with me which I assumed meant that he was trying to gauge whether he wanted me to be his girlfriend. Fine. But in the same message he says he’s not ready to be serious with someone….ok??

There. Right there.  This line tripped my trigger. There’s something very, very manipulative about this sentence. As if he’s dangling a carrot on a string in front of you in order to make you jump. It reminds me of this, something a man in the recent past said to me while we were in the midst of an argument. .

and if this conversation had gone differently, we’d be happily exchanging emails over the weekend until seeing each other again next week.

This is an example of someone trying to make you feel guilty for questioning their intentions or standing up to them. Of course, context is key, but I’m not going to publish the whole exchange. Statements like this are used – depending on the context – to keep the other person in line and make them unsteady. The point is to keep you in the place where you’re so twisted up you don’t know what’s real and you begin to question your own judgment to the point where you become reliant and dependent on the manipulator’s opinion and approval.

“I don’t feel any pressure from you and I love that about you”…

Translation: Don’t pressure me. Even if I say things that imply I want more from you or that there’s an intimacy between us, don’t push. I’ll come around in my own time. Maybe. I think. If you’re lucky. You don’t actually have to bring anything up or express your feelings. He obviously knows how you feel. Maybe he even feels the same way. I don’t know. But don’t think that, because you’re not acting clingy or needy or because you think you’re playing it cool, that he isn’t picking up on anything. The fact is…it’s not really okay with you that he’s expressing possible interest and at the same time expressing uncertainty. If it were okay, you wouldn’t be writing in to us.

Now, since you told me via email that this guy is 22, this might not be a situation where you’re being manipulated. He could just be young and/or inexperienced. But behavior like this starts somewhere. It continues if said behavior achieves the person the desired results. Which is why you need to take control of the situation.

But let’s forget about him for a minute. I’ll get back to how you take control in a second.

Let’s talk about you. You’re devoting time trying to figure out him. But..what about you? What do you want from this situation? You’re allowing this guy to monopolize your thoughts about a situation that equally involves you. That’s the other thing that jumps out at me, as it’s common in dynamics where someone is being manipulated. One person has all the control, using it over the other, leaving that person confused and unsure of themselves.

I may be a big advocate of texting to ask people out and for preliminary/simple conversations. But this is not an example of that. Sure, he could be afraid of you rejecting him. He is young, after all.  But why would he be afraid if you two had already been spending time together going on “dates” (whatever that means.) See, this feels controlling to me, too. You’re not getting to see his reactions. After all this time “growing closer” (your perception, btw) why wouldn’t he feel comfortable enough having this conversation in person?

The test to see what this guy’s deal is is to take control. You need to ask him why he would bring this up if, as he said, you’ve never sent him any messages. You need to ask him what he wants or expects from you. DO NOT start this conversation off by complimenting him or telling him how you feel. DO NOT allow him to be privy to what you’re thinking JUST YET. LET HIM REVEAL FIRST. I know to some this might sound like a game, and I admit that it is to some degree. But it’s more about self-preservation. If you let a Manipulator in to your head, he’ll rummage around and find any and everything he can to use against you.

The way to tell if you’re dealing with a Manipulator is to call them out, challenge them. If they try to turn the tables, place blame, deflect or threaten to walk in either an overt or passive aggressive way, there’s a really good chance this person is a Manipulator. By challenging them you’re putting their ego in question. And they won’t stand for that. Which brings me to a great article I read yesterday. I read this article yesterday morning and found myself nodding along with every point. I recognized almost every sign.

The type of guy Christine was dealing with is all too common, but there’s nothing “normal” about it, says Dr. Mary Casey, author of “How to Deal With Master Manipulators”. “Manipulators aim to control their partners by pressing the buttons that get them emotional, whether it be making them feel afraid, unworthy, stupid, insecure, angry or frustrated,” she says. But because manipulators are typically passive-aggressive in their tactics, unlike domestic abuse, it can be difficult to tell when you’re in a manipulative relationship. “While abuse is obvious, victims of manipulation don’t even realize they are being manipulated because the manipulator masks their behavior as positive, caring and nurturing,” she says.  Read The Full Article Here

These type of people – and both men and women can be Master Manipulators – hone in on your buttons and triggers and then use them to their advantage. I’ve seen and heard of stories where men and women have encountered these types of people. The thing to remember is that these people rarely change. No amount of confrontation or even gentle hints will get them to adjust their behavior. They do not – or can not – believe they aren’t the person they believe themselves to be. Trying to one up them, telling them off or getting revenge is pointless. They will get off on it.

Again, I fully admit I might be projecting out the wazoo here. But people don’t just become Manipulators overnight or out of the blue. There are enough signs here that make me think this guy might be manipulating her. I do not in any way know if he is. This was a topic I wanted to cover when I read the article I included above.

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41 Responses to “Can You Master The Master Manipulator?”

  1. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    “He later goes on to say that he’s scared and doesn’t know if he’s mature enough to handle a relationship with me ”

    Well, apart from everything else, this is a bullshit line. How do I know? Because one’s maturity level can only be gauged in hindsight. Maturity is a relative concept – you reflect back on your past, compare it how you are now and judge: I was soooo immature then. You can’t say you’re immature NOW because you don’t know how you will be in the future. So, no one — especially a 22 year old with no life experience can sincerely claim he is “not mature enough.” Therefore, it is a lie.

    I don’t think most manipulators are as deliberate as this article presents them. It comes pretty naturally to most people who are good at this type of thing. In fact, there are whole religions and societies of people premised on manipulating the non-believeres into to believing in what the manipulators believe. They get in good graces and turn it around. It’s all about control of the mind and behavior.

    The good news for the OP is that they both are young and are both kind of feeling their way around. I think the best advice Moxie gives here is to put the situation aside for the time being and figure out what you, the OP, really wants out of this. Rather than getting pulled along bit by bit. Be alert to the lies (like I showed above) and keep your critical thinking skills on full power.

  2. Saj Says:

    Preach on sister! You are 100% correct with this.

    – If you let a Manipulator in to your head, he’ll rummage around and find any and everything he can to use against you. –

    That is why you can’t win against a manipulator. Unless you are 100% detached and could give a flying fuck about this person you are going to lose because if they are in the guise of a friend they are spending time finding out about you, your feelings, your thoughts, your triggers and as soon as they want something from you then they have all the ammo that they need as well as a great ability to make you feel like a poor friend for feeling that something is very very wrong.

    This friend of yours is grooming you to be a friend with benefits. He’s luring the bait of I’m interested and I bet I could become more interested if you play by my rules. But I’m going to hold back with the double talk just a bit so you don’t get cocky and are still waiting for me to give the go ahead of what sort of relationship I deem worthy of you. This is a toxic waste of time relationship in the making. A normal guy wouldn’t pull that double talk if he was interested. He would straight up say I like you lets go out and see what happens! Not the push pull push pull push pull.

    Please please please don’t date this guy or let him push things past platonic or you will regret it.

    • Trish Says:

      Yes, my instincts immediately went to a FWB situation. He skirted around it, but just didn’t come out with ‘hey, what do you think about us sleeping together without proclaming we’re in a relationship…ok??”

  3. Saj Says:

    The manipulator is skilled at making people feel this way by saying things like “I spent all this money on this gift for you, and look how you thank me” or “You have trust issues — why don’t you trust me?”

    Heh this one is good. He would be helpful or give gifts out of the blue and then later when he would lie to me and I’d call him out he would bring up the gifts as a way to make me feel guilty and demand I trust him when he had just lied to me. Annoying

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Don’t try this at home, but here’s another one to look out for: Big lie/little lie.

      Tell a big lie that with just enough red flags that the other person can figure out you’re lying if they apply a modicum of though to it. Let them catch you lying. Make them feel smart for catching you. Tell them something like, wow, I’m a good liar and you’re hard to fool! Then take back your big lie but replace it with a smaller but more opaque lie. The second lie will be believed.

  4. pistola Says:

    OP, I don’t think it’s a great idea to risk a relationship with someone who states straight out that he isn’t ready for one and that he’s immature. Know what I’m saying? At best, it’s an experiment for him, and possibly heartbreak for you.

    I also don’t think it’s a good idea to be the “no pressure gal.” If you have no expectations, you generally tend to get just what you expect, which in this case would be nothing.

    Don’t be afraid to ask him what he means by “considering” something more serious. What would that look like exactly? You need to know. You also need to know what YOU want in order to know the right course of action to take. If you don’t, don’t do anything till you figure it out.

  5. VJ Says:

    I’m leaning towards Saj’s interpretation of things here. It’s the simplest, and perhaps the most likely, still. But inexperience might play a role here as well. So knowing a bit more about the guy might clearly help here. Is he seemingly the sweet confused type, or more of a calculating player. Clumsy or more calculating? Few calculating dudes can play at clumsy ineptness for long. But it bears watching. We & you might need more information about said dude though. Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’

  6. dimplz Says:

    I would gauge these three statements are occurring in the same textual conversation and it’s no coincidence:

    “considering taking things more seriously”

    “not ready to be serious with someone’

    “I don’t feel any pressure from you and I love that about you”

    Upon closer read consider the terms that are really jumping out here, “considering” (meaningless word – I’m considering becoming a novelist), “not ready” (this is the truth -he cushions the blow by saying “with someone” so you don’t take it personally when it means you right now, because you are the “someone”), and “don’t feel pressure…love that.” All of these are leaning towards the negative.

    Now, is he a manipulator? I don’t know. What I do know is that he is telling you what he wants. He likes you, but he doesn’t want anything serious. He’s 22. You’re both just figuring out who you are, and if you have been foregoing dates to be with this dude, stop. He might even get jealous when you start seeing other guys. Not your problem. Just “do you” as my friends would say.

  7. Paula Says:

    I would be curious hearing from the guys around here who have ever developed a romantic interest — after some considerable period of time — in one of their female friends, with whom the relationship was previously platonic. And think about what things were like for you at 22. Were you smooth about it? Did you know what you wanted?

    I have historically tended to go in the other direction — rather than waking up to realize I have a crush on a friend, I know up front I want a romantic relationship, and settle for being friends, in hopes that something will happen like what the OP describes. (Yes, I know that mostly happens in Hollywood, and I’m trying to change that, or at the very least shorten the amount of time I’m willing to wait for it to happen.)

    But what I do know, regardless of how it happens, is that it can be awkward and difficult. When you’ve spent a lot of time integrating someone into your life, you value their presence there. It’s not the same as someone you date and walk away if it doesn’t work out (or at least you don’t want to be forced to do that, after years of getting to know and become close to someone). It’s hard to rock the boat, especially when you don’t know if it’s reciprocal. The payoff could potentially be great, in that you’re with someone to whom you already have an emotional connection and history in common, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.

    As for what he said, the maturity comment might mean that he looks to you as the mature one in the relationship (does that sound right?), or that this has the potential to be much more serious than the kind of relationships you typically pursue at 22 when you think you have all the time in the world to settle down with someone. In terms of pressure, have you, like I have done in the past, been quietly biding your time — not actively pressuring him but still waiting for him to come around?

    So I think I tend to be less cynical and more trusting than most — assuming the best instead of the worst — and this doesn’t come across like manipulation to me. It sounds like a guy who likes you, who’s fairly young and inexperienced in relationships (has he been actively dating anyone during the time you’ve been friends?), a little awkward (perhaps he’s a NERDboy to your NERDgirl?), and is testing the waters. Sure, it wasn’t smooth or direct or self-assured (which if it were screams manipulation to me much more than someone who throws a lot of confusion out there.)

    While I don’t agree with Moxie’s view of his motivation, I do agree with her answer: what do you want? Nothing in your OP tells us that. If you like this guy and want to date him, then that’s what you should do, and see how it goes. If you don’t feel anything other than the platonic friendship you’ve had for the last couple of years, then let him know that too, before he goes too far in the romantic direction. There is no right answer except the one you want.

    • dimplz Says:

      I’m not sure about this. One can be awkward and honest, but if he’s to be believed, then he doesn’t want anything serious. If he does want something serious and is lying, then that’s manipulative. He can’t be both. Paula, you’ve just admitted to waiting around and not having desirable consequences. I wouldn’t say you were cynical if you’d warn anyone not to do the same. That’s wisdom, not cynicism.

      • Paula Says:

        I wonder, though, if he’s saying he doesn’t want anything serious because he’s afraid *she* doesn’t want anything serious, and so he doesn’t want to scare her off with this declaration seemingly out of the blue.

        The OP is 21, and we don’t know anything about her dating history while she’s been friends with this guy — maybe she’s been casually dating nonseriously and he just wants to enter the queue and get a chance to take it further once his foot (and perhaps other body parts) is in the door. We also don’t know that she reciprocates his feelings and has been hanging around waiting for this declaration (she actually seems fairly confused and perplexed by it), so at least until we get more info, it’s different than what I’ve described myself doing (I’ve become much better in recent times at declaring up front that I don’t want just a friendship if I do have a romantic interest in someone.)

        Is it lying or manipulative if he doesn’t really know what he wants going in, and is laying all of it out there for her to pick and choose? It could be DMN’s “big lie, little lie.” But it could also be Walt Whitman’s:

        >>Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

        If she knows what she wants, and goes for that and only that, he will either get it figured out so he can be with her on mutually agreeable terms, or reveal his duplicity through his behavior.

        • dimplz Says:

          To answer this: “We also don’t know that she reciprocates his feelings and has been hanging around waiting for this declaration.”

          From the OP – “We already expressed that we “liked” each other and clearly enjoyed spending time with one another. ”

          He knows that she likes him. I don’t know how much more confirmation he would need, but even the most awkward man would act on that if he truly wanted something more.

          • Paula Says:

            I like virtually all of my friends, and tend to use that word when referring to them, but that doesn’t mean I like them romantically. You may be right, but I wasn’t getting a strong sense that she’s had an unrequited crush all this time. It seems more like a lot of ambiguous hanging out, as people tend to do at that age.

            • dimplz Says:

              “I like virtually all of my friends” I do too. But I don’t tell them. I think it speaks for itself if I’m hanging out with you.

        • Paula Says:

          Does *anyone* these days want anything serious at 21 and 22?

          It’s been a while since i was that age, but even the relationships that ended up being serious (many of which are still going strong 20+ years later) didn’t start out as serious at all. If you’d asked people then whether the relationships they were getting into at that age were the ones they expected to be in for the rest of their lives, most would have said no, and that trend has only gotten more pronounced in the last two decades, as people wait longer and longer to have committed relationships and/or get married.

          Saj is right in that there are manipulators at every age (it tends to be deeply ingrained if you grow up in a dysfunctional family) but I also think that many are applying the same BS lens you’d use with someone much more experienced in relationships.

          • dimplz Says:

            I think you’re underestimating this guy. I heard two 12-year old boys talking about “relationships” with girls the other day, and it pretty much sounded like the same crap this guy is saying. When they become 22, they will be very well-versed in BS. The world is different now. Kids today watch “Jersey Shore” and “Gossip Girl” and other shows that have lots of intrigue and “game.” They pick up on these things, so yes, they learn to become manipulative at a younger age. With the advent of Facebook, they learn to be passive aggressive by calling their friends out using their statuses (ex. “Some skanks need to learn how to keep their hands off my man…”). I’m sorry, Paula, but I am an optimist (albeit realist). You have called many commenters here cynics, but they can turn around and call you naive. It doesn’t really help to pigeon-hole anyone.

            • Paula Says:

              For what it’s worth, Dimplz, I don’t think you’re a cynic, and I probably am too naive. But my crowd at that age was a lot of very socially awkward geeks, who were ostracized in high school and didn’t learn dating skills in adolescence, so were just figuring out at 21 and 22 what their more self-assured and popular peers figured out at 15 and 16 (or were somehow born knowing like some people seem to be).

              And some I’m friends with now are self-described “late bloomers” who didn’t even date much in their 20s, as was I. My first significant relationship was with my husband at 32, and then I spent most of the next decade in relationships, so I’m just now starting to pick up on some of certain dating subtleties that others my age have apparently figured out long ago.

              In retrospect, there was a lot of dating Aspergers, if not actual Aspergers, involved, in that a lot of people in my world are socially awkward, incapable of dissembling, and have difficulty figuring out all of the subtleties behind the actual words when people don’t say what they mean or appear to be exhibiting confusion. I don’t test anywhere on the spectrum, but I know a lot of people who do or would if they were tested. I don’t know if GEEKgirl’s handle means she’s hanging out with GEEKboy, but if she is, especially at 22, he may not have much game yet.

              • dimplz Says:

                Why, thanks, must be my dolphin avatar LOL. Well, I hear ya. I’m not awkward, but my boyfriend is. He was able to at least be honest, though, and even when he wasn’t sure if I was still interested, he still expressed interest in me. That’s why I think no matter the level of geekiness a person has, their true self is apparent.

                • Paula Says:

                  Well, I’m glad for your sake that you two were able to figure it out. Ideally, things would be like Speed says, where everyone goes for what they want hungrily, cleanly and unconditionally, but I’ve never been able to inspire that level of certainty (or the type of guy who is capable of it, perhaps).

              • Saj Says:

                (raises hand) being a geek girl myself and associating with many geek boys there are PLENTY of geeky manipulators using their intellect for evil. They might not have the looks or fashion sense but they can figure out how to use words to generate interest from a girl who may otherwise not be attracted and attack her self esteem to get there.

                I was also a late bloomer but I had my own little Jersey Crew of dipshits who would hang out at my house (friends of my brothers) and I learned from a young age how they treated the girls they were looking to hook up with very nice in public and how they would bully the crap out of me in private just because I was smaller and unable to defend myself with anything other then my own words.

                Paula I think you have the misconception that because there are exceptions to every rule that every time a situation occurs well you must have been the exception and will go to great lengths to justify why you think that is so, Sometimes or even most times you are the rule and dating becomes much easier when you assume you are the rule first rather then the exception and work with that.

                • Paula Says:

                  If I say I think I have the opposite problem, does that prove or disprove your point, Saj? I can’t tell.

                  By that, I mean that I had thought the way I approach things is often the rule, in terms of being convincingly logical and based upon my factual observations of the world around me, until I started hanging out here. I tend to have a positive outlook and assume the best in people, at least until proven otherwise. Occasionally people prove me wrong, but I usually tend to look at it as the kind of people I don’t want in my life weeding themselves out through their actions.

                  Moxie’s world (and I don’t mean just hers, but the world of the cast of characters inhabiting these parts) is filled with liars, manipulators, narcissists, players, PUAs, and straight-up assholes, and that’s just the guys. The women have low self-esteem and golden vaginas, and are single because they’re so damn crazy and picky that no one would want to be with them anyway.

                  So maybe I’m single because the world is really filled with those people and whenever I haven’t successfully managed to avoid them, it hasn’t worked well for me. I can assume everyone is lying, manipulating, and generally being dishonest and dishonorable, and boot them on that basis at the first point of confusion, even before any clear indication that’s an accurate assessment, or I can give them some time for them to prove to me who they really are.

                  I’d rather suffer the consequences for letting some bad people in than keeping good people out, considering it’s the good people whose values I’m most likely to share.

                  • Saj Says:

                    Right it’s the tactic of giving people time to show maybe their first impression (of not being interested) is wrong and their true colors will come out when the fact is your first impression was right.

                    You mentioned how you never had a guy show his hunger for you. That could be because you were too busy waiting for a guy who wasn’t even hungry to possibly get there instead of going next and running into the hungry guys.

                    I’m an optimistic dater but there are people out there who will chew you up and spit you out if you let them and all they need is an open ear to do that. It’s not being cruel or unkind to not want to wait around for them to get there. It’s great to have high self esteem but you won’t be the bell of the ball to every guy you give an infinite amount of time to. You just end up in their bullpen.

                    Ignore what he says and fight the impulse to figure him out and ONLY go for guys who see you as that gold bar instead of spending weeks talking yourself into being a gold bar or waiting for him to suddenly see you as one.

                    • Paula Says:

                      Saj, I understand what you’re saying about the hungry guys, and no matter how often I disagree with you and Vox, I think this particular point is an important one, and one that I’ve not always heeded in the past. But it assumes that guys all express their hunger in the same way.

                      We know that many of them are hungry for sex and will say as little as they need to say, or as much, to get you hungry back, even misleading you if they have to. Fewer are hungry for a relationship period, and even fewer still with one particular person (with that person’s particular dating disadvantages vs. advantages: age, body type, appearance, personality, mental health and relationship history, etc.).

                      Setting aside the sex thing for the moment, assuming that it’s not clouding the issue (which I acknowledge it often does), then it often takes some time to figure out whether this is the person that rocks your world enough to give up on the rest of them, or to figure out whether devoting all the time you have for dating to one specific person is the best use of it. If you haven’t been in a lot of relationships, or have been in some bad ones, you tend to be very careful about jumping in, and may express confusion along the way in an effort to get it right.

                      So I know that I haven’t always expressed my hunger due to confusion. I also know that some guys who have expressed their hunger were only doing so because they had to in order to have sex (which really wasn’t necessary for me, but I understand why it confuses some people). I’ve had my best situations with guys who were ambiguous and slowly came around, as I came around simultaneously after I realized we had similar values and other forms of compatibility. It’s still rare enough that it doesn’t happen that often, but it has happened for me.

                      I may not be Helen of Troy, but I think I’m capable of floating a boat here and there.

                    • Saj Says:

                      Ok but try this as you say guys express their hunger differently. (I think that’s you giving the not sure guy another shot to prove themselves)

                      Clarity. If a guy is clear that he likes you then you spend your time getting to know him and to see if you have stuff in common. If a guy is not clear or you just can’t make heads or tails then don’t worry about him coming around and keep looking. Put him in the friend zone if you want but not in the FWB or Dating possibility zone.

                      You seem to have no problems expressing what you want and your desires so you need a guy who also has no problem expressing himself. I’m confused, I’m out of a divorce, I’m emotionally blah blah blah blah all should mean (Don’t date me because I’m not hungry enough for you). A man who is hungry won’t bring up those things in fear that you’ll get the wrong idea that he isn’t interested and you’ll move on.

                    • Paula Says:

                      I don’t think this is bad advice, Saj…except, in terms of the differences between Paula, blog commenter, and Paula, real life single woman, I *do* have some problems knowing and expressing what I want when it comes to a relationship.

                      I think I know in my head, and can put some of it in writing around here, but it comes out all wrong (or doesn’t come out at all) when I’m with someone who might want a gee willikers honest-to-God relationship (not friend zone or FWB — I can handle those pretty well).

                      The first hungry guy, well, I married him, and look where that got me — deciding he wanted to marry me was essentially his last hungry act (whether in terms of ambition or sexual drive). The second hungry guy, my rebound relationship when I was more than ready to be someone’s tasty meal, well, he ended up having a co-dependent never-ending hunger for me that I couldn’t hope to reciprocate. The next hungry guy?

                      That’s my own baggage, and I’m working on it — even talking about it here reinforces my will. But I’m probably not a unique snowflake, as you would say. Right now, I’m torn between the hungry guys, who are really only hungry for one thing; and the ambivalent guys. If they’re ambivalent about me, then I should move on…if they’re ambivalent because of their past, maybe I should too (but that means that they should do the same with me, and I don’t think I’m irretrievably broken even while being cautious.)

                      Hopefully at least some of the stuff above gave GEEKgirl something to think about — didn’t mean to hijack the post by talking so much about myself but did want to reply to your and Dimplz’ thoughtful comments.

        • Crotch Rocket Says:

          “I wonder, though, if he’s saying he doesn’t want anything serious because he’s afraid *she* doesn’t want anything serious, and so he doesn’t want to scare her off with this declaration seemingly out of the blue.” Guys aren’t afraid of “scaring off” a gal with genuine romantic interest; we assume that’s what every gal wants from every guy she smiles at until told otherwise. We’re afraid of scaring a gal off is when our interest isn’t romantic and we’re afraid she’ll see through it if we move toward the goal too quickly or overtly.

          “Is it lying or manipulative if he doesn’t really know what he wants going in,” Sorry, but if he’s known her for two years, he knows what he wants from her by now.

    • Saj Says:

      Meh I’ve seen cold blooded manipulators much younger then 22. The game may be slightly clumsier but the motivations are the same.

      As for the friend thing a true friendship can withstand unrequited affection. Friends should be able to be honest with each other and if one isn’t interested in a relationship and the friendship goes on then it was real as opposed to someone getting close hoping their winning personality will change the other persons mind. Women are more inclined to gradually fall for a guy as they get to know him but man are usually more in or out right away and it’s harder to convince them otherwise.

      • Crotch Rocket Says:

        “I’ve seen cold blooded manipulators much younger then 22. The game may be slightly clumsier …” Indeed. I recognize this mainly because I used a form of it myself in my 20s. In fact, befriending girls and then professing uncertain feelings was my first foray into The Game, before I had built up enough self-confidence and skill to go after strangers directly.

        “a true friendship can withstand unrequited affection.” I disagree; once one person expresses romantic feelings, the friendship is over. You can’t unring that bell.

        • Dimplz Says:

          I was the one who tried many times to tell my 2 male friends I wasn’t interested. The final straw with one was an email when he said he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. 1- he already knew I didn’t feel the same and 2-what was that? A proposal? To this day, I still don’t know. I just know that after 10 years nothing had changed and it never would. He didn’t want a friendship; I wanted him to move on- so I did. Last I heard, he found a woman and was moving to be with her, and I’m very happy for him.

  8. WO7 Says:

    I remember my awkward stage, and it involved a lot more of saying too much (and not doing anything) then saying too little as this guy is doing. Most awkward guys come on too strong (though in a cowardly way like email or text).

    I would agree that it sounds like the best case scenario is that this guy is trying to attempt to turn this into a FWB situation, if he can, without destroying the friendship.

    OP, I don’t think it’s worth your time. Just walk.

    Besides, it’s better not to muddy friendship waters with sexuality unless you both KNOW you want to give it a go. If after being friends you’re still unsure, then that’s a no go. The sex isn’t going to turn what you’re not sure might be a good relationship into a good one.

  9. Speed Says:

    OP, would the guy “hesitate” to pick up a big bar of gold on the ground? Would he want to “consider taking it seriously”? Would he be cautious and deliberate? Would he wait to see if his affection grew for it over time? No, he’d snatch it without hesitation. Because he wants it–hungrily, clearly, unconditionally.

    That’s the way he should want you—especially at your young age. If he has to intellectualize his feelings for you, something’s wrong. Capitalize on your youth and get a better guy.

    • ~R Says:

      With all due respect, how many times in your life have you wanted another person hungrily, clearly, unconditionally, and how did you handle that situation?

  10. ~R Says:

    OP, my advice here is different from other commenters’. I’m inclined to agree with Saj and Moxie but you need to learn how their advice applies in your life. There’s a world of difference between knowing something and experiencing it.

    Your gut knows the correct answers, but it needs to be trained with first hand data. At 21 y/o don’t be too afraid to take a risk, but with the knowledge that it is a risk and that you have a support system to fall back on (assuming you do).

  11. Crotch Rocket Says:

    “over the past 2 years a male friend and I have gotten closer,” No, you mean you have gotten closer; you have no idea what he’s feeling.

    “going on ‘dates’” Even you know that’s bullshit, as demonstrated by putting “dates” in quotes. If it were actually a date, you’d know it. Anything else is just him trying to use your friendship to get into your pants without actually having to date you, much less have a real romantic relationship.

    “One night via text message he asked if I wanted him to be honest, of course I said yes.” Every woman will say yes to that, so it’s not a real question–it’s a setup to make you think he’s going to be honest when his plan is exactly the opposite. Honest people just tell you without the need for qualifiers or setups.

    “He said that he had been ‘considering taking things more seriously’ with me …. Fine. But in the same message he says he’s not ready to be serious with someone” This is a classic trick when you’re trying to figure out what someone wants without actually asking them: tell them two mutually exclusive things at the same time and see which one they respond to.

    “which I assumed meant that he was trying to gauge whether he wanted me to be his girlfriend” No. He was trying to gauge whether pretending to be your boyfriend was necessary to get into your pants.

    “he said ‘I don’t feel any pressure from you and I love that about you'” Notice he linked the word “love” with “no pressure”.

    “He later goes on to say that he’s scared and doesn’t know if he’s mature enough to handle a relationship with me” It is impossible to be aware of one’s own immaturity; it can only be observed by someone more mature. He’s feeding you bullshit excuses to justify why pressuring him to be your boyfriend is a bad idea.

    “which is completely okay with me” Bzzt. If you wrote in about it, it’s obviously not okay with you. And it shouldn’t be. His strategy is working: you’re already taking his side of the argument, rather than asking yourself what you want.

    “I’m so confused.” That’s also part of the strategy. By getting you twisted up inside your head about what he said, rather than what you want, you’ll be less likely to fight when he’s pulling your clothes off and therefore risk the “possible” relationship he is “considering” when he might be more “mature” at some indefinite point in the future.

    This dude needs to shit or get off the pot. And, until he does one or the other, you need to quit giving him free rent in your head.

  12. sarah Says:

    Maybe he does want something serious…….just not with her. in which case, she’d be wasting her time. Like when a guy says, “I’m not looking to get married”, then you hear through the grapevine he is engaged (yes, that happened to me); obviously he just didnt want to marry me. Regardless, to the OP if he doesnt want a relationship, or just doesnt want a relationship with you, both will yield the same results. You’re young. you would be better off looking for someone who is looking for the same type of relationship as you do. It sounds like he just wants a FWB situation, and this is his “polite) way of asking. I’m going with he is manipulating you.

  13. NERDgirl Says:

    I’m trying to digest all the comments and Moxie’s opinion as well…the idea of manipulation really didn’t register in my mind when I was thinking about this situation..geez. I do appreciate all the thoughts on this topic and if anyone else wants to contribute I appreciate that too.

    • Paula Says:

      NERDgirl — just curious. Are you out of this guy’s league?

      I just read a book 9written by a man, if that matters) where a character talked about a friendship he had with a woman when he was younger…and the basic dynamic was that she was out of his league, and he was the friend waiting in the wings for when all the good-looking jerks let her down. When she was particularly down, he did the awkward pounce, and they finally consummated what had been brewing for a while.

      I don’t know what’s going on — my first thoughts weren’t that it was manipulation, either. But with my time spent in the friend zone, that was sometimes the dynamic — they were out of my league but I thought the other qualities developed through our friendship might eventually come to mean more than the whether the initial attraction was overwhelming. Since you talked more about what impression you might have given him, rather than how you actually felt about him, I’m wondering you’ve known how he’s felt, but weren’t sure what you wanted to do with it.

      • SB Says:

        But, Paula, if he was waiting the wings ready to pounce, he would have pounced the second NERDgirl said she liked him. Forget not wanting pressure, he’d be putting tons of pressure on Himself to GET THAT GIRL! All of this hesitation is not normal for a guy pursuing a girl out of his league (I know, had plenty of guys “below my league” pursue me. They do NOT waste time).

        Sorry, but I think you must not have a lot of experience with manipulators (lucky!) Unfortunately, it sounds like this guy is trying to dick her around :(

  14. SB Says:

    Crotch Rocket is right on. I dated a manipulator for awhile, too. They all follow the same script. Get out now, he will never listen to nor respect you.

  15. NewMe Says:

    Crotch Rocket made some wicked points that I WISH I had read when I met my “ex manipulator-friend-want to be boyfriend… ”
    Different people, but all out for themselves.
    I don’t know if I’ve ever met or heard stories of girls acting this way to get what they want. I can say one thing’s for sure. They know what they are doing every second of the “relation.”
    I always thought, how can I get him to open up.. but really in trying to get him to open up more, I was the one getting hurt. We shared childhood stories and I for sure thought he’s finally coming around. It was all just a bloody act. Good actor, I should advice hollywood of his potential.

    Waste of time- it’s super difficult to get out once you’re in though. It almost seems like the relationships that are abusive- they just can’t let it go. It’s been less than a year of mind fucking (pardon my swear) and you’d think I’d be moving on by now.

    This article is great help though! So thank you for that.

  16. Manipulatedforayear Says:

    I’m late to the party but wanted to comment anyway. He may not be a manipulator but he is being manipulative. He likes things as they are, he’s not interested in taking them further but, he doesn’t want u to become disillusioned so he’s hedging his bets. Meaning he thinks you want more so he’s bringing the subject up first so that it’s settled on his terms and you will know not to push the subject. Now keep in mind since you technically have no attachment other than “friends” he’s still free to pursue other people… And probably is. But you’re his second place gal. When he can’t get someone else, you will do. As long as you don’t ask for more. That’s my first thought.

    My second thought is similar but slightly different. He likes here things are now and doesn’t want them to change but doesn’t want to hurt your feelings either and is attempting to “let u down easy”. Now this is assuming u have feelings for him that you haven’t confessed which is narsocistic on his part.

    Either way, if u can keep your emotional detachment and want to continue then do so. If however you are hoping for more, give it up. It isn’t going to happen.

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