Infidelity and Emotional ManipulationWe’ve all been manipulated by other people, and it’s likely that we’ve all done a bit of manipulation at one time or another. Telling a white lie in order to get what we want is one way of manipulating someone.   It’s fairly clear that infidelity and emotional manipulation go hand-in-hand.

When we manipulate other people – lying for instance – we deprive them of their ability to make decisions based on their own accurate reading of reality. By lying, we are providing an alternate reality to the other person – and they make decisions that may be to our advantage, but it may not be a decision they would make if they knew all the facts.

Manipulation shows disrespect to the other person – but ultimately we are disrespecting ourselves and compromising our own integrity when we manipulate others. We give ourselves the illusion of control, but it is hardly a feeling of control that we can be proud of.                                                              

Why do people manipulate others?

Marriage and Family Therapist, Kim Jones, MA, MFT says that…

Manipulative people have a strong need to be in control. This may derive from underlying feelings of insecurity on their part, although they often compensate for these feelings with a show of strong self-confidence. Even though they may deny it, their motives are self-serving, and they pursue their aims regardless of the cost to other people. They have a strong need to feel superior and powerful in their relationships – and they find people who will validate these feelings by going along with their attempts at manipulation. They see power as finite. If you exert power over them, they will retaliate in order to gain back the control they feel they are losing. They cannot understand the idea that everyone can feel empowered or that everyone can gain. When they are not in control – of themselves and over other people – they feel threatened. They have difficulty in showing vulnerable emotions because it might suggest they are not in control.

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Those who are manipulative usually don’t consciously plan their maneuvers. They emerge from the manipulator’s underlying personality disorder, and are played out within the context of a victim who colludes with, and unwittingly encourages, the manipulation. There is a wide range of tactics used by manipulators ranging from verbal threats to subtle attempts to arrange situations to suit the manipulator.

Here are some common tactics that manipulators use:

  • becoming angry
  • lying
  • intimidating
  • shouting
  • name-calling
  • pouting
  • sulking
  • ignoring you
  • playing the victim
  • giving you the silent treatment
  • making you feel guilty or ashamed
  • making insults
  • being degrading
  • Actions NEVER matching their words
  • Not ever taking any ownership or responsibility for their actions
  • Gaslighting

Some manipulators can be described in terms of having an antisocial personality (these people are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths). This is a personality disorder often associated with criminal behavior. They feel little compassion for other people, don’t really feel guilty when they do something harmful, pathologically lie, show superficial charm, tend to be impulsive, and don’t take responsibility for their own actions.

This leads us to our discussion questions for the week…

How have you been manipulated in your relationship?

Does it continue today?

What specific manipulation tactics were you exposed to during the affair?

If you are the cheater, how did you manipulate your spouse during the affair?

How does one put an end to being manipulated by another person?


Linda & Doug


    26 replies to "Discussion – Infidelity and Emotional Manipulation"

    • Strengthrequired

      I’m sorry Doug and Linda, but Doug, I would like to hear your take on this question?

    • Doug

      My take, huh?…Well, Both Linda and I used minor manipulations throughout our marriage. Typically when there was an argument. We’d get angry, use the cold shoulder or silent treatment, but that’s about it. So I do not consider her or myself to be master manipulators…but I sure as $#!+ was during the affair. I did pretty much every one of the bullet points listed above.

      As the post mentions, manipulators need to feel in control. That was true for me during the affair as I had to try to control Linda’s perception of things. I had to make her believe that nothing was going on. I had to maintain control so that I wouldn’t get caught for fear of whatever the consequences might have been if I did get caught or if we got divorced, etc. I had to stay in control so that the EA could continue so that I could feed my selfishness and my ego. I’m sure there are more examples that I’m not mentioning.

      My manipulations of choice were anger, lying, shouting and actions not matching words, though I probably used all the other ones in smaller doses.

      Once I got out of the fog and my head out of my ass, I was able to give up that need for control which allowed me to demonstrate what you would consider to be vulnerable emotions… I cried, I pleaded and begged for forgiveness and for Linda not to leave. I became more empathetic, understanding and communicative. Basically, the joy to live with that I am today! 😉

      • Strengthrequired

        Thanks Doug, that response was greatly appreciated. All you mentioned is how my h behaved during his ea. My h has changed quite a bit since his ea days, yet I believe I am the one who now is starting to struggle. I would like more of him showing me, that he would do anything to hold onto me, yet I’m not sure I am convinced. It doesn’t help we are apart most of the time. Maybe I’m just scared of believing, in fear of all that pain again.
        One thing is for sure, he gives me too much time to think about things.
        Thankyou again for sharing.

        • Doug

          No problem SR. That fear of reliving that pain is a powerful thing and it causes you to be hyper sensitive in a lot of ways. I hope that your fears are off-base and that you can get past your struggles.

          • Strengthrequired

            Thanks Doug. I guess I see so many cs spending more time with their bs, being open with everything, and really wanting their marriage to work. Then I look at my situation, just that want and need of having my h around all the time, and not me and our children taking the backseat for anything or anyone. Yet the truth is, I know how hard he is working to keep our business afloat, trying to keep our home. I know the ow calls him, still trying, he doesn’t entertain her, just tells her he is busy and hangs up. In many ways I trust him with that, I just want our family to heal from all of this, I want him to heal, but how can we if we are always apart, and there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight any time soon.
            It is so hard to heal, knowing he is near the ow and I’m so far away.

      • Ed

        I have been having an affair with a married woman for 21 years. I think since she has become a grandmother and has taken over the care of her grandson; whom she is now acting as if it was her son has consumed the time we had together. Her husband had found out about our affair and for the first few years she continued to see me and he refused to leave the house. I had become divorced and moved in by myself. I never knew that one day this affair would end this way as she has been manipulating, lying for no reason, and using the tactic of giving me the silent treatment.

        I wanted to get back at her emotionally. I started dating her son’s girlfriend mother. I can actually now say that I am a “motherfucker.” I actually told this woman I am now dating what had happen with her son-in-law mother. She still took a chance on me and started going out with me. I kept waiting for her son to tell her mom but that never happened even after he moved out with his girlfriend. What started out as revenge is now is what is making me see the light. I can actually be with someone that I can call and text whenever I want including see and sleep with. Being this dysfunctional for all this years have really messed up my own self image.

        I still see the affair woman. I find myself addicted to her even though the situation is toxic. Instead of leaving her alone I continue to love bomb her and try to manipulate her to have sex. I really don’t know what the hell is wrong with me? I know I need help but it hard to speak about something this wicked because I know I am fucked up too on many levels. I want to develop testicular fortitude and move on instead I keep looking for ways to continue this affair even though this woman ignore me and manipulate me as well. I know how this will end… and it will not be with the woman whom I fell in love for in 21 years (well I don’t really know if it’s love or infatuation). Deep down inside I know it’s ending but I am feeling angry and depressed that it has taken me this long to start seeing the light.

        How can I become happy again and start to have a normal life.

    • Gizfield

      I think that there is a very high level of manipulation that goes on between affair partners. I mean, you are continuously saying stuff you dont mean and know you never will have to do. my affair partner would talk about us getting married, having kids, moving in together and I would do the same but in the back of my mind I thought ,”thats never gonna happen, buddy”.

      I think the manipulation really escalates when one partner shows signs of wanting out or actually breaks off the relationship. Breakups are bad enough in the real world, but you dont usually have the potential to extract the same level of revenge that you do after an affair. Youve told a lot of secrets you should not have , trash mouthed the spouse you are staying with, and just generally shown a gigantic breach of character, not to mention the potential financial consequences due to marriage being a legal institution.

      I think it’s really a possibility when one cheater is single, like my husband and his girlfriend. They know all the same people. She could decimate his character and our marriage and come out looking like an innocent victim. Sometimes I almost got the impression he was afraid to cross her.

      My affair partner run over me with the Karma Bus, lol. Basically, after we had our Love Night (ugh) together, I had a moment of enlightenment and decided I was truly done with him. I had recently inherited about $80,000 from my parents estate and made the mistake of telling him. I had loaned him $200 before. Can’t remember if he paid me back or not. Anyway when I told him I didn’t want to see him, he actually said “give me $200 dollars or I’m telling your husband, I’m going to blackmail you,” lol, I gave it to him, then surprisingly he did the same thing a few weeks later. I’d had enough, told him to eff himself, but I was secretly horrified he would tell my husband and he would kill me. On the day of the deadline to pay, he drove by my house rrpeatedly but never contacted my husband. It was a rough lesson but I learned it well. I just was so thankful to be free of him, emotionally and in all other ways.

    • Gizfield

      You know, looking back, it’s funny that I never considered threatening him with telling his girlfriend about us. I think I was afraid of him as well. How pathetic.

    • Gizfield

      Oh, after doing all these things, my AP wanted to call me up and talk like nothing had happened. He told me we could continue to see each other and get together to “make love”. Eeeew, eeeew, eeeew. After more than 20 years I’m still disgusted by my lack of morals and good taste.

    • Jeddy

      All of the above. My life was controlled by his lies. I would have made very different choices for me and my children if I had known the truth. Like 800 miles away decisions that I’m making now. It seems the whole affair was based on lies and manipulation – his lying to me, his manipulation of our narrative to the ow, her mirroring everything he said to fit her needs, her manipulation of affection to forward herself professionally (so she thought, that check may be cashed next week), and of course both of them using whatever means necessary to tend the relationship and stay in constant contact under the guise of work. While h is remorseful blah blah blah, it seems it ended too soon for the (married mom of 4) ow who couldn’t leave him alone. And since the door on the relationship was gently closed rather than locked shut due to stupidity and fear of legal issues in the workplace, the manipulation continues. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Now my physically removing myself from all this is viewed as manipulation and parental alienation and revenge. But I really am just tired of all the fallout. And in order to protect myself, I have to keep a file of their gooey communication ready in case I need to send it to her h. And so now I have to manipulate to protect myself. I have a headache just thinking about it all.

    • JennyN

      Interesting topic.

      What came to me reading it, was my version of manipulation as a betrayed spouse (and before being a betrayed spouse).

      Often it was about control…..but trying to make it all okay for my loved one, regardless of what I felt.

      I have lived with co-dependency most of my life….and because I was so not okay with me during that time I would focus my attention outward and focus on other around me.

      I would “feel” what they were feeling, I would try to make it all okay around me to get my loved one to do what I wanted.

      I expected he could/would read my mind….and be upset if he could not.

      I tolerated intolerable behavior about more than just the affair to make it all okay…..

      It actually took the affair to start standing up for myself. Looking back though I was the frog in the slowly heating water…..and the affair was the boiling point.

      So yes my love one manipulated me….but I was part of the problem that laid the groundwork by not being true to me much earlier in the relationship.

      I don’t write this filled with shame, and it is not to excuse my ex-husband’s manipulative behavior both in words and actions. I am starting to learn though that I get to decide what behaviors and attitudes I will/can tolerate in others, and when that line is crossed it is my job to have a boundary around it…..not just excuse it.

      • BobT

        Your post really hit home with me. I too allowed myself to be manipulated in the 10 years my wife was having EA/PAs with other men. It is astonishing what I was willing to tolerate in that period. Its like there was another human who would believe and tolerate anything occupying my mind.
        I don’t know how you feel about your journey since your D-Day but I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. It has been the single most empowering experience of my life.
        Your words are a testament to your personal power. I hope your journey has been as rejuvenative as mine has been.

        • JennyN


          I am no longer with my ex-husband, but that was not my choosing. He left and ended up marrying his affair partner about four months after I found out about the affair.

          The affair was the FIRST thing that helped me to take back my own relationship with myself. It was the first time I had boundarie around my own well-being.

          What has been harder for me to deal and heal from was the addictive use of alcohol present in my relationship with him which I believer contributed to both the affair and the demise of our relationship. Unlike the affair I tolerated it, I tried to create a situation that would be perfect for him so he wound not have a reason to drink….and then blamed myself when he did.

          I took a lot on (my fault, not his) about his drinking. When the affair hit I was fortunate and did not experience the feeling that it was my fault in the same way (probably because of a lot of therapy beforehand). I think me not owning the affair was really hard for him to see, and challenging for him to come to terms with his own beliefs about himself… a result part of his reason for staying in a relationship where he did not have to look at himself in that way.

          I no longer hold myself responsible for his action…..but I have to hold myself responsible for the fact that I stayed and that I tolerated untenable things because I thought I had to.

          I am so grateful for his use of alcohol and his affair now. I don’t like the lessons that I have had to have from all of this, but the learning has been worth it. Without these lessons I would not be the person I was meant to be.

    • Gizfield

      Bob T, thats amazing. Would you mind elaborating on your story a bit? Are you still with your wife? Did she change or did you? If so, how?

    • BobT

      My wife and I are still together. We are in the process of trying to rebuild our relationship from where it was (no real trust, lots of resentment and victimization) to a healthier state. I don’t know exactly what that looks like or even if that means we will stay together.
      In terms of change, I have changed from a consummate people pleaser who didn’t trust his own insights (ever, not at work, not with the kids not even when dreaming) to a person who at least recognizes that is who I have been. It may not sound very significant, but that awareness is the most powerful feeling I have ever had. I know my beliefs, agreements and behaviors are my own and little by little I can chip away at them and become who I truly am. If my wife accepts and respects me in that state, Great! I don’t want to be around anyone who doesn’t accept and respect me exactly as I am.
      My wife has had a harder time with change. It took over a year after D-Day before she was willing to begin to scrutinize how she has been living her life. I can’t speak for her but in my opinion, she has really struggled with our healing. She is genuinely a good person and a committed friend to many people. It is very hard for her to see herself as a CS. She tends to totally shut down when we discuss her EA/PAs. She calls them collectively “the worst thing I have ever done.”
      In the mean time I have found renewed interest in my work, in being an awesome dad and pursuing interests I gave up years ago because they didn’t suit someone else’s vision of who I should be.
      By the way, thank you for your honesty and insight. It takes a courageous person to post as openly and humbly as you do. From all of us infrequent posters, thank you.

    • Exercisegrace

      Okay, maybe this is splitting hairs but I think there are manipulators and then there is the use OF manipulation. The OW straight up admitted she manipulated my husband. That she pursued him for “a long time” and “aggressively”. We found out later she had a history of going after married men. After my husband ended it, she turned bunny boiler. She stalked and harassed me and my children. Many classic symptoms of a true sociopath or at the very least NPD.

      On the other hand, we have my husband. He let depression and some major life stressors create vulnerability and drive the bus. He chose to enjoy the onslaught of attention this whore gave him. Like most, he never intended to cheat. He inched his way into that territory. It took things becoming physical for him to even be able to face the truth that he was indeed having an Affair.

      I asked our therapist once how on earth such a good man, good husband and good father could have gotten to the point of doing the things he did. Lying and deceiving me the way he did. her response was interesting. She said his survival instincts took over. He realized he was trapped. He didn’t like what he had done, she was making subtle threats if he ended it. He was terrified by the realization that I would likely leave. That he stood to lose his marriage, his family and his kids. So he lied. Self-preservation at its finest. He had to uphold the lie until he extricated himself from the affair, which he did on his eon and before I found out.

      I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying they had no other choice. I’m just saying that not all people that cheat are sociopaths. Sometimes the answer is just simple and tragic. One bad choice leads to another and before they know it they are in over their heads. If I thought my husband would do this again I would be gone, Having said that, I can look back and know that I would never again put up with so much for so long. I fought to save my family and bring him out of a crazy place. I have also made it clear that he MUST go through therapy and reach an understanding of how this all happened. He must learn and exercise the tools of healthy coping skills for future difficult seasons in life, as well as strong boundary setting skills for when and if another woman were to pursue him. If there is a next time, it will be viewed as a conscious, well thought out CHOICE. No second chances.

    • Forcryin'outloud

      As a good friend once told me about 20 yrs ago, my H’s name is a master manipulator”. And as he has said sense d-day, “I had a great teacher.” Referring to his bat shit crazy mother.

    • EyesOpened

      Jenny N and BobT – Wow! To both posts. Jenny – I’m pinning yours up and looking at it every day – because you have verbalised ‘me’. We’re on opposite sides of the adultery fence, but we both walked the same path to the destination .

      BobT – it’s great to hear a male BS ‘s perspective . And you are right about Gizfield – she is honest and brave AND entertaining – a pretty darn good mix!

    • HighRoad

      Wife used mostly angry meltdowns followed by stonewalling. Very frustrating. Hostility, contempt, name calling occurred with every disagreement. Lying and gaslighting were responses to questions about behaviors and events. Always called ME controlling, when in fact it was her.

    • Charlotte

      I am going through it for past few months and feel like part of me has died. Right now I struggle through each day

      • Ed

        What is your struggle Charlotte…knowing the lies??? How are you being manipulated?

    • Kimberly Hess

      Hi! My name is Kimberly Hess and I am in desperate need of some guidance. My husband and I have been married for 7 years, we have 2 children, basically 4 and 6 (they both have bdays in August). Anyway, of course we have had our typical ups and downs like any couples and you know the ones with the in laws. Now we are to the point my husband and my family hate each other. Honestly that isn’t the biggest issue here. When we first got married, he always agreed to take care of the finances and I agreed because he was so good with money (boy was that a mistake). I will try to make this as short as possible. When I was pregnant with my daughter (2nd pregnancy) I was on bed rest for 5 months, we took big hit because I make majority of money and I only had long term disability, not short term. Once I got back to work, I started to notice that our finances were not catching up like they should have. Come to find out, he was gambling and was taking tons of money out of our account almost everyday. After that, we separated our bank accounts, we had very hard time. I started talking divorce, I even went as far talking to another guy but luckily it never went any further than that, never was anything physical. So we went on living and thought things were better, a year later, I found out he took a 3,500 loan out of my 401K and he forged my signature and this had happened the year before when everything else had went down but he continued to keep that from me. Again, we moved on. He had surgery on his hip, was off work for a year on temp disability. Once he was back to work after 6 months he still had not contributed to the household as far as bills or daycare and such. Anytime I would bring stuff up he would get defensive and finally I said enough was enough. We got in a huge fight, kicked him out. Week later I had found out that back in 2012 when I had changed jobs, instead of rolling over one of my 401k’s , he just cashed it out. Still till this day he is saying he didn’t do anything wrong and he knows there was a reason behind it all. Now here I am feeling like I can never trust a man that I thought loved me, I even saw a lawyer and filed papers. He is being super super nice and saying that God is in control and acting like he has changed. I am sorry but I have no idea what to do, I have been down this road so many times with him saying he has changed and then I get slapped in the face with another lie. I don’t want to break up our family but I honestly don’t feel like I can put myself thru anything else

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