The world is full of lovely people, so don’t get me wrong if this sounds a bit far-fetched or gets us talking about negative things too much.
But the fact is there are people in our lives that gain far too much access to us.
Let me paint them in this way: this is the person you get into a conversation with, who perhaps begins by flattering you in such a way that their charm disarms you. Then, before you know it, they start some kind of diatribe on a topic you disagree with, but lo and behold, they have you agreeing with them, even though your head and heart are saying, ‘No, this is not on!’ You quickly learn that their approach to you was not out of wanting to get to know you, or to shoot the breeze, or to share about themselves, but they have some agenda, and you play some strategic part in it; you’re a pawn in their manipulation. Against such a person is a loser, for such a person with such and such of an agenda has already done the thinking about how you or I will be their conquest.
This interaction is not about relationship.
This interaction is about their influence.
There are no friendly conversations, just for the sake of relating with them, with this kind of person. They have no interest in fellowship or support or care. They will not be honest with you about themselves, and they won’t be that interested about what you might honestly (yet foolishly) disclose about yourself. And yet some are highly skilled in appearing to be caring and interested. But it falls away in that it’s selectively used; these people are not caring by character – they switch it on for their advantage, when it suits them.
This is a person we all know. We all know this kind of person. They are the kind of person who want to know us for what they can get out of us. There always seems to be an end goal or an agenda with this kind of person. Because this kind of person plays the manager role very effectively, they are commonly found in leadership positions, but they bear no traits of true leadership, because their objective is exploitation. Yeah sure they will cloak their exploitation of you and me in the need to do something good on behalf of an organisation, or worse, blaspheme God’s name by saying that they are discharging God’s will (yes, that’s a form of spiritual abuse right there).
One sure sign of this kind of person is we feel used by them in having simply interacted with them.
Normal interactions don’t leave us feeling manipulated.
It may be the case that we know many sharks who are prepared to exploit us for their gain. But we are called into relationships with people who don’t desire to get something from us, but with people who will love us and accept us for who we are.
One key sign that we are in an interaction with someone unsafe is we will feel manipulated about how we respond, to the point where we may find we’re agreeing with them in our words whilst feeling coerced in our minds. There is discomfort in the interaction and not the free ability to confront them.
What do we do with these kinds of relationships?
We avoid these kinds of interactions, but when they do take place, we need to be wary, being careful what we say, and being doubly careful what we agree with. Expect that you will disappoint this kind of person, but don’t let them brow-beat you into feeling guilty.
If you confront them, don’t expect it to end well. People such as these disdain honesty and their pride despises the calm strength we bring in disagreeing. They will meet you and raise the stakes.
With such a person you need to be, as Jesus said, wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.
I consider a person safe and trustworthy when they don’t require anything of me. Relationships work best when we voluntarily give of ourselves, not because we’re being controlled.
Why do we make excuses for the people that waltz into our lives and do some of the following?
– often make assumptions, not checking with us because they care so little;
– take us for granted by not considering our needs;
– draw attention to our behaviour when we decide something they don’t agree with;
– ask ‘small’ favours that are always larger than they initially imply;
– offer ‘elegant tradeables’ (things we neither want nor need) in exchange for things we value;
– think nothing of us forfeiting our family time for them (even with a sugar-coated apology);
– will interrupt us interacting with someone else because of ‘something important’ i.e. to them.