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How to Deal with Manipulative Fathers

By David Harris ; Updated April 18, 2017

Manipulative people are difficult to deal with because they have practiced ways to exert control. It is even more difficult when that manipulative person is your father, someone who has probably been an authority figure for most of your life. Since a relationship with a manipulative person is unhealthy, figuring out ways to regain control over your life is essential. However, it is much easier with an acquaintance or friend, since you can simply extricate this person from your life. With your father, maneuvering will be a lot trickier.

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Learn to identify behaviors that are manipulative. Many people do not realize they are being manipulated. Your father may try to frighten you, guilt you or smooth talk you into doing something he wants. Go with your gut; if you feel uncomfortable dealing with your father or the way he treats you, it is possible you are being manipulated.

Examine how your father acts when you do the things he wants versus the times you resist his control. Look for patterns in his behavior and his general attitude toward you. Once you learn his tactics, begin to recognize them and not allow him to push your buttons.

Say "yes" when you truly want to do something and say "no" when you don't want to. Assert yourself, but do not get angry or defensive when your father tries other tactics to manipulate you when his first attempt fails.

Avoid accepting gifts from your father if he is manipulative. It is possible he will only use those gifts as leverage later on when he wants something from you.

Set up clear boundaries and stick to them. Give yourself some emotional distance between you and your father and do not allow his manipulative comments to affect you.

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About the Author

David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

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