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How to handle guilt tripping (text examples)

Look at this example:

She is using a manipulative technique called "guilt-tripping".
Sometimes it's also referred to as "pity play", and it's a technique of emotional manipulation.

If you feel bad about it, then guilt-tripping is also a form of covert aggression because of the negative repercussions it has on you.

The True Dynamics of This Exchange

In real terms:

  • She asks me to pay for her and take her along with me (financial, emotional, and time costs)
  • I suppose the implied offer is that she "offers" sex and a relationship (mostly a sexual offer)

But since I never asked for either sex or a relationship, that as well would also be a cost. In sum, the costs are all on me and the benefits are all on her.

That exchange cannot work in real life because good relationships entail an exchange.

If one party offers and one party only takes, a (social) deal cannot be arranged on the basis of win-win mutual benefit.

This is not a cold way of looking at life: feelings and emotions also play a huge role and they're what makes life worth living.
But feelings and emotions are more likely to arise when the relationship is in balance.

When it's not in balance, people will resort to these types of manipulation, and that's what makes them abusive.

To accomplish her goal, she is framing herself as in bad need of help (the pity part). And she frames me as the only savior who can help her.
That puts a lot of pressure on me.
Indeed the technique is: make him feel guilty so that he will act for me.

That technique was working great.
I was feeling really bad about it (the covertly aggressive part of the manipulative technique: having a negative effect on me)

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And here is how I handled this guilt-tripping:

You will recognize in here the "dominant framing" technique that we discussed in "frame handling techniques".

In that article, I recommend using dominant frames in moderation and in a few specific cases.
Well, abuse and emotional abuse is one of those cases where you need to bust out the dominant frame.

This is not a frame that can be negotiated, made fun of, reshaped, or mirrored (mirroring it would mean you become abusive yourself).
This is a situation where you need to push back with power.

On average, the better you become in life, the more you need to watch out at who's trying to manipulate you out of something.

And it's also a question of effectively allocating your resources.
As you get better, you can truly help some people.
And that's something that you should strive doing.
But to help effectively, you also need to see the social and power dynamics, so that you can help those who truly deserve it.

The steps are:

  1. Recognize the guilt-trip first and foremost
  2. Name it
  3. Explain what their game is (go meta, in this case, I just said "Google it" because I wasn't willing to invest that much)
  4. Insist on your frame until
    1. They either backtrack and apologize
    2. You stalemate on not agreeing and you end the relationship (you don't need a stubborn guilt-tripper in your life)

Who Uses Guilt-Tripping?

It's low-quality men and low-quality women that end up using guilt-tripping.

There are exceptions for everything but, as a rule of thumb, people using guilt-tripping give you nothing.
Not today, nor tomorrow.

Oftentimes, you're not even helping them at all. But they sucker you down a bottomless hole pit that only multiplies pain and hurt.

Sometimes it's hard for people to distance themselves.
Either because they've very good at heart, or because the guilt-tripper is a family member or a partner.

Can you help?

ThePowerMoves usually embraces a position of "intelligent compassion".

Such as: you seek and want to help and be helpful, but you're careful and knowledgeable on how not to become a sucker.

In doubt, my recommendation is this: give people using guilt-trip and other manipulation techniques the tools to help themselves. But don't give your time and emotional investment.

If they truly can be helped, you will see that they will start using the tools and advice you gave them. And then you can further help them along the way. But if they do nothing, chances are that they only want to drag you down.

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Lastly:

From a strategical point of view, guilt-tripping is a weapon of last resort for individuals who have no leverage at all.

In those cases, if you use it with sensitive people and people with a good heart, it can work (unluckily).

It's a technique we saw already in a few book reviews on emotional abuse and in a couple of articles, like for example the types of abusive partners.

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