We’ve all been there. You meet “the one”, that perfect person who checks off all the boxes. You fall and fall hard! But after awhile you start to figure out that things just aren’t adding up. And then it hits you like a ton of bricks. You’ve been lied to and manipulated. How could this happen? You’re intelligent, a good person, and have always thought of yourself as a pretty good judge of character.
There are a seemingly endless number of factors and possible answers. Let’s explore a few...
1). It’s hormonal. Oxytocin is the hormone that strengthens our bonds with others. It’s purpose is to create connection and trust, and it plays a major role in social interactions and relationship building. It’s often referred to as the “love” hormone. Unfortunately, when we fall for someone and our “love” hormones are activated, it’s actually much easier to be manipulated.
2). It’s a personality thing. Manipulators tend to have narcissistic personality traits. Charming and confident at first glance, this type of person is also extremely selfish, entitled, and lacking in empathy. Whatever the motivation (sex, money, just the thrill of the hunt) this type knows exactly how to get what he or she wants from a person or situation with little to no regard for how this affects others.
3). It’s the rule. “The Golden Rule”. Good people expect the same from others. Whether or not you’ve been manipulated or lied to in the past, as a good person your first instinct tends toward believing other people have the same positive values as you.
Well that’s all fine and dandy but now what? First of all, give yourself some credit for being a decent human being who wants to believe that other people are decent human beings, too. If you’re blaming yourself or beating yourself up, stop. That only leads to spiraling and repeating negative patterns. Try using this as a learning experience and a strength builder. Think of it as a way to become a better people picker and to improve your bs detector. Be kind and patient with yourself; practice self-compassion; and (re)treat yourself well.