What is micromanipulation?
While manipulation in a relationship can be obvious and, unfortunately, sometimes abusive, micromanipulation is a different story. It’s subtle and not-so-easy to spot, and can come in the form of passive-aggressive comments or questions that make you rethink your thoughts or values.
According to clinical social worker, Hillary Schoninger, micromanipulation is most common with narcissists, who are always looking to draw attention back to themselves and control the narrative around them.
But how are you meant to track micromanipulation in a relationship if it’s meant to be subtle? We asked Schoninger to share a few signs to look out for, and what steps to take if you’re being micromanipulated.
They contact you out-of-the-blue
In an example published in Psychology Today, micromanipulators might try to get your attention by contacting you at random times. For example, you can often tell if a person has texted you in order to get back on your radar – and to get you texting them again. This could be a sign of micromanipulation.
They are looking for sympathy or empathy
In some cases, those out-of-the-blue moments of contact can also be moments when they’re looking for sympathy or empathy from you, in order to keep your attention for a while longer.
“It’s always about shifting the narrative back to them – what makes them feel empowered and maybe what makes them feel possibly victimised,” says Schoninger. “Whatever they need, they are going to do their best to manipulate so you react.”