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MX Sydney Friday 13/05/2011 Page: Section: Region: Circulation: Type: Size:

15 General News Sydney, AU 98811 Capital City Daily 320.69 sq.cms.

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If you always seem to be in the wrong, your partner could be a master manipulator. RENATA GORTAN iiks how to tell if yo 'onship is twis Everyone plays their partner sometimes. Whether it's putting on the waterworks, throwing a tantrum or using the silent treatment to get your way, both sexes are guilty of it. As long as it's not a regular occurrence and both parties get the chance to come out on top, it's just another part of being in a relationship. But when it happens all the time, and you're always the one who's in the wrong, you could be dealing with a champion manipulator. When it comes to identifying a lover who doesn't have your best interests at heart, conflict resolution expert Dr Mary Casey (www.caseycentre.com.au) recommends looking at your

sarcastic comment about your clothes or what you do. "If you feel like you're walking on eggshells and think, 'I better not say that, I don't know how they will react'. then that's a sign things aren't right. You might say they're always angry, but they say they're angry with what was happening, not angry at you, so they put it back on you. "It's always underhanded and covert, so it's hard to detect." According to Casey this type of behaviour takes its toll on the target. They constantly drain your energy. Before you even see them you feel drained," she says.

emotions.

Don't get me started

If you're constantly anxious and confused about the relationship, chances are you are being targeted. "You're often confused about fights, because the manipulation can be insidious," Casey says. "It can be something as minimal as just a dirty look, a

A person doesn't suddenly start exhibiting manipulative behaviour, it's always there and there is often a pattern. "They confuse you, can be very condescending and patronising." Casey says. They make you feel guilty, feel as though it's all your

fault and they're good at passing the buck when you raise issues." Casey believes that people who manipulate others are anxious, and exerting control over others decreases their anxiety. They tend to have difficulty accepting authority and have poor self-control," she says. "The bottom line is they have a very low sense of selfworth. This is where it all stems from. -Bending someone to their will increases their confidence If they don't have that, they feel anxious." Although they exhibit strong anti-social behaviour, master manipulators are adept at picking their victims. "They seek out people who are easy targets," Casey says "People do what they do because they can. "They would never seek out people who are strong or assertive. They need people who are easy to control." Manipulators often test their targets within the first few minutes of meeting, to see how susceptible they are.

"It might be as silly as saying to someone, 'you're crazy' and they don't get a negative response or get a giggle," Casey says. "That tells them they're in and can get away with it with this person. "Easy targets are very trusting. If you trust them they've got you."

Makjog a stand Unfortunately, manipulators rarely change their behaviour. The best way to avoid falling victim is to understand how they operate and establish defence mechanisms. "It's best to just disengage emotionally from that person," she says. "Targets seek approval. They like to be liked and accepting manipulative behaviour becomes a choice. "You have to set very clear personal boundaries about what's acceptable. "Say things like, 'I refuse to be spoken to like that'. "You cannot accept any excuse and don't take the blame for everything."

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