The worst part about emotionally manipulative relationships is that those in them sometimes can’t even see how bad it’s gotten. The more it happens, the more it’s normalized and even justify. The manipulation can completely destroy them from the inside out, making them unable to see beyond it and completely codependent on their manipulator.
But there is hope. Everyone eventually reaches a point where they feel like they can’t take it anymore. According to the stages of change, this is how people move through a process of defined stages. It has to start from a place of readiness to be able to handle the significant life changes it will bring. Each step brings them closer to freedom once again. Here are the five main stages.
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The Preawareness Stage
It’s not surprising that those deep in manipulative relationships are blind to the red flags because they’ve been manipulated to do so. Their partners will use blame-shifting, criticism, aggression, anger, or even pity to trap them into feeling vulnerable, codependent and justify their behavior.
It’s usually friends or family who will first notice the signs and start bringing them up. Often, the victim will deny them for a while or at least minimize them but eventually comes to see them too. Even then, it can take a long time to make the shift from awareness to a willingness to actually want to do something about it.
The Contemplation Stage
This stage is crucial as it is during this stage that those who have suffered manipulation start to rewire their thoughts from the ones brainwashed into them to their own beliefs. They gradually start to take in the severity of the issue without minimizing, justifying, or denying it.
They may even start confronting their partner about it. During this stage, they are often still hopeful things will get better or be fixed, while also accepting the possibility that they may have to walk away. This stage can be quite conflicting as they struggle to make a decision on what to do next.
The Preparation Stage
This stage is where the victim realizes that the relationship is beyond repair and that their manipulator isn’t willing to make a change. The frustration fuels them to finally be committed to taking action.
This point is key in making sure there is a stable transition to a breakup. Preparing for it requires having an exit strategy, an escape plan if necessary, a safety plan if needed, and a consideration of the risks of each action. At that stage, those going through it need a lot of support, resources, and validation.
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The Action Stage
This stage puts the preparation plan into action. It’s a stage full of fear and uncertainties as the survivor, who is no longer a victim, adapts to the change that their new life brings.
This stage is not linear but it is sudden. It can feel like everything is changing all at once. New routines are built. Some require a new home, new friends, a new network, or even a new job depending on how intertwined their lives were with their manipulator.
The Resistance Stage
At this stage, it can be quite tempting to want to take it all back and go back to what’s comfortable. The manipular may be starting to realize what they’re losing and go to extreme lengths to try and win their partner back.
It’s important not to cave to loneliness and their emotional tactics in this danger zone. Resiting impulses and advantages is key in getting through this almost final stage.
The Moving On Stage
This is the stage where the relationship is officially terminated. Once you pass through the temptation, you transition into grief. It’s okay to mourn even the worst of relationships.
Eventually, even grief passes and is replaced with freedom and excitement for a new beginning. Confidence is rebuilt and a new life is built despite all of its ucertainties.
You Deserve Love
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Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives