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Can You Tell The Difference Between Manipulation & Caring?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 07, 2016

A change in behavior is often temporary. If the change is coming from an intent to manipulate and control rather than to be loving and caring, it is not an authentic change. How can you know the difference?

Terri and Jeff had been married for 22 years when Terri started to make some major changes in how she operated in the relationship because she became aware of Jeff's lack of caring about her.

During most of the years of their marriage, Terri was an emotional and sexual caretaker and Jeff was a taker. Out of fear of Jeff's anger, withdrawal and lack of caring, Terri would have sex with him when she didn't want to. She would go along with most of what Jeff wanted for the same reason.

However, after 20 years of this, Terri started practicing Inner Bonding and became aware of how upset her inner child was with her for giving herself up. Within a couple of years of practicing Inner Bonding, Terri changed from being a caretaker to taking responsibility for herself.

One of the things she told Jeff is that she would not have sex with him unless she felt his caring for her. She would no longer have sex just to please him. Jeff was angry about this, but then decided to have some sessions with an Inner Bonding facilitator. Terri was delighted.

Within a short time, Jeff was behaving in a far more caring way. He was doing things for Terri that he had never done before, such as giving her a massage or doing the dishes. Terri felt closer to Jeff and they started to have sex again.

Then, one evening, Terri was tired and said no to sex. Jeff became angry, just as he always had. Terri was upset and confused, because had she thought his changes were real. Jeff stayed angry and withdrawn for a few days and then apologized, again becoming caring and helpful. Terri, still hoping that their relationship would improve, opened up again. However, within a week, the same angry behavior emerged when she again said no to sex.

The problem was that Jeff's changes were manipulative rather than authentically caring. Jeff had learn to "act" right in order to get what he wanted, but the change was not coming from developing a caring loving adult who was learning to take responsibility for his own feelings, needs and behavior. The changes were behavioral rather than genuine. Behavioral changes are rarely permanent.

Dieting and weight loss offers us a good example of the difference between a behavioral change and an authentic change. People can make behavioral changes for a few weeks or a few months, or even for a year while on a diet. But very often they gain back the weight because it is just a behavioral change - a diet. An authentic change comes from developing a caring loving adult who deeply cares about health and makes the life-style changes necessary for good health. This kind of change is permanent because the goal is to be caring toward yourself rather than to just lose weight.

Jeff's goal was to get Terri to have sex with him. He made the changes he thought would work to accomplish this. The authentic change would have been to learn to be loving to himself and take responsibility for his own feelings, rather than trying to have control over getting what he wanted. The clue to behavioral versus authentic change was how uncaring Jeff behaved when he didn't get what he wanted.

Terri felt betrayed by Jeff when she realized that his 'caring' behavior was manipulative rather than authentic. She loved Jeff and she wanted a caring and intimate relationship with him, but she could not "make" Jeff open to learning about being loving to himself and to her. Jeff continued to attempt to manipulate Terri and was furious when it no longer worked. Jeff finally left the marriage, after Terri found out that he was having an affair.

Authentic change is the result of a change in intent. As long as the intent is to get love and avoid pain rather than be loving and caring to oneself and others, the changes will be temporary.

Terri realized she knew all along that Jeff's changes were not real - she was just not listening to herself. The energy of real authentic change feels totally different than behavioral change. If we listen to ourselves and our spiritual Guidance, we will always know when someone's change is manipulative or authentic. If we stay tuned into ourselves, we will know when our own changes are manipulative or authentic.

We can fool ourselves and others, but not for long. If it's not an authentic change coming from a caring, loving inner adult, it won't last.

Begin to learn Inner Bonding so you can make authentic changes by taking our free Inner Bonding course at

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul -
For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."


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