Beware the king of tricksters

If you find yourself doing things you never thought you were capable of, like banging the phone, swearing and using your boyfriend's tactics that you hate, be warned. You might have been kissed by the king of tricksters - an emotionally manipulative man.

If you find yourself doing things you never thought you were capable of, like banging the phone, swearing and using your boyfriend's tactics that you hate, be warned. You might have been kissed by the king of tricksters - an emotionally manipulative man.

Women often look at men as the passive unexpressive testosterone-driven gender, but some are just quiet, subtle dictators who resort to underhanded schemes to destroy a woman's self-esteem so she can surrender all her power to him.

"Men can be just as sneaky, passive-aggressive, needy, underhanded, whiny, guilt-inducing and emotionally demanding as women are accused of being - and more so," says Dorothy McCoy, author of The Manipulative Man.

"As any woman in love with a manipulative man can tell you, it's not easy to get past his charm and your guilt to a place where you can see your relationship for what it is - out of balance, extraordinarily stressful, emotionally exhausting and potentially dangerous."

These men are not only on a low-budget American soapie.

"There are many jerks who can f**k with your mind roaming the streets of Joburg," says scorned Cecilia Mahlangu who says she is done dating.

And while most of us will automatically support her, Mahlangu takes all the blame.

"There's something creepy about a manipulative man, but you choose to ignore it because you can't wait to remove your drawers. I can't say I didn't see it coming."

A manipulative man grants you all your wishes within a few weeks and then applies dead brakes.

"An emotionally-scarred man is likely to mete out his frustrations on the person he loves the most because subconsciously, he is reversing the roles of the abuser and the victim and it makes him feel even," says Karen Hilton, a family psychologist.

"Deliberate manipulative men are usually on a mission because let's be honest, there aren't many. Most men just want to be loved by the woman they love and all these mind games are too much for them," says Hilton.

"Manipulative people have one thing in common. They like using things like 'if you really really loved me...' They are also very sweet when they want to change your mind about something. They have mastered the game well. They can change the tone of their voices in five different octaves within the same conversation. Now that's the work of a con artist."

Tricksters love the challenge and aren't likely to spend their energies on a submissive, easy to manipulate target.

"They want powerful women and the stronger the head, the more thrilling the chase," says Mahlangu.

"Mine knew his 'I love you' and its effect so well that he only unleashed it when it was imperative for him to and it was usually when he wanted me to take the blame for his mess.

"When I told him I wanted to further my studies, he initially pretended to be thrilled, but two months before my studies were to commence, he subtly changed his tune. He bought us a house. I had been asking him for ages to get us a house. He also started talking about us starting a family. But the day I told him we had conceived was the day he unleashed the dog within," says Mahlangu.

But there is a common mistake that victims of emotional manipulation make. They let their guard down when the affair is at the honeymoon stage.

"l do believe that the gut feeling you get when he says or does something in a certain way could be the weapon we were given at birth to avoid things and characters like these dead-beat men," says Olga Yende, who was once a victim.

"Any guy who tells you what a loner he is and how he cannot see himself without you, and tries to change dating to full-blown romance in the first few days is trying to own you," says Hilton.

But that's how many black guys still operate. They use the old process of introduction that "compels" them to declare their love for a woman.

"There's your answer. Black guys use a weakness to win you over so they can have their way with you later," says Yende.

Spotting a manipulative man.

1. He has lots of psycho-babble books on his shelves. He is an expert at how people think and feel.

2. He has had more than a few people tell him that he is arrogant. He shies away from intellectual women.

3. He says he is "Not like all the other guys...."

4. He prefers the missionary position or dog style because he wants to be in charge. Check out his car. Is it fast with a big engine and a head-turner that he treats like a baby? The truth is he wants a baby for a companion.

5. He can't handle you disagreeing with him.

6. He asks for your opinion so he can shoot it down.

7. He deflects any responsibility for the effects of his actions or statements.

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