Are You In A Manipulative Relationship?

Manipulative relationships can chip away at our esteem, encourage insecurities and be very stressful.  They often create inner conflict as intuitively we know something isn’t right but we’re being convinced that the other person’s behaviour is justified and ok (when it’s really not).

A simple test to assess if we’re in a relationship where we’re being manipulated, whether this be with a  friend, partner or family member, is the FOG test.  FOG stands for Fear, Obligation and Guilt.  If we feel any of these 3 feelings regularly in a relationship, it’s likely that we’re being manipulated.  For example, in responding to someone, this should not come from fearing the consequences of not responding.  Likewise, feeling obligated to or feeling guilty if we don’t respond are not part of healthy relationships.  Obligation and Guilt are often created when the other person is playing a victim or helpless role and we find ourselves giving more and more to help them. Unfortunately, this often just makes things worse as the other gets attention for being helpless which encourages them to remain in that state and repeat their behaviours.

People who experience FOG regularly can stay in abusive relationship, live in squalid accommodation, sacrifice their wealth or sacrifice their wellbeing and needs.  FOG can create feeling of hopelessness and dread where we do and say things that we’re not comfortable with.

What to do –

  • If we’re close with someone who is manipulative, it’s important to trust your intuition. Intuitively, we can feel that something isn’t right but we are manipulated to believe that it’s perfectly fine.  That deeper part of you is rarely wrong.
  • Whenever we’re unsure, it’s helpful to check things out with another and having people we can trust and talk to is essential for our wellbeing. This can help you to take steps to clear the FOG.
  • Set boundaries to establish what you will and won’t accept in your life
  • If needed, remove yourself and any other vulnerable person from the situation
  • Seek to understand the manipulator as their behaviour is often worse when they are struggling the most. This can help us have compassion and view the situation more rationally

As always, feel free to comment and question.




Sharie Stines, P. (2016). Breaking out of the Drama Triangle. [online] The Recovery Expert. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Thowfeek, T. (2015). FOG – Fear, Obligation & Guilt — Out of the FOG. [online] Out of the FOG. Available at: [Accessed 13 Aug. 2019].

Write a comment