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Mind games in dating: Yes or no?


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Manipulation has gotten a reputation for being one of the worst things you can do to someone. Frankly, though, there are times when playing such mind games can help your relationship. If you’re wondering whether your subtle manipulation is justified, then you probably need to read this.

1. Yes: Some guessing keeps you two close

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Having your partner try and read you means they learn your cues better. No longer will they have to rely on you voicing your displeasure or disappointment; they’ll intuitively know if you’re unhappy. This means you’ll be able to skip the conversation and communicate with body language – like you can read each other’s minds! Do remember to drop some clues to avoid confusion though.

2. No: Mind games often lead to huge arguments

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“Well, if you didn’t want me to do it, why didn’t you just say so?”

This line is a total classic. You’re going to hear it so many times if you’re one for mind games. And you’ll learn to dread it because it’s only the prelude to what’s going to be a massive fight. While open and honest communication can defuse tension, mind games can lead to even worse arguments when your partner feels manipulated and frustrated.

3. Yes: Slight manipulation can make your partner more willing to help you

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Many of us have been there – we really don’t want to run an errand, or do a chore, and so we subtly nudge our unwitting partners towards doing it for us. It may make us seem like terrible people, but honestly, this may be beneficial towards relationships. It reduces the I-do-stuff-for-you-all-the-time resentment on both ends. Just try not to be ungrateful and remember to reciprocate!

4. No: Breach of trust

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If your partner ever finds out that you’ve been covertly manipulating them into helping you with your stuff, you can forget about ever making that happen again. Everything will be seen as yet another one of your mind games. And with good reason too, since you’ve already damaged that trust in your relationship. Until you manage to fix things, the tension could get pretty unbearable.

5. Yes: Dropping hints removes the perennial relationship question: Are you doing this because you want to or because I told you to?

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Sometimes we really want our significant others to act in a certain way, but we don’t want to tell them outright, because we don’t want to feel like we’re trying too hard to change them. Dropping hints to influence their behaviour may be a much more effective (and kinder) way. Instead of telling them to behave differently, their responses to the hints coming their way will make them do things differently when they realise that such things make you happier.

6. No: Manipulative behaviour can worsen dramatically

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If you’ve been manipulating your partner for a while, watch out – it may snowball into something destructive. The reason why people play mind games is because mind games afford us a significant degree of power over someone else, which can be intoxicating. Once you realise you can get away with it, you may start pushing your boundaries (lying to or cheating on your other half), and the relationship may quickly turn toxic.

While mind games may keep things mysterious, fun and whimsical, be wary of manipulating your partner for selfish or malicious reasons. If you’re manipulating your partner in order to serve dubious ends (like making them contradict their principles), then your mind game may be turning into something more sinister than you’d originally intended.

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