5 Well-Meaning Dating Behaviors That Are Actually Manipulative

Photo: Danny Lines | Unsplash
Couple on a date

Honesty might be the best policy, but it’s fairly common for people to bring little white lies to job applications and dating profiles. They might seem harmless. After all, what’s a little spin on the truth? But some dating behaviors are just as common that we might not realize are manipulative.

Here are five well-meaning dating behaviors that are actually manipulative:

1. Showering the other person with affection off the bat 

At the beginning of relationships, we might put our best foot forward and shower the other person with attention. This isn’t unusual in the first flush of infatuation. The problem is that we might show them affection and attention we don’t have any intention of continuing once we’re in the relationship. It’s a technique to secure their interest only. Once the other person is invested in the relationship, the love bombing usually fades into disinterest.

How are we supposed to know we’re being love-bombed? There are a few clues:

  • Love bombers move fast — advancing the relationship rather than letting it develop organically.
  • Love bombers offer effusive compliments often. It can be intoxicating.
  • Love bombers show their best selves until the relationship is secure. Then, you’ll notice that they seem like someone else — distant, less affectionate, and less interested as time goes on.

Love bombers might be well-intentioned at times. They might even believe their effusiveness. But it’s a manipulative behavior because it’s built to lock down a relationship early, and it’s not sustainable.



RELATED: 10 Undeniable Signs Of A Manipulative Man

2. Posting "perfect" photos of yourself

One truly manipulative dating technique is to post outdated photos or photos that are intentionally misleading. We all have areas we’re self-conscious about and may not want to advertise, but to put up an intentionally deceptive profile picture is a manipulation. We’re hoping someone falls for the ideal version of us rather than the reality. It showcases our insecurity, and it has a name in the dating world: kittenfishing.

You’re the one in the photo, but it doesn’t look like you of now. It also happens when people post photos that aren’t recent. A photo taken a decade earlier isn’t considered recent. Even a photo from the previous year could yield too many changes to refer to it as a recent photo. Posting anything misleading is manipulative behavior even if we have good intentions and are just hoping someone will give us a chance.

3. Omitting red flag information

I understand that being a single parent with a chronic illness and two children on the spectrum might be a red flag for someone else. That person just isn’t for me. Despite the stigmas, I’m honest about it because I’m not interested in a partnership with someone I had to trick at the start. I’d rather know upfront if the person I’m talking to is a good match for me.

However, I’ve matched with many people who hide major red flag issues. If I say I’m only interested in non-smokers, smokers need not apply. And yet that has happened more than once despite being clear about my preferences. It’s natural to want to present our most appealing facts, but if we’re hiding red flags, they’re going to come out. People will feel manipulated because it is, in fact, manipulative. We need to be honest about the characteristics that some people could see as red flags.

RELATED: 7 Red Flag Signs The Person You Love Is A Master Manipulator

4. Glossing over your dating goals

This one continues to be a challenge. Some so many people say they are looking for a long-term relationship but later reveal that they only have an interest in a casual encounter. It’s deceptive and denies potential partners the opportunity to give full consent. This is also true when people are married, in relationships, or polyamorous. If this isn’t stated upfront, it’s manipulative.

Then, there are people so obviously confused about their own goals that it’s hard to know what they want. They’ve checked all the boxes — short-term, long-term, friendship. They just want something, but even they don’t know what that something might be. They’ll tell us whatever it is we want to hear because they don’t know what they want any more than we know what they want. It’s confusing, to say the least. They might be entering relationships with good intentions, but it’s still a manipulative behavior.



RELATED: 5 Telltale Signs You’re Dating A Manipulative Person

5. People-pleasing

People-pleasing is a behavior that seems nice on the surface but is quite manipulative in reality. When we try to make ourselves what someone wants us to be, we deny them the chance to know and love us as who we are. It’s just as deceptive as any other manipulation. We’re showing them the kind of person they want when that’s not really who we are. It’s a bait and switch coated in a smile.

This never works out. Having to twist ourselves up to be someone else will eventually fail. We cannot hold a mask of ourselves indefinitely. When it all comes out, the other person might feel betrayed because we weren’t ever honest about who we were, what we liked, or even how we thought or felt. It isn’t kind to us or our potential partners.

What if I told you that you don’t have to misrepresent yourself to be loved? It’s true. Everyone has a perfect fit out there. Sometimes, more than one. It helps if we’re self-aware and do the work to unpack the baggage from our childhood and past relationships. It helps if we take care of ourselves and learn how to be a good partner to others. But even the biggest messes among us probably have a match out there just waiting to meet them.

We’d all save ourselves a lot of heartache if we just behaved with integrity. If we were honest. If we were clear. If we stopped trying to chase someone who isn’t the right fit because they are so close to being the right fit that we’re afraid to let them go. If we had a little more faith that the right person is out there and the wrong person can never be made right.

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

RELATED: 9 Signs You're Falling In Love With Someone Who Thoroughly Enjoys Emotional Manipulation

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist and the author of the Heart of Madison series. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, and Mamamia.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.