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TimKisFreitas

Am I manipulating her? I don't mean to...

Okay guys, so I'm in a long-distance relationship with a girl. I'm in the UK she's in the US. It's NOT the long-distance bit that I want to discuss, so please, don't judge me for it, or give me your negative thoughts on it, thanks. What I do want to discuss is my way of solving conflicts, and of quelling her doubts.

I've formed a pretty damn good picture in my mind of how hers works. Id est, from knowing her, I've figured out how what logical pathways her mind takes to get from A to B. Being an INTJ, and possibly an Aspie, being with someone who is logical was the only way to go. She's an ENTP btw. Now, using the 'map' of her mind that I've managed to figure out, is how I solve conflicts. So, when she has a doubt about something, I almost always seem to know exactly what I need to say to get rid of that doubt. Now, I've never lied to her as hard as that is to believe, and when I say things to her I by no means do it just for the sake of having her feel happy, and to keep things good between us, I say what I mean and mean what I say. I'm this way with everyone. But, I fear that when I do this I'm sort of coercing or manipulating her at a deep level. By which I mean, I know how she processes information, so I provide the specific information in the specific way that I know will cause her to process it into a way that'll mean she'll see things from my point of view, and that will solve the conflict. So, if she has a problem with something, I'll make up a theory as to why she has that problem if she hasn't figured it out herself yet and ask her if the theory I came up with is correct, if it is, then I'll offer a solution, something I can do to get rid of the reason for the problem, and I ALWAYS carry out what I offered as the solution.

But I fear that in doing this, I'm sort of coercing her into staying with me. I don't know how to explain it too well. But I basically speak to her in a way, and tell her things that I KNOW will solve the conflict. Like, she was having doubts about it all, and sort of being afraid of the commitment, because it is at distance, so I thought that it was fair enough. Most people in relationships have doubts right? Even in non long distance relationships. But I explained to her that, it was silly to take a break or to stop altogether with the relationship just because of doubts. Because I've had them too, but the feelings I have for her, are strong enough, that, they quell my fears. I explained that unless I've done something to give her reason to leave, unless I've done something specifically wrong, there's no sense in taking a break. Because she said during the conversation that she does love me, but then she explained why she's having fears, the reasons are unimportant, but I said that, if she still loves me, I still love her, and I'll do everything to remove those reasons for her to be afraid, and that we should stay together. She agreed.

BUT I'm just really really afraid that I shouldn't've said anything, that I should've just let her make up her own mind, and that now I've had to CONVINCE her to stay with me, that it's not what she actually wants, and that it's now a bit artificial. Because she said that I made her realise that it is what she wants, but I didn't mean to put that thought into her mind if that makes any sense. Whereas obviously, I love her, so I was always going to try to convince her to stay with me, and was going to say things that might make that possible you know?

May I also mention that, relationships and what to do in them make NO sense to me at all. This isn't something that comes naturally to me. I have Aspergers syndrome, according to my psych a very high-functioning version of it, so I'm almost off the end of the autistic spectrum. But even so, all that I say to her, things like the key is communication, and basically all the things that I've been able to say to keep this going, and to make her happy, and all the things I've done, I've only done based on observation. Like, I see how characters on TV go about their relationships, I pick out what works and I do that, and, it seems to be working very well, even though I don't really know why, I'm just doing stuff I've seen others do you know? I do have feelings, I do love her, it's just that doing these things is the only way I know of showing it. The only thing that actually feels natural to me at all is logic.

So basically, I'd like to know if you guys think that I may be manipulating her, or if this is totally normal, or if I appear to be doing something wrong, or if something seems off about all this. Because I do love her, but I have NO idea how dealing with romantic relationships works, or what is normal or not. It's like I've been given a car without ever seeing one before and I may well be a fantastic driver, but I could also be trying to use the handbrake to steer.

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Yikes.

I think I know what you mean about being afraid you're manipulating her. You want her choice to be with you to come from reasons internally inside her, instead of your convincing her that this is a good decision.

In my experience with xNTPs it is pretty common that they have to figure out why things make sense first before they start making that internal choice to be with someone. You shouldn't feel bad about explaining things at all, because trust me, she hasn't made her decision yet and when she does you'll know exactly how she feels.

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Yikes.

I think I know what you mean about being afraid you're manipulating her. You want her choice to be with you to come from reasons internally inside her, instead of your convincing her that this is a good decision.

In my experience with xNTPs it is pretty common that they have to figure out why things make sense first before they start making that internal choice to be with someone. You shouldn't feel bad about explaining things at all, because trust me, she hasn't made her decision yet and when she does you'll know exactly how she feels.

That's really really helpful, but the problem I have is, that I've noticed this too, and that's how I fear that I'm manipulating her. In that, I explain to her why she may be feeling the way she is, and she tends to take the reason I've come up with as THE reason. There may be others. But when she accepts the reason I've offered, I can tell she instantly makes her mind up about what's going on, and how she feels etc. But obviously the reason I'm going to provide will be one that either I can get rid of by something I can do myself, or something that'll make her feel like she wants to be with me if that makes any sense.

I feel kinda bad about it all, because I feel like some evil genius manipulating her without her even realising it. But obviously I'm not going to tell her a possible reason for it that would make her not want to be with me you know? So I don't know if I should just not talk, and not tell her the reason, and let her try to find one herself, and make up her mind herself. It just feels like I'm moulding her feelings, and her thoughts, and although I want her to stay with me, I don't want to do that to her at all.

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For the most part, this just sounds like good communication to me. Understanding how your audience thinks well enough to be able to get your point across to them is commendable, as long as you're honest with them and not playing off their unhealthier impulses. It's unusual that you took the time to learn to understand her so well, but unusual in way that's more positive than anything.

Still, if you're worried, and to mitigate whatever risk there might be that you are unduly influencing her, you might try two things:

Do what you can to help her understand your thought processes just as well, so that she can communicate her viewpoints as helpfully/comprehensibly to you as you can communicate yours to her. Explain to her how to structure things so that they make the most sense to you.

Whenever you're expressing an opinion, as in the OP's example, actively provide room for her to choose differently than you would like, and to disagree. Adding a statement along the lines of "But I understand that you might not see it that way and I'd like to know what you think/how you feel, and you should do what's most comfortable for you in the end" whenever you're talking through fairly significant issues generally only does good.

If she never seems given occasion to correct you, or never does, you might bring that up just as straightforwardly as a concern. It's improbable that you're right about her 100% of the time. Emphasizing that, too, will help to make psychological room for disagreement to be expressed where it naturally occurs, or needs to.

Edited to add:

But obviously the reason I'm going to provide will be one that either I can get rid of by something I can do myself, or something that'll make her feel like she wants to be with me if that makes any sense.

It actually isn't obvious that this would be the case if you're being entirely honest and thorough in your assessments of things. So if there is any problem, dishonesty is probably the root, whether or whether not explicit lying is involved. You might check yourself there.

And as kintsukuroi pointed out (rather too emphatically) below, it is odd that you feel it necessary to "solve" so many of her problems for her. Given the dearth of evidence suggesting it, it's silly to conclude that she's "trained" you to do it. But don't overburden yourself for any reason, in any case.

Edited by Moth

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For the most part, this just sounds like good communication to me. Understanding how your audience thinks well enough to be able to get your point across to them is commendable, as long as you're honest with them and not playing off their unhealthier impulses. It's unusual that you took the time to learn to understand her so well, but unusual in way that's more positive than anything.

Still, if you're worried, and to mitigate whatever risk there might be that you are unduly influencing her, you might try two things:

Do what you can to help her understand your thought processes just as well, so that she can communicate her viewpoints as helpfully/comprehensibly to you as you can communicate yours to her. Explain to her how to structure things so that they make the most sense to you.

Whenever you're expressing an opinion, as in the OP's example, actively provide room for her to choose differently than you would like, and to disagree. Adding a statement along the lines of "But I understand that you might not see it that way and I'd like to know what you think/how you feel, and you should do what's most comfortable for you in the end" whenever you're talking through fairly significant issues generally only does good.

If she never seems given occasion to correct you, or never does, you might bring that up just as straightforwardly as a concern. It's improbable that you're right about her 100% of the time. Emphasizing that, too, will help to make psychological room for disagreement to be expressed where it naturally occurs, or needs to.

As far as understanding how she thinks, it was an absolute must. I like people to make sense to me, and when it comes to inter-personal relationships sense is totally subjective, and I don't like subjectivity, so I had to learn how she thinks so that to me, her actions and words would make sense.

As far as getting her to understand how I think, I treat her in the way that I'd like to be treated, although I do offer her words in a way that I know will make sense to her and might make her see things from my point of view, I do so in my own way. In that I ALWAYS explain WHY I've done or said something, and fully describe my entire thought process to get to where I did, regardless of how boring the explanation may be, I always try to make sure that there are no misunderstandings and that she knows exactly why what's happening is, because I too want to know this, and would like her to act the same way.

And as far as offering her opportunity to think otherwise, I am so straight-forward with her, and so sincere and honest with her, that I've already said to her basically what is in the original post. I've said to her, that what I said is obviously because I love her and I want her to stay with me, and clearly what I said made her want to. But I told her to go away and think about it herself, and ask herself if she does really agree with what I said, or if it's just because of what I said. I asked her to go off and try to think about it objectively, and from other points of view, and see if she still comes to the same conclusion. I fear she may not, but it's a risk I'm willing to take, because I refuse to manipulate someone I love so much into being in a relationships that might not be making them happy you know?

I might be really annoying in explaining all this in such detail, but I'm so unsure of all of this. It doesn't feel natural, I'm just doing what makes sense to me. But SO much of the time, what makes sense to me, makes no social sense whatsoever.

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If you know how her mind works so well, you wouldn't have conflicts.

Also, given how she's basically trained you how to act and what to say and do to "solve" these "problems," and how you've learned to do it so well, I suspect you may have a serious misperception of the dynamics of this situation.

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If you know how her mind works so well, you wouldn't have conflicts.

Also, given how she's basically trained you how to act and what to say and do to "solve" these "problems," and how you've learned to do it so well, I suspect you may have a serious misperception of the dynamics of this situation.

There are never CONFLICTS as such, in that she'll be angry at something I've done, she'll just be afraid of something, or have a problem with some little thing that's happened. Also, don't assume that I'm suddenly perfect. I understand her well enough to know what to say to her to help calm her down, but I'm not actually HER, genius. I'm always learning.

Also, you've misunderstood what I've said, she hasn't trained me at all, I do these things out of my own will. She hasn't explained to me how she thinks. She doesn't force me to solve problems etc. I just do it because one, I hate having problems with her and I hate her seeming unhappy at all, and two, I really enjoy conflict solving. If I hadn't made my mind up to try to be a patent attorney I'd be firmly aiming at international diplomat. Conflict resolution is fun. In fact I thought that thinking this was one of the key characteristics of an INTJ.

Also, misperception isn't a word.

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Also, you've misunderstood what I've said, she hasn't trained me at all, I do these things out of my own will.

The perfect puppet is not the one that doesn't see the strings. The perfect puppet doesn't even believe they exist.

Also, misperception isn't a word.

Do tell.

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I am on the Internet, as are you. Here it exists. I now know, however, that when introduced to an unfamiliar term or concept, you are much more likely to jump to a conclusion than do even five seconds of research. This, oddly enough, and given your previous posts, does not surprise me.

And I would like you to reason your first argument. If you can't then you are wrong. Simply stating something is not good enough.

My "reason" is this: You need to reevaluate your premise. Your response will be (see "jumping to" above): "Of course I don't, you're wrong."

To which I will reply, "Yes, that is possible, because I rarely deal in absolutes. I also don't choose my answer first then try to find the right questions to ask to support it."

Take care. And, with all sincerity, good luck.

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I'm under the impression that you debated her on whether or not to make decisions based on fear was reasonable. In my experience (but I've never dated an ENTP), when a woman conveys that she's fearful of something, she just wants you to listen and to accept her emotion. She wants to be comforted and feel there is nothing to fear. When you're saying that acting based on her fear is unreasonable, you're in effect increasing the barrier for her to act on it (especially when she wants her decisions to be reasonable), but you're not doing anything about the fear itself. If she agrees with you, the conflict is solved, but the conflict is a symptom of something else - her feelings of fear. I could see this as manipulation, because instead of making it easier for her to be with you, you're making it harder for her to break up with you (which does lead to the same outcome, you two staying together). I understand that this is a natural reaction, though.

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I'm under the impression that you debated her on whether or not to make decisions based on fear was reasonable. In my experience (but I've never dated an ENTP), when a woman conveys that she's fearful of something, she just wants you to listen and to accept her emotion. She wants to be comforted and feel there is nothing to fear. When you're saying that acting based on her fear is unreasonable, you're in effect increasing the barrier for her to act on it (especially when she wants her decisions to be reasonable), but you're not doing anything about the fear itself. If she agrees with you, the conflict is solved, but the conflict is a symptom of something else - her feelings of fear. I could see this as manipulation, because instead of making it easier for her to be with you, you're making it harder for her to break up with you (which does lead to the same outcome, you two staying together). I understand that this is a natural reaction, though.

"she said during the conversation that she does love me, but then she explained why she's having fears, the reasons are unimportant, but I said that, if she still loves me, I still love her, and I'll do everything to remove those reasons for her to be afraid, and that we should stay together. She agreed."

But I did accept her fear, find out why it existed, and offered a solution to it, being things which I could do to help... I think it's silly to act on the fear without communicating to me why she's afraid and letting me try to remove the reasons, as she was going to do. I convinced her to communicate, and then told her what I'd do to remove her fears...

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