From deep-seated insecurities, control issues, and fear of intimacy to a lack of communication skills, there are many reasons why men play mind games in relationships.
For some, past trauma or negative experiences, as well as the desire for power and validation, also contribute to manipulative behavior.
They don’t seem to understand that playing mind games is harmful to relationships, eroding trust and intimacy.
So, let’s see what mind games deeply insecure men play in relationships and what you can do about it.
1) Jealousy ploys
Guys like this get super possessive over you.
Even if you just talk to another guy, he gets all worked up and starts accusing you of things you didn’t even do.
I’ve known guys who would set up these weird scenarios to see if their girl would stay loyal to them, like flirting with other people to see how she’ll react.
Again, if he does that to you, it’s obvious he doesn’t trust you at all, and it can make you feel suffocated in the relationship.
You can try dealing with that by talking to him openly about what’s okay and what’s not okay in your relationship.
Reassure him, but also encourage him to trust you more.
Tell your partner that trust goes both ways and if they keep testing you, it’s not fair to you or the relationship.
Clearly communicate your boundaries to your partner and enforce them consistently.
Let them know the consequences of their behavior if they continue doing these mind games.
Still, in many cases, he’ll be too far gone, and you really need to reflect on whether the relationship is healthy and fulfilling for you.
Evaluate if remaining in the relationship is worth enduring ongoing emotional manipulation and distress. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
2) Silent treatment
When things don’t go his way, he just shuts down and stops talking to you altogether.
He’s punishing you with his silence, and it makes you feel frustrated and powerless because you don’t even know what you did wrong.
Let your partner know that ignoring each other isn’t cool.
Encourage him to talk about what’s bothering him instead of giving you the cold shoulder.
If things have progressed too much, suggest couples therapy as a way to address relationship issues and improve communication.
But then again, if he’s so deeply insecure, there’s no way he’ll agree to therapy. In this case, assess whether staying in the relationship matches your long-term goals and values.
Explore alternative paths, such as taking a break or ending the relationship if necessary, for your overall happiness.
3) Gaslighting tactics
Gaslighting has gained a lot of traction in the past 10 years. But even before anyone basically knew what it meant, deeply insecure men (and women) were doing it to their partners.
So if he messes with your head by twisting things around and making you doubt your own sanity, he’s gaslighting you.
For example, he’ll say something happened one way when you know it happened differently, and you’re left feeling confused and second-guessing yourself all the time as a result.
That’s why you must trust your own memory and instincts. If something feels off, trust yourself, and don’t let your partner make you doubt your own experiences.
But don’t worry, he’ll always find a way to mess with you and your emotions, like in this next example.
4) Playing the victim card
Some deeply insecure men always make themselves out to be the ones who are suffering or being wronged, even when they’re the ones causing all the drama.
He can’t take responsibility for his actions and expects you to feel sorry for him all the time.
When your partner plays the victim, you need to be honest about how their behavior affects you.
Let him know what behavior is unacceptable and the consequences if they continue to play the victim.
Encourage him to take responsibility for his actions and their impact on the relationship.
Remind him that healthy relationships require open communication and mutual accountability.
5) Emotional blackmail
Does he know exactly which buttons to push to get his way, and is he not afraid to use your feelings against you?
For instance, he’ll threaten to break up with you if you don’t do what he wants, and that makes you feel trapped and manipulated, right?
Yeah, that’s not great, obviously, and it’s manipulation 101.
It’s a form of emotional manipulation where he’s using your fear of losing the relationship to control your actions.
So, take a step back and assess the situation objectively. Don’t let your emotions dictate your response.
Refuse to give in to emotional blackmail. Let him know that you won’t be manipulated into doing something you’re not comfortable with just to avoid a breakup.
Stand firm in your convictions and principles.
You owe it to yourself!
6) Comparison games
Some deeply insecure guys will also constantly compare their partners to other people, making them feel like they’re never good enough.
They’ll always be pointing out their flaws and making them feel inadequate, which, let’s be honest, really takes a toll on their self-esteem.
So, for example, they’ll constantly compare their partner’s looks to those of celebrities, friends, or even strangers.
They’ll make comments like, “Why can’t you be as fit as that person?” or “I wish you had hair like that.”
But that says a lot about them, frankly.
It’s how their deep-seated insecurity surfaces – by focusing on you and your perceived problems and not them and theirs.
But that’s not all, of course. There are many other mind games in their toolbox, such as being excessively controlling.
7) Control freak drives
Some men want complete control of every aspect of their partner’s life, from who they hang out with to what they wear.
When a man’s deeply insecure, he’s always watching over your shoulder, and it makes you feel like you’re not allowed to be your own person.
To counter that, try to set boundaries and let your partner know that you need your own space and independence.
You’re not their puppet.
But at the same time, reach out to your friends and family, or a therapist for support and advice.
Don’t be ashamed, let them know what you’re dealing with.
Discuss your concerns and explore potential solutions to improve the situation.
8) Undermining confidence
Does your partner consistently find faults with everything you do or say, no matter how insignificant?
He criticizes your appearance, abilities, decisions, or opinions?
If he’s always putting you down or criticizing you, inevitably, you start to doubt yourself at every turn.
But why is he trying to chip away at your self-esteem? Because you’ll rely on him more.
People like that also often struggle with low self-esteem and project their insecurities onto their partners.
But whatever the reason, they do not justify or excuse their actions.
Insecure men must take responsibility for their behavior and actively work towards building healthier patterns of relating to themselves and their partners.
9) Withholding affection
Like a child, when he’s mad at you, he punishes you by withholding affection or intimacy, making you feel lonely and rejected.
He’s using love as a weapon to control you, which is so not okay.
And you know why?
Because withholding affection is a form of emotional manipulation.
He uses love and intimacy as a tool to control your behavior or emotions.
It’s a known passive-aggressive tactic they use to express their displeasure or to exert power and control in the relationship.
This leads us to:
10) Passive-aggressive behavior
Instead of just saying what’s bothering him, he’ll act all passive-aggressive, like giving you the silent treatment or making snide remarks.
This behavior usually happens because someone’s scared of facing problems head-on.
So, instead of speaking up about what’s bothering him, he’ll choose to be sneaky or indirect to avoid any confrontation or conflict.
That’s why, again, you need to calmly and directly address the passive-aggressive behavior with your partner.
Let him know that you’re willing to listen and work through any issues together. Lead by example.
If your partner keeps up with these mind games even after you’ve tried talking about it and working on it together, it might be time to think about whether the relationship is really working out.
Take a step back and see if this behavior is just a surface issue or if it points to bigger problems that won’t go away easily.
See if the relationship is healthy and if both of you are truly compatible in the long run.
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