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Ten Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships

Ten Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships

Crazy making in relationships is a subtle dynamic that can leave you full of self doubt, wondering if you might be going crazy. Crazy making is a form of emotional abuse involving things such as mind games, intended to make you question yourself. It destabilises your confidence and slowly allows the other person to gain more control over you and the relationship.Thoughts such as “Is it just me?”, “Am I imagining things?” and “I am not sure anymore of what is wrong or right” all suggest that you might be in a crazy making relationship.

Crazy making in relationships involves calling in to question another person’s sanity, insisting on their ‘version of reality’ all the while projecting their defective inner landscape onto their target. Crazy makers are abusive individuals who try to convince their partners that they are defective in some way, in this way they make the victim more emotional, more needy or dependent. 

Do you experience more self doubt than before, a sense that you used to be happier and more confident than you are now, feeling on edge when in the company of your partner, feeling as if you can’t do anything right, apologising far more than you ever used to, constantly second guessing yourself, finding it harder to make simple decisions, or doubting your perceptions of the world around you?

All the above may be signs that you are in a crazy making relationship. Let me explain it a little more by giving you ten examples of crazy making behaviour. This article might just save your sanity…

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1. When your partner convinces you that something happened when it didn’t (or vice versa)

An example of this could be a social event. You might be 100% sure that you were not made aware of an upcoming party and your partner will insist they told you. A one-off occurrence can happen to anyone but when this happens several times it is a form of crazy making.

2. Passive-aggressive behaviour

If you need to be somewhere at a specific time, your partner may appear to be dawdling. They will deny this if you point it out, but subtly they are thwarting your plans. You might ask for something and they will pretend not to hear you. An item that you keep in a regular place might get moved from that spot with denials that they ever touched it. These are all examples of passive aggressive behaviour. It is manipulative and subtle. Crazy making people are too clever to be overt in their actions as they know that their behavior would never be accepted so they find clever ways to undermine you. Ways that aren’t as obvious or could be open to interpretation.

3. Everything is somehow your fault

Crazy making partners rarely admit to doing anything wrong. They manage to twist events around and somehow the blame ends up back on you. Crazy making partners seem to end up as the victim all the time. They may provoke you until you can’t take it any longer. When you eventually react negatively towards them, they will be the ‘hurt’ ones.

4. Projection

Crazy makers project their internal chaos onto others. The emotional environment around them is tense, not rational and easy-going. Instead, people in their company often feel on edge, waiting to be picked on or judged in some way. When they make you feel anger, they are giving you a taster of what they feel all the time. They may cleverly disguise it, but crazy makers often have a history of tumultuous relationships. Generally, the more passive their partner is the longer the relationship will last.

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5. Non-verbal body language sends a dismissive message

Crazy makers will often make you feel as if you are doing something wrong without uttering a word. Instead, they will sigh loudly, roll their eyes (and make sure you see it) or shake their heads while you do something. This sends you a clear message that they disapprove of your actions. Instead of engaging in rational verbal communication, their subtle gestures will become something you are very in tune with. This is perfect for crazy makers as they can then carry on with their disapproving signs even when in public. On an ongoing basis, this erodes self esteem and confidence making a person even easier to manipulate.

6. Making you doubt your perceptions

Crazy makers will say provocative statements and when you react, they will immediately let you know that you are being too sensitive or that you are overreacting and that you should listen more. They will tell you that you have misunderstood them. It will always be your fault, never will they apologise for saying something that upset you – it will be your fault for not understanding them correctly. They will rarely be bothered that they have said something to upset you, instead you will be blamed for your reaction. They rarely see their part in the ‘play’. You may try harder to please them because it feels like you are the cause of all the trouble when in fact, your perceptions are valid but are completely undermined in a crazy making relationship.

7. Hypocritical behaviour

You would think that a crazy maker would be perfect in every way as they seem to have so much to say about what others do wrong. Yet, often, crazy makers are the biggest hypocrites. There is one set of rules for them and another for everyone else. Don’t anyone dare tell a white lie or withhold information yet many crazy makers do this on a regular basis.

8. It’s all about control

Crazy making in relationships is all about gaining control. Crazy making behaviour often develops in childhood. When, as a child their emotional needs are not met, children learn dysfunctional ways to cope. They take these dysfunctional strategies with them into adulthood and try to use the same manipulative techniques in their adult relationships. Their manipulation tends to work better with other individuals with low self esteem although anyone is open to succumbing to this type of relationship depending upon their mental state at the time. Crazy makers are generally insecure people.

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9. Subtle brain-washing

This can also exist when crazy making in relationships develops. Again, this is done in a subtle way as crazy makers try to get you to come around to their way of thinking. You may have packed the dishwasher for many years in a way that works perfectly well for you, when suddenly, this method will be challenged. “Why have you done that?” or “Why are you doing it that way?” You begin to question your way of doing things and the process of confidence erosion and self doubt commences. This is a form of control and links in with rigid thinking. Things have to be done in a certain way and if they aren’t, you can be made to feel that you are lacking in some way.

10) Setting you up to fail

This is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You will find that the rules change according to a crazy maker’s fickle wants and wishes. As the dynamic shifts, you will try harder to please them yet nothing ever seems to be quite right. I have witnessed confident people become a shell of their former selves after being in a crazy making relationship. It can happen to the best of us.

How to deal with a crazy making relationship

When you start to realise that it isn’t just you and that there is more going on in the relationship which makes you feel you might be crazy, it relieves the pressure. It also becomes easier to identify crazy making in relationships. Remember that no matter what someone else does or how they try to influence your mood, you still have ultimate control over how you react. Remove yourself from the situation temporarily if you need to but refuse to allow another person to manipulate your mood. This is what helps them to feel powerful. When they see that their subtle ways are causing an emotional reaction in you, they feel that they have won. It’s a sad way to go about trying to feel important and powerful but then again crazy makers don’t think the same way as a healthy normal individual.

Crazy makers have dysfunctional thinking patterns that more often than not begin in childhood. As a child, when parents do not lot allow free expression of healthy emotion or suppress their children in some way, it sends a message to children that they are powerless. Subtle manipulation is one way a child can still feel like they have power – whether they do this by lying, stealing or withholding information, it allows them to cope with the stressful situation. These coping skills stay with these children but unfortunately do not serve them well in adult relationships. Manipulation will never get a person as far as good open communication will. This is something many crazy makers were denied as children. The parents ruled and the children obeyed.

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Crazy making in relationships comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be difficult to spot as there are many variations. If you find that you have become indecisive, doubt yourself regularly (whereas before you were quite self assured), have lost confidence or generally feel something is amiss but you cannot put your finger on it, it might be that you are in a crazy making relationship. Learning to interact as adults is key to forming a solid relationship where manipulation is not used as a form of control.

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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