Dating a woman who is playing mind games is baffling.
It feels as if their love for you and their commitment to the relationship varies daily. One day they’re fawning all over you and showering you with compliments; next, they turn a cold shoulder and do their best to make you feel worthless.
If this feels familiar to you, you’re likely a major player in a game you don’t know you’re playing. You’re sitting next to the board, but it’s never your turn.
You are a victim of mind games.
Throughout the constant rollercoaster of your emotions and the incessant ups and downs of a relationship infected with mind games, you can begin to lose grip on your self-value as a man and what made you enter this relationship, to begin with.
Cunningly played mind games chip away at your self-esteem and mental health, leaving you with only a vague clue that anything is happening.
They are complex and multifaceted and it takes a perceptive, intentional man to identify and deal with them.
But you must! Throughout my ten-plus years as a men’s relationship coach, I’ve understood that overcoming mind games is paramount to your relationship’s success and maintaining a healthy heart and happy life.
In this article, we will discuss the various types of mind games in relationships, what they usually indicate, and how to deal with them as a grounded man.
What Are Mind Games in Relationships?
Mind games in relationships are calculated and intentional attempts by one partner to psychologically manipulate and control the other partner.
By regulating their affection, devotion to the relationship, or treatment of you, a woman can essentially dictate where the relationship is going and how the power is distributed.
Rather than expressing their emotions and insecurities vulnerably and openly, a “game player” will leave their true feelings to be interpreted by the other half of the relationship.
You will feel as if you constantly have to adjust your treatment of her and your understanding of the relationship because you never really know how she feels. Her words and actions never seem completely symmetrical.
Remember, while they are usually conscious endeavors, some people play mind games without knowing it. Because of their natural personality, a difficult past relationship, or deep-seated insecurities, they subconsciously manipulate you to achieve their aim.
Why do Women Play Mind Games in Relationships?
Women play mind games for various reasons, but all revolve around one keyword: power.
All relationships revolve around power. In a toxic relationship, one partner will try to win all the power of the relationship to feed their ego or satisfy the greed of their controlling personality. In a healthy relationship, the power is shared equally across the whole relationship.
Healthy relationship power dynamics mean that both parties feel they have a say in the direction of the relationship. When mind games are involved, one party tries to take complete control of the direction of the relationship.
Pay attention to the power distribution in your relationship, and you will have a good idea of what you need to do to make it last.
Here are four big reasons women will play mind games in relationships.
1. To gain power and assert dominance
Humans yearn for control. We have free will and like to exercise it in as many ways as possible.
Throughout our lives, we experiment and develop ways to gain control over others.
When we are children, we learn that a certain joy and rush of independence comes from going against the wishes of our parents or other adults in charge. We look them in the eye and disobey them as one of our first active assertions of dominance.
We learn that by speaking with specific tones or using certain words, we can control others’ emotional well-being and determine how they feel.
We begin to understand that by denying our wholesale attention and administering it in measured doses like medicine, we can essentially control the health of another.
Women who want to gain power or assert dominance do so in sly, underhanded methods and games. The more insecure or ungrounded you are as a man, the easier it is for someone to turn your emotional well-being into their dancing puppet.
2. They lack self-esteem and need constant external validation
People who lack self-esteem or do not understand their self-worth turn to others for it.
When others don’t give it to them immediately, they find ways to take it. They manipulate you into proving to them their value and importance in your life. They deny you physical attention or love, so you begin to wonder if you are worthless to them.
This turns you into something like a dog begging for a pet, which proves to them that they have meaning and importance.
Two keys to experiencing the feeling of meaning and value as a human being are attention and dependence.
Humans need to receive attention to know that we are valuable, and we need to know that others depend on us. Playing mind games allows a woman to force attention out of a man and prove his dependence on her.
3. They have a traumatic past
A traumatic previous relationship will often leave someone with coping mechanisms that they are unaware of.
Fearing entering into another abusive relationship or hurting themselves more, they will erect walls and devise methods of maintaining complete control over every relationship.
They will play mind games to test your commitment to the relationship and allow you to earn their trust.
They’re afraid of being hurt, and mind games are another way to exercise caution.
4. They like the thrill of the chase
Many women lack the maturity for a fully committed relationship but want to enjoy the thrills and exciting parts.
They fail to understand that part of what makes a relationship such a fulfilling and necessary part of life is the ups and downs and the trials and tribulations.
They want the chase and the fun and the sex without any of the difficulties, so they turn to mind games.
They lead you on, toy around with your emotions, and develop games to give them a little spike of dopamine or a bit of thrill for a day.
Types of Mind Games in Relationships
If you are a victim of someone playing mind games, it’s likely that they are playing multiple games at once to control and manipulate you.
While such games are situational and how they are played depends entirely on the players, here are four of the most common mind games people play.
1. Playing hard to get
People play hard to get when trying to prove their worth to themselves and you.
This sort of mind game involves essentially hiding your true feelings from someone to make the chase more difficult for them and rewarding for you.
While at the beginning of relationships, this is a pervasive way of testing a potential partner’s commitment to you, it can become dangerous if it goes on too long or intentions become unclear. There are healthy ways to play hard to get, but they usually don’t involve complex mind games.
Some women, for example, will play hard to boost their ego in an exultant, “look what this guy will do for me” sort of way. Even worse, some women will play hard to get with a man they have no interest in to fulfill their craving for control and enjoy the thrill of the chase.
Whatever the reason, remember that healthy relationships rarely involve ongoing games of playing hard to get.
2. Sending mixed signals
Sending mixed signals or displaying hot and cold behavior is one of the most confusing game-playing tactics.
A woman will alternate between loving, whole-hearted emotional investment and stiff, disengaged disinterest. She’ll express her feelings openly and honestly in one moment, then suddenly turn and batter you with rude comments or silent treatment for no apparent reason. You’ll be left feeling insecure and wondering what you did wrong.
This leaves you, the man, swinging back and forth between a state of open confusion and craving for attention and a state of unhealthy bliss when you finally receive what you crave.
Sending mixed and inconsistent signals is a classic method of psychologically manipulating another being into depending on you. When someone can control when you suffer in life, they can also control when you enjoy life.
3. Love bombing
Love bombing is the opposite of playing hard to get. Rather than refusing to show interest and leaving you in desperate confusion, love bombing involves showing excess interest in the beginning to “win” your love.
A woman will shower you with love and affection at the beginning of a relationship, leaving you overwhelmed and wondering how you got so lucky. Once you reciprocate these feelings or behaviors, her interest will dwindle, and her heavenly treatment will subside.
Why? Usually, she’s enchanted by the chase. She loves the adrenaline and the excitement but not so much the idea of real, mature, reciprocated love.
Gaslighting is yet another advanced form of psychological manipulation that, when employed cunningly, has the potential to put one person at the complete mercy of another.
If a woman is gaslighting you, she’s making you feel as if something is wrong with you. You will feel unstable and insecure, as if you can’t function properly.
This is another way for her to control you and make you dependent on her in the relationship.
A gaslighter makes you doubt your judgments to gain control over your mind and make you trust them. Unless you have good reason to do otherwise, always trust your feelings before others.
How to Deal with Mind Games in Relationships
Now you have a pretty good idea of what mind games women tend to play and why they play them.
Now the question is: If your partner is playing mind games, what should you do?
If this is a serious relationship, you probably won’t want just to let go and call it a day. Breaking up should not be taken lightly, as it can be an extremely traumatizing experience.
Sometimes breaking up isn’t the answer.
Identifying and knowing how to deal with a controlling partner in a relationship can save you tons of unnecessary pain and confusion.
Here are four things that make dealing with mind games in a relationship a manageable experience.
1. Be a grounded man
Games can only be played when multiple people are playing. Women who play games rely on insecure men to play their part, even if they don’t know what part they are playing.
They rely on men to be needy and insecure–slavering dogs whose security and happiness with life are based entirely on women’s approval.
Women can’t play mind games with you if you don’t play this part.
Grounded men understand their importance and purpose in the world as separate from others’ views or opinions of them. When you become a grounded man, you remove your value as a human being from external opinion.
You are important because you know you are important. When your girlfriend turns a cold shoulder, you shrug your shoulders and act as you always have: steady, loving, and understanding.
You don’t start to freak out, grovel on the ground, and beg for her love again.
Become a grounded man, and playing mind games with you won’t be an option.
2. Remove your emotions from the situation
Why do people ask other people for advice? Why do successful people rely on mentors and friends to help them succeed?
We often need people outside of our situations because our emotions and feelings are so entwined and interwoven in our circumstances that we can’t objectively judge anything.
To be able to live with games in a relationship, you have to view your circumstances objectively. To do this, you must remove yourself emotionally from a situation.
Learn to respond to the truth of what is happening and not how you feel about what is happening.
A cunning woman will try to make you feel bad. Regardless of your feelings, ask yourself whether or not you should feel bad. Once you have run your emotions past your mind’s objective judge, you can determine how you should feel and what you should do.
3. Confront your partner
When games are at play, confrontation is imminent.
Whether the games have just begun or they’ve been going on for a while, and you have recently become aware, you must confront your partner.
The only way for a toxic relationship like this to end in any way other than separation is confrontation and joint healing.
Relationships are built on trust, and ignoring such blatant trespassing of this trust will do nothing good for any future you hope to have.
A grounded man refuses to take any mistreatment and will stand up for himself, even risking the end of his relationship.
4. Move on from that person
Whether the situation leads to confrontation or not, separation may be necessary.
While this will undoubtedly be painful for you, you must have the insight and foresight to recognize just how much pain you are saving your future self.
Letting mind games continue to eat away at your relationship and life will lead to nothing more than suffering and wasted time.
Once you recognize that you are being played with, confronting the possibility of separation is the most honest, healthy thing you can do for yourself and your partner. To have a lasting relationship, you need honesty and vulnerability to run at its core.
When a woman is immature or unprepared for a serious, committed relationship, they use mind games to control you and tilt the power axis of the relationship.
While many tactics will be cunning and difficult to detect, doing so is paramount to maintaining a healthy mind and foraging a healthy relationship.
Whether it comes to playing hard to get, giving mixed signals, love bombing or gaslighting, knowing why a woman employs these tactics and how to deal with them is part of what it means to be a grounded man.
Women do these things to gain control of a relationship; if you aren’t a grounded man, you may forfeit everything to satiate her craving.
If you are afraid of this happening or looking for any sort of relational guidance from outside, objective eyes, we have what you need here at knowledge for men.
Over more than a, we have brought together a team of the most experienced, highly-trained men’s coaches on the planet–men who have faced the worst life has to offer and descended into the darkest of valleys. After unimaginable anguish and suffering, they have emerged, equipped and fortified with wisdom only offered by experience.
These men are eager to help you, but only if–and this is the most important part–you are willing to enter into your own deep, dark valleys and do the work. Our programs are not for dabblers or “might-as-wells”–they are for men who know what they want and can’t get there alone. They are for men who know they are the only catalyst to change in themselves.