Dating is always full of complex emotions and finding yourself in the middle of a game made up of manipulative behavior is the last thing anyone wants to experience. Unfortunately, mind games are a common part of many relationships, and they often leave one partner feeling confused and powerless. If you’re starting to recognize signs that he’s playing games in your relationship, it’s important to understand how to spot and avoid mind games. Read on to learn more about how to identify if he’s playing games, as well as how to react if you’re already in the midst of a game.

What Are Mind Games?

Understanding exactly what mind games are is the first step in spotting them in your relationship. Mind games are any behaviors or tactics that one or both people in a relationship engage in – typically out of an unconscious impulse – to gain an emotional or psychological advantage over the other.

These games are usually rooted in underlying feelings of low self-worth, vulnerability and insecurity, but may be masked by manipulation or calculated manipulation. The person playing the games may see another’s success or goodness as a threat, which leads them to play games to create a power dynamic that allows them to maintain control in a relationship.

Common Signs of Mind Games

Mind games cover a wide range – from explicitly manipulating a partner to subtle mind game tactics. The following are some of the most common signs of mind games in a relationship:

•Talking Good Game But Not Following Through – If one partner starts making promises but rarely follows through on them, this can be a sign of playing games. An individual low on self-esteem may try to please their partner with empty words when they don’t actually want to take action.

•Playing Hard to Get – When one partner plays hard to get, it can be confusing and it can lead to serious issues. Someone playing mind games might strategically push their partner away in order to get a reaction from them, whether that’s love or hate.

•Frequent Criticism – Do you feel like your partner is criticizing your every move? A partner who’s good at playing mind games may enjoy pointing out every flaw or mistake your make, in order to undermine your confidence.

•Apologizing for Everything – It can be sweet to have a partner who apologizes for a mistake, however, if your partner is apologizing for everything, it may be a sign of mind games. A person who feels less than confident may want to please their partner by constantly saying “sorry”.

•Being Extremely Jealous – Jealousy is a normal emotion to feel in a relationship, however, it can become a problem if it’s constant and makes you feel uncomfortable or on edge. A partner may play mind games if they strategically instill jealousy in the other in order to gain a psychological advantage.

•Mood Swings – If your partner frequently changes their attitude and energy level as a way of controlling the conversation or relationship, they may be playing games. Swing from extreme joy to extreme sadness is known as mood swings and isn’t healthy in any relationship.

How To Avoid Mind Games

Mind games can put relationships under serious pressure and can cause serious damage if left unchecked. If you’re in a relationship with someone that you think is playing mind games, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and communication patterns. Here are some tips for avoiding and managing mind games in a relationship:

•Be Honest With Yourself About Signs of Manipulation – It’s critical to be honest with yourself about which signs you’ve noticed that may point to a partner playing mind games. If your instinct is telling that your partner is playing games, trust it and figure out the root cause.

•Be Assertive With Your Partner – Sometimes it can be challenging to talk to your partner about the signs of manipulation they’ve shown. However, if you don’t, the problem may get worse. Be assertive with your partner and express your concerns. Listen to their response and take it into account – no one person is ever entirely “right” or “wrong.”

•Be Direct With Your Communication – When discussing the signs of manipulation with your partner, be clear and direct in your communication. Say exactly what you expect from them, and outline specific goals that you’d like to work towards together.

•Sit Back and Observe – Don’t immediately react to any mind games that come up in your relationship. Instead, take a step back and observe. This will help you get the bigger picture of what’s going on and allow you to come up with a plan of action rather than lashing out in the heat of the moment.

•Set Boundaries Together – Each person in the relationship should be clear about what their boundaries are and what kind of interaction they’re comfortable with. Discuss these boundaries openly and collaboratively to build a healthier communication pattern.

Mind games can be destructive and damaging for all involved, and it’s important to recognize the signs of manipulation early on. If you’re starting to feel like your partner is playing games, take a step back, reflect, and be honest with yourself about the facts. Have a direct, honest conversation with your partner and remember to remain open-minded. Establish clear communication boundaries, and be willing to put in the hard work necessary to create healthy communication patterns. With patience, solid communication, and mutual trust, you can identify and avoid mind games in relationships.