Manipulative teens want dating relationships on their terms.

Manipulative Behavior in Dating Teens

by Kristine Tucker

When a teenager starts dating, it opens a whole new world of emotions and experiences. However, it can also lead to manipulation if the teen isn't secure in herself and uses dating in unhealthy ways to boost her self-esteem. She might try to control her boyfriend or manipulate her parents into letting her do things she's not old enough or mature enough to handle. Teen dating can lead to positive relationships, but it can also destroy them when manipulation takes over.

1. Control the Relationship

A manipulative teen in a dating relationship wants to be in control because he doesn't want to risk losing his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that trying to control the relationship is a good way to lose it. A controlling teen might not want his girlfriend to have other relationships, invest in activities outside of the relationship or spend extended periods of time away. He might even check on her 10, 20 or 30 times a day using his cellphone, according to a study prepared for Liz Claiborne Inc. posted on LoveisRespect.org. This type of manipulative behavior often stems from insecurity and has little to do with the partner's actual behavior. A controlling teen might even assume his girlfriend is cheating or expect her to be unfaithful, even though it is a false presumption.

2. Reject Parent's Authority

A teenager's manipulative behavior isn't solely focused on her boyfriend; part of it is geared toward her parents. She might cry, complain and throw tantrums if her parents don't let her go out with her boyfriend, or she might sneak out of the house. Rejecting authority is a common way teens assert their independence by proving they can manipulate situations when parents refuse to comply. Parents should be sensitive to their teen's hormonal fluctuations, insecurity issues and fascination with dating, without tolerating disrespect or disobedience.

3. Lie to Dating Partner

Manipulation and lying often go hand-in-hand for dating teens. A teen might lie so his girlfriend doesn't break up with him or because he has things to hide. For example, he might tell his girlfriend he loves her because he wants to have sex with her. Or, he might lie about previous dating relationships because he doesn't want his girlfriend to know he gets around. Lying is a self-protection mechanism that withholds truth to protect a person's reputation. Even though lies often seem harmless, they pose an ethical dilemma and often result in damaged relationships once the truth comes out.

4. Violence

Extreme cases of manipulation result in violence. If a teen tries to assert her power in the dating relationship through physical, emotional, verbal, psychological or sexual abuse, parents need to get professional help for their teen, according to the Domestic Violence Action Center. A teenager who is extremely jealous, possessive and manipulative often poses a physical or emotional threat to the dating partner and friends or family who try to get involved in the relationship. Teen dating violence should never be tolerated and requires immediate attention.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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