By: Danny Brooks
A manipulator or groomer can manipulate a target through advice. How is this possible? I always tell students to look at two things when identifying a manipulator: motive and method. Sometimes one can be innocent and the other harmful. For example, a person may want friends so they guilt-trip people into spending time with them. That’s a perfectly fine motive with a manipulative method. So advice is a great thing, but you have to look at what the person’s motive is in giving that advice.
I know someone who went through this. The girl was having small conflicts with her boyfriend. All relationships have conflict and this is healthy as long as it is handled in a healthy way that involves compromise. This girl didn’t take those problems to her boyfriend. Instead, she talked to another guy about them. The other guy saw what she was dealing with and told her that these were red flags of an unhealthy relationship. So the girl dumped her boyfriend, but she had been manipulated.
You may be asking why I would say that. Didn’t he just give her advice? Even if it was wrong and her boyfriend wasn’t actually the problem, then isn’t it just bad advice? What’s this guy’s motive? The guy ended up dating this girl very shortly after convincing her to dump her boyfriend. So he gave her biased advice because he wanted her single. He didn’t care about her boyfriend. He didn’t care about keeping the relationship healthy for the girl. He wanted to tear two people apart for his own benefit.
So maybe now you understand the title of this blog. Typically the expression is knight in shining armor. Some people have even called it “white knighting” when a guy shows up to comfort a girl going through a breakup, but he really just wants to date her. So in this case, the knight turned out to be a snake. Another way of saying it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So how can we avoid getting bad advice from a snake in shining armor? How can we tell if the advice we are getting is biased.
So here’s the thing; everyone is biased. Everyone has their own assumptions about the world that could be right or wrong. No one is purely logical and objective. I had college professors try to tell me that their way of thinking was the unbiased, objective way. They were blinded to their own bias. I have my own biases and sometimes I am blinded to it as well. So the way to make sure you get the most honest advice that will actually help you and not someone else is by asking a few questions.
- What does this person have to gain if I follow their advice?
- Is this what most people would tell me? If you can’t answer this question, it means you haven’t asked enough people their opinion. I recommend getting more advice. A second or third opinion never hurts.
- Does it sound like good advice, but there is something deep down telling you it’s not? A lot of people can use logic and charm to make great sounding arguments that are totally false. Until you hear the other side of the story or contradictory facts, you wouldn’t know how bad the argument is.
So don’t be fooled by people who are pretending to help you. Find people who will tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. Find people who will tell you the truth even if it isn’t beneficial to them. Find people willing to risk your relationship to tell you the truth because they would rather you be happy and healthy than be with them, whether that’s friendship or dating. Listen to our podcasts on grooming to find out more about how to avoid these imposter knights or wolves in sheep’s clothing!