But Sheila "really did a number on him," according to his friend Ann. He was pretty distraught.
Cut to three years later. "She gets married to this guy, and that brings back a lot of old memories for Jeff," says Ann. "Her husband launches a website, and Sheila sends an email out to Jeff and a list of other people announcing the website.
"Jeff is still really broken up about her and her getting married and marrying a douchebag. He can't really shake it off. Plus, he thinks the website is stupid."
"I tell him to reply to her email but to respond as if he were writing back to their mutual friend Monica. In the pretend-email, which he 'accidentally' sends to Sheila instead of Monica, he makes fun of Sheila's husband's website, saying that it's very unlike Sheila to put her name on something (she was listed as an editor) that is so half-baked and unpolished."
Sheila replies to the email: 'Uh, I think that's what you call a f***- up.'
The next day she takes her name off the website as the editor.
"Two weeks later, she emails Jeff, apologizing for how she treated him, and that she hopes he can forgive her.
"Jeff becomes instantly over her.
"Ann manipulation class-1, ex-girlfriend-0."
Thank you, Ann.
What we have here is a classic case of manipulation, practically Machiavellian in design.
If all's fair in love and war, then manipulation is just one of those things the wary dater and serial monogamist hopefully learns to recognize. However, seeing manipulative behavior for what it is isn't always easy, and even the canniest of us are duped occasionally.
Digression: This writer, after a recent fight with his girlfriend, actually believed her story that his cat -- who doesn't even like her -- "licked a tear from my face," an admitted (later) ploy for sympathy.
For our purposes, we can define manipulation as purposely misleading someone in order to get them to feel or do something they wouldn't otherwise. As underhanded as it sounds, manipulation isn't always pernicious. Sometimes such inventions may be justifiable, say, when it's necessary to give a person a little push. In general, though, it's pretty selfish behavior.
In her entry "Dating is Competitive Manipulation," blogger Violent Acres ("Like you, but with poor impulse control") writes about snaring a guy she liked when she was 19. He had a girlfriend but that didn't stop her.
"So I commenced with my wooing which included some light laughter, a couple of well placed accidental flashes of skin, and a few knowing looks," writes the VA. "When Jack invited me to grab some coffee after work, I'd smiled at him coyly and say, 'Now that would hardly be appropriate, considering your girlfriend…' and then I'd sashay away before he could answer."
Six weeks later, they were casually dating. But this wasn't enough for Acres, so she bought herself two dozen red roses and included a card that said, "I can't stop thinking about you." A few hours after finding the flowers and card in her apartment, Jack suggested they get "more serious." Mission accomplished.
Men can be just as underhanded. They'll use affection and flattery to disarm or insults and ultimatums to get what they want. Every woman is familiar with the kind of shaming ("what are you, a prude?") men resort to when they're not getting what they want, especially sex.