While covert abusers can zero in on friends of targets to enlist new allies, they can, also, aim their friendship right on the target.
When friendship is offered with agendas, it is not an offer of friendship at all. It’s a deception at best, a set up at worst.
A covert abuser’s sudden charm can disorient and disarm you. You may be led to believe or hope that the tide is turning in your relationship toward improvement and resolution, when it’s not.
Friendship can be feigned to gather information or trick the target into revealing something that may be used against them at a later date. Targets can be lulled into a false sense of safety into saying something self-incriminating or negative about someone else, not realizing it will come back to haunt them. Their statements can be eaves dropped on, reported or recorded. Text messages and chat room messages can be screen shot, saved, forwarded or downloaded for incriminating dissemination later.
One person I knew kept her iPhone at the ready, quick to pull it out to take pictures of a coworker she despised so she could have out of context visual illustrations to support whatever tales she was spinning about that person. And the person she despised? Someone who did not realize at that time this individual was no friend.
The target couldn’t tell behind the smiles and conversations there lurked an enemy bent on hurting them, so well was the relational aggressor’s real intent camouflaged behind the appearance of friendship.
Agenda laden friendship can be used to separate you from others, and once cut off, cut loose. It can be seductive when someone shows you a great deal of attention, perhaps making you feel special where others may have taken you for granted because of familiarity.
Becoming your best friend, showing you new things, steering you away from your old friends and support system, you can find yourself seduced by the warmth of a promising relationship only to find yourself out in the cold.
This may not be a matter of intentional malevolence. It may not be personal. You just happen to be in their line of sight. It may be more of a matter of control, perhaps pursuing and capturing a relationship because they can. Once the challenge has been met or something shinier, prettier or newer catches their eye, you’re history.
Or perhaps, you were a stepping stone to attaining something else. Or maybe the whole point was to isolate you, not because they wanted you but because they didn’t want anyone else to have you.
At any rate, the friendship was never offered for friendship’s sake, but for agenda’s sake.
Or it can be more heartless than that. It can be an intentional act of cruelty for sport. Friendship is offered for the sadistic pleasure of the abuser and their audience. This is where friendship is feigned with the behind-your-back understanding that it will be withdrawn at the opportune moment. It’s the set up, the “Ta-Da!” moment, the pulling the rug out from under the target’s feet in front of everyone that is the whole purpose.
What comes crashing down is not only the target but every bit of momentary sense of belonging, of self esteem and self worth. The feeling of acceptance and that the world is good is replaced with resounding feelings of betrayal and humiliation, the realization that you’ve been played.
The audience is roaring with laughter. And every piece of shattered you is swept away by torrents of your own despair.
This is not normal childhood experience. It’s not politics as usual. It’s sadistic and not acceptable.
Agenda laden friendship can, also, be a way of keeping your enemy close, a way of keeping track of them, of their movements so they can be circumvented if necessary. There may be a perceived long-term advantage or payout for befriending someone you dislike, even hate.
I knew a girl who made it a point to attempt to befriend every friend of a romantic interest, which was a logical maneuver for her, I suppose, as her one goal was to get close to him. But this also eventually included her attempt to befriend the one she hated the most — the target of her orchestrated relational aggression, his girlfriend.
When after failing to drive her away and fearing she may have messed up her chances with her desired relationship, she decided befriending her enemy would be worth hiding her hostility if it allowed her to keep a very close eye on her competition and maintain some contact with her romantic interest at the same time.
There are as many uses for feigning friendship with the target as there are personal agendas. Tomorrow, we’ll explore a few more.
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