The TTM integrates elements of Bandura’s self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977, 1982). This construct reflects the degree of confidence individuals have in maintaining their desired behavior change in situations that often trigger relapse. It is also measured by the degree to which individuals feel tempted to return to their problem behavior in high-risk situations. In the Precontemplation and Contemplation stages, temptation to engage in the problem behavior is far greater than self-efficacy to abstain. As individuals move from Preparation to Action, the disparity between feelings of self-efficacy and temptation closes, and behavior change is attained. Relapse often occurs in situations where feelings of temptation trump individuals’ sense of self-efficacy to maintain the desired behavior change.
Use assertiveness techniques to change the nature of the relationship. You might be so accustomed to complying with the manipulator's tactics that you automatically do his or her bidding without thinking about it. First, you need to stop your automatic compliance. You do this by buying time to think about each situation as it arises. "I'll get back to you on that when I have the time to think about it." At this point you are now in control of the situation. It is not helpful to let the manipulator ask you why you need time since this invites your loss of control. Simply repeat the same thing over and over again without explanation. "I need more time to think about it." Next, you need to confront the fear, anxiety or guilt that has driven you to comply in the past with the manipulator's demands. This requires a deep look within that may be achieved by working with a professional therapist. Exploring your own personal feelings, why you react as you do, and how to use alternate responses may be a challenge, but the benefits are far-reaching - and they may save your relationship, or at least prepare you for healthier relationships in the future. Finally, you might label the manipulation for what it is. "When you threaten to leave me I feel afraid. If you would simply state your wishes and show me respect, I would be more able to listen to what you want." In a calm voice and with direct eye contact, it may be time to announce that the old manipulations have come to an end. "We both understand that you have a pattern of playing on my fears, and now you know how I feel about that. Your way of threatening me is not going to work any longer." In making these types of assertive statements, you are defining your boundaries. There is no need to make threats. Simply state that you will not participate any longer in manipulations. Make it clear that by setting limits and enhancing your own personal integrity, you expect a better relationship in the future. Learning to assert yourself in the face of a manipulative individual who feels threatened when not in control is a challenge, and doing this with the help of a professional therapist is recommended.