If you look at behavioral psychology studies, you find that much of what we consider “manipulation” and “testing of boundaries” is subconscious.
For example, if you film women in mating situations, and later analyze the video with them to show them the ways they tested boundaries and responded when their boundaries were crossed, teased and then withdrew, etc., the vast majority of women are NOT aware of what they do. Same applies to men.
We all have coding within us passed down from ancestors that “kicks in” at certain times. Mating situations are one such time. Another is… End of Life.
I believe that there are programs within us that are designed to TEST how willing our tribe members, especially family, and perhaps even MORE especially daughters (traditional caregivers)… are willing to sacrifice for us in our decline. Indeed, there are all kinds of survival reasons for triggering the Guilt Reflex in our children… or the Caregiver and Protector instincts. These age-old patterns can help provide for us when we are too sick to move, dying, or even just unable to hunt/fish/farm for ourselves.
These primitive patterns can make the more freedom-loving amongst us feel… manipulated… unless we choose to see the old pattern at work and Consciously Evolve the relationship in a new way… by establishing Healthy Boundaries.
I personally believe that consciously examining boundaries and making them explicit actually helps someone like an aging father feel safer. It says, “YES, I am willing to do this and this, but not these….”
That means he can refocus his energy on finding others who are willing to… perhaps even MADE FOR… taking care of other of his needs. Until the boundary is clear, though, I see many cases where the aging person keeps testing and testing to try and get AS MUCH support as possible… testing squishy boundaries until they either break or firm up. That breeds resentment and avoidance.
Healthy boundaries allow you to connect and co-create in ways that are a mutual YES.