You're confusing yourself. You have the camera set in M(anual) exposure mode, but you are getting automatic exposure because you have selected auto ISO.
Your picture of the woman with a very bright spot on the face was exactly a shot in direct sunlight, which is why I didn't suggest a narrower metering mode - that is simply a situation that has extremely high dynamic range, and it just doesn't matter which metering mode you use, you will have some trouble since the range exceeds what the camera can capture.
I do agree with the word "unorthodox." Your metering methods are unusual. I would suggest that the fact that you're having to ask so many questions is at least partially rooted in the fact that you are attempting to go your own way and not as so many other users do.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!