Have you ever felt like someone in your life is manipulative, but you can’t quite put your finger on it?
Manipulators are sneaky, and their tactics are often subtle. They twist the truth to suit their needs while making you feel like you’re the problem.
You end up doubting yourself and doing things just to impress them.
Luckily, there are signs you can look out for to determine if someone is manipulating you.
Once you recognize the patterns, you can choose to establish better boundaries or remove the toxic person from your life.
This blog post explores how to know when someone is manipulating you and what to do about it.
WHAT IS MANIPULATION?
Manipulation is when someone unfairly influences you for their own gain.
A manipulative person often withholds information or twists the truth to get what they want. If someone’s actions don’t match their words, that’s a red flag.
Watch out for people who promise to do things but never follow through, or who frequently break plans and cancel on you last minute without reason.
Staying aware of manipulation tactics can help you avoid unhealthy relationships and set boundaries to protect yourself.
If you suspect that you’re being played by someone, here’s how to recognize the signs of manipulation.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN SOMEONE IS MANIPULATING YOU
Manipulative people are more common than you think. They can be your friends, family members, neighbors, or coworkers.
The good news is if you can recognize the signs of manipulation, you’ll be able to protect yourself from harm!
Here’s how to tell if someone is manipulating you:
1. They use excessive flattery and charm to gain your trust
One of the first signs someone is manipulative is that they appear charming and like to flatter people.
Manipulators will shower you with compliments, gifts, and affection to win you over.
If you’re unaware of their motives, you’ll feel extra special with all the praise and attention you’re getting from them.
But the truth is, they’re love bombing you to get you hooked so they can keep you under their control.
They may say things like “You’re the only one who really gets me.” Or “You’re so much smarter than everyone else.”
Don’t fall for their sweet talk; it’s a ploy to get on your good side.
2. They play the victim to avoid accountability
A big sign someone is manipulative is that they like to play the victim in every unfortunate situation.
Manipulators are skilled at turning the tables to make you feel bad for them. They never take responsibility for their actions.
It’s always someone else’s fault when things go wrong and they often make excuses to justify their behavior. They say things like:
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“You’re too sensitive.”
“I’m the victim here.”
Don’t fall for it. Their sob stories are meant to gain your sympathy so you continue to tolerate their bad behavior.
Manipulative people often play on your emotions to make you feel guilty, obligated, or afraid.
Things like crying, threatening to hurt themselves or you, and making dramatic displays of affection are meant to keep you emotionally off-balance so you’re easier to control.
Stand up for yourself and call them out on their behavior. If you notice that someone is playing the victim after hurting you, say something like:
“I understand you feel that way, but your actions were still hurtful. Please take responsibility for how you treat me.”
If they continue to deny any wrongdoing, you need to consider walking away from the relationship.
You can’t have a healthy connection with someone who is never accountable for the pain they cause.
Stay strong and remember that their manipulative behavior says more about them, not you.
You deserve to be around people who treat you with honesty, respect, and empathy. Raise your standards and refuse to settle for less.
3. They isolate you from friends and family
Another sign someone is manipulating you is that they discourage you from spending time with family and friends.
Manipulators work to isolate you from people who truly care about you.
They do this because they want you all to themselves so they can exert more control over you.
They may make subtle comments to make you feel like your loved ones don’t care about you as much as they do. Pay attention when someone:
• Criticizes and belittles your loved ones to turn you against them. The manipulator wants your full attention and loyalty, so they try to cut you off from your support network.
• Makes you feel guilty for spending time with others. A manipulative person will sulk, pick fights, or make snide comments after you see friends or family to train you to avoid getting close to your loved ones.
• Makes excuses to avoid social interaction. Manipulators do not want to share the spotlight and may come up with reasons why the two of you can’t attend events or see people who care about you.
• Checks in on you constantly when you are with others. Excessive calls and texts are a way to monitor you, interrupt your time with friends or family, and make you feel on edge when not together.
A healthy relationship enhances your existing connections, not diminishes them. If someone is trying to isolate you from your social circle, that’s a red flag.
Don’t let anyone cut you off from people who truly have your best interests at heart. Maintain those meaningful relationships that empower and fulfill you.
4. They use guilt and obligation to control you
A major sign someone is manipulating you is that they often use guilt and obligation to control your behavior.
They may frequently remind you of past mistakes or make you feel guilty for asserting your own needs and boundaries.
Do you feel as if you owe a particular person a lot?
Manipulators are masters of doing small favors and keeping score so you feel like you owe them your time, energy, or resources.
They often make statements like “After everything I’ve done for you” or “You’re so ungrateful” so you’ll feel indebted to them.
Don’t let another person control your life or influence your decisions.
Manipulators are also experts at playing the victim. They constantly talk about their woes and struggles to make you feel guilty if you don’t do what they want.
Phrases like “No one helps me” or “I’m so unlucky” are meant solely to make you do things out of pity. Don’t fall for these tactics.
Another thing manipulative people do is that they use conditional affection.
Manipulators will lavish you with praise, gifts, and affection when you please them but withdraw it when you don’t.
They make their care and kindness contingent on you catering to their needs. Real love and support are unconditional.
Watch out for people who use emotional intimacy as a bargaining chip.
Manipulators rely on making you feel bad about yourself to get what they want.
Learn to recognize these tactics, stand up for yourself, and don’t be afraid to set clear boundaries.
5. They constantly gaslight you and invalidate your feelings
When someone constantly makes you question your judgment and feelings, that’s a sign they are manipulating you.
Manipulators employ a tactic called “gaslighting” to gain control over you. Gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your perception of reality.
A manipulative person will deny that something happened when it did or claim that events happened differently than you remember. They may say things like:
“You’re overreacting. That never happened.”
“You’re too sensitive. I was only joking.”
“You’re remembering it wrong. That’s not what I said.”
Their goal is to make you doubt your memory, emotions, and sanity so you’ll become dependent on them.
Don’t let them twist the truth or make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Trust your instincts!
Manipulators also frequently invalidate your emotions by telling you that you “shouldn’t” feel a certain way.
They may accuse you of overreacting or being too emotional to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
Your feelings are valid, no matter what they say. Don’t let anyone make you feel worthless or crazy.
If someone in your life is constantly gaslighting you or invalidating your feelings, that’s a major red flag.
Consider limiting contact with this toxic person whenever possible and seek support from others who love and respect you.
WHY PEOPLE MANIPULATE OTHERS
Why do people feel the need to manipulate others? There are a few common reasons why people resort to manipulation.
If someone is manipulating you, here’s why they’re doing it:
1. To get their needs met
Manipulative people have an objective in mind and will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
They see people as pawns to maneuver to get their way, rather than fellow human beings deserving of respect.
2. Low self-esteem
Manipulators often have an unhealthy sense of self-worth and rely on controlling others to feel better about themselves. By making people dependent on them, they feel more significant.
3. Lack of empathy
Manipulative people lack empathy and compassion for others. They are unable to see people as individuals with their own needs, desires, and perspectives. All that matters is how others can serve their agenda.
Now that you know the signs of manipulation, how can you avoid becoming a victim?
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MANIPULATION
If you suspect you’re being manipulated, it’s essential to trust your instincts and take steps to protect yourself.
Here’s what to do when someone is manipulating you:
1. Notice the signs
One of the best ways to protect yourself from manipulation is to be alert and watch out for the telltale signs.
Manipulative people often use sneaky tactics to get what they want. Watch out for:
• Constant flattery: If someone is constantly complimenting you and saying nice things in your presence, they may want something from you. Learn how to spot fake people and avoid being deceived.
• Guilt tripping: Manipulators will make you feel bad for not doing what they want. They’ll try to persuade you with cunning words so you’ll do exactly what they want. Don’t fall for it!
• Lies and excuses: Manipulators aren’t honest and constantly make up stories to cover their tracks. Their tales never quite add up and the details keep changing. Look for the holes in their stories. If something feels off, trust your gut.
• Blaming others: Manipulative people rarely take responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else who is at fault and they’re never wrong. Don’t let them blame you for their mistakes!
• Threats and ultimatums: To get their way, manipulators often issue warnings like “If you don’t do this, you’ll regret it.” Don’t cave under pressure – stand up for yourself instead.
• Emotional outbursts: Manipulative people love creating chaos. They frequently start arguments or spread rumors to cause anxiety in others and make themselves the center of attention. Don’t get caught up in their drama!
• Controlling behavior: Manipulators will try to cut you off from other supportive people in your life so you become dependent on them.
Be wary of anyone who demands all of your attention and discourages you from spending time with family and friends.
2. Learn to stand up for yourself
Another way to protect yourself from manipulative people is to stand your ground. You don’t have to go along with what the manipulator wants.
Stay confident in yourself, always speak the truth, and don’t be afraid to call out manipulative behavior.
You deserve so much better than to be controlled or taken advantage of. Be assertive by saying no, refusing to engage, and setting clear boundaries.
Don’t argue or explain yourself unnecessarily. Calmly restate your position and walk away if you need to.
It’s also important to trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. Don’t second-guess yourself.
3. Work on building your confidence
The more confident you are, the less effective manipulation will be. Focus on loving yourself more. Appreciate your good qualities and know your worth.
Don’t rely on others to make decisions for you. Learn to be independent and develop your interests. Pursue hobbies and activities that make you feel fulfilled.
You can also increase your confidence by setting small goals. Achieving goals, no matter how small, creates a sense of empowerment and enhances your self-esteem.
Finally, focus on surrounding yourself with people who lift you and support you, rather than try to manipulate you for their gain.
When you spend time with people who love and respect you, their positivity will rub off on you.
Recognizing manipulation in a relationship can be challenging, as manipulative individuals often employ subtle tactics to control and influence others.
You now know how to recognize manipulation and protect yourself from it. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you or make you doubt yourself.
Trust your instincts – if something feels off about a relationship, it probably is. Stand up for the truth, believe in yourself, and take full control of your life.
The best way to deal with manipulative people is to see through their schemes, set clear boundaries, and limit contact with them as much as possible.
Stay strong, stick to your values, and don’t let their tactics work on you!
About The Author
Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.
As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.
She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.
Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.