Introduction To Manipulation
Psychological manipulation in human relationships is when someone takes any action to control how another feels, thinks, acts, or lives. This can be done through words, actions, lies, or adding/omitting information. This tends to make the target of manipulation feel guilty, anxious, or confused. Over time, a manipulative relationship can have detrimental effects on someone’s mental health.
Of course, manipulation can also happen on a larger scale such as through the media or politics.
Here’s How An Emotional Manipulator Can Operate
#1 They undermine your intelligence, logic, or sense of reality
Gaslighting is common in manipulative situations. A controlling person will try to have you believe they’re always a step ahead of you and you have no idea what you’re doing. “You’re crazy” or “You only feel, you never think” or “I never said that” (when you know they did say that several times, in fact). Anything that undermines your ability to make your own decisions is an emotionally manipulative tactic.
#2 Their actions don’t match their words
No one’s perfect. Sometimes our intentions don’t follow through to actions. However, with emotional manipulators it’s always all about words and promises with no actions. In fact, they’ll say one thing and literally do another right in front of you. This creates confusion and anxiety if it’s done by someone you are close to. It’s often done to make you question your sanity.
#3 They love making others feel guilty
Because most emotional manipulators don’t have a lot of empathy, they have no issues exploiting the feelings of others. They will use your sense of guilt against you. They’ll try to make you feel as though you’re not as good as others think you are or no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to be enough. They often create lose-lose situations; you see this a lot in abusive relationships where the target does everything right save one minor detail and the abuser will zone in on that one mistake. It’s a never ending cycle with emotionally manipulative people.
#4 They’re always the victim
With emotional manipulators, it’s never their fault and always someone else’s fault. That person who loves them unconditionally? They never appreciate them enough. That friend they ditched? They didn’t make enough money to elevate their status. If they punch someone in the face or spew hurtful words, the other person made them do it. If they get mad, it’s all your fault. They will never take accountability for anything. No apologies, no trying to do better.
#5 Love bombing (Too much too soon)
This happens a lot with dating and romantic relationships, but someone could do this in platonic relationships, too. Basically, soon after meeting this person they are keenly obsessed with you – texting and messaging you several times per day, always asking if you’re free, arranging to meet you last minute, telling you all their personal stories and experiences after only knowing you for a few days, giving you personal gifts before getting to know you better, talking about living with you or having kids with you but it’s only the second date, etc. While many of us are wary of people like this, sometimes if we really like someone we want to believe they are actually that interested in us. Manipulators prey on our very human need to love and be loved, but sadly their act is just a show and they’ll be gone soon (Unless they see you as a viable long term source of abuse, they won’t usually stick around for long).
#6 They claim to love helping you yet make you feel guilty for it
Sometimes people will go out of their way to offer help (that wasn’t asked for or needed) then turn around and groan about how much work and effort they put into that relationship. There’s always strings attached when an emotional manipulator wants to help or give you something.
#7 They are one-uppers
Everything you say, they can word it better. Anything you know, they know better. They are in constant competition with others – they’re a player in a game created by themselves. You’ll notice if someone tries to one-up you a lot that they usually feel threatened by you in some way.
#8 They purposely push your buttons
Emotional manipulators often want to get to know your weak spots – not so they can love and nurture you like a good friend or partner would, but so they can press them hard. You ask them not to make a certain type of joke when you’re around and they increase how often they make that exact type of joke. You’re dressed up for a night out and they say you should have worn something nicer. You’re in great shape from working out for years, but they give you unsolicited “pointers” on how to look even better. You recently lost a dear pet and they joke about people who get too attached to animals. There’s no area they won’t go and they will continue to try and make you feel bad about yourself if you let them – eventually the pot will boil over and you’ll blow up at them. The moment you react to their disrespect is when they call you crazy, abusive, too emotional, a narcissist, etc. This is often why you’ll hear narcissistic people accusing their targets of being narcissistic – it’s because they literally drove them bonkers until they had enough of it. It’s important to distance yourself from people who make you feel lousy otherwise it’ll become a vicious cycle.
Please remember that no one can manipulate you without your consent. However, it’s good to be aware when someone is trying to undermine your worth as a person or make you feel bad about yourself. Life is meant to be enjoyed and you deserve people who actually support you!
Thanks so much for reading today. ❤