Thought Catalog
May 8, 2017

6 Signs You’re Dealing With An Emotional Manipulator

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Twenty20 / @kitknibbe_

Manipulators walk among us. They masquerade themselves as our lovers, our friends, and our caring family members. Unfortunately, they are well versed in hiding and using their powers undetectably. So, how do you know when someone you’re close to is actually manipulating you?

Here are some signs to look out for.

1. They never take responsibility

Have you ever met someone whose life motto was “it’s not my fault”? One of the easiest ways to spot a manipulator is to look for the person who always has to blame someone else for their problems. Everything happens to them because of a circumstance that was outside of their control. “I was fired because the manager didn’t like me” or “They broke up with me because they couldn’t handle being in a relationship”. The excuses they invent to convince themselves, and others, of their lack of fault is astounding. Now, I’m not saying that there are never situations that are out of a person’s control. Sometimes awful things happen to good people, but manipulators aren’t good people. Are you really unable to prevent every negative event life throws your way? Most people can admit to others that they probably could have done something different in order to keep that job or that relationship, and so on.

2. They try to make you feel bad for doing what you want

Oh, the guilt trip. This is probably the most universal sign of a manipulator. They do not like you doing anything that does not directly benefit them. You want to go out with your friends instead of staying in and watching a movie with them? Suddenly, you care more about your friendships than your relationship and that is why your relationship is suffering. Or amazingly, there was a traumatic incident that has happened in their life today, but “it’s okay, go out and have fun. I’ll be fine.” If someone is repeatedly trying to make you feel bad for doing the things you love, they are trying to control you.

3. They have to be the center of attention

Everything has to be about them. They want to talk about their day, their problems, and their achievements. Yours do not matter.  Whatever problem you are having; they are going through or have gone through worse. You had a good day at work today? Their day was better. When speaking with a manipulator, you find yourself gradually falling into a state of constant listening with very little contribution. They simply cannot look past themselves to notice anyone else.

4. They try to isolate you from your friends, or they try to join the group

An obvious sign of someone trying to control you is to isolate you from your friends and family. The issue is that this is not always so easy to spot. Guilt tripping you to stay home can only work for so long before you catch on, which will happen pretty soon if it’s always the response you get when you say you’re going out with someone else. The times they are not manipulating you into staying home, they are trying to go with you. Yes, it is usually a good thing to have your significant other, or good friend, meet and bond with your other friends and family members. The issue arises when it seems to be that you can never see said friends or family members alone. This is because the manipulator knows that these people are the ones who can convince you to leave.  As a result, they will try to befriend your friends, and make your family love them, so they feel these people are on their side. If they know your friends love them, and they are there to watch your interactions with them, they know they have nothing to worry about.

5. They switch moods instantaneously

Sometimes a manipulator will yell, apologize, guilt trip, and confess their undying love for you all within a two-hour span of time. This behavior often leaves you feeling confused and upset. They have essentially taken you on an emotional roller-coaster with no clear reason why. Allow me to shed some light on this for you, they’re trying to find the best tactic to get what they want. Generally, these situations happen when there is not a large window of time between when you told the manipulator something they did not want to hear and when you are going to act on it. For example, if you told them that you were having dinner with a collogue at seven when it’s currently four-thirty, they may take you on this ride because they are trying to figure out how to make you stay, and you have not given them enough time to decide the best approach. When you respond to the guilt trip by being annoyed, they switch to yelling. If that makes you want to get out of the house faster, they may suddenly start apologizing and being overly affectionate. They’re seeing how you respond, so they know how to manipulate you into doing what they want.

6. Your fights sound ridiculous when you tell someone else about them

When we’re upset, we have a tendency to tell our friends and family about it. If you’re always realizing how stupid you sound when you’re explaining the situation aloud, or if people are constantly telling you that your fights make no sense, it’s because it’s probably true. No relationship is ever so “complicated” that you’re unable to get a friend to understand it after an hour. Your loved ones are in your life for a reason, they want what’s best for you. Listen to them. TC mark

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