How To Spot The Signs That You’re Being Manipulated Without Even Realizing It

girl standing in front of a lake
Natalie Toombs

Have you ever let someone talk you into something that you knew wasn’t really ok? Maybe initially you thought it wasn’t ok, but said person seemed so convinced that it was that you ended up going along with it? You start to think it must be ok because not only was your comrade convinced, he or she was convincing.

Don’t think peer pressure isn’t still a thing.

In our early years, this type of behavior is called peer pressure; however, adults can find themselves in these types of situations as well, where one person tries to slyly coax another into making a not-so-good decision or into believing something that actually isn’t true. Unfortunately, this can happen in all kinds of relationships. Work relationships, dating relationships, friend relationships, and so on. A boss tempts an employee to ensure the company will benefit, no matter the moral implications at stake. A boyfriend tells his girlfriend that though she might feel he’s not being considerate, she is actually the problem and should adjust to his needs. Or friend A explains to friend B that friend B should indeed come to the party even if he/she doesn’t want to do so.

But you don’t have to be talked into anything. And just because you stand your ground doesn’t make you close minded. It makes you a believer in your values. It makes you loyal. It makes you strong.

Don’t be a victim of manipulation.

I’ll give you an example here, but be warned because it’s a bit of a stretch – and it’s a literary one at that. Richard Connell wrote a short story titled “The Most Dangerous Game” in 1924 in which an experienced hunter named General Zaroff explains to a fellow hunter, Rainsford, that having become bored hunting animals, he decided to start hunting humans instead. Zaroff firmly believes he has every right to do this and balks at Rainsford’s description of his hunting game as “murder.” Rainsford vehemently makes arguments against Zaroff’s abhorrent acts, and though Zaroff calmly refutes each one, Rainsford stands firm in knowing this is cruel, barbaric, and murderous.

You see, just because someone has an argument with carefully constructed explanations doesn’t mean he or she is right nor does it mean you have to go along with it. Rainsford loved to hunt but he didn’t let Zaroff convince him to join in his murderous acts. No matter Zaroff’s rebuttals for all of Rainsfords protests, Rainsford refused to give up his humanity, his compassion, his morals, and his values.

Don’t have a refined, argument for what you know is right? That’s ok.

Just because you don’t have an answer for every persuasive argument made, that doesn’t make you wrong, and it also doesn’t mean you should give up on your feelings. If it feels wrong, that’s probably because something isn’t right. Pay attention to those feelings, even if you can’t describe them. And there’s no rule that says you must have all the answers or a perfectly well thought out argument with bullet points to refute your position or to stand your ground. If you’re trapped in an argument can’t “win,” but deep down you still know something is off, it’s ok to just know something isn’t right for you. You don’t have to go along, you don’t have to be persuaded, and you don’t have to give into manipulation. You can stand your ground and that is enough.

In the words of George Eliot, “Decide on what you think is right and stick to it.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog