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How to Spot Emotionally Manipulative People


If you feel like you’re being used, trapped or that something is off in a relationship or casual encounter, you probably are a victim of some form of manipulation. Emotional manipulation can be so subtle yet destructive that it’s important for you to recognize it in your own life.
A manipulative person is someone who uses dishonest, devious, or calculated measures to control others. “Manipulation is an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want or need in a direct way”, says Sharie Stines, a California-based therapist who specializes in abuse and toxic relationships. A manipulator controls you through fear, obligation, and guilt. Manipulators can try to control you through positive tactics like insincere flattery, fake attraction or insincere sincerity during an argument. Manipulators can also try to control you through negative tactics like silent treatment, criticism, deception, and emotional abuse. There are many ways to spot an emotional manipulator but the most accurate ways are:

  • Their lies are subtle but can also be glaring– Emotional manipulators lie about their intentions. They will flatter anybody to get whatever they want from them and distort the motives behind their actions but also, manipulators will insist an incident didn’t happen when it obviously did, they will insist they said something even when it’s obvious they didn’t and try to put you down for placing emphasis on facts. They downplay the truth no matter how evident it is, and they do that with a sincere countenance. This will leave you questioning your own sanity. Their actions never match their words. They will only tell you what you want to hear. They are also fond of changing subject whenever they sense your suspicion.

  • They always play victim– Whenever a manipulator knows he/she has been called out for a wrong behavior or rebuked, they will immediately play victim. They never take responsibility for any wrong doing but will come up with a “reasonable” excuse behind their actions and defend their excuse with so much boldness.
    They may also shower excessive gifts and compliments on someone in such a way that the person begins to feel indebted to them. Remember that with a manipulator, there are always strings attached.

  • They are thirsty to know your insecurities so as to use them against you– Emotional manipulators may seem as if they are genuinely interested in you but are very focused on knowing your insecurities and weak spots. In a relationship, it is important to note that your partner may be interested in knowing your weak spots so as to find a way to help you become stronger and know how to relate with you better. However, manipulators are focused on knowing your insecurities so they can use it to control you. Whenever a manipulator does something that hurts you, they will often give off a certain vibe of satisfaction and will not even care that you are hurt. All of that is to further hurt you and get you to a very vulnerable state. During arguments, a manipulator may try to get a rise out of you or have you respond emotionally instead of rationally. They are fond of playing dumb.

It is important to note that the manipulator could be a significant person in your life. Manipulators hate boundaries and are always selfish even towards their loved ones. Sometimes, people may manipulate others unconsciously without even being fully aware of what they’re doing. Emotionally manipulative people will drain you emotionally and mentally. If you feel as though you’re in any form of manipulative relationship, its time to break off and move on.

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