While we all are manipulative to some degree, manipulators engage in set behaviors on a regular basis. Manipulators use deceptive and underhanded tactics by exploiting another person for power, control, and privileges at the other person’s expense. They play on your good intentions, vulnerabilities and weaknesses in order to get what they want. Don’t be surprised if a manipulator is someone you trust or even love.
When someone is clearly wronging or hurting you and you are the one feeling bad and apologizing for their wrong doings, you are being manipulated. Manipulative behaviors are learned, most often in childhood. Thus, unfortunately it’s something that can’t be quickly unlearned. So, watch out for some common signs to spot them and once you do, pull them out of your life immediately. They are toxic weeds in your life.
1. They are experts in playing mind games.
Some manipulators are highly skilled and their tactics are so subtle that it can control you for a long time before you finally figure out what’s happening. Skilled manipulators have a way of twisting a previous conversation or replaying it to suit their needs. They will do something to hurt you and when you express how you feel about it, they’ll turn the situation around, make you feel guilty and end up justifying their actions.
Does your partner say or do things that make you feel like you must be crazy and then tell you you’re making something out of nothing? Obviously your partner twists the truth or leaves out certain information to make you doubt your own perception and sanity.
2. They have their best interests in mind, not yours.
They twist your thoughts and actions bit by bit until you look to them for guidance on everything. They mold you into someone that serves their own purposes. Sadly, you trust them more than you trust yourself. Their motives are almost always self-serving, and they have little interests in how you feel or how their behaviors impact you and your life.
They consistently point out your shortcomings, then show you that with their help, you can do better and become better. In that way they convince you that they have your best interests in mind, but the truth is they don’t.
3. They are emotional bullies and control freaks.
Manipulators need to be in control, and the desire for control often masks underlying feelings of their own insecurity. They need to feel superior and powerful. They have a deep narcissistic desire to shift the focus somehow to themselves and seek you out to validate them.
Manipulators claim that they know how the world should be, how you should act and of course by their rules. They are virtuous and righteous. They are saints in their own minds, so you’d better agree. They know what’s best for you. Just ask them and they will give you advice and will make your life miserable if you don’t do what they say or utterly worship them. Besides, they are great debaters, so you never win.
4. They are irresponsible and inconsistent.
Manipulators have difficulty accepting responsibility for their behavior and it is always about what everyone else had done to them. If you call them on their behaviors, they’ll find a way to turn it around to make you feel bad or guilty. Manipulators may say yes to a request or make a small commitment to you, and then when the time comes to follow through, they conveniently forget what they said or deny the fact that they even promised.
5. They blame you for their behaviors.
They blame you for what they’ve said, done, not said or not done. If you point out how they just turned the tables, they’ll most likely make you look selfish and pitiful. Thus, you can’t really prove anything so it’s your bad memory against their lying words. You begin to question yourself and even feel bad that you challenged them. Manipulators will never admit their wrong doings when it puts them at a disadvantage. Instead, they’re always on the lookout for someone to blame, and here, alas, it’s you.
Manipulators are good at keeping score so that one day they will blame you if things don’t work for them. They are willing to help but it always comes at a price. They remind you of that one time they helped you out and use it as a way to manipulate you into feeling like you owe them something.
6. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They attempt to establish intimacy by sharing their deep personal information that they make you believe they trust you and in turn, you trust them. You may initially perceive them as very sensitive, emotionally open and a bit vulnerable. You won’t suspect at all that you are being played. Since they are able to mirror your needs and desires perfectly, they are able to create the persona or mask of who you think they are, but it’s all an illusion.
Manipulators want to listen to what you have to say in order to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Although it may feel like genuine interest and that they are good listeners, keep in mind that there may be a hidden agenda behind all this interests. They won’t hesitate to use all of these against you with an arsenal of effective manipulation tactics.
7. They have no desire in having authentic real communication.
Once again when you call them out on their behavior, more than likely, you’ll get a defensive and angry reaction rather than being direct and forthright communication. They usually sidestep honest communication and use passive aggressive methods instead. They try to intimidate you with aggressive language, subtle threats or outright anger, especially when they see you are uncomfortable with confrontation.
If you try to have an open and honest conversation about moments when you feel hurt or invalidated, you will be shut down with allegations that you are being too sensitive, insecure or over-reacting. They may pretend to be sweet and open minded to your face, and while they might not hurt you directly, they will find subtle ways of undermining or belittling you.
8. They are afraid of vulnerability.
Manipulators seldom express their needs, desires, or true feelings. They seek out the vulnerabilities in others in order to take advantage of them for their own benefits and deflect their true motives. They have no ability to love, empathy, guilt, remorse, or conscience. To them, life is merely a game of taking power and control and getting what they want. They see vulnerability as a weakness and staying invulnerable is a great way to hide who they really are. So, if you don’t live up to their so-called standards and they are filled with contempt for you, it’s so easy for them to simply get up and move on.