The 7 Behaviors to Watch Out for to Unmask a Discreet Manipulator

Understanding manipulation is key to maintaining healthy relationships. Here are seven behaviors that may indicate that someone is trying to manipulate you.

1. They Make You Feel Guilty

Manipulators often use guilt as a tool to get what they want. They may try to make you feel guilty for not doing something they want or for making decisions that they disagree with. This is done subtly and can be as simple as them saying, ‘I thought you cared about me’ or ‘I’m disappointed in you.’

It’s important to remember that everyone has the right to make their own decisions, and no one should be made to feel guilty for doing what they feel is right.

2. They Constantly Play the Victim

Playing the victim is another common tactic used by manipulators. They portray themselves as innocent and helpless, thereby making others feel sorry for them and more willing to do what they want.

  • They may tell heartbreaking stories about their past.
  • They might exaggerate or lie about their circumstances.
  • They may always blame others for their problems.

3. They Always Need to Be Right

A manipulator will often insist on being right, even when they’re clearly wrong. This is because admitting they’re wrong would undermine their control over the situation and the people involved.

This behavior can lead to heated arguments and unnecessary conflict, as the manipulator refuses to back down or admit fault.

4. They Undermine Your Self-Esteem

Manipulators often try to undermine the self-esteem of others in an effort to make them easier to control. They may belittle, criticize, or demean you, making you feel worthless or inadequate.

This can lead to a loss of self-confidence and a dependence on the manipulator for validation and approval.

5. They Use Emotions as Weapons

Emotions are frequently used as weapons by manipulators. They use your feelings against you in order to get what they want. This might involve making you feel guilty, ashamed, or insecure.

  • They may use anger or aggression to intimidate you.
  • They might use sadness or tears to elicit sympathy.
  • They may use fear or threats to control you.

6. They Are Always Changing the Subject

A classic manipulation tactic is changing the subject. When confronted with something they don’t want to discuss or answer, a manipulator will quickly change the topic. This allows them to avoid accountability and maintain control over the conversation.

This can be very confusing and frustrating for those trying to have a meaningful conversation with them.

7. They Make You Question Your Reality

This is known as gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation where the manipulator makes you question your perception of reality. This could involve denying they said something, contradicting themselves, lying, or misremembering events deliberately.

This is one of the most dangerous forms of manipulation because it can cause emotional trauma and even lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depression.