How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (2023)

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (1)

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Have you ever been in a relationship where you thought your partner had put a "spell" on you?

And not the good kind of spell, like the one that allows you to have superpowers, but a spell that apparently made you do things that you weren't entirely convinced were consistent with what you were doing, see for yourself?

Could it be that you have been manipulated in your relationship?

Manipulation in relationships is subtle, so it's hard to tell when it's happening.

Related reading:20 signs of emotional manipulation in relationships and how to deal with them

What is manipulation in relationships?

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (2)

What does manipulation mean in a relationship?

Psychological manipulation was defined by social and clinical graduate students. psychologist Arrastrar. Harriet Brakeras a form of social influence. Your goal is to change the behavior or perception of others using various tactics.

Manipulation refers to controlling or influencing someone to do something they don't want or not to do something they want.

Common Manipulation Tactics

Have you ever wondered, "Am I being manipulated?" but you are not sure?

Manipulators use differentManipulative tactics in relationshipsmanipulate the other person and influence their decisions. These may be the following manipulation techniques in relationships:

  • violent
  • misleading
  • furtive

who pulls your strings: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life by Dr. Braiker provides exciting insights for recognizing and finally ending the cycle of manipulation.

Manipulative behavior in relationships is part of an emotionally abusive pattern. The handler usedunhealthy relationshipManipulation tactics to control your partner.

(Video) Emotional Manipulator Tactics and What They Say!

It is difficult for the person being manipulated to see or confront, as it is not overt abuse visible to the outside world like physical violence. They just know something is wrong with their treatment.

Related reading:healthy relationships vs. Unhealthy: how to distinguish?

15 signs of manipulation in a relationship

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (3)

Not sure how manipulation works? Let's look at some signs of manipulation in marriage or relationships.

  • Your partner controls

The need for total control is a red flag and the number one sign of a manipulative relationship.

Does your partner usually dictate when and where they see you? You have to stick to their schedule, and when you suggest an alternative, they sulk, get angry, or freeze under the silent treatment.

This is important adviceHow to recognize manipulation in relationships?

Also try:Relationship Management Quiz
  • feel guilty

Inducing guilt in someone can cause a lot of distress. The fault is known affect our conscious and subconscious.

The manipulative partner uses guilt to get you to do certain things that you may not like.

in a normalhealthy relationship, Decisions are discussed and weighed by the two of you. You spend time analyzing the intricacies of all of life's major decisions; In a manipulative relationship, the manipulator makes the decision unilaterally.

If you express a disagreement, they will try to get you to agree with their decision.

For example, the clerk wants you to sign for his car loan. He doesn't feel comfortable being responsible for such a large financial commitment and tries to explain himself.

The manipulator will refuse to listen to you and will interrupt you with guilty pleas, which is a classic sign of manipulation in a relationship.

  • Use emotional blackmail to maintain the relationship.

Suppose you have realized the unhealthy nature of your relationship. You decided to finish it. But when you broach the subject of breaking up, your partner says that if you leave, he will kill himself.

Unfortunately, threatening to commit suicide is another typical behavior in a manipulative relationship. Combine a surge of control, fear, and guilt to make you stay.

Even if it is difficult for you, do not be fooled by this threat. Tell your partner that if they are having suicidal thoughts they should contact a suicide hotline or a therapist. You can't be that person for them.

(Video) Become IMPOSSIBLE to Manipulate! 6 Ways to Recognize and STOP Manipulation/ Gaslighting.

Related reading:How to deal with emotional blackmail in a relationship

4. Gas lighting

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (4)

handlingis a verb used to describe someone who psychologically manipulates someone to the point of questioning their own sanity. That's a terrible thing for someone you claim to love. This can make them disoriented, crazy, and emotionally unstable.

The signs of gaslighting are:

  • tell blatant lies
  • don't keep your word
  • Verbally or physically assaulting things you love (for example, your children)
  • Use of positive reinforcement after verbal contempt as a method of confusion
  • Projecting their faults onto you (for example, they have a secret affair, but they will project that guilt by constantly accusing you of being unfaithful)
  • Denying the truth even when evidence is presented.
  • Turn your friends or family against you
  • Telling others that you are a liar

Research shows that1 in 4 womenand 1 in 9 men experience intimate abuse leading to anxiety,post traumatic stress disorderand using a victim service such as a hotline. Gaslighting is a form of abuse commonly used to manipulate and control a spouse.

5. Isolation from friends and family

in abrazilian studyAs for the biggest unhappiness factors in relationships, jealousy was common among couples about to break up. Harmful jealousy does not necessarily mean that the spouse is jealous of someone who flirts with their partner. No, an abusive spouse may even be jealous of her friends and family.

Abusers and manipulators often use the isolation method to control you.

They will isolate you from your close friends, refuse to let you go out with them, and may even try to push you away from where your family lives.

If you don't have the support of friends and family, it's harder to get out of an abusive relationship. You don't have constant reassurance from loved ones that your partner isn't treating you right.

The more your spouse separates you from your friends and family, the easier it will be for you to control him.

Related reading:How to get out of an abusive relationship and start over

6. Using love as a weapon

The oxytocin released from physical intimacy, whether it's holding hands, making love, or just snuggling on the couch, has been shown toencourage bondingand make partnersmore confidentfrom one to another.

These are beneficial traits for spouses in a healthy relationship, but for those in a toxic relationship, they can actually do more harm than good. Trusting and emotionally clinging to a partner who doesn't want the best for you can leave you in a toxic relationship for longer than it should.

Having these strong emotions connected can also make it easier for your partner to use your love for her against you. Phrases like "If you loved me, would you..." and "You said you would do anything for me" become distorted forms of control.

7. Play the victim

Emotional or physical blackmail is another common form of manipulation in relationships.

You might think that most people don't have devastating secrets to use as blackmail, but the truth is that technology has given couples plenty of ammunition to coerce their spouses.

Some examples of extortion are:

(Video) How to Handle a Manipulative Person | Stephanie Lyn Coaching

  • "If you let me, I'll tell everyone the secret you told me"
  • "If you don't do what I want, I'm going to send this naked picture of you to your boss and all your friends."
  • "If you don't buy me this, I'll charge it to the credit card you gave me."
  • "I will do THIS for you if you will do THIS for me"

A spouse may play the victim to place the blame on you and win the sympathy of friends and family. You can also use veiled threats: "If you let me, I'll kill myself. I would have nothing left to live for."

8. Constant accusations

Manipulators will often manipulate a person in their relationship to provoke arguments, as this gives the manipulator the control to prove the victim wrong.

To learn more about the signs of a manipulative personality, watch this video.

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (5)

9. Mind Games

An emotional manipulator plays on the emotions of the victim to make her feel insecure and doubtful.

10damage material things

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (6)

A manipulator is likely to ruin something meaningful to the victim just to make her sad and angry.

If this happens to you, you should know that it is an extremely toxic and intolerable pattern of behavior.

11. Make your partner jealous

Jealousy hurts the victim a lot, but the manipulators already know this, so they never miss an opportunity to make the victim jealous.

This type of rude behavior can be evident if your partner flirts with another girl in front of you or frequently compares you to strangers.

Related reading:Jealousy in marriage: causes and concerns

12. Pressure your partner to make decisions

The manipulator always pressures the victim in the relationship to make a decision. The manipulator never allows the victim to think about her decision because he likes to do things her way.

13. Your actions do not match your words

Emotional manipulators use flattering words to get the victim to trust them, but they never keep their word. When they break a promise, they always blame the victim.

14. Passive aggression

When a person is passive-aggressive, they don't express their negative feelings directly, but instead express them in small changes in behavior towards their partner. Passive aggression can be a form of manipulation.

15. Withdrawal

Another sign of an emotionally manipulative person is when they pull away from you so you'll acknowledge something you did against their will. They may stop answering your calls or messages to punish you for going back on your word.

How to deal with manipulation in a relationship

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (7)

(Video) 13 SIGNS YOU'RE BEING MANIPULATED: How to Identify Manipulation

How to deal with manipulation in relationships or marriage?

In a relationship, one or both partners can be manipulative. How do you deal with manipulation in your relationship?If you wondered how to manipulate a manipulator in a relationship, then you should know that this is not the solution to the problem.

Lerknow what to do if you are the manipulator in your relationship.

When you realize that you are being manipulative in your relationship, there are several ways to stop this behavior and create a healthy connection with your partner.If you want to deal with manipulation in relationships, these tips may be helpful.

  • self reflection

Identify some of the ways you control, fear, blame,gaslighting techniques, and other harmful tactics in your interactions with your partner.

Include your partner in this exercise and be willing to listen to their observations without getting defensive.

  • Learn healthy ways to communicate

There are many resources to help you learn how to do this. communicateto build and maintain a healthy and balanced relationship. The Internet, personal therapists, and self-help books are good places to start.

3. Respect your partner's limits

Your partner is a separate person. If they don't agree with something you said, don't try to negotiate. Jump into a conversation to find out what's behind your feelings.

Related reading:Set healthy boundaries in a relationship

What to do if you are being manipulated

How to recognize and deal with manipulation in relationships (8)Use these strategies to show the manipulator that you can fight back:

  • Say no. Don't negotiate if they use fear, guilt, or other manipulative tactics to get you to do something.
  • Be firm with your limits.
  • Set personal goals and stick to them.
  • Do something to boost your self-esteem so that you don't seek approval from others.

If you feel like you are in a manipulative relationship, check out your codependency. Manipulative relationships are often also codependent relationships because the two behaviors work together.

Signs of a codependent relationship are:

  • relying on the other person to make decisions
  • Inability to identify or take ownership of their feelings, seeing themselves separated from their partner
  • Seek constant validation from your partner
  • bad self esteem
  • Inability to trust your feelings and decisions.

If you find yourself in a codependent and manipulative relationship, seek help.

There are many resources to help you break these negative patterns and regain a strong self-esteem.

It pays to work so that you can have healthy and fulfilling relationships not only with your partner, but with the world in general.

Also try:Are you in a codependent relationship?

consequences of manipulation

Manipulation in a relationship can be confusing and lead to unresolved issues that spill over into other relationships and life decisions. Some consequences of manipulation are:

(Video) 10 Signs You're Being Manipulated

  • end of relationship
  • Distress
  • Unresolved issues affecting quality of life
  • codependency


manipulation in relationshipsit is more common than you think. Signs of manipulation include blackmailing, controlling, or isolating a person from their friends or family, and using blame or cheating on their spouse to get what they want.


How do you outsmart a manipulator in a relationship? ›

6 ways to disarm a manipulator
  1. Postpone your answer. Don't give them an answer on the spot. ...
  2. Question their motivations. Manipulators often hide their real motivations because they don't like to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. ...
  3. Show disinterest. ...
  4. Impose boundaries. ...
  5. Keep your self-respect. ...
  6. Apply fogging.
Jun 23, 2021

How do you test if someone is manipulating you? ›

Signs of manipulative behavior
  1. Gaslighting, lying, and guilt-tripping.
  2. Refusing to compromise.
  3. Passive-aggressive behavior, including the silent treatment.
  4. Extreme emotional highs and lows that impact the relationship.
  5. Isolating you from relationships with family and friends.
Oct 1, 2022

What is the fastest way to recognize a manipulative person? ›

How to Recognize Manipulative Behavior
  1. They Don't Respect Boundaries. Manipulators tirelessly go after what they want, without worrying about who they might hurt along the way. ...
  2. They Make You Question Your Reality. ...
  3. They Always Deflect Blame. ...
  4. They Justify Their Behavior.
Jul 10, 2020

How do you respond to a manipulative behavior? ›

To handle manipulation, postpone your answer to give yourself time to ponder, question their intent, look disinterested by not reacting, establish boundaries and say no firmly, maintain your self-respect by not apologizing when they blame you for their problems, and apply fogging to acknowledge any mistakes and end the ...

How do I know if I'm being emotionally manipulated? ›

"If you have voiced a concern but still feel frustrated, anxious, and pacified, you [may] have been emotionally manipulated," says Porche. "If you feel one way and someone is trying to convince you to feel another way, you are [likely] being emotionally manipulated.

What are red flags for manipulation? ›

Some of the most common include: Using intense emotional connection to control another person's behavior. For example, an abusive person may try to manipulate a person by moving very quickly in a romantic relationship. They may overwhelm their victim with loving gestures to lower their guard or make them feel indebted.

What are the 4 stages of manipulation? ›

The 4 stages of manipulation
  • Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. ...
  • Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. ...
  • Devaluing and gaslighting. ...
  • Fear or violence.

What are some things a manipulator would say? ›

7 things manipulators say to make you feel that you are the bad person in the room
  • “You misunderstood what I said” ...
  • “I don't like drama” ...
  • “You are too sensitive” ...
  • “I didn't say/do that” or “It wasn't my idea, it was yours” ...
  • “I see you want to start a fight” ...
  • “You are so negative”
Dec 13, 2021

How do you snap out of manipulation? ›

Below are eight ways to work on these patterns and stop being manipulative:
  1. Work on your self esteem. Lots of people who manipulate have some sort of insecurity. ...
  2. Don't be a perfectionist. Learn to go with the flow. ...
  3. Learn something new. ...
  4. Try to ease anxiety. ...
  5. Exercise. ...
  6. Go to therapy. ...
  7. Respect others. ...
  8. Listen.
Jan 25, 2021

What are 3 signs that someone is trying to manipulate you? ›

  • Things to consider. ...
  • They maintain “home court advantage” ...
  • They get too close too quickly. ...
  • They let you speak first. ...
  • They twist the facts. ...
  • They engage in intellectual bullying. ...
  • They engage in bureaucratic bullying. ...
  • They make you feel sorry for voicing concerns.
Apr 1, 2017

What can manipulation look like in a relationship? ›

A common sign of manipulation in relationships is when you start losing a sense of who you are after following someone else's overt or covert demands to give up your opinions and interests. In some romantic couples, one partner may adopt the other person's lifestyle and interests to avoid conflict, for example.

What are the three stages of manipulation? ›

Under this model, the stages of manipulation and coercion leading to exploitation are explained as follows:
  • Targeting stage. The alleged abuser may:
  • Friendship-forming stage. The alleged abuser may:
  • Loving relationship stage. Once they have established trust, the alleged abuser may:
  • Abusive relationship stage.
Sep 13, 2022

How do I stop being emotionally manipulated? ›

Dealing with Emotional Manipulation
  1. Avoid people who engage in love-bombing.
  2. Assert yourself and your boundaries out loud, even if it feels rude to do so.
  3. Speak to others about the emotional manipulation and get their validation.
  4. Take your time instead of being rushed into decisions you may regret.
Dec 10, 2022

What is the root cause of manipulation? ›

Why do manipulators manipulate? Chronic manipulation is often used as a survival mechanism to cope with a challenging or competitive environment, especially when one lacks relative power and control. Pathological manipulation may also be the result of family, social, societal, or professional conditioning.

What makes someone easily manipulated? ›

The easiest people to manipulate are those that don't demand a lot of information, are open to messages from authority figures and are willing to make decisions on a hunch, particularly if there's a promise of short-term gains.

What personality types are manipulative? ›

Manipulation is generally considered a dishonest form of social influence as it is used at the expense of others. Manipulative tendencies may derive from personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder.

How many stages of manipulation are there? ›

The cycle of manipulation typically includes three stages: the manipulator discovers a weakness (or emotional hot buttons) of his or her victim; the manipulator takes advantage of this weakness; the cycle repeats.

How do you respond to a manipulative spouse? ›

Ask specific questions to separate their wants from what they're doing to control you. Call it out. Your spouse should know it's not ok to use underhanded or overt tactics to get their way. Explain the manipulation and how it makes you feel.

How do you play a manipulator at his own game? ›

That's why it's crucial to learn strategies to put a manipulator in their place and set healthy boundaries.
  1. Take a step back. Literally.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Call them out.
  4. Stay emotionally neutral when dealing with them.
  5. Set boundaries.
  6. Don't give them a motive.
  7. Make them be specific.
  8. Don't give them what they want.

What are the 8 signs of emotional manipulation? ›

Common signs of manipulation.
  • You're doubting your own reality.
  • The relationship is very emotionally intense.
  • You fear abandonment.
  • You have a gut feeling that something's wrong.
  • You feel insecure.
  • They want you to depend on them and only them.
  • They keep comparing you to others.
Apr 29, 2021

What are the 5 stages of manipulation? ›

What are the stages of manipulation?
  • Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. ...
  • Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. ...
  • Devaluing and gaslighting. ...
  • Fear or violence.

What personality disorder is associated with manipulation? ›

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Deceit and manipulation are also central features. In many cases hostile-aggressive and deceitful behaviors may first appear during childhood. These children may hurt or torment animals or people. They may engage in hostile acts such as bullying or intimidating others.

What does unintentional manipulation look like? ›

"Unintentional manipulation can show up in exaggerating the facts," Silvershein says. "If someone had an early-morning flight that takes off at 8 a.m., they may say their flight is at 6 a.m. since they technically have to leave for the airport at 6 a.m. They know that this story is better and will gain more empathy."

What does subtle manipulation look like? ›

The manipulative person is trying to influence you in a rather aggressive way without it seeming aggressive. He or she is staying in a safe place but trying to make your position seem trivial, silly, uninformed, unimaginative or wrong. All this is done by making fun of you and seeming to have no malice.

What are manipulation tactics? ›

Manipulation is when a person uses controlling and harmful behaviors to avoid responsibility, conceal their true intentions, or cause doubt and confusion. Manipulation tactics, such as gaslighting, lying, blaming, criticizing, and shaming, can be incredibly damaging to a person's psychological well-being.

What is the strongest type of manipulation? ›

Omnikinesis: the power to manipulate anything.

What are manipulators weaknesses? ›

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.

What are examples of manipulative questions? ›

When people pretend to ask a question when they are actually making a statement, it is manipulative. For example, “I'm sure you agree?” This is not a trust-building question. It is a statement disguised as a question. Others who hear you say this will realize you have no interest in what they think.

How do I stop being manipulated by a narcissist? ›

  1. Educate yourself about NPD. ...
  2. Build your self-esteem. ...
  3. Speak up for yourself. ...
  4. Set clear boundaries. ...
  5. Practice skills to keep calm. ...
  6. Find a support system. ...
  7. Insist on immediate action, not promises. ...
  8. Understand that a narcissistic person may need professional help.

How do you break free from manipulation? ›

  1. How can we break this cycle of emotional manipulation?
  2. Boundaries – Create your own boundaries. ...
  3. Breathe through it – People may not be okay with your boundaries. ...
  4. Be kind – Sometimes people will make you feel that you are selfish for choosing yourself before anyone else.
Apr 23, 2022

What is the silent treatment manipulation? ›

The silent treatment is widely regarded as a form of emotional manipulation and even psychological abuse. It is the act of ceasing to initiate or respond to communication with someone else or refusing to acknowledge them altogether.

Can you unintentionally emotionally manipulate someone? ›

Sometimes, people may manipulate others unconsciously, without being fully aware of what they're doing, while others may actively work on strengthening their manipulation tactics. Some signs of manipulation include: Passive-aggressive behavior. Implicit threats.

What is narcissistic manipulation? ›

Narcissistic manipulation often involves frequent implications that you make bad decisions and can't do anything right. An abusive partner may call you stupid or ignorant outright, often with a falsely affectionate tone: “Honey, you're so dumb.

What does manipulation look like in a relationship? ›

Emotional manipulation occurs when a manipulative person seeks power over someone else and employs dishonest or exploitive strategies to gain it. Unlike people in healthy relationships, which demonstrate reciprocity and cooperation, an emotional manipulator looks to use, control, or even victimize someone else.

What main signs of manipulation do you know? ›

Main signs you're dealing with a manipulative person
  • persistent excessive attention, love, and flattery.
  • persistence despite boundaries.
  • time pressure (to get you to act)
  • incongruence between words and actions.
  • you feel guilt, shame, or generally “off” around this person.

What does it feel like to be manipulated in a relationship? ›

“When you are being manipulated by someone you are being psychologically coerced into doing something you probably don't really want to do,” she says. You might feel scared to do it, obligated to do it, or guilty about not doing it.

What are things manipulators say? ›

Manipulators are experts in exaggeration and generalization. They may say things like, “No one has ever loved me.” They use vague accusations to make it harder to see the holes in their arguments. This tactic used by manipulators is meant to poke at your weaknesses and make you feel insecure.

What type of person is easily manipulated? ›

People who have a submissive or dependent personality. The more emotionally dependent a person is, the more vulnerable they are to being exploited and manipulated.


1. 8 Signs of a Manipulative Personality
2. The Signs of manipulative behavior and how to deal with it
3. How to Deal with Manipulative People
4. Manipulative people | Jordan Peterson
(In-Depth Learning)
5. 7 Examples Of Emotional Manipulation
6. 13 Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics You Need To Know About
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