If you recognize these 9 signs, you’re dealing with a highly manipulative person

by Pearl Nash | April 15, 2024, 4:32 pm

Navigating relationships can sometimes feel like a game of chess, especially if you suspect you’re dealing with a manipulative person.

Manipulation is all about control and hidden intentions, it’s about getting someone to do what you want without them realizing your true motives.

Spotting a highly manipulative person isn’t always easy, but there are telltale signs that can serve as a guide. If you can identify these nine indicators, you might be dealing with someone who excels in the art of manipulation.

Below, check out 9 signs that can help you identify if you’re dealing with a highly manipulative person.

1) They’re always shifting the blame

In the world of manipulation, nothing is ever the manipulator’s fault.

Manipulative people are masters at shifting blame onto others. They have an uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re the one at fault, even when you’re not.

This is a classic manipulation tactic and it serves two purposes: it keeps them from accepting responsibility, and it makes you feel guilty, wrong, or inadequate.

Remember, everyone makes mistakes and it’s okay to accept responsibility for them. But if someone consistently makes you feel like everything is your fault, it’s time to reassess that relationship.

2) They guilt-trip you

This one, I’ve personally experienced and it’s a tough one to spot at first. Guilt is a powerful emotion and manipulative people know how to use it to their advantage.

For instance, I had this friend who would always make plans and then cancel at the last minute. When I confronted her about this, she’d turn the tables on me, saying things like, “I can’t believe you’re making me feel bad for being sick,” or “You know I’m going through a hard time right now.”

The thing is, she was rarely sick and her ‘hard time’ had been going on for years. It made me feel guilty for even bringing it up.

This is a classic guilt-trip – making you feel like the bad guy for expressing your feelings or standing up for yourself.

3) They use gaslighting techniques

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique where a person makes you question your own reality, memory or perceptions. It’s like being in a mystery novel, where the protagonist starts questioning their own sanity.

Did you know the term ‘gaslighting’ actually comes from a 1938 play called ‘Gas Light‘?

In the play, a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane by subtly dimming the gas-powered lights in their home, and then denying that the light changed when his wife points it out.

In real life, gaslighting can be subtle or explicit. It could be as simple as someone saying, “You’re too sensitive,” or as complex as them denying an event ever happened.

Consistently doubting your memory or questioning reality in the presence of a specific individual could be indicative of gaslighting, suggesting that you’re likely in the company of a manipulator.

4) They’re always playing the victim

A common trait among manipulative people is their uncanny ability to play the victim, no matter what the situation is.

In every story they tell, they’re the innocent one who’s been wronged, misunderstood, or treated unfairly. They have a knack for twisting events and situations to make themselves appear as the victim.

Manipulators use this tactic to gain sympathy, evoke pity, and divert attention away from their manipulative behavior. It’s a clever way of keeping the focus off them and their actions while painting others in a negative light.

Now ask yourself: Do you always get to play the villain in your relationship?

5) They make you doubt your worth

Manipulative individuals have a way of making you question your worth, according to researchers. They often belittle your achievements, dismiss your ideas, or make snide remarks that can slowly erode your self-esteem.

They may say things like “You wouldn’t understand” or “You’re not good at this,” creating a narrative that you’re less competent or valuable than you truly are.

This is a manipulative tactic designed to make you dependent on them for validation and approval. It’s a way for them to maintain control and power in the relationship.

6) They’re emotionally draining

Relationships are meant to be a source of joy, support, and mutual growth. But with a manipulative person, it often feels like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster.

One moment, they’re charming and loving; the next, they’re cold and distant. This constant fluctuation of emotions can leave you feeling drained, confused, and emotionally unstable.

It’s like being in an endless storm, with waves of guilt, self-doubt, and anxiety crashing over you. You find yourself constantly trying to please them or fix things, but it never seems to be enough.

Does that sound familiar to you?

7) They’re excessively charming

As the Bible notes, “Charm is deceptive,” and this sentiment holds particularly true when it comes to manipulators.

Most manipulators exude irresistible charm, at least initially.

I remember meeting someone who was so charismatic, so engaging, that I was instantly drawn to them. But over time, I started noticing patterns that didn’t sit well.

The charm was used to deflect from questionable behavior or to get what they wanted. It was more of a tool than a genuine trait.

8) They’re always making demands

A manipulator operates with a sense of entitlement that often leads them to make constant demands. They expect you to drop everything for them, no matter what.

Whether it’s demanding your time, your help, or your resources, they have a way of making their needs seem more important than yours. And if you fail to meet these demands, they’re quick to play the victim or guilt-trip you.

This constant cycle of demands can leave you feeling drained and undervalued. 

9) They isolate you from loved ones

The most alarming sign of a manipulator is their attempt to isolate you from your support system. They may discourage you from spending time with friends or family, or create scenarios that cause tension between you and your loved ones.

By isolating you, manipulators strengthen their control over you. Without your support system, you become more vulnerable to their manipulation tactics.

It’s crucial to maintain your connections and reach out to them when you feel something is off. After all, they’re your support system for a reason.

Final thoughts: Awareness is power

Understanding the signs of manipulation is a critical part of maintaining healthy relationships and protecting your mental health.

The ability to recognize manipulation tactics provides you with the tools to stand your ground, defend your boundaries, and make informed decisions about the relationships you choose to nurture.

The philosopher Thucydides once said, “Ignorance is bold and knowledge reserved.” This statement rings true in this context. Your awareness diminishes the power manipulators can exercise over you.

In the end, it’s about prioritizing your well-being and fostering relationships that respect your boundaries, value your worth, and encourage your growth.

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