8 signs you’re dealing with an extremely manipulative person

by Tina Fey | June 28, 2024, 2:02 pm

Ever felt like you’re being played?

We’ve all been there.

You’re trying to navigate a situation, and suddenly you’re left feeling off-kilter, questioning your own judgment.

Sound familiar?

Chances are, you might be dealing with an extremely manipulative person.

And no, it’s not just you; manipulation can be hard to spot.

The signs can be subtle, and often we give the benefit of the doubt.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you identify those telltale signs.

Before we dive in though, know this: If you do recognize these signs in someone around you, don’t blame yourself.

It’s not about you; it’s about them.

Here are eight signs you’re dealing with an extremely manipulative person.

1) They always play the victim

Ever felt overwhelmed hearing about someone’s constant bad luck and thought, “Can this all be true?”

I know that feeling too.

I had a friend, let’s call her Jane, who seemed to always be in such situations.

Every time I saw Jane, she’d have a new misfortune to share.

If she was late, her alarm had failed her. If she missed a task, her computer had conveniently crashed.

It always felt like the world was specifically out to get her.

Rarely did Jane admit any fault of her own.

There was always something or someone else to blame.

It seemed like life had chosen her for a never-ending series of unfortunate events.

These stories weren’t just random occurrences for Jane.

They acted as a defense mechanism.

By portraying herself as the eternal victim, she deflected responsibility.

This behavior not only earned her sympathy but also freed her from any blame.

It’s hard to fault someone who appears to be constantly battling life’s challenges, right?

2) They twist your words

This one is hard to spot.

I remember having a conversation with my former boss.

We were discussing a project I was supposed to lead and I expressed some concerns about the timeline.

The next thing I knew, he had twisted my words, making me appear as if I was unwilling to take on the responsibility.

Manipulative people are masters of distortion.

They twist your words and use them against you, leaving you questioning your own memory and perception.

Recognize this pattern and trust your gut; it could be a sign of manipulation.

3) They use guilt trips

A manipulative person is like a skilled chess player.

They’re always thinking several steps ahead, plotting their next move.

One of their favorite moves? The guilt trip.

Picture this: an employee who consistently misses deadlines doesn’t get a deserved raise.

Instead of admitting their shortcomings, they bring up how they’re a single parent struggling to make ends meet.

While it might be true, the manipulator uses this information as a weapon, aiming directly at your empathy and sense of fairness.

Guilt is often considered a powerful emotion because it can significantly impact our choices and behaviors.

When someone constantly makes you feel guilty to get their way, you might be dealing with a manipulative person.

4) They make you doubt yourself

Imagine you’re standing on a beach, your feet sinking into the sand as the waves lap gently at your ankles.

You feel a sense of calm, a sureness in who you are and your place in the world.

Suddenly, a wave crashes over you, pulling the sand from beneath your feet and leaving you unsteady, unsure.

That’s what it feels like when a manipulative person works their magic.

They have an uncanny knack for making you question your worth, your abilities, and even your sanity.

They’ll make you feel like you’re the one who’s wrong, even when you’re not.

And before you know it, your confidence starts eroding away like that sand beneath your feet.

If you find yourself doubting more than trusting yourself when around someone, it’s a red flag that they might be manipulating you.

5) They never apologize sincerely

I’ll never forget the time my ex-best friend, let’s call him Mark, had forgotten my birthday.

It wasn’t just any birthday; it was my 30th, a milestone.

I waited all day for his call or text, but nothing came.

When I confronted Mark about it, his response was a casual “Oh, sorry about that.”

No remorse, no sincerity, nothing.

It was as if my feelings didn’t matter to him.

And that’s the thing about manipulative people – they rarely apologize sincerely.

They might say the words, but their actions seldom show genuine remorse.

On the contrary, they often shift blame or make excuses for their behavior.

So if you’re dealing with someone who never seems to genuinely apologize, you might be in the company of a manipulator.

6) They are controlling

Manipulative people have a strong need to control situations and those around them.

They do this because it makes them feel powerful and in charge.

Being in control lets them shape events and people’s reactions in ways that favor them.

Think of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Miranda Priestly, the main boss, always has everyone nervous because of her constant and unpredictable demands.

This movie scene shows how some people use control to keep others off-balance.

Some manipulators are very obvious about wanting control, setting clear rules and giving direct orders.

Others are sneakier, using kind words or acting like they’re making small requests.

But in both cases, their main aim is to take charge and benefit themselves.

Knowing this can help you spot and handle these tactics when they come up.

7) They use passive-aggressive behavior

My college roommate was the queen of passive-aggressiveness.

She would never directly express her displeasure.

Instead, she would leave me notes or make offhand comments about things she didn’t like.

It was frustrating and confusing.

Manipulative people often resort to passive-aggressive behavior to express their dissatisfaction or to manipulate you into doing what they want.

They might give you the silent treatment, make sarcastic remarks, or show their anger indirectly.

It can be a major sign that you’re dealing with a manipulator.

8) They are always right

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who always has to be right?

It can be exhausting.

In my last job, I had a colleague who would argue any point until blue in the face just to prove he was right.

Manipulative people have a hard time accepting that they could be wrong.

They will twist facts, change the subject, or even lie outright just to avoid admitting they made a mistake or don’t know something.

If someone never admits they’re wrong and insists on their correctness despite evidence to the contrary, it’s likely they’re manipulative.

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