9 things manipulative people are most likely to do when they’re using you

by Natasha Combrink | March 14, 2024, 9:37 am

Have you ever had a feeling someone might be playing you? 

You know, those moments where you wonder if your buddy is genuinely your buddy? Or if your partner is really interested in who you are and not just what you can give them?

Well, guess what?

Sometimes, those suspicions aren’t just paranoia. 

The signs you’ve been seeing might be the reality check you needed. 

And I know…

If someone’s manipulation has advanced to head-spinning mind games, it can be difficult to trust your own instincts.

But there are some things manipulative people will do from when they just get to know you to 6 or more months into the relationship that reveals their true intention.

Think hard about whether you recognize any of these. 

If someone’s purpose is to manipulate and use you,…

1) They’ll love bomb you. 

Before a manipulator starts manipulating you, they’ll shower you with love. You’ll literally feel like the most important person in the world. 

I’m not kidding. I have tons of first-hand experience – as someone on the receiving end. 

It’s the constant praise, sweet nothings whispered in your ears, and hanging on every word you say that gives birth to the term ‘love bombing.’

Like a bomb, their affection explodes. And it’ll feel like you’re in your favorite rom-com. 

They won’t just be interested in you but instantly be crazy about you!

You’ll be left thinking, “Wow, I’ve hit the relationship jackpot!” 

But here’s the twist – it’s just a game. 

Love bombing is a calculated strategy. 

Manipulators will make you feel on top of the world, so this rush of affection can cloud your judgment. 

This makes it way easier for them to use you.

And if you’re stronger than expected and you protest whatever they request…

2) They’ll guilt trip you. 

Guilt tripping is a powerful weapon in a manipulator’s arsenal. At first, you might not even realize it’s happening.

They might find subtle ways to make you feel like you’re falling short of their expectations. Or try to “hide” their disappointment when you don’t meet demands. 

It’s like they have a degree in playing on empathy. They’ll make you question if what you’re doing for them is enough. 

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself bending over backward for them. 

Guilt tripping can be a slow, sneaky process. By the time you realize what’s happening, you may have already lost yourself. 

And if you’re able to break free and stand up against your manipulator, there’s a pretty good chance that…

3) They’ll remind you of everything they’ve done for you. 

You see, manipulators keep score. They remember every favor and gesture, big or small, and make sure you never forget it. 

When they’re not getting their way, they’ll drop hints or not-so-subtle reminders about the times they’ve been there for you.

You’ll always know they’ve lent a helping hand or sacrificed something for your benefit. 

Now, I’m not saying everyone who reminds you of their good deeds are manipulators. 

Sometimes, people get so fed up with being used that they clap back by listing the good things they’ve done. 

But if someone has a mental ledger where every act of kindness is recorded, there’s more to it. 

You’ll also be able to tell if someone is bringing these things up because they’re trying to manipulate you by how you feel

If it starts feeling like you owe them something instead of just having to be a little more grateful, they’re using you. 

4) They’ll project the blame. 

Another sneaky tactic manipulative people use is projection. 

Instead of owning up to their mistakes or taking responsibility for their actions, they’ll point the finger at you. 

When they notice you’re fed up and they’re on the verge of losing control over you, you’ll get the blame. 

They’ll make it feel like it’s all your fault. Every flaw you see in them will reflect back to you. 

Diverting attention away from their own deeds makes you the scapegoat. Which works out perfectly for them. Because then…

5) They’ll play the victim. 

Once you get the blame, a manipulative person can play their favorite role: the victim

They’ll be innocent, wounded, and recount how you’ve wronged them. 

The idea behind this is to keep you in a state of feeling responsible for their well-being. 

You might find yourself going above and beyond to make them feel better.

Which is exactly what they want you to do. 

But here’s the thing: their stories are mostly exaggerated or even entirely made up. 

When you step back and see the bigger picture, you’ll realize that what they say is skewed, and you’re being used. 

So, if you constantly feel like you’re wrong or playing therapist, it’s time to reassess your relationship. 

6) They reset their expectations.

Has it ever felt like you’re in a never-ending game, trying to please your manipulator, but you just never reach the goal?

There’s a pretty good reason for this…

Manipulative people are masters at constantly shifting their expectations and changing their demands. 

At first, they might ask for something seemingly reasonable. But just when you think you’ve met their expectation, they’ll change the rules of the game. 

What was acceptable yesterday suddenly isn’t good enough today…

This can leave you in a state of confusion and frustration. 

You’ll always strive to meet their ever-changing standards, but they’ll keep raising the bar. 

My ex did exactly this. 

He expected me to pay specific household bills while he paid the rest. We made an agreement based on our individual incomes. 

I worked from home, so my time was a little more flexible, and he always seemed jealous. 

After hitting my income target for months, he suddenly decided he wasn’t happy with my contribution anymore. 

So, he kept shifting his expectations of what I had to pay towards the household, leaving room for him to put money away, but not me. 

You see, manipulative people have a moving target, and they never plan on stopping so you can catch up. 

While in healthy relationships, expectations and agreements are clear and consistent. 

You won’t find yourself in a whirlwind of ever-changing demands. 

7) They’ll withhold affection. 

Manipulators like to use love and affection as bargaining chips. When they need something from you, they’ll turn up the charm. 

But once these needs are met, you’ll find they’ve become cold and distant. 

It’s like they have an emotional tap that they turn on and off at will…

And it’s not only like this when it comes to romantic relationships. Manipulators do this with friends too. 

Do you have a friend who only calls you up when they’re going through a tough time?

Someone who doesn’t show up when you need them or simply invite them over for a quick chat?

You know, that friend who only contacts you on their terms…

It’s likely that they’re manipulating you

No relationship should leave you feeling anxious and desperate for approval. You should never believe that you’ll receive love if you just do more or give more. 

Manipulators will hold your emotions hostage. This can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem and well-being. 

In a healthy relationship, affection isn’t used as a reward. So, if you find yourself in a situation where it’s given selectively, it’s a major red flag. 

And remember:

While manipulators are quick to decide whether you’re worthy of love and affection or not…

8) They don’t respect boundaries. 

So, even if you draw a line restricting them, they won’t care. You could try to protect yourself from their destructive behavior, but they’ll just do what they want to anyway. 


Whether it’s pushing you to share more than you’re comfortable with, prying into your personal life, or demanding your time and attention without considering your needs…

Manipulators see boundaries as a challenge. And it’s their blatant disregard for it that’s a clear sign you’re dealing with one. 

They might even use subtle guilt trips to make you feel selfish for wanting personal space. 

In short, your “no” is negotiable in their eyes. 

Secure people don’t see boundaries as barriers. They’re not solely interested in what they can get from someone else, so they respect limits. 

Boundaries protect us physically, emotionally, and mentally. They’re important. But manipulative people only care about their own needs. 

So, once you try to enforce any boundaries,…

9) They’ll make you feel crazy!

Manipulators are so good at this. You’ll end up feeling like you’re the only person ever to have a specific boundary, and therefore, something is wrong with your way of thinking. 

And it doesn’t stop there. 

Ever heard of gaslighting?

Yeah, manipulators are masters of this art. 

They can really make you question your own sanity. It’s like a psychological game for them

They’ll slowly sow seeds of doubt, making you wonder if you can trust your own beliefs and perceptions. 

Don’t even think about confronting their behavior or inconsistencies…

Manipulators will twist the narrative, deny it, or even go so far as to say you’re overreacting or imagining things. 

You’ll be sure of something one minute, and the next, you’re left questioning your reality. 

Gaslighting chips away at your confidence and self-trust – making it easier for manipulative people to do their thing. 

And when you react to their behavior, you’ll be in the wrong. 

There’s just no winning. And the sooner you realize this and get out, the better. 

If not, you’ll really go crazy trying to prove your worth to someone who has already decided that you have none. 

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