If someone displays these 9 behaviors, they’re a master manipulator

Avatar by Lachlan Brown | June 20, 2024, 12:28 pm

There’s a thin line between being influential and being manipulative.

Manipulation is all about control, not mutual growth. It’s pulling strings from behind a curtain, making people dance to your tunes without them realizing it.

Master manipulators are quite adept at this game.

They pull off their tricks so subtly, you’d think they’re just being persuasive or influential. But let me tell you, it’s much more sinister than that.

In this piece, we’re lifting that curtain. We’re going to give you the 9 telltale signs of a master manipulator.

So buckle up, because knowledge is power, and we’re about to arm you with some serious insight.

1) They always play the victim card

Master manipulators are experts at playing the victim card.

In every situation, they portray themselves as the innocent party who’s always being wronged. This is a classic move to gain sympathy and to divert attention away from their manipulative behavior.

The trick here is to make you feel sorry for them so that they can get away with their actions. And because you’re busy feeling empathetic, you fail to recognize the real issue at hand – their manipulation.

It’s a clever tactic, and it works because most of us are inherently kind. We believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. But remember, if someone consistently portrays themselves as a victim, it might be time to question their authenticity.

The key is to stay aware and not let their ‘victim act’ cloud your judgment.

After all, forewarned is forearmed.

2) They always try to guilt-trip you

I remember this one time, I had a friend who was a master at this.

Every time I decided to spend time with other friends or family, she would make passive-aggressive comments about feeling left out or unimportant. It was subtle, but the implication was clear: she was trying to make me feel guilty for not prioritizing her.

This is a classic manipulative move. By making you feel guilty, they’re trying to control your actions and decisions. They’re essentially saying, “If you cared about me, you would do this.”

It’s important to recognize this behavior for what it is – manipulation.

You have the right to make your own choices without being guilt-tripped into it.

It took me a while, but once I figured this out, I was able to set clearer boundaries in my relationships.

3) They’re masters at gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique where the manipulator makes the victim question their own reality or sanity. The term originates from the 1944 film “Gaslight”, where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s losing her mind.

Master manipulators use this tactic to their advantage. They’ll deny saying something you clearly remember, or they’ll twist your words to make you seem like the irrational one.

The goal here is to make you doubt yourself, your memory, and your perceptions.

It’s a destructive form of manipulation because it can leave you feeling confused and even question your own sanity.

Recognizing gaslighting for what it is – manipulation – is the first step towards protecting yourself from it.

4) They use your weaknesses against you

A master manipulator knows your weaknesses and isn’t afraid to use them against you. They identify your insecurities, fears, or past mistakes and exploit them for their benefit.

For instance, if they know you’re sensitive about being a good parent, they might criticize your parenting skills to make you feel inadequate.

Or if they’re aware of a past mistake you’ve made, they might bring it up during an argument to gain an upper hand.

This is a low blow, but it’s a common manipulation tactic.

By exploiting your weaknesses, they gain power over you and weaken your self-esteem, making it easier for them to manipulate you further.

Recognizing this behavior is crucial. Don’t let anyone use your vulnerabilities against you. Stand firm and refuse to be manipulated in this way.

5) They’re overly charming

Have you ever met someone who was just too charming? Someone who always knew the right thing to say and when to say it?

There’s a good chance you may have encountered a master manipulator.

Manipulators often use charm as a tool to gain your trust and admiration.

They’ll shower you with compliments, make grand gestures, and create an illusion of intimacy to make you feel special.

But it’s all a facade. Their charm is superficial and self-serving. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll use it to manipulate you into doing what they want.

Don’t be fooled by the charm offensive. Always question the intentions behind it and guard yourself against potential manipulation.

6) They make you feel indebted

Manipulators have a knack for making you feel like you owe them. They might do you a favor or help you out, but there’s always a hidden agenda behind their actions. Their kindness isn’t genuine, it’s a means to an end.

I call this the “debt trap”. They give you something – a gift, a favor, or even emotional support – and then hold it over your head. You start to feel like you’re in their debt, and that’s when they start asking for things in return.

This can be emotionally draining because you’re constantly trying to ‘pay back’ what you owe them.

Real kindness doesn’t come with strings attached. Don’t let anyone make you feel indebted for their acts of ‘generosity’.

7) They belittle your achievements

I remember when I landed my first job, I was ecstatic. But a so-called friend of mine had a knack for making me feel small. Instead of celebrating my achievement, he pointed out how the job wasn’t that great and how I wouldn’t last long.

That’s exactly what manipulators do. They belittle your achievements and make you feel like they aren’t a big deal. They might downplay your success or even attribute it to luck rather than your hard work.

The aim is to make you feel inferior and less confident, making you easier to control.

It’s crucial to recognize this behavior and not let it affect your self-esteem.

Your achievements are worth celebrating, no matter what anyone else says.

8) They regularly change the topic

Master manipulators are skilled at avoiding topics they’re not comfortable with. They’ll quickly change the conversation when it’s not going their way or when they feel threatened.

Say you’re trying to address an issue you have with them.

Instead of discussing it, they’ll shift the focus onto something else – perhaps a mistake you made in the past, or a completely unrelated topic.

This tactic is designed to throw you off balance and divert attention away from their actions.

It’s a form of deflection and a common manipulation strategy.

Stay vigilant and don’t let them steer the conversation away from what matters.

9) They never take responsibility

A master manipulator will never take responsibility for their actions. They’ll always find someone else to blame or some external factor for their mistakes.

They’ll twist and turn facts to make themselves look innocent. If they’ve hurt you, they’ll somehow make it seem like it’s your fault, not theirs.

This behavior is toxic and damaging. It’s crucial to recognize it and not get swayed by their blame game.

Everyone should be accountable for their actions, no matter how skilled they are at manipulation.

In conclusion: Knowledge is power

Understanding human behavior, especially manipulative tactics, isn’t just about identifying the signs. It’s about arming yourself with the knowledge to protect your emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Every interaction, every relationship, is a learning experience. And while we hope to never encounter a master manipulator, being able to identify their tactics is crucial.

The 9 behaviors listed here are telltale signs of a manipulator. If you notice someone consistently displaying these behaviors, it’s time to reassess that relationship.

Everyone deserves respect, honesty, and genuine interactions. Don’t let manipulation cloud your judgement or damage your self-esteem. Stand up against manipulative behavior and assert your right to fair and honest relationships.

In the end, it all boils down to one simple fact: knowledge is power.

The more aware you are of these manipulative behaviors, the less likely you are to fall prey to them.

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