If someone is trying to manipulate you, they’ll display these 10 subtle behaviors

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | March 14, 2024, 10:12 am

Ever found yourself in a situation where you feel like someone’s playing mind games with you?

Chances are, you could be the target of manipulation.

This crafty technique isn’t always obvious. In fact, manipulators often use subtle behaviors, leaving their victims feeling confused and powerless.

These are maneuvers that may seem harmless but can be incredibly damaging when used for manipulation.

So, let’s bring these tactics into the spotlight. Let’s dive into discovering

1) Playing victim

Manipulators often play the victim card. They use this tactic to bait you into pitying them, making it easier for them to get what they want.

This isn’t to suggest that everyone who shares their problems is trying to manipulate you.

But when it becomes a persistent pattern, where they constantly paint themselves as the innocent party caught in a sea of misfortune, it’s time to be wary.

2) Gaslighting

Ever had a conversation that left you questioning your own memory or judgment? I have.

It happened with a friend of mine. Whenever we had disagreements, she’d twist the narrative, making me question my own recollection of events.

She would say things like “You’re remembering it wrong,” or “You’re overreacting.” Before I knew it, I found myself doubting my own sanity.

This, my friends, is called gaslighting.

It’s a common manipulation tactic where the manipulator makes you question your own perception of reality. The aim is to make you lose trust in your own instincts and memories, making you more susceptible to their control.

3) Guilt tripping

Manipulators are masters of the guilt trip. They have a knack for making you feel responsible for their happiness or success.

Their weapon of choice? Emotional blackmail. They might say things like “If you really cared about me, you would do this,” or “I thought I could count on you.”

This tactic is designed to make you feel bad, pushing you into doing what they want out of a sense of guilt and obligation.

4) Flattery and charm

Here’s a surprising fact: manipulators aren’t always unpleasant. In fact, they can be incredibly charming and flattering – but it’s all part of their cunning game.

They often use charm as a smokescreen, distracting you from their manipulative behavior. By showering you with compliments, they make you feel special and valued.

This disarms your defenses and makes you more susceptible to their influence.

In psychology, this is known as the “halo effect” where our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character.

5) Silent treatment

We’ve all experienced it at some point – the cold shoulder, the silent treatment. It’s a painful experience, one that can leave you feeling rejected and alone.

Manipulators often use the silent treatment as a form of punishment, a way to exert control over you. When you do something they don’t like or disagree with them, they withdraw their affection or communication.

This lack of communication is not about needing space or time to cool down. It’s a calculated move, designed to make you feel anxious and desperate to resolve whatever issue they’ve decided to be upset about.

The pain of being ignored can push you to seek their approval, giving them the upper hand.

6) Shifting the blame

Ever tried to address an issue with someone only to have them turn it around and make it your fault? If so, you may have been dealing with a manipulator.

Manipulators are experts at deflecting blame. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they’ll find a way to shift the blame onto you. It’s always someone else’s fault, never theirs.

They twist the narrative so skillfully that you end up feeling like the bad guy, even when you were the one wronged in the first place.

7) Controlling conversations

Manipulators will dominate the dialogue, steering it in a direction that serves their agenda. They may interrupt you, dismiss your points, or consistently turn the conversation back to themselves.

This kind of conversation monopoly isn’t just annoying; it’s a manipulation tactic.

By controlling the conversation, they maintain power and keep the focus on their needs and wants.

8) Displaying inconsistent behavior

Manipulators often display inconsistent behavior, oscillating between being kind and cruel. This unpredictable pattern keeps you on your toes, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety.

In psychology, this is known as intermittent reinforcement – a conditioning schedule that involves reinforcing behavior only some of the time.

This unpredictable pattern can make the victim stick around in the hope of experiencing the manipulator’s kind side again, making it one of the most potent tools in a manipulator’s arsenal.

9) Using your weaknesses against you

I’ll never forget the time when a close friend used my insecurities against me. I had confided in her about my fear of rejection, only to have her use it as a weapon during an argument.

Manipulators often exploit your weaknesses. They’ll use the intimate details you’ve shared with them, not to empathize or help you, but to control and manipulate you.

10) Ignoring your boundaries

The most critical sign of a manipulator is their disregard for your boundaries. They’ll push and test your limits, disrespecting your personal space, time, or feelings.

Whether it’s pressuring you into making decisions you’re uncomfortable with, or violating your personal space, manipulators have no respect for boundaries.

Their goal is control, and they’ll step over any line to achieve it.

Keep in mind, your boundaries are a reflection of your self-respect, and no one has the right to violate them.

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