7 signs you’re not crazy, you’re just being emotionally manipulated

Isabella Chase by Isabella Chase | June 18, 2024, 12:35 pm

There are times when I feel like my emotions are all over the place, like I’m on a rollercoaster that just won’t stop. And often, I find myself questioning my sanity.

But here’s the deal.

You might not actually be losing your mind. It’s entirely possible that you’re just being emotionally manipulated.

So, if you’re sitting there asking yourself, “Am I being manipulated?” let’s explore some signs that might point towards a yes.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sneaky signs of emotional manipulation. We’ll shed light on how people can use your emotions against you and how to recognize these manipulation tactics.

1) You’re always apologizing

Have you ever noticed how often you say “I’m sorry”?

It’s like you’re on autopilot, constantly apologizing even when you’re not sure what you’ve done wrong. This is a classic sign of emotional manipulation.

You see, manipulators have this nasty knack for making you feel like you’re always at fault. They twist situations and play the victim, making you believe that you’re the one causing all the issues.

One day you’re apologizing for not responding to a text quickly enough, the next day for having an opinion that differs from theirs. The cycle continues, and before you know it, you’re shouldering guilt for things that aren’t even your responsibility.

So, if you find yourself saying sorry a little too often, it might be time to assess whether it’s really your fault or just an emotional manipulation tactic at play.

2) Your feelings are dismissed

Here’s a personal example.

A few years back, I was involved with someone who had a knack for making light of my feelings. Anytime I would express hurt or frustration, they would brush it off as me being ‘too sensitive’.

“I was just joking,” they’d say, or “You’re overreacting.”

It took me a while to realize that dismissing my feelings wasn’t just their way of dealing with conflict. It was a manipulation tactic, designed to make me question the validity of my own emotions.

The reality is, your feelings are valid, no matter how big or small. If someone constantly dismisses or belittles them, it’s not you being overly emotional – it’s them trying to control the narrative.

Recognizing this can be a significant step towards reclaiming your emotional independence.

3) You feel drained, not uplifted

Have you ever spent time with a friend or loved one and felt completely exhausted afterwards?

I remember a phase in my life where I’d come home from social events feeling utterly drained. What was supposed to be fun and uplifting, left me feeling mentally and emotionally depleted.

At first, I thought it had something to do with me. Maybe I was introverted or socially anxious. But then I began to notice a pattern – this feeling of exhaustion only came after interacting with certain individuals.

It clicked then. It wasn’t me. It was them.

Emotional manipulators can leave you feeling this way. They take more from you than they give, leaving you weary and spent. Instead of feeling energized and happy after spending time with them, you might feel as though all your energy has been sucked away.

4) You’re isolated from other relationships

Ever found yourself growing distant from the people you care about, without quite knowing why?

There was a time when it seemed like my circle was getting smaller and smaller. I had started to lose contact with close friends, siblings, even my parents.

At first, I blamed it on my busy schedule. But then I realized that one particular relationship was taking up all my time and energy. And whenever I attempted to reconnect with my old friends or spend time with my family, this person would become overly needy or even jealous.

This is a classic emotional manipulation tactic – isolating you from other relationships. By limiting your contact with others, they gain more control over you and how you perceive situations.

5) You’re always on the defensive

You know that feeling when you’re constantly bracing for criticism? That’s what I felt like for a considerable period of my life.

It was as if I was always walking on eggshells, trying to avoid an argument or a harsh comment. Even the most innocuous conversations would turn into minefields. The slightest misstep and boom – an explosion of accusations and blame.

What’s interesting is that this isn’t just emotionally taxing, but physically too. A study found that prolonged periods of stress can lead to physical ailments like heart disease and a weakened immune system.

Do you find you’re always in defense mode? Well, it’s not because you’re overly sensitive or argumentative. It might just be one of the signs that you’re being emotionally manipulated. 

6) Your self-esteem has taken a hit

Here’s something I want you to remember – you are worthy.

But I know, when you’re in the throes of an emotionally manipulative relationship, it can feel like the complete opposite. You start doubting your worth, questioning your decisions, even belittling your achievements.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt that sinking feeling where I thought I was never good enough, smart enough, or simply enough.

But that’s just what emotional manipulators want – for you to believe you’re less than you are. They chip away at your self-esteem, making you feel reliant on their validation.

If you’re feeling this way, please understand that it’s not a reflection of your true self. You are not less. You are not inadequate. It might just be that you’re caught in the web of an emotional manipulator.

Recognizing this is the first step towards rebuilding your self-esteem and claiming back your worth.

7) Your gut is telling you something’s off

Trust your instincts.

There were countless times when something felt ‘off’ in my interactions with certain individuals, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was a gut feeling, an intuition that something wasn’t right.

Often, we try to rationalize these feelings or brush them off as paranoia. But the truth is, our gut instincts are rarely wrong. They’re our body’s way of alerting us to potential danger – including emotional manipulation.

So, if you’ve got that nagging feeling that something’s not quite right in your relationship with someone, don’t ignore it. It might just be your intuition trying to tell you that you’re not crazy; you’re being emotionally manipulated.

Listen to your gut. It knows more than we often give it credit for.

Final reflections

If you’ve found yourself nodding along to many of these signs, it’s possible you’ve been ensnared in an emotionally manipulative situation.

But here’s the silver lining – recognizing manipulation is the first, crucial step towards change.

With awareness and deliberate action, you can begin to reclaim your emotional autonomy. Don’t be disheartened if it feels like a slow process. It takes time to unlearn patterns and regain trust in your feelings and perceptions.

Start by listening to your inner voice. Acknowledge when something doesn’t feel right. Stand firm on your boundaries. It’s okay to say ‘no’ when something doesn’t align with your well-being.

Remember, your feelings are valid and your experiences are real. Nobody has the right to belittle or dismiss them.