7 things a manipulator will do to make you question yourself and your reality

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | June 11, 2024, 6:38 pm

Navigating relationships can be a tricky business, especially when manipulation is involved. As the founder of Love Connection blog and a relationship expert, I’ve seen my fair share of manipulative tactics.

Manipulation can be subtle, creeping into your life and making you question your reality. It’s a process that slowly erodes your confidence, making you doubt your perceptions and even your sanity.

This article is all about identifying those manipulation tactics. We’re going to explore the seven things a manipulator will do to make you question yourself and your reality.

With awareness comes the power to push back against manipulation and reclaim your reality. So let’s dive in, shall we? 

1) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a common tactic used by manipulators to make you question your reality.

The term comes from an old movie called “Gas Light“. In the story, the husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane. 

So, how does this manipulation work?

Well, in real life, gaslighting can take many forms. It could be as simple as denying that a conversation took place or as complex as staging events to disorient the victim.

The goal of gaslighting is to make you doubt your memory and perception. It’s a cruel tactic that can cause severe emotional distress.

Recognizing these signs is the first step in countering gaslighting. Trust in your own experiences and seek outside perspectives when in doubt. It’s a powerful way to stand against manipulation and reclaim your reality.

2) Unexpected admiration

It sounds counterintuitive, right? You’d think a manipulator would always be trying to belittle you or put you down. But the truth is, sometimes they use admiration as a tool for manipulation.

This is often seen in the form of flattery. They might constantly praise your intelligence, your looks, or your talents. Now, compliments aren’t inherently bad. But when used by a manipulator, they serve a different purpose.

This excessive admiration is designed to make you feel special and unique. And once you’re hooked on that feeling, it’s easier for them to control you. When they stop the flattery or start to criticize, you’ll be left craving their approval.

So remember, flattery can be just as dangerous as criticism in the hands of a manipulator. Don’t let it blind you to other signs of manipulation.

3) The push-and-pull game

Manipulators often play the push-and-pull game. One minute they’re showering you with affection, the next they’re cold and distant. This inconsistent behavior can be very confusing, making you question your reality and constantly seek their approval.

Just when you’re about to give up, they pull you back in with a burst of affection or an apology. It’s a cycle that can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

In my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship, I discuss this manipulation tactic in detail, along with practical ways to deal with it.

The key is to recognize this pattern. Once you do, it becomes easier to step back from the emotional roller coaster and reclaim your reality.

4) They play the victim

Another common tactic used by manipulators is to play the victim. They’ll twist the narrative so that they come out as the wronged party, even when they’re the ones causing harm.

In my experience, this can be one of the most challenging forms of manipulation to deal with because it preys on our natural instinct to empathize and help others.

Always keep in mind that it’s okay to prioritize your own well-being over their self-pitying narrative. Your reality is valid and important. Don’t let anyone make you question that.

5) They keep you off balance

Have you ever felt like you’re walking on eggshells around someone? That’s a classic sign of a manipulator at work. They keep you off balance, making you feel like you’re always one wrong move away from upsetting them.

I’ve seen this tactic used many times. It creates an unhealthy power dynamic, with the manipulator holding all the cards. You’re left constantly trying to please them, often at the expense of your own needs and wants.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not your job to manage someone else’s emotions. Your role in a relationship, whether it’s personal or professional, should never involve constant placation. It’s okay to take a step back and prioritize your own mental health and well-being.

6) They make you doubt your worth

This is a big one. 

Manipulators have a knack for making you feel like you’re not enough. They might criticize your actions, belittle your achievements, or compare you unfavorably to others.

Over time, these comments can chip away at your self-esteem, leading you to question your worth.

Are you finding this article helpful? For more insights and tips on how to deal with manipulation and other relationship challenges, consider following me on Facebook. I share my latest articles and thoughts there regularly.

7) They isolate you

This is a tough one to talk about, but it’s important to address. Manipulators often try to isolate you from your support network. They might spread rumors, create misunderstandings, or simply demand all of your time and attention.

The aim is to make you dependent on them, and them alone. It’s a sinister tactic that can leave you feeling alone and vulnerable.

I’ve seen this happen too many times. Good people, pulled away from their loved ones and left feeling like they have nowhere to turn.

If you’re feeling isolated, please reach out to someone you trust. You’re not alone, and there are people who want to help. Don’t let a manipulator control your relationships or your access to support. You deserve so much better.

Final reflections

Recognizing these seven tactics is an essential step in reclaiming your reality and asserting your identity. But this is only the start of the journey. The path towards empowerment involves continuous learning, self-awareness, and resilience.

In my experiences as a relationship expert, I’ve found that understanding manipulation’s nuances can be a powerful tool for personal growth. It equips us to spot the red flags, set boundaries, and nurture healthier relationships.

And in the spirit of growth and understanding, I’d like to share this video by Justin Brown. It discusses the complexities of finding a life partner and highlights shared values’ importance and mutual support in a relationship.

It’s an insightful watch that aligns well with what we’ve discussed in this article.

YouTube video

Remember, knowledge is power. And in relationships, that knowledge can be the difference between manipulation and mutual respect. Stay informed, stay strong, and never allow anyone to make you question your worth or reality.

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