8 warning signs you’re dating a skilled emotional manipulator

Isabella Chase by Isabella Chase | March 19, 2024, 3:06 pm

Dating can feel like navigating a minefield, especially with someone who can play with your emotions.

You might have seen this person for a while, and everything seemed perfect initially.

But then you start noticing some red flags: subtle signs that they’re not who they appear to be.

It’s not loud and clear; sometimes, it’s just the sister of doubt that crosses your mind.

You might even brush it off, thinking you’re being overly sensitive.

In this article, we’ll explain these eight signs in detail so you can recognize them early on and decide the best action for your emotional health.

1) They twist your words

Master manipulators have a knack for turning things around.

You may start a conversation feeling upset about something they did, but by the end, you’re apologizing.

They have a unique ability to twist your words and make you feel guilty for things you aren’t.

It’s like being stuck in a mental maze where every path leads back to you being the problem.

Emotional manipulators use this tactic to maintain control and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

This cycle can be incredibly draining and leave you questioning your sanity.

If you start noticing this pattern in your relationship, it’s a critical warning sign that you’re dealing with an emotional manipulator.

2) They make you doubt your reality

I had conversations where I questioned my memory, even when I was sure about what happened.

That’s a technique skilled emotional manipulators use to their advantage.

They’ll say the event didn’t happen the way you remember it, or they’ll say that you’re being too sensitive or simply misremembering.

It’s a way for them to gain the upper hand and leave you shaky about your perceptions and experiences.

However, a disserting experience leaves you doubting your instincts and judgment.

3) They play the victim constantly

I once dated someone who had an uncanny ability to shift the blame onto others.

He was always the victim, no matter what situation we found ourselves in.

For instance, I remember being upset about my boyfriend canceling plans at the last minute.

Instead of apologizing or explaining, he turned it around and told me how hard his day had been, how stressed he was, and how I was adding to his problems by getting upset.

He expertly redirected the conversation until I comforted him, my feelings forgotten.

This is a classic sign of emotional manipulation.

If you are in a similar situation, be aware that this is not healthy or normal behavior in a relationship.

4) Their actions and words don’t match

Emotional manipulators might promise to change, to be more considerate, or to stop doing something that hurts you, but their actions continue to tell a different story.

This paradox can be challenging initially because we tend to believe what we want to hear.

You’ll notice a disconnect between what they say and what they do if you’re dealing with an emotional manipulator.

5) They use your insecurities against you

We all have insecurities about ourselves that we’re not comfortable with.

In a healthy relationship, your partner should help you work through these insecurities, not use them against you.

In my experience, emotional manipulators have a knack for identifying and using your weak spots to their advantage.

They will strategically bring up these insecurities to destabilize you and make you feel less than or guilty.

This is a profoundly damaging and manipulative behavior.

If your partner consistently uses your insecurities against you, it’s a significant red flag that you’re in your relationship with an emotional manipulator.

6) They isolate you from your support system

In reflecting on past relationships, I realized a common tactic used by emotional manipulators: they slowly but surely isolate you from your friends and family.

They might start by criticizing the people close to you or monopolizing your time, making it hard for you to maintain other relationships.

The goal is to make you dependent on them, to make them your primary source of emotional support.

This gives them more control and makes it harder for you to leave the relationship.

7) They make you feel like you’re lying on eggshells

One of the most exhausting aspects of being with an emotional manipulator is the constant state of tension.

You’re always on edge, wondering what will set them off next.

You start to monitor your behavior closely, trying to avoid potential conflict.

This isn’t being considerate of your partner’s partner.

It’s about their reactions, their anger, or their emotional withdrawal.

It’s like you can’t yourself freely without triggering a negative response.

Living in a state of perpetual unease is not normal or healthy; it’s an indication that you may be dealing with an emotional manipulator.

8) They make you question your worth

The most damaging aspect of dating an emotional manipulator is the toll it takes on your self-esteem.

They condition you to believe you’re not enough or lucky to be with them.

They might belittle your achievements, dismiss your feelings, or constantly compare you to others.

This constant negativity chips away at your self-worth until you start believing their harsh words.

It’s crucial to remember that no one has the right to make you feel less than you do.

Final thoughts

Witnessing these warning signs in your relationship can be distressing, but recognizing them is the first step towards breaking free from the cycle of emotional manipulation.

No one deserves to be manipulated or treated poorly in a relationship.

We all have the right to be loved and respected for who we are without fear of emotional games or control.

If you’ve identified with these signs, it might be time to reassess your relationship.

It can be helpful to seek support from trusted friends, family members, or a professional counselor.

They can provide perspective and advice and help you navigate your next steps.

Self-care is the most essential part of this process.

Be kind to yourself during this time.

You are worthy of respect, love, and a relationship free from manipulation.