Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you? Everything you need to know

“‘It’s dark but just a game’

That’s what he would say to me

The faces aren’t the same

But their stories all end tragically.”

– Lana Del Rey, “Dark But Just a Game”

Emotional manipulators are masters at faking feelings and getting you to react in the way they want.

They use various tactics to twist your perception and mix you up in order to gain control of you, especially in relationships.

This brings up the obvious question:

Do emotional manipulators ever really care about you in the first place or are they fully faking only for their own benefit and own agenda?

Here’s the real truth.

Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you? Everything you need to know

Is it all just a game or does this emotional manipulator have any real feelings for you?

I’m going to answer that once and for all.

1) Almost never

I’ll cut straight to the chase:

Emotional manipulators almost never have real feelings for you.

However, in some rare cases, they do.

What makes the difference?

The nature of your relationship and the reason why they are emotionally manipulating you.

In other words: how deep and long is your relationship, and what exactly is the problem and issue that’s made this person into an emotional manipulator.

Let’s take a look at answering both of these queries.

2) The emotional manipulator’s worldview

Emotional manipulators often tend to be both insecure, narcissistic, and anxious.

They dread standing on their own two feet and having to live life without the support, enabling, attention and compliance of others.

In romantic relationships, they are full of fear of abandonment, cheating, and disappointment.

This is why they feel the need to pull all the strings and hold all the cards.

They think it will keep them safe and keep their partner loyal and in love.

The irony and tragic thing is, of course, that emotional manipulation erodes trust and love.

But even on realizing this, the manipulator only tends to double down, wrecking relationship after relationship by treating everything as a competition and a power struggle instead of a win-win love relationship.

This unfortunate pattern tends to lead to many hard breakups and heartbreaks.

The emotional manipulator will always see it as the other person’s fault, but time after time if you look objectively at their behavior you will see a disturbing pattern of gaslighting, control and toxic words and actions.

pexels cottonbro 4861330 1 Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you? Everything you need to know

3) They’re almost always the victim

The worst thing about emotional manipulators is that they often don’t even realize what they’re doing.

They truly think they’re justified.

And more often than not they truly believe that they are the victim or should be seen as the victim with regard to your relationship.

Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you?

Yes, if by feelings you mean that they feel angry and resentful of you and want to blame you for all the problems in their lives.

Playing the victim is a nasty habit that many emotional manipulators engage in constantly.

It’s like second nature to them.

As dating expert Charlotte Hilton Andersen writes:

“Manipulators often play the victim as a way to avoid responsibility for their actions and make you feel compelled to ‘help’ them.”

These kinds of codependent connections and toxic cycles are awful.

Some people end up in them for years and years, even in marriages based on them!

Here’s how to avoid ruining your own life and falling into a victim-savior, codependent relationship with an emotionally manipulative partner.

4) Fix your most important relationship

Codependency is addiction disguised as love.

It often falls into a cycle of one person feeling they have to “save” or “fix” their partner and the other chasing that approval and reassurance.

It’s not love. And it leads to both getting hurt and feeling endlessly insufficient and empty.

The solution is to tap the brakes and do something else instead.

Fix your most important relationship:

The one you have with yourself.

I know it sounds cliche, but that’s because many people think this is just all about being positive or thinking differently.

It’s not. It’s about doing differently and loving differently.

And this free video from the Brazilian shaman Rudá Iandê explains all about how to find love and intimacy in a way that actually works. Far too many of us end up chasing our tails in circles for years.

We cause so many headaches and heartbreaks to ourselves and others…
And for what, really?

I know that for me there came a point when my patience with repeating all the same mistakes simply ran out. That’s when I found this video and realized how radically I could change my approach to relationships in a very short time.

And it worked.

Click here to watch the free video.

5) Carpet love bombing

Love bombing is when somebody makes you feel so loved and wanted and appreciated that you begin warming up to them and getting addicted to them.

Cults do it, religions do it, gurus do it, marketers do it and…sadly, emotionally manipulative romantic partners do it.

Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you?

Well, they can certainly be pros at appearing to have feelings for you.

From thoughtful gifts and texts to giving you a back rub or cooking an amazing dinner, the emotional manipulator knows how to love bomb you with a vengeance.

I call it carpet love bombing, because it’s like love bombing on steroids.

It can get to the point that you couldn’t imagine someone would do such a variety of sweet and romantic things and basically be faking all of it.

Surely, right?

Well, emotional manipulators know that most people wouldn’t go so over the top just to pretend to care about someone: which is exactly why they do it.

So yes, they are usually faking it.

6) Why would they fake it?

The reason they would carpet love bomb you and be faking it is simple but disturbing.

They are faking it for two main reasons:

  • The emotional manipulator is love bombing you in order to get a certain response whether that be attention, appreciation, time off, assuaging guilt you have about them, receiving sex or ending a fight.
  • The emotional manipulator is love bombing you in order to “bank” it and use it as future credit the next time they f*ck up. They will insist that you don’t appreciate them and play the victim, because after all don’t you remember when they did…

This is the tragedy of dating or being involved with an emotional manipulator:

No action is pure.

No loving gesture can stand on its own as a real and valid action.

It’s always for them to elicit some response or use as ammo or a reward in the future.

It simply ruins any real romance and (rightly) makes this manipulative person radioactive to most potential partners.

When their behavior and motivations are just about what they get back from it, the love becomes transactional and ultimately fake.

And nobody wants fake love.

pexels mart production 8801056 1 Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you? Everything you need to know

7) They flood you with the Forer Effect

The Forer Effect (or Barnum) effect is something that’s commonly used by fake psychics, fortune tellers, gurus and two-bit players at nightclubs.

What it involves is basically making it sound like you have deep insights and understanding of someone when you actually don’t.

The way it’s done is basically by way of a conversational method whereby you make things sound very specific and personal that are actually quite generic.

Then when somebody reacts to a general thing you say, you make it slightly more refined, making that person believe you are connecting with them on some deep level.

An example might be the emotional manipulator speaking to you in the following way:

Them: “I can see that pain in early childhood has made it difficult to trust people…”

You: “Well, I mean…” (with your expression making it clear that this is at least somewhat true and has hit home at least a bit.)

Them: “It was about an authority figure wasn’t it…” (you react in surprise, bullseye) “somebody you trusted.”

You: “Oh my God how did you know. Yeah, my dad…”

And so on.

As the Encyclopedia Britannica explains:

“Barnum Effect, also called Forer Effect, in psychology, the phenomenon that occurs when individuals believe that personality descriptions apply specifically to them (more so than to other people), despite the fact that the description is actually filled with information that applies to everyone.”

The point?

Emotional manipulators used the Forer Effect to make you think they care about you and “get” you.

They don’t.

8) Being a passive-aggressive prick

Being passive-aggressive is a behavior that’s not exclusive to emotional manipulators.

But they often tend to be some of the very best at doing it.

Do emotional manipulators have feelings for you?

Usually not. The kind of behavior that’s passive-aggressive is generally geared at mistreating and controlling someone.

Emotional manipulators tend to have various goals but they are usually centered on receiving whatever they want and controlling others.

This becomes especially intense in relationships when the emotional manipulator will try their best to monitor, control, and be possessive over their partner.

Passive aggressive behavior is highly annoying and toxic, and when it becomes a pattern in a relationship it ruins any chemistry you may have.

Is there some form of real love there under the surface? Quite possibly.

But if an emotionally manipulative partner is behaving this way then any love there might be underneath is no longer going to be a factor.

9) They talk a big game

Emotional manipulators like to use words to get their way.

When it comes to actions they tend to come through much less, although they do occasionally do some pretty nice actions as well in order to gain more leverage.

Spinning all sorts of tales, playing with your feelings, and misinterpreting your behavior and words are all par for the course here.

The emotional manipulator accesses your emotions and pushes your buttons through their words.

As such, any feelings they do have for you tend to get buried under an avalanche of misleading and confusing words.

It’s hard to find out how someone really feels when they’re always hiding and dodging behind many verbal tricks and tactics, some of which are even almost habitual to them and of which they are only dimly aware of engaging in.

10) They egg you on

Emotional manipulators tend to encourage your worst instincts and minimize your best instincts.

They egg on your bad behavior and then pressure you to walk on eggshells if you have any criticism of them.

This dynamic is very hard to deal with to say the least.

Your worst aspects are highlighted and your efforts to address problems in the relationship are downplayed and attacked.

11) They’re not there when the rubber meets the road

The thing about any relationship and any person you’re involved with is that actions will always speak louder than words.

No matter how skilled an emotional manipulator might be at making it appear they care about you, how do they act when a real crisis comes, or when they’re tempted to cheat or undergo another obstacle in the relationship…

This is when the rubber meets the road.

And when this happens the emotional manipulator tends to fold like a cheap chair. They disappear, clam up, close their wallet and become unreliable and evasive.

Suddenly all that supposed love they have for you is nowhere to be found when they actually have to pony up and prove it.

Dark but just a game?

Emotional manipulation is scary because it can make you doubt everything about yourself:

Your worth, your beliefs, even your own perceptions.

Emotional manipulators do sometimes have real feelings for you. But their behavior makes that irrelevant in most cases.

Somebody who treats you like sh*t and uses you for their own twisted games and issues doesn’t have any right to your love.

Unless and until they start treating you with respect like a human being, it’s up to you to pull the plug.

Find love in a real way, and never accept anything less.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on and visit his website at

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