Ever been puzzled about how you ended up doing something you didn’t really want to?
Or maybe you’ve felt really tired after spending time with a certain person?
You might be dealing with someone who has a manipulative personality.
Manipulation can be hard to notice at first.
It’s often so sneaky that by the time you realize what’s happening, you’re already caught up in it.
But don’t worry! We’re here to help you see these signs early on.
Here are ten behaviors that, if someone does them consistently, could mean they’re trying to manipulate you.
1. They Always Play the Victim Card
The first sign to watch out for is the “woe is me” attitude.
Manipulative people are experts at playing the victim.
No matter what happens, they somehow twist the narrative to make it seem like they are the ones who have been wronged, even when they’re clearly in the wrong.
This is a clever tactic to earn your sympathy and make you feel guilty for holding them accountable.
If you notice someone constantly painting themselves as the victim in every situation, be wary. It could be a sign of manipulation.
2. They Twist Your Words
Ever had a conversation with someone and walked away feeling like they completely twisted your words?
If this happens consistently, it might be more than just a misunderstanding.
Manipulative people have a knack for turning your words around to suit their narrative.
They might rephrase what you said or take it out of context to make you doubt your own memory or judgment.
This can make you feel unsure of yourself and more likely to give in to their demands.
3. They Use Emotional Blackmail
Manipulative people are masters at using your emotions against you.
One way they do this is through emotional blackmail.
They might use guilt, fear, or obligation to make you do what they want.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
I had a friend who always wanted to be the center of attention.
If we were planning to do something she didn’t like, she would say something like “If you were really my friends, you would do this for me.”
She made us feel guilty for wanting to do something different, and we often ended up doing what she wanted just to keep the peace.
If someone is consistently using emotional blackmail, it’s a clear sign of manipulation.
It’s not healthy or fair for them to use your emotions to control you.
4. They’re Always Right
Manipulative people often believe they’re always right – and they want you to believe it too.
They rarely admit they’re wrong and will go to great lengths to prove their point, even if it means ignoring facts or twisting the truth.
According to psychologists, this behaviour is linked to a trait called ‘psychological entitlement.’
People with high levels of psychological entitlement believe they are more deserving than others.
This makes them feel justified in their actions, no matter how unfair or unreasonable they may seem to others.
5. They Give You the Silent Treatment
Manipulative people have a whole arsenal of tactics to get their way, and one of the most hurtful ones is the silent treatment.
They use silence as a weapon to punish you when you don’t do what they want.
It’s a way for them to express their displeasure without having to explain why they’re upset.
This can be deeply distressing for the person on the receiving end, as communication is vital in any relationship.
The silent treatment can leave you feeling anxious, guilty, and desperate to make things right – even when you haven’t done anything wrong.
6. They Make You Feel Guilty
Manipulative people are experts at making you feel guilty for things that you shouldn’t feel guilty about.
They know how to play on your emotions in a way that makes you feel like you’re always in the wrong.
Let me share a personal example.
I had a colleague who would often ask for my help with his tasks.
One day, when I was swamped with my own work and politely declined, he looked genuinely hurt.
“I thought we were friends,” he said, “Friends help each other out.” His words made me feel guilty, even though I knew I had every right to prioritize my own work.
If someone consistently makes you feel guilty for setting boundaries or saying no, that’s a classic sign of manipulation.
You deserve to be respected, and you’re not obligated to meet unreasonable demands.
7. They’re a Master of Gaslighting
One of the worst and most damaging things a manipulator can do is gaslight you.
Gaslighting is when someone tries to mess with your perception of reality, making you question what you know to be true.
They might deny things that have happened, dismiss your feelings or memory, or insist that you’re overreacting or misunderstanding. It’s like they’re trying to make you feel crazy.
And the worst part? It can be so subtle that you start believing them.
If you constantly find yourself questioning your own memory or reality around someone, take a step back.
No one has the right to mess with your mind like that – it’s a major sign of manipulation and it’s not okay.
8. They’re Quick to Point Out Your Flaws
Manipulators often have a keen eye for your insecurities and will not hesitate to use them against you.
They’re quick to point out your flaws or mistakes, often in a way that seems like they’re “just being honest” or “trying to help.” People who frequently point out others’ mistakes or flaws are more likely to engage in manipulative behaviors and power plays.
If someone is consistently pointing out your flaws under the guise of ‘helping you’, it might be more about maintaining control than genuine concern.
It’s an underhanded manipulation tactic, and you don’t have to put up with it.
9. They Make You Feel Responsible for Their Happiness
One of the more subtle ways a manipulative person can get under your skin is by making you feel responsible for their happiness.
It’s a heavy burden to bear, and it can be incredibly draining.
I have experienced this firsthand.
I had a friend who would often say things like, “My day is ruined if I don’t see you,” or “I can’t be happy unless you’re there.”
At first, it felt nice to be needed, but over time, I realized this was her way of manipulating me into spending more time with her.
It was emotionally exhausting and took a toll on my own happiness.
10. They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries
Here’s the thing: manipulative people have no respect for your boundaries.
They’ll push and prod until they get their way, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
If you’ve told someone ‘no’ or asked them to stop doing something, and they keep doing it anyway, that’s a blatant disregard for your feelings and boundaries.
They might make it seem like your boundaries are unreasonable or make you feel guilty for setting them.
But your boundaries are about protecting your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. They’re important, and any person worth your time will respect them.
11. They Make You Feel Less Than
Finally, and perhaps most painfully, manipulative people have a way of making you feel less than you are.
They make you feel like you’re not smart enough, not good enough, or just not enough in general.
It’s a cruel tactic designed to make you more dependent on them.
But here’s the reality: you are enough.
Just as you are.
You don’t need to change for anyone or fit into someone else’s idea of what you should be.
If someone is making you feel less than, that’s about them, not about you. It’s manipulation, plain and simple, and you deserve better.