If someone displays these 9 behaviors, they might be manipulating your emotions

Healthy emotional exchanges are what makes a connection into a strong relationship.

They are a fundamental part of the human experience by shaping our perceptions and decisions. 

Rightfully so, they require validation, respect and regular processing in order to strengthen the bonds created.

When manipulation comes into the picture, it distorts it and creates a power imbalance.

It puts stress on the relationship, leading to long-lasting emotional scars that are full of confusion and pain.

To help you piece the emotional puzzle back together, here are 9 behaviors that signify someone trying to manipulate your emotions.

1) Victim mentality

A huge part of emotional manipulation is making another person feel responsible for the actions of another grown adult.

At the root of almost all the behaviors below, is a victim mentality.

It will warp your perception of autonomy and independence. And it will harm your perception of relationships if you don’t maintain strong self-awareness.

A classic route this kind of behavior might take is when someone omits details or feign incompetence in order to paint themselves as a helpless victim.

In a conversation, this might also occur in a way where a person will use their life story as an excuse for their poor behaviors.

This is an attempt to abuse your empathy and seek those that will play along.

But remember that real emotional intelligence and empathy are what allows us to learn from our mistakes. 

So as to not perpetrate on others what once hurt us as well.

2) Blame-shifting

Similar to a victim mentality, this involves a whole lot of excuses.

Those excuses directed towards and derived from you.

So say you tried to keep someone accountable for how they mistreated you. Let’s say someone misgenders you at work.

They would blame-shift by saying how you “looked” a certain way and therefore it’s not their fault.

Or perhaps they bring up another coworker who gave them the wrong information.

Basically, everything but an apology. And therefore making you feel like you’re doing too much by speaking up.

A lot of people use blame-shifting to self-soothe themselves of any guilt they feel. But an emotionally mature adult is able to apologize and rectify their mistakes.

Don’t let the emotionally stunted ones make you think any differently.

3) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation where the manipulator tries to make the victim doubt their own perceptions, memories and sanity.

They will usually speak from a selfish perspective where they take your decisions personally.

For example, saying something like, “if you hate me, then just say that” when you try to establish boundaries with them.

It completely invalidates your perspective and emotions by painting you as someone that is harming them. 

Therefore taking the attention away from the issue at hand.

This one is particularly dangerous as it can have a long-lasting effect. Especially if the perpetrator is someone who holds a position in power.

Some other signs you might be being gaslit is if you frequently feel anxious and doubtful of your motives, choices and feelings.

As well as other people in your life often telling you that you are being mistreated when you tell them what happened.

It’s important to know that it’s not too late to get to know the signs of gaslighting, and how to avoid manipulators by growing a stronger sense of self.

4) Love bombing

signs youve given a relationship all you can If someone displays these 9 behaviors, they might be manipulating your emotions

Oh, love bombing.

I see this word being thrown around so much, it’s become a word that is a weapon on its own.

I for one had a moment of “huh,” because I’m someone who likes to give things to people. And I wondered if I was love bombing.

I also know people who are very affectionate by nature! We must remember that some people grew up in emotionally warm homes.

And after much contemplation, I realized that love bombing is a sudden and intense display of affection, compliments and attention – with the motive of gaining control over a person.

So this is your competitive coworker who tries to get on your boss’ good side by being over the top – hoping it leads to a promotion.

Or that person who acts way too friendly with everyone in order to be the keeper of all gossip.

Emotional manipulators sure do ruin everything, kindness not being an exception.

5) Silent treatment

This is a passive-aggressive behavior where the manipulator withdraws communication as a form of punishment.

It induces feelings of guilt, insecurity and emotional turmoil in the victim. 

And it’s usually to compel them into apologizing or seeking reconciliation with the perpetrator.

This is especially common and normalized in a lot of parent-child relationships from my observations!

When a parent lacks emotional maturity, they may be unable to express their hurt, anger or disappointment in a healthy way.

In turn, they shut down on their child which can harm them in the long-term with chronic feelings of guilt and anxiety in adulthood.

That’s how the cycle continues as people become hostile towards this feeling of shame that silence evokes. And it’s crucial we change the way we view reconciliation.

As a space for discussion to be understood, not just an exchange of apologies or blame-shifting.

6) Withholding affection

Similar to the silent treatment, this is a way for manipulators to weaponize their presence and affection.

In a lot of intimate and romantic relationships, a person may use this as a way to punish and control their partners.

This behavior is usually seen as a substitute for healthy communication, and the partner affected will eventually become dependent on the manipulator.

Mainly because gaining their partner’s affections back alleviates their anxieties, and there is an addictive factor to that alleviation.

But also because of all the mindgames involved! 

Usually, there will be a sentiment of “if you were good enough.”

So not only does the victim suffer emotionally, but their ego will be triggered to prove something to their partner.

7) Triangulation

This is a manipulation tactic where the perpetrator in question introduces a third party into the relationship.

All without the consent of the victim, either by flirting or properly initiating a whole relationship with them.

People usually do this in order to stroke their own egos, but also create jealousy and competition.

The motivations behind those triggers can differ, but it’s usually to throw off their partner’s emotional stability in order to maintain their power in the relationship.

Let’s say your partner feels like you’ve been spending too much time on your career, and they feel neglected.

If they are also emotionally a child, they would noticeably start giving their attention to another person in hopes of triggering you into giving them more attention.

I wish I could say that healthy communication could help solve this. But if you ever come across someone who pulls this kind of behavior, just walk away.

Most of the time they like how you make them feel, more than you as a person.

8) Guilt tripping

signs youre in a relationship that is bad for your emotional well being If someone displays these 9 behaviors, they might be manipulating your emotions

Guilt tripping involves using guilt as a weapon to manipulate a person’s emotions.

And underneath that guilt, is a lot of shame that gets brought up in the victim to gain control of their empathy.

I could write an entire essay on how complicated adult relationships can be. How endless it is to determine who is responsible for what when it comes to conflict.

Especially if you have a lot of empathy, that essay can get even longer because you aren’t logically inclined to fix the problem, or be “right.”

You’d rather understand and help the person feel better!

So in order to identify and call out guilt tripping, you must remember that no one deserves to feel emotionally blackmailed by someone they love.

Even if you are in the wrong, it is your job to rectify and be accountable to the best of your abilities. 

Therefore if someone believes they have a right to your autonomy via guilt tripping, you have my permission to tell them to kick rocks.

9) Isolation

Isolation can happen in a variety of different ways.

Most obviously, this can happen when a manipulator isolates their victims from friends and family by making them feel emotionally dependent on them.

In other settings, this can involve a coworker who publicly humiliates someone in order to have the upper hand socially.

Bottom line is, you feel like you can’t reach out to anyone for help.

Not to mention, being emotionally manipulated is an isolating experience as a whole! 

Not only does it cause us to question ourselves, but also feel helpless as to how we can stop it.

Because who wants to deal with someone who clearly didn’t care about our emotional well-being in the first place?

The most difficult element of emotional manipulation is that it’s not always “detectable”

If you went through this article and had a few rageful aha moments, don’t feel too bad about it. It’s literally human nature to be empathetic.

But it’s pretty inhumane and cowardly to take advantage of someone’s empathy.

Bittersweet, but the key to being “unmanipulateable” is by knowing what’s your responsibility and what’s not.

Manipulators are just projectors, and how they feel about you is how they feel about themselves.

With that in mind, seek support to directly neutralize the isolation effect. There will be others who understand what you’re going through.

Remember: they only want to make you “think” they have the upper hand – anyone with a heart knows that they don’t.

So take care of your heart, and always trust your instincts.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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