You know that warm feeling you get when your partner compliments you? It’s like a little boost for your heart, making you feel loved and appreciated.
But what if, just what if, those sweet words aren’t as genuine as they sound?
Yup—it’s a tough pill to swallow.
The thought of being manipulated by someone you deeply care about can be unsettling.
It can make you feel ungrounded and leave you wondering if you ever really knew this person at all or if you can even trust anyone again.
But here’s the thing: knowledge is power.
That’s why we’re going to uncover the seven signs that might reveal you’re in a relationship with a covert manipulator.
It’s not easy, but recognizing these signs early can save you from heartache and help you maintain the healthy, loving relationship you deserve.
1) They only compliment you when they need something
Do you know what a covert manipulator’s go-to strategy is?
They might be really good at talking and making you feel good about yourself. So if you have a gut feeling that your partner is trying to manipulate you, here’s what you can look out for:
- Timing. If they shower you with compliments right before asking for a favor, be wary. They’re using flattery to soften you up, so you’re more likely to agree.
- Tone. Pay attention to how they say these nice things. If it sounds like they’re reading from a script or being overly smooth, it might be a trick. Real compliments come from the heart and are spontaneous.
- Gut instinct. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That uneasy feeling could be a warning, and it’s okay to pay attention to it.
Sadly, if you’re not familiar with this sneaky tactic, you might say “yes” to their requests not because you want to, but because…
2) You tend to feel guilty or indebted after hearing the compliment
They might say something nice to you, like, “You’re the best, and I’m so lucky to have you.”
Of course, this makes you happy. But later on, they use that compliment for their own benefit.
It’s like they’re keeping score and making you feel like you need to do something in return because they’ve been nice to you.
This is a sneaky way to manipulate someone.
The thing about covert manipulators is that they know how to use your good feelings against you, making you feel like you have to repay them or do what they want.
If this sounds familiar to you, please know that this isn’t how love and respect work in a healthy relationship. Real compliments come from the heart, with no strings attached.
That’s why you might also want to pay attention if…
3) There’s a disconnect between what they say and how they act
When your partner says something nice to you but their actions don’t match what they say, it’s called manipulation.
For example, they might say, “You’re the most important person in my life,” but then ignore you or don’t make time for you.
This behavior can incredibly mess with your feelings because you’re always left wondering if they really mean what they say or only say what they think you want to hear.
It’s also unfair to you because they might only be doing it to keep you around or avoid arguments.
If you’re going through something like this, talk to your partner about how you feel. Don’t let their words confuse you or make you doubt yourself.
Remember, when someone says they love and appreciate you, they should show it through their actions. In order for it to be a healthy relationship, words and actions should match.
Otherwise, it’s toxic, and one clear sign of this is when…
4) They compliment you excessively in public but criticize you behind closed doors
Covert manipulators have a tendency to put you on a pedestal when you’re with other people. They make sure that everyone hears it when they say how smart, funny, and loved you are.
Of course, this makes you feel confident, valued, and even proud of your relationship.
However, things change when you two are alone. Suddenly, those nice things turn into criticism.
They might start criticizing your appearance, your choices, or even the little things you say.
What you might not realize is that they’re just putting on a show to make others think they’re an ideal partner and that you have a perfect relationship.
But when it’s just the two of you, they reveal their true feelings.
It’s like being on an emotional roller coaster.
You’re happy and confident one moment and sad and insecure the next. It can also be confusing and hurtful because you never know which version of your partner you’re going to get.
On top of this…
5) They praise you while simultaneously comparing you to others
Your partner compliments you, but then they add something like,
“I like your outfit, but your best friend always dresses so stylishly. Maybe you could take some fashion tips from them?”
“You’re so much better than my ex.”
“I really like your cooking, but I think you should learn my mother’s recipes to impress me more.”
“You’re not like other girls/guys.”
Covert manipulators want to give you the impression that they’re only trying to help you because they want you to be better. That’s why these compliments are always disguised as motivation.
In reality, they’re using compliments to make you want to work for their approval, and they do it sneakily by making you feel like you’re in competition with others.
So instead of feeling appreciated, you end up feeling like you’re always falling short. This creates unnecessary pressure and can make you feel insecure about yourself.
If your partner does this, it’s important to talk to them about how you feel.
You deserve genuine compliments that come from a place of love and appreciation, not ones that make you question your value. Similarly…
6) They use superficial compliments that don’t reflect your true qualities
They might say things like:
“I can’t believe I’m with someone as attractive as you.”
“Your job title is so impressive; it makes you a catch.”
“I like being with you because you always take me to expensive places.”
You might notice that they don’t put much effort into appreciating your real qualities, like your kindness, intelligence, or sense of humor.
They also don’t bother to dig deeper and get to know your thoughts, dreams, or fears.
You might feel that they’re only with you because they love the idea of you and what they get from being in a relationship with you.
Unfortunately, if your partner only sticks to surface-level compliments and doesn’t make the effort to connect on a deeper level, that’s a clear sign that they have a hidden agenda.
You deserve someone who appreciates your complexities and your quirks.
But covert manipulators aren’t interested in seeing the real you; they’re only interested in how they’re seen when they’re with you.
This means that they also couldn’t care less about your needs and desires. So if a problem arises, don’t be surprised if…
7) They use compliments to shift your focus and ignore important issues
Imagine you want to talk to your partner about something they did that hurt your feelings.
But instead of acknowledging it and apologizing, they might say something like, “You’re so beautiful; why are you worried about this?”
Or imagine you’re upset because they keep coming home late without letting you know. When you bring it up, they might say, “You’re so understanding and patient. I’m lucky to have you.”
These compliments might sound nice, but they’re used strategically to shift your focus away from your real concerns.
By making you feel appreciated, they hope you won’t bring up the issues bothering you, and that’s what makes this behavior manipulative.
If this is happening to you, it’s crucial to stay firm and insist on addressing the problems.
Keep in mind that a healthy relationship involves uncomfortable discussions. So don’t let sweet words distract you from what truly matters.
Remember, you’re strong, you’re worthy, and you’re deserving of genuine love and respect.
But there will be times when this statement will sound like a convenient lie you just tell yourself.
There will also be times when it’s easier to look past the red flags and focus on the other person’s “great qualities.”
There will be times when it’s easier to accept what you’re being given instead of risking your heart getting badly broken in your search for truth.
And during those times, your intuition will be louder.
It will be so loud that you’ll be called to open your eyes, set boundaries, and love yourself enough to walk away from anything less than you deserve.
Do exactly that.
Your soul knows when something feels right and when it doesn’t. Stop convincing yourself that you can fix them, or it’s your fault. Trust that inner guidance and don’t look back.
You’ll be in awe of how magical life can get the moment you finally say “yes” to yourself.