8 signs you’re dating a high-level manipulator, according to psychology

Manipulators are among the worst people you’ll ever end up dating.

And the scary thing is that seasoned, high-level manipulators know how to make people think that they’re nice and harmless.

Thankfully, psychology can help you spot them before it’s too late.

To help you assess your date better, here are 8 signs you’re dating a high-level manipulator, according to psychology.

1) Telling them “no” makes you feel awful

It’s not like you’re the kind of person who gets so smitten that you can’t tell your sweethearts “no.”

You had no problems telling your exes “no” or calling them out if they ever did something that made you uncomfortable.

But there’s just something about your date that makes it hard for you to set firm boundaries.

You feel compelled to go along with what they say and do, and the very idea of turning them down makes you feel horrible.

You might be tempted to clap your hands and say “this must mean that they’re the one for me!”

But stop for a moment and think.

This is one of the biggest signs that they’re playing with your guilt… and a sign that you’re dealing with a master manipulator.

2) You now gaslight yourself

People who are confident are hard to control.

That’s why manipulators will all end up gaslighting the people around them at one point or another.

What sets high-level manipulators apart from the average ones is that they don’t have to always be there to tell you that you’re “crazy.”

Instead, they’ll yank on your insecurities—slowly but surely– until you end up gaslighting yourself.

And trust me—it always works!

You might be the most confident person in the world, but spend enough time with a manipulator and you’ll eventually start doubting yourself.

Pay close attention to the way you act around them, and how you’ve been feeling about yourself since you’ve met them.

If you notice that you’ve been increasingly doubting yourself especially when you’re around them, be on guard. You might just be dating a master manipulator.

3) You don’t know where you stand with them

Are you officially together or not?

Do you have a future, or are you just a temporary thing?

Do you sleep worried that they’ll stop loving you tomorrow?

Then you’ll want to take care!

The person you’re dating might be trying to manipulate you by playing hot and cold or using other manipulation techniques.

People who are genuine about their relationship with you will do everything in their power to make sure you feel secure in your relationship.

A manipulator, on the other hand, will try to keep you always on edge—always questioning.

Your relationship will be the best thing you’ve ever had, but at the same time you’ll be always worried about losing it.

Why do manipulators do this?

It’s simple, really. By making you insecure in your relationship, you’ll be more than willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy.

4) You’re too “alike”

According to Saba Halouni Lurie, founder of Take Root Therapy, you should pay close attention if you ever feel like you’re somehow too “alike.”

Manipulators know just how useful mirroring can be, and will use it to make you feel like you have something special between the two of you.

They would let you talk about yourself or ask you probing questions, and then figure out a way to give you something to relate to.

Perhaps you might end up talking about your personal beliefs and politics, and then start agreeing with everything you said.

Or perhaps they’ll ask you what kinds of movies you like, and if you tell them “I don’t like movies. I prefer reading books” they’ll pivot right to talking about having a personal library.

It’s normal for people to have some things in common, of course.

But if it feels like they’re into almost everything you like, they’re probably trying to manipulate you.

5) You feel like the bad guy—always!

Always your fault 8 signs you’re dating a high-level manipulator, according to psychology

People who have not yet mastered the art of manipulation can sometimes give themselves away and make others go “hmm, there’s something off about them…”

But veteran manipulators, however, have perfected the art of looking like they could simply do no harm.

They’re ANGELS as far as everyone is concerned!

If there’s something wrong between the two of you, it can only be your fault.

Or at least, that’s what they’ll make you believe.

They can even outright tell you “you’re such a b*tch!” and you’ll be convinced that you deserve it.

And if you get upset, they’ll eventually convince you that you should feel bad for being upset instead of trying to understand why they snapped at you in the first place.

High-level manipulators are masters at blame-shifting, and they know the right words to say to not make you suspect they’re actually manipulating you.

6) It’s a “you and me against the world” kind of love

No one is really against your love.

But when you listen to them speak, you can almost imagine yourselves to be Romeo and Juliet.

They will convince you that your friends are conspiring about you, that people are spreading rumors and that you should cut them out before they ruin what you have got going.

But oh, the two of you—so long as you stay together, no-one can stand in your way!

Well, if you ever find yourself feeling this way, you should probably try to leave as soon as you can.

High-level manipulators want TOTAL CONTROL, and by making you believe things like these, you will end up alienated from every other person you could turn to.

Eventually they might even turn you against your friends and family!

And when things go south with them, you will feel like you have no option but to stay by their side. By that time, you’ll have no one else to return to, no one else to trust.

7) They move the goalpost

“Just a little bit…then just a little bit more. And yep, one more.”

They’ll tell you that all they really want is that you have $1000 savings in your joint bank account.

And so you grant them their wish. But then a month later, they’d go “Hmmm, maybe 1k is not enough. We should at least have 2k.”

Or let’s say that you’re in an argument, and they tell you “calm down, you don’t have any evidence for that.”

Give them the evidence they asked for, and they’ll say “yeah well, we need MORE evidence.”

When you’re dealing with a high-level manipulator, whatever you have to give is never enough.

They’re subtle about it—that’s why they’re high-level manipulators—but if you really look closely at their habits, you’ll see a pattern of them asking for more and more.

Enough is never enough for them.

They might ask for an inch at first, but eventually they’ll start demanding the world from you.

8) They’re covert narcissists

Overt narcissists struggle to become high level manipulators. They manipulate people, sure, but they’re too obvious to be truly successful.

Narcissists who can manage to hide their self-centredness—covert narcs, in other words—are pretty good at twisting the people around them without knowing.

It can be hard to spot them if you were to simply look at them in the moment.

For you to figure them out, you’ll need to really think about their habits going back years. You have to see if they have a consistent habit of being exploitative and selfish.

Remember, the masters are the best at hiding their manipulative techniques. So if you automatically think “Nah, my partner is not a narc!”, there’s a chance they’re just really good at being one.

Last Words:

The temptation to manipulate people exists in all of us.

Many of us butter up people so that they’ll feel good about us and not think too much about it.

But the problem with manipulators is that they have made a habit out of it, and they’re not afraid of hurting people and destroying relationships just to have their way.

The signs above don’t necessarily mean you’re with an inherently bad person. It just means you’re with someone who’s incredibly good at manipulation.

Ultimately whether you want to stick with them or find someone else is up to you. But if you notice that you start to lose your authentic self while you’re with them, you really might want to reassess your relationship.

Ask yourself if being with a high-level manipulator is indeed worth it. They’re extra powerful and at any moment, they can use their powers on you.

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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