8 Telltale Signs That Mean Your Partner Is Manipulating You

Sometimes, it’s the very ones tasked with protecting, caring, supporting, and loving us that do the most harm to us. A manipulative partner can often be more destructive than your worst enemy. After all, at least you know that your enemy is your enemy. Manipulating partners use stealth and tricks to make it seem like puppeteer moves are out of care, not control.

Spot And Resist A Manipulative Partner

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Again, the stealthiness of a manipulator can make him/her hard to spot. Knowing the tactics they often employ helps. You can also learn some helpful tricks of your own to resist their manipulation tactics. While these 10 characteristics of a manipulator aren’t all inclusive nor always present, they’re a good guide to use as a red flag that there’s a problem in your relationship that needs addressing.

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1. What? Huh? I Can’t Hear You?

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Manipulation plays dumb when it’s out of other more sinister options. A manipulator will do everything and anything possible to keep himself in the most comfortable position possible, even pretend to be a complete idiot. To combat the blooming idiot ploy, go about asking your questions in different ways and from different angles to ensure they really don’t have a comprehension issue. If it continues, remember that you deserve better; it might be time to find a new partner that doesn’t avoid responsibility.

2. Rikki, Tikki, Tavi

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They’re sly. They’re tricksters. For example, they’ll make some long, grandiose request, such as you going out and collecting Big Foot’s tears to cure their aching back. Then, they’ll hit you with their real request. It will seem so much more reasonable, such as can you cover the costs of my pain meds this month, that you’re automatically inclined to do it. It makes it seem like you’re taking the best out of your choices, right?

Here’s the trick to combat the trick. Remember, that you have a third choice - do nothing. It’s not a must that you have to help. If you do choose to help, ensure that you’re helping for rational reasons, not out of a best option scenario.

3. It’s Called Gaslighting

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This nasty technique of distorting the facts and past actually has a scientific name - gaslighting. It’s used to keep you in a constant state of confusion and misinformation as the manipulator comfortably sits back in a state of denial. They’ll deny hard facts. They’ll say you’re mistaken. They’ll accuse you of being everything from crazy to paranoid. They’ll distort truths, add irrelevant facts, and twist deception and honesty so tightly that you barely know if you’re own name is real. In calculating hands, this manipulation tactic can truly make you question reality.

To combat gaslighting, remember two facts:

• Rely upon your own memories if present and accurate; trust yourself.

• Stick to your memories, and refuse to argue over them.

Manipulators live in the moment of what benefits them in that exact moment. They lead. You’re just allowed the pleasure of following if it suits their needs. So, they don’t want to discuss any problems you see existing behind them/in front of you. They’ll cut such arguments off because they’re of no use to a manipulative person. Therefore, you’ll find yourself sounding like a broken record as you try to bring up the same topics over and over in vain.

To combat this manipulation tactic, don’t allow yourself to get lost in the weeds during conversations. Always keep in mind why you started the conversation, what the problem is, and what you expect as a result of the conversation.

4. Your Problems Are Nonexistent

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Manipulators dont value, recognize, or often even acknowledge your problems exist. They simply don’t care. If stuck in a situation where you’re sharing your problem, the manipulator will do one of two things: avoid and play ignorant or redirect the conversation to their own problems. 

A manipulative partner may respond to you complaining about a particularly long day at work with a request to imagine how much harder they work every day. To combat this tactic, ask yourself if your partner really cares and is interested. If not, a more compassionate partner may be in order.

It’s selfish. It’s heartbreaking to experience. The ploy is to attach you personally to their life and well-being. They’ll say they’ll die without you, for example, to impose the responsibility of their life on you and play off your guilt and fears. The words echo through all your emotions and take them hostage as you attempt to make choices for your own well-being and good. 

To combat this manipulation tactic, it’s important to remember that the words are most often threats against you leaving, not threats against the manipulator’s well-being. Stay calm as you remind your partner that only he/she is responsible for their own actions.

5. They Push Your Mental And Emotional Senses

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When you’re being pushed into decisions, you don’t have an opportunity to think about them and make intelligent, aware choices for yourself. Think about the stereotypical used car salesman’s approach - buy, buy now, buy before it’s too late, buy today, buy immediately, etc. Combat this tactic by not making snap decisions.

Take at least a minute of solitude or quiet to offer any answer to any question of importance. If an answer is continually being demanded while you’re processing, step back and say you’ll think it over or “maybe” as your final answer until you have the privacy to think about the question and answer.

6. They Like To Provoke You

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Manipulators don’t typically have a lot of logic on their side. As a last ditch effort to manipulate you when they can’t victimize you or play the victim themselves, they often resort to provoking you by triggering either negative emotions or making you question the sanity of the entire situation.

It’s a tactic to get you to say something they can use against you. It’s a tactic to drag you into a meaningless and rewardless argument. It’s a tactic to make your life into a Shakespearean battle of wits and tragedy. You say they make no sense, and they point the finger at you for name-calling. To combat this tactic, remain cool, calm, and collected. Don’t bite on the stick poking you. Instead, bring the topic back to its original point. If it continues to veer off-course, then politely walk away from the conversation.

7. They’re Always The Victim

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The ploy is that, while you’re always the bad guy, they’re always the good guy. They’re the victim in every situation and with every single person on the opposite side. It’s the same approach as scams that use sad animal and child pictures to get you to take heartfelt action. They reel you in with how sad, difficult, miserable, or unfortunate their life is so that you’ll feel compassionate enough to do what they want you to do and ignore what they want you to ignore. 

Now, they’re asking for your help, which they’ll often call a “favor.” They’ll feed you an emotional story under the guise of emotional “sharing” so that they can avoid responsibility and benefit from you doing their work for them. You can use the same response of calmness, clarity, and recognition to combat this tactic.

8. You Are Always The Guilty Party

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The ploy is that manipulators always have a way of turning almost every event, comment, or action around as being your fault. They make you feel guilty, even when you rationally know that you’ve done nothing wrong.

Let’s say you ask your manipulative partner for help with a simple task. Instead of obliging or offering a reasonable excuse, they turn the situation into you being needy, not considerate of their obligations, and selfish. Bam, you feel guilty simply asking for the help.

So, how do you combat this tactic? By these three tips:

• Keep calm.

Make a mental note that your partner is trying to control you with their words.

• Remind your partner that adults are responsible for their own words and behaviors.

Did these 10 traits of a manipulator reveal anything about your partner? Have you ever been in a relationship that looks like this and come out the other side stronger and wiser? If you know someone in a relationship that experiences these behaviors as needs a word of caution, please pass this along to them. We always welcome our readers to the comment section for thoughts and questions.