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6 Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation Before it Destroys You

Nobody can hurt me without my permission-Mahatma Ghandy

Emotional or psychological manipulation can be truly devastating. Loosely defined, the manipulator plays on your good intentions, insecurities, vulnerabilities and weaknesses in order to get what they want. This could be someone you trust or even love, and they are often void of any conscientious considerations, will prey on these weaknesses in order to compel you to do something in their favor.  While all human beings are manipulative to some degree, the emotional manipulator is habitually manipulative and will employ this form of psychological control consistently.

When someone is clearly wronging or hurting you and at the end of the day you are the one apologizing for their wrong deeds, you are being emotionally manipulated. But this is just one of the many ways in which emotional manipulation will manifest itself. There are many other signs that you can look out for in order to spot the slick emotional manipulator from 3000 miles away. Here are some red flags:

They’ll Use Your Words Against You

This is the signature technique of the emotional manipulator. They will do something to hurt you and when you complain about it, they’ll turn the situation around, making you feel guilty and end up apologizing.

For example, you may be upset that your emotionally manipulative partner forgot your birthday. Normally, a person will simply apologize for forgetting and promise to make up for it in some other way in the near future.. The emotional manipulator will make it look like it was your fault that they forgot about your birthday. They might start telling you how they’ve been under a lot of stress because of something you’ve done, or remind you of a time you might have forgotten something, in order to justify their actions.

They’re wolves in sheep’s clothing

Emotionally manipulative people are always willing to help… but it always comes at a price.  They’ll always remind you of that one time they helped you out, and use it as a way to manipulate you into feeling like you owe them something. If you find that you’re constantly being reminded of a favor someone did for you and feel obliged to keep on helping them out – there’s a very strong chance you’re being manipulated.

They completely lack accountability

Emotional manipulators lie and twist facts as it suits to them to get out of tight spots. They have zero sense of accountability and will simply spin tall tales to explain their actions. They are bold-faced liars who will say anything to get out of feeling as though they

The emotional manipulator will spin off the most ridiculous lie with the greatest conviction. More often than not they lie as if they completely believe what they are saying. Maybe they do at that particular moment.

They are guilt-mongers

An emotional manipulator will never ever admit a mistake if it puts them at a disadvantage. Instead, they’re always on the lookout for someone to blame.  They’re always very good at playing the victim and using that to guilt-trip. They are masters of it and will make you feel guilty about virtually anything that you do, whether good or bad, if it does not favour them. Whenever they want something from you, they will try and stir up some sympathy from you so you support, nurture, or take care of them.

They are cowards

They don’t deal with problems directly. Instead, they exhibit passive-aggressive behaviour in their dealings with people. For example, they’ll talk behind your back, getting people to say things to you that they would rather not say directly. They may be sweetness and light to your face, and while they might not hurt you directly, they will find subtle ways of undermining or belittling you .

They always seem to be having it worse

Whatever your problems may be, the emotional manipulator will somehow have it so much worse. It’s part of their natural tendency to look for sympathy and make you feel guilty – their instinct is to shift the attention from your problems to theirs.

They have a deep egoistical desire to shift the focus to themselves. If you sense they are not being genuine and let them know, they might exhibit signs of being deeply hurt. Not only might they do this, but turn the situation on its head and try to make you feel guilty for calling them out. When you feel they are not being genuine, trust your intuition and walk away from their negativity. Keep your distance from these mind games help you avoid spiraling into self doubt and could even stop a breakdown.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.