9 things a master manipulator does when they realize you see through them

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Master manipulators are excellent at twisting words and situations to their advantage. But what happens when they notice that you’re onto their game?

This can be quite the turning point. When a master manipulator senses that their tactics aren’t working anymore, they shift gears quickly.

And believe it or not, there are certain things they tend to do when they realize you see through them.

By understanding these behaviors, you can better protect yourself from their manipulation.

Let’s dive into the 9 things a master manipulator does when they realize you see through them.

1) They change their tactics

Master manipulators are experts in their craft. They’ve honed their skills over time and have a wide range of tactics at their disposal.

When they sense that you’re catching on to their manipulation, they don’t just give up. Instead, they shift strategies.

You might notice a sudden change in their behavior. If they were previously using guilt to manipulate you, they might switch to flattery or victimhood instead.

This quick change can be disorienting, and it’s meant to be. By keeping you off balance, a master manipulator can regain control of the situation.

But once you’re aware of this tactic, it becomes much easier to counteract. Stay alert for sudden changes in behavior, and remember that it’s okay to question someone’s intentions if they’re acting differently towards you.

2) They try to discredit you

In my personal experience, I’ve observed that when manipulators feel threatened, they often resort to trying to discredit the person who’s seeing through them.

I remember a particular instance from an old job. There was a coworker of mine who was a master at manipulation. He’d twist stories and situations to his advantage.

When I started noticing his tactics and calling him out, he suddenly started spreading rumors about me. He’d tell other coworkers that I was difficult to work with and unreliable.

It was a classic case of deflection and an attempt to ruin my credibility. By making me seem unreliable, he hoped people would dismiss my observations about his manipulative behavior.

But recognizing this tactic helped me to stand my ground. It’s important not to let their attempts to discredit you shake your confidence in what you’ve observed and experienced.

3) They play the victim

Believe it or not, manipulators often resort to playing the victim when they realize that you’re onto them. This tactic is a clever way to divert attention away from their own manipulative behaviors and instead generate sympathy for themselves.

In psychology, this is referred to as ‘DARVO’ – Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. It’s a defensive strategy manipulators use where they deflect blame and turn the tables on the accuser.

By playing the victim, they subtly manipulate the narrative to paint themselves as the wronged party, hoping to make you question your own perceptions and even feel guilty for suspecting them. Keep an eye out for this classic manipulation move.

4) They gaslight you

Gaslighting is a common tactic used by manipulators when they realize you’re onto them. It’s a psychological trick where they make you question your own memory, perception, or sanity.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s going insane to distract her from his criminal behavior.

In real life, a manipulator might deny something happened or insist you’re remembering things wrong. They may even accuse you of overreacting or being too sensitive to further confuse you.

This tactic can be very unsettling, but being aware of it is the first step in countering it. Trust your own perceptions and memories, and don’t let anyone make you feel crazy for trusting your instincts.

5) They ramp up their charm

When a manipulator senses you’re onto them, they often turn on the charm. It’s a deflection strategy designed to distract you from their manipulative behavior.

Suddenly, they might start showering you with compliments, gifts, or special attention. This can make it difficult to stay angry or suspicious of them because it feels good to be treated so well.

But remember, this is just another tactic in their arsenal. A sudden increase in charm and attention can be a red flag that they’re trying to regain control of the situation. Don’t let their flattery cloud your judgment.

6) They use emotional blackmail

When they feel cornered, master manipulators often resort to emotional blackmail. This can be one of the most painful tactics they use because it plays on your deepest feelings and attachments.

Emotional blackmail can come in many forms. It could be a loved one threatening to leave or harm themselves if you don’t comply with their wishes. Or it could be a friend playing on your guilt or fear to get you to do something.

It’s heartbreaking when someone you care about uses your emotions against you. But remember, it’s not your responsibility to manage someone else’s emotions or reactions. If you’re being emotionally blackmailed, it might be time to seek help from a trusted friend, family member, or professional.

7) They isolate you from your support network

I recall a time when I became friends with someone who later turned out to be a master manipulator. As our friendship grew, they subtly started to drive a wedge between me and my other friends.

From making negative comments about them to planning events when they knew others couldn’t attend, they slowly isolated me from my support network. It was their way of gaining more control over me, by ensuring that I didn’t have other perspectives to challenge their manipulation.

Isolation is a common tool in a manipulator’s toolkit. If you notice someone trying to cut you off from your loved ones or support system, it’s a red flag that they may be trying to manipulate you.

8) They make you feel guilty

Master manipulators are adept at making you feel guilty, especially when they realize you’re onto them. It’s one of their many tactics to regain control of the situation.

They might imply that you’re being ungrateful after everything they’ve done for you. Or they might accuse you of not caring about them or their feelings. The aim is to make you feel so guilty that you back off from your suspicions and fall back into their manipulation.

But remember, it’s important to trust your instincts. If someone consistently makes you feel guilty, it’s a clear sign that something isn’t right. Don’t let guilt cloud your judgment or silence your concerns.

9) They deny their manipulation

Above all else, when a master manipulator realizes you see through them, they will often outright deny their manipulation. This denial can be so vehement and convincing that you start to question your own judgments.

They might say things like, “I would never manipulate you,” or “You’re just misunderstanding my intentions.” These are attempts to sow doubt in your mind and make you second-guess your perceptions.

But trust yourself. If you feel like you’re being manipulated, there’s a good chance you are. Stand firm in your convictions and don’t let their denials sway you.

Final thoughts: Empowerment through awareness

Understanding the tactics of a master manipulator can feel unsettling, but it’s essential knowledge that can arm us against potential manipulation.

The very fact that you’re reading this means you’re already on the path to empowerment. You’re educating yourself about these tactics, and that’s the first step in resisting manipulation.

Remember, these nine signs are not definitive proof of manipulation – they’re indicators to be aware of. If you consistently notice them in someone’s behavior towards you, it might be a signal to take a step back and reevaluate the relationship.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” In situations with manipulators, clear and open communication can often be the key.

Stay informed, trust your instincts, and never be afraid to stand up for yourself. After all, knowledge is power.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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