6 behaviors of people who appear trustworthy but deep down are deceptive and manipulative

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If you’ve ever had to deal with a manipulator, you’ll know how cruel and deceptive they can be, right? 

One of the things that makes manipulative people so dangerous is that they actually seem to be really trustworthy at first. They’re great at making people feel special and developing friendships quickly. It’s all part of their master plan to take advantage of your trusting nature, later on. 

It’s tricky to tell the difference between someone who is genuinely trustworthy and someone who is deceptive and manipulative deep down unless you know what to look out for. 

With that in mind, today we’re exploring 6 behaviors of people who appear trustworthy at first but deep down are deceptive and manipulative. Staying alert and informed goes a long way in helping you avoid falling for the tricks of a manipulator.  

Let’s jump right in. 

1) They make you feel special 

Have you ever met someone who makes you feel really special? It’s like you met and instantly just clicked. It doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, this can happen with friendships too. 

Even though you just met, right away it’s like your best friends. They’re messaging to check in on you and asking you for advice, sending you funny TikToks, and inviting you to hang out at the weekend. They give you lots of attention and make you feel wanted. 

What’s so wrong with that?

The problem is: sometimes this is a sneaky tactic that manipulative people use to get control of you quickly. They make themselves a big part of your life, showering you with attention and making you feel special by asking for your advice. 

All of these things make them seem super trustworthy and you start to let your guard down, making it easier for them to manipulate you later on. 

If your new friend is going out of their way to make you feel special and the friendship is moving fast, it could be a sign that deep down they’re deceptive and manipulative even though they seem trustworthy.  

2) They flatter you with compliments

Compliments are great, aren’t they? 

Research shows compliments are super powerful; they not only make the receiver happy but also boost the giver’s mood. It’s a win-win. 

Deceptive and manipulative people know all about the power of compliments. They know that they make others feel good and can even help people to like and trust them more. That’s why one of their favorite tactics to appear more trustworthy is excessive flattery

If you watched Breaking Bad, you’ll know that Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), one of the most manipulative characters, loved to use flattery to deceive his unsuspecting victims. Compliments helped him to come across as charming and well-meaning.

It feels great when someone compliments you for sure, but take note of anyone in your life who seems to pay you a few too many compliments. It’s a red flag that although they seem like a decent person, they might be hiding their deceptive and manipulative nature. 

3) They show their vulnerable side very quickly

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone you don’t know very well is opening up to you about delicate personal things? 

Maybe they’re sharing some insecurities they have, talking about challenges in their relationship or even opening up about family stuff. 

When someone shows you emotional vulnerability like this it makes you feel good. It’s like they trust you enough to show their vulnerabilities. And it encourages you to do the same, it makes you more likely to open up about some deep stuff too, right? 

Be careful: it’s not unusual for deceptive and manipulative people to overshare quickly. Sometimes, what they’re telling you isn’t even true, it’s just a ploy to get you to share all of your deepest secrets with them so they can use them to control you later. 

Just because someone shares personal things with you, doesn’t mean you should do the same right away. Wait until you get to know them and feel you can truly count on them before letting them in on your biggest vulnerabilities. 

4) They’re really positive and supportive of you

Is there anything better than having a supportive friend who is there for you through everything? When times get tough, you’ve got a shoulder to cry on and when you’re up to no good, you’ve got a partner in crime. 

Imagine this: you’ve made a new friend in the last couple of weeks and they’re the best ever. They’re a really positive influence in your life, supporting you when you’re stressed at work, encouraging you to get back to the gym and even pushing you to pick up old hobbies. 

It’s almost like they’re too good to be true.

Being around positive people who support you is pretty addictive. It’s like a drug you can’t get enough of. And manipulative and deceptive people know this. They’ll build you up and act like the most supportive friend you know just to develop a strong bond with you. 

Once they know that you truly trust them as a friend, they’ve got you where they want you and they can easily deceive and manipulate you for their personal gain. 

When someone is overly positive and supportive, take note, it’s a typical behavior of someone who seems trustworthy but deep down is deceptive and manipulative. 

5) They’re extra affectionate

When we think about physical affection our minds might jump straight to romantic relationships. It’s easy to forget the role that affection plays in friendships and platonic relationships too. 

When you think about it: whether it’s a warm hug, an encouraging pat on the back, or an enthusiastic high five, it’s pretty normal to show affection to friends and family. It’s one of the things that can make you feel closer and more bonded. 

“Research has shown that hugging can release large quantities of oxytocin, the human pair-bonding hormone” as noted by Psychology Today

But if the affection seems over the top, inappropriate for how well you know each other, or blatantly forced, watch out. Deceptive folks often try to use affection as a way to come across as more trustworthy and genuine. 

A little affection is fine but too much and you’ve got to start questioning their motives. 

6) They’re all talk and no action

Have you ever met someone who always says they’ll help you out but then they’re never there when you need them? 

I had a friend like this a few years back. He offered to help me move house but then didn’t show up so I had to carry every box myself. If I’d known he’d bail, I would’ve asked someone else. 

Another time he offered to pick me up from a night out with friends. I appreciated him so much because it meant I could drink and have a good time. When I left the bar at 2 am, he wasn’t there. I called and his phone was off. I ended up alone waiting for a taxi until 4.30 am. 

His offers to help me initially made him seem like a genuine and trustworthy guy. But after letting me down multiple times, I realized that he was only interested in doing things that benefitted him. He offered to help to make himself look good, but he had no intention of following through

When someone talks the talk but doesn’t follow up with action it’s a red flag they could be manipulative and deceptive. They aim to impress with their words, but when it comes down to it, they act selfishly. If you know someone like this, it’s best to avoid them altogether. 

The bottom line

If you recognize a lot of these behaviors in someone you know, then watch out because there’s a good chance they’re trying to gain your trust so that it’ll be easier to fool you and manipulate you later on. 

Just because someone seems like they’re trustworthy, doesn’t mean it’s true. Always follow your instincts, if someone’s behaviors seem a little too good to be true, they probably are. 

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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