If someone is trying to manipulate you, they’ll display these 12 subtle behaviors

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Ever felt like someone’s trying to play mind games with you?

You’re not alone. Many of us have bumped into people who are experts at getting others to do what they want. The real kicker? Often, we don’t realize it until it’s way too late.

So, how about we put on our detective hats and learn to spot these tricksters? By being aware of these signs, you can outsmart them and not fall into their traps.

Get comfy and let’s delve into the world of these sly behaviors.

1) They’re always playing the victim card

Have you ever met someone who always seems to be the victim?

No matter what the situation, they somehow end up being the one who was wronged. This is a classic tactic used by manipulators.

By playing the victim, they evoke your sympathy and manipulate your emotions, making it easier for them to influence your decisions and actions.

Therefore, next time you encounter someone who seems to have an endless stream of sob stories, take a step back and think – are they genuinely unlucky or just trying to manipulate you?

2) They know just what to say to flatter you

Who doesn’t love a compliment, right? But manipulators take this to a whole new level.

They have a knack for saying just the right thing to make you feel special. But don’t be fooled – this isn’t genuine admiration. It’s a calculated move to win your trust and make you more open to their influence.

Be aware of someone always seems to be buttering you up. Genuine compliments are great but constant flattery can be a sign of manipulation.

3) They make you feel guilty for no reason

Have you ever felt guilty without knowing exactly why? That’s what happened to me once.

I had a friend who would often make me feel bad about not spending enough time with her. She would say things like, “You’re always so busy. I feel like you don’t value our friendship.” I would end up feeling guilty and cancel my plans just to hang out with her.

This is a classic guilt-trip, a common tactic used by manipulators. They make you feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault, or twist situations to make you feel like you’re in the wrong. This way, they can control your actions and decisions more easily.

4) They rarely take responsibility for their actions

Ever notice how some people never seem to be at fault for anything?

They’re experts at shifting blame and often find creative ways to pin their mistakes on others. This way, they manage to maintain a clean image and keep you off balance.

5) They often invalidate your feelings

Imagine this: You’re having a tough day, and you decide to open up to someone about how you’re feeling. But instead of listening and sympathizing, they dismiss your feelings as trivial or overblown. This can be deeply hurtful, right?

Well, this is something manipulative people often do. They invalidate your feelings to make themselves seem superior or to control the situation.

Bear in mind that your feelings are valid and they matter. Therefore, when you notice someone is consistently dismissive of your feelings or makes you feel small for expressing them, it might be a sign of manipulation.

Always surround yourself with people who respect your feelings and lift you up, not those who tear you down.

6) They use your insecurities against you

Let me share a personal story with you. I used to be really self-conscious about my weight. I had this friend who knew about my insecurity. Instead of being supportive, he would often use it against me.

Every time we disagreed on something, he’d drop a hurtful comment about my weight, making me feel bad about myself.

This is a common trick in the manipulator’s playbook. They will use your insecurities against you to make you feel vulnerable and more likely to give in to their demands.

It’s a low blow, but it’s effective. Be alert when someone consistently uses your weaknesses against you during arguments or disagreements. Because they might be trying to manipulate you.

7) They’re masters at gaslighting

Let’s be real for a moment – being gaslighted is like living in a nightmare. You start doubting your own sanity. You feel like you’re losing grip on reality. It’s that unsettling feeling when someone tells you that what you just saw, didn’t happen. Or the thing you remember clearly, never occurred.

And guess what? Manipulators love gaslighting. It’s their secret weapon. They use it to confuse you, make you question your own memory, perception, or judgment. It’s a psychological manipulation technique that can be incredibly damaging.

Make sure to take a step back and evaluate the situation when someone in your life is trying to make you constantly doubt yourself or making you feel like you’re ‘crazy’.

Trust your instincts, believe in yourself and don’t let anyone manipulate your reality.

8) They always want something in return

Did you know that according to Psychology Today, one of the key characteristics of manipulative people is that they often expect something in return for their help or kindness? Yep, with manipulators, nothing is ever given freely.

You might find it strange when someone who’s always ‘helping’ you out suddenly expects a favor in return. They make you feel like you’re in debt to them, creating a sense of obligation. This way, they can control what you do and when you do it.

9) They’re always changing the subject

I had this co-worker once who was a pro at changing the subject.

Every time I tried to discuss something important, especially if it was a problem or something he didn’t want to talk about, he’d cleverly steer the conversation in a different direction. It was like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands – slippery and frustrating!

This is another tactic manipulators use to avoid accountability or uncomfortable topics. They dodge difficult conversations and divert your attention to something else. This way, they maintain control over the situation and evade any blame or negative consequences.

When you observe someone consistently diverting the topic, particularly in serious situations, it could indicate manipulation.

10) They always ‘one-up’ you

We all know that person who always has a story or an experience that’s just a little bit better (or worse) than yours.

You got a new job? They’ve got a better one. You’re having a tough week? Theirs has been a nightmare. It’s exhausting. This one-upmanship is another way manipulators maintain control.

They make you feel like your experiences, good or bad, are never quite enough. Don’t fall for it; your experiences and feelings are valid, no matter what anyone else says.

11) They use silent treatment as a weapon

Ever been given the cold shoulder by someone when you didn’t agree with them or do what they wanted?

That’s the silent treatment, and manipulators use it like a weapon. It’s their way of punishing you, making you feel guilty and forcing you to give in to their demands just to end the uncomfortable silence.

12) They’re very charming… at first

Manipulators can be incredibly charming, but it’s a means to an end.

They use their charm to draw you in, win your trust and make you let your guard down. But once they have what they want, the charm often fades, and their true colors start to show.

Be cautious with people who are overly charming or flatter you excessively right from the start – it could be a sign of manipulation.

Don’t forget that recognizing these signs is the first step in protecting yourself from manipulation. Trust your gut feelings and don’t let anyone control or take advantage of you.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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