If you recognize these 7 signs, you’re dealing with a master manipulator

Navigating relationships can feel like walking through a minefield, especially when you encounter master manipulators. These individuals have a talent for getting what they want, often at the expense of others.

The key is learning to recognize the signs. In fact, there are seven unmistakable signals that you’re dealing with a master manipulator. Once you spot these signs, you can reclaim control, establish boundaries, and safeguard your own well-being.

But how do you identify these signs? And more importantly, how do you handle them when you encounter them? As someone who founded the Love Connection blog and has expertise in relationships, I’ve got you covered.

In this article, I’ll guide you through each sign and offer practical advice on how to respond. After all, everyone deserves to cultivate healthy, respectful relationships. Let’s get started.

1) They play on your sympathies

We all have a natural inclination to be empathetic and understanding, right? It’s just part of being human—to want to lend a helping hand when someone’s in need. But unfortunately, these admirable qualities can sometimes be exploited by master manipulators.

These manipulators are like experts at playing the victim card. They know exactly how to tug at your heartstrings and use your compassion to their advantage.

Whether it’s a sob story that seems too tragic to be true, an exaggerated personal problem, or a perpetual state of crisis, they’ll pull out all the stops to appeal to your kind nature.

When you’re dealing with a master manipulator, you might find yourself feeling sorry for them, even when they’re clearly in the wrong. You might even catch yourself making excuses for their behavior.

But here’s the thing: There’s a fine line between being supportive and being manipulated. If you constantly feel drained or like you’re being taken advantage of in a relationship, chances are, you’re dealing with a master manipulator.

2) They make you feel special

Now, this one might seem a bit out of place. After all, isn’t making someone feel special a good thing? Usually, yes. But in the hands of a master manipulator, this becomes a tool for control.

Manipulators have a knack for making you feel like you’re the only person who truly understands them. They shower you with affection and attention, making you feel incredibly special.

This is often done to create an emotional dependency where you feel irreplaceable and thus, less likely to question their behavior.

But here’s the catch. This attention often comes with strings attached. It can be quickly withdrawn if you don’t comply with their wishes, leaving you feeling confused and craving their approval again.

Remember, a healthy relationship involves mutual respect and balanced give-and-take, not one person constantly trying to win over the other’s affection.

So next time someone makes you feel on top of the world, take a moment to reflect if it’s genuine or just a manipulation tactic.

3) They’re always in control

When you’re in a relationship with a master manipulator, you’ll often notice that they love being in control. And not just about big decisions, but the small things too. From where to have dinner to what movie to watch, they always want the final say.

But why are manipulators so keen on control? Well, it’s their way of keeping you under their thumb. By controlling most aspects of your life, they manage to keep you dependent on them. This way, it’s easier for them to get what they want without much resistance.

This is something I’ve covered extensively in my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship. The book dives deep into the dynamics of toxic relationships and provides practical tips on how to break free from such situations.

If you find yourself constantly conceding to the other person’s demands or if your own needs and desires are frequently sidelined, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the situation. After all, relationships are about balance and mutual respect, not dominance and submission.

4) They twist the truth

One of the most common tactics used by master manipulators is distorting the truth. They have this knack for twisting facts and situations to fit their narrative, leaving you questioning your own memory and perception.

You might find them denying something they clearly said, or insisting an event happened differently than you remember.

It’s a sneaky form of psychological manipulation called gaslighting, and it can really mess with your head, leaving you feeling disoriented and doubting your own sanity.

I’ll never forget this quote by Mark Twain that really hit home for me during my own encounters with manipulative people: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

If you ever feel like you’re constantly being deceived or misled, it’s important to trust your gut. Never forget, trust— not deceit— is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Don’t let anyone twist your reality or make you question your own judgment.

5) They constantly put you down

A master manipulator isn’t just skilled at controlling and lying; they’re also experts at chipping away at your self-esteem

They’ll subtly put you down, make snide remarks, or constantly critique you under the guise of ‘constructive criticism’. Their ultimate goal? To make you feel less confident and more reliant on their approval.

I’ve personally witnessed this dynamic unfold countless times in my consultations. It’s truly disheartening to see someone’s self-worth being slowly eroded by someone they trust.

But it’s also incredibly empowering when they start to recognize the signs and take steps to reclaim their confidence.

Always remember: No one—absolutely no one—has the right to belittle you or make you feel inadequate. You are more than enough just as you are. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.

6) They use guilt trips

Master manipulators are experts at making you feel guilty for things you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about. They might blame you for their own mistakes, or make you feel responsible for their happiness. And the worst part? You might actually start believing it’s your fault.

A quote by Eleanor Roosevelt has always resonated with me in such situations: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It’s a powerful reminder that we have control over how we let others affect us.

I’ve had to remind numerous clients of this truth in my practice. It’s never easy, but recognizing this manipulation tactic is the first step towards breaking free from its grip.

Remember, guilt is a powerful emotion, but it should never be used as a weapon to control or manipulate someone. If you’re constantly feeling guilty in a relationship, it might be time to reevaluate.

For more insights and advice on relationships, make sure to follow my Facebook page. I share my latest articles and tips there, and it’s a great way to stay connected and informed.

7) They isolate you from others

This is a tough one to talk about, but it’s crucial to be aware of. Master manipulators often try to cut you off from your support network. They may badmouth your friends and family, or create situations that make it difficult for you to spend time with them.

Their aim is clear: to make you more dependent on them and less likely to seek outside perspectives that might challenge their control. It’s emotional manipulation that can leave you feeling lonely and trapped.

If you find yourself losing touch with loved ones because of a relationship, it’s time to take a step back and assess the situation. True love encourages connections and respects your existing relationships; it never seeks to isolate or control.

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge these signs if they’re present. It’s not easy, but it’s the first step towards reclaiming your freedom and well-being.

Outsmart manipulation: Empower yourself, trust your gut

Understanding manipulation in relationships can be a journey filled with self-doubt and confusion. But recognizing these signs is the first step toward regaining control and fostering healthier dynamics.

As we navigate through life, each experience, whether positive or negative, shapes us and offers valuable lessons. It’s what we do with these lessons that truly matters. There’s wisdom in the old saying, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

However, let’s not stop at recognition. For a deeper dive into this topic and a nuanced exploration of manipulation, I highly recommend watching an insightful video by Justin Brown.

In it, he explores how societal pressures can influence our decision-making processes within relationships.

Remember, we are all capable of growth and change. No matter what you’re dealing with right now, know that you’re not alone and that help is always available. Stay strong, stay informed, and remember to prioritize your well-being in every relationship you nurture.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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