12 psychological games manipulators play to charm and deceive you

Manipulators are some of the most dangerous people you can encounter. They’re simply highly skilled at getting what they need and want from you. 

If you don’t know their tactics, you’re ready to become their next victim. And the thing is, that could happen anywhere.

You see, manipulators are all around us: in your office, your social circle, and sometimes even in your family.

Because they love playing psychological games so much, I want to highlight what strategies they use to charm and deceive you.

So, let’s see what they are!

1) Making you doubt your own perceptions or sanity

Manipulators love gaslighting others. But what does that exactly mean? It’s like when someone messes with your mind, making you question if you’re living in the Twilight Zone: 

They twist things to make you doubt your memory, feelings, or sanity.

So, for example, if you catch them doing something wrong, they’ll not just deny it but flat-out tell you you’re crazy and that you’re seeing things.

Or if they told you, they’d come home early. But then they don’t. They’ll just tell you they never said that and that you’re imagining or that you misunderstood them. 

They might also blame others for whatever they did, or even you.

2) Blaming others for their own faults or actions

Imagine someone pointing fingers at everyone else, but it’s really them who messed up. They throw their issues onto others like a blame boomerang.

Manipulators just can’t admit when they do something wrong or harm someone. It’s going to be a cold day in Hell before they admit they made a mistake.

This behavior is their bread and butter as they look to distort the perception of responsibility and accountability. They love creating confusion and frustration and putting a strain on relationships.

That’s why they make many grand promises and gestures and never fulfill them. They know they can just say they never promised something and call it a day.

3) Making promises about the future to manipulate the present

What most people aren’t aware of is that manipulators will promise you the moon and stars to manipulate your actions right now, in the present. 

They’re basically selling you dreams with a hidden agenda. Dreams they’ll never fulfill but that they’ll use to suck you into doing what they want you to do right now.

They might say, “I see us getting married and having a family someday,” but they consistently avoid discussions about concrete steps or timelines.

Or, “I’ll work on my communication issues, and things will be different in the future,” but the promised changes never occur.

4) Making you feel guilty to gain compliance

Ever had someone make you feel like you kicked a puppy for not doing what they wanted? That’s guilt-tripping. They do this to make you feel bad and get their way.

Parents do it all the time. Even though I’m 40, my mom still does it. Maybe even more than ever before. 

Manipulators love using conditional love to get what they want from you. That’s why they’ll often say you don’t love them if you don’t do what they want you to do.

After they do it a couple of times, it’s easy to see what they’re actually doing, and you can call them out on it, but the problem is, they’ll just switch up their tactics.

So they’ll start using the silent treatment (or some other strategy), and you’ll be back to square one.

5) Using silence to control and manipulate emotions

It’s the classic cold shoulder move. They go silent to mess with your emotions, leaving you wondering what the heck happened.

You wonder if you did something wrong or if there’s an issue, and you start feeling insecure. 

By withholding communication, they demand attention. It’s like saying, “You need to figure out what’s wrong, and I’ll decide when to talk.”

Without words, situations become open to interpretation. The silence allows them to control the narrative, and you have to fill in the blanks with your own assumptions.

6) Overwhelming you with affection to create dependency

On the other hand, they’ll shower you with love and affection to make you extremely dependent on them. 

Their goal is to be the primary source of emotional support and love so you feel discouraged from socializing with other people, especially your friends and family. 

This often leads to isolation from others who could also offer alternative perspectives or support.

If you don’t establish boundaries and continue nurturing your other relationships, you find yourself surrounded by no one else but the manipulator.

7) Negging you to undermine your self-esteem

Think of negging as backhanded compliments. They say something that seems like praise but really chips away at your self-esteem, like a compliment with a side of insult.

They’ll do this instead of using outright criticism. The goal is to chip away at your confidence subtly, making you doubt yourself over time.

By keeping your self-esteem lower, they believe they can maintain control and influence over you.

But what not many people realize is that negging often comes in the form of jokes or teasing, making it easier for them to claim it was all in good fun if you confront them.

In other words, they’ll just play the victim.

8) Playing the victim

Dealing with a manipulator often feels like you stumbled into a drama series with them cast as the eternal victim. They play it up, making you feel like the bad guy in their tragic story.

Playing the victim is a common tactic used by manipulators to gain sympathy, deflect blame, and keep control of a situation.

They create a narrative where they are the ones who have suffered, making it challenging for others to hold them accountable.

Manipulators see others as sheep and mere pawns in their lives. That’s why they often capitalize on the empathy of those around them. 

By portraying themselves as victims, they exploit the natural tendency of empathetic people to offer support and understanding.

9) Creating conflicts between people to maintain control

Manipulators are like puppeteers pulling strings, and triangulation is how they create conflicts between people, making sure they stay in control while everyone else deals with the chaos.

They divide and conquer to create rifts between people to maintain their power. It’s like they’re orchestrating a soap opera with multiple plot twists.

They also often position themselves as mediators or peacemakers, all while secretly fueling conflicts. This allows them to control the narrative and appear indispensable.

But one of the things they love doing the most is to spread misinformation or selectively share details to mislead and create misunderstanding between groups. 

This adds fuel to the conflict fire, and they’re there to watch it all burn.

10) Using flattery to gain favor

Imagine someone telling you how amazing you are, how your ideas are the best, or how you’re the smartest person in the room.

They’re not just being nice. It’s a strategic move to make you feel good about yourself and, in turn, more likely to go along with their plans.

It’s a tool for gaining trust because they know that when you feel appreciated and valued, you’re more likely to let your guard down and be receptive to their influence.

11) Trying to pull you back into a relationship or interaction

Hoovering is a way to suck you back into a relationship or situation. They’re deploying an emotional vacuum cleaner to sweep you off your feet and back into their world.

They might hit you with a wave of nostalgia, bringing up memories, inside jokes, and the good times you had together to make you reminisce about the positive parts of the relationship.

Or, all of a sudden, they shower you with love, compliments, and gestures to make you feel special and desired.

If someone’s trying to pull you back into a relationship, you need to evaluate their motives, assess the health of the relationship, and ensure that it’s actually a good thing for you and your well-being. 

But be careful, they might deny what they’re trying to do or simply play dumb.

12) Playing dumb

When caught red-handed, they suddenly develop amnesia. Playing dumb is their way of avoiding responsibility

They love pretending they stumbled into a situation without a clue. It’s their way to avoid confrontations or difficult conversations. 

By acting like they don’t understand things, they can deflect your questions or any issues you have with them. 

Final thoughts

Ultimately, none of us are equipped to deal with manipulators. They prey on us like cheetahs prey on a gazelle.

But if you understand some of the psychological games they’re playing to charm and deceive you, you’re far better equipped to deal with them than the next person.

That means they might even leave you alone if they notice you’re not such an easy catch.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

15 phrases manipulative people use to shift blame onto their partner

If someone has these 8 character traits, they see the good in everyone