6 signs someone is indirectly manipulating you, according to psychology

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Nobody wants to be with a manipulator, but the sad truth is that you don’t realize that you’re with a devious snake when you’re committed to the relationship. 

You may be thinking, “Well, if a manipulative person came my way, I’d spot them before they tried their tricks.” This is easier said than done because manipulation is extremely hard to spot, especially when you’re with someone you love and trust. 

When you’re slowly spun into their web of deceit, rather than questioning what they do, you question yourself. Maybe you misunderstood what they said; maybe you are too sensitive; and why does it feel like you’re going crazy? 

Their tactics are subtle yet effective, so you start doubting yourself without knowing you’re being manipulated. 

That’s why it’s so important to recognize the 6 signs that someone is indirectly manipulating you, according to psychology. 

This way, you can pay attention to your instincts and, secondly, be aware of someone’s manipulative attempts before they bend and break your spirit. 

1) They will take advantage of your insecurities. 

One thing you must remember when dealing with a manipulator is that they will exploit you to achieve their agenda. 

These individuals are really good at lying, and they do this by creating elaborate stories to impress, influence, and boost their egos, but at your sacrifice. 

Whether in front of a crowd or alone with you, they find roundabout ways of pointing out your faults and making you feel bad. 

A classic example is targeting your confidence by targeting your weight or appearance. They’re aware that you’re on a diet, and when you ask for their opinion on a new outfit, they’ll respond, “Oh, I like that one. Pity you had to struggle to get into those pants.” 

Did you just get a compliment, or was that an indirect insult? 

It was a bit of both, and it’s called a back-handed compliment. You’re left second-guessing yourself, and suddenly, you feel self-conscious and hurt by their words. 

They want you to believe that they’re looking out for you by being honest, but at the same time, they’re slowly chipping away at your self-esteem

It helps them gain control over you. 

2) They make you feel guilty. 

Manipulators may not outright insult or belittle you, but they will make you feel guilty to get their way. 

Rather than being upfront about their feelings, they take information from your past or bring up something they did for you to make you feel sorry for them and give them what they want. 

The thing is, you don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing because you get so caught up in your emotions and want to make things right, so you give in to their demands. 

How do emotional manipulators do this? At the beginning of a manipulative relationship, these individuals make you think that you mean the world to them. They’re charming and value you, so you trust them, and it all happens very quickly. 

Before you know it, you’re sharing your fears, wants, and past, and they will use this against you. 

Let’s say that they want you to do something for them. They’ll remind you of what they did for you in the past or the one time you’ve disappointed them so that you feel guilty and want to reciprocate or make it up to them. 

The moral of the story? They get their way. 

3) They will gaslight you. 

This is a typical strategy used by a manipulator because it is so effective at confusing you and creating self-doubt. The things they say and do by gaslighting you will actually make you think that you’re losing your mind. 

But what is gaslighting, and why does it have such a powerful effect on you? 

When you’re being gaslit, you’re unsure as to whether you’re being emotionally abused. The manipulator does and says things to insult and hurt you because they lack empathy. It creates confusion and self-doubt. 

This is a cruel form of manipulation in which they make you think that you misheard or misinterpreted what they said to you. They’re able to transform a situation, so you constantly question your perception and understanding of events. 

They achieve this by insulting or hurting your feelings; when you confront them about it, they pretend it never happened. You’ll hear, “What, are you crazy?” or “I never said that.” 

Even if you know deep down in your heart that you didn’t confuse what they said or did, they are so convincing that you doubt yourself rather than continue to question them. 

One way you can determine whether you are being gaslit is when you confront them about an issue; pay attention to their reaction. Are they attentive, or do they immediately deny the part they played by calling you too sensitive, crazy, or confused?

If, by the end of the conversation, you’re left apologizing when you aren’t sure why, then it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. 

4) They get others to play the manipulation game.

There’s an interesting tactic that narcissists and emotionally abusive individuals use to gain control over their victims, and it involves recruiting other people to do their dirty work. 

The people involved in carrying out their plans are known as third parties or flying monkeys. Manipulators will lie to colleagues, friends, and family to put themselves in a positive light or to look like the victim. 

In most cases, a manipulative person won’t directly ask a third party to speak to you, but they know how to deceive and work the situation so that a flying monkey feels the need to approach the topic with you. 

Let’s say that you’re thinking about ending the relationship. They’ll get their recruits to speak to you in an attempt to get you to stay. 

It’s an unpleasant situation to be in and places you under tremendous pressure because, again, you find yourself questioning your thoughts, choices, and emotions. 

Trust your instincts, and don’t listen to people who don’t respect you. 

While not everyone falls hook, line, and sinker to the deceptive ways of a manipulator, look out for the ones who do and pay attention to the signs you’re unhappy in a relationship

5) They mirror your likes and dislikes. 

It’s only natural to want to be with someone who enjoys the activities you do. Shared interests make it easier to do things together that make both of you happy despite having your own sense of independence. 

But when someone indirectly manipulates you, they’ll pretend to like all of the things that you like. 

It’s a strategy called mirroring, in which the manipulator believes that by showing you they share your interests, you two are a match made in heaven! 

When you look at all of the things that you have in common, it makes it harder to see manipulation. 

There is a way, however, that you can determine whether they’re being disingenuous about sharing your hobbies. 

In conversation, do they push to know what your preferences are? Do they speak for you rather than let you make your own decisions, or perhaps they frequently change their minds after hearing your choices and interests? 

It’s an extremely subtle type of manipulation that is hard to pinpoint, particularly when you’re in a romantic relationship. 

6) They slowly start isolating you. 

You might think that isolation is a pretty obvious sign, but when you’re caught in the grip of an emotionally manipulative relationship, you don’t realize that you’re being isolated until it’s too late. 

Manipulators indirectly isolate you from your friends and family through guilt and pressure. It’s not a forceful strategy, and that’s why most people are unaware of it. 

Consider this example…

Despite your partner knowing that you’re outgoing and that you’ve always had a good relationship with your friends, they want to spend more time with you. To achieve this, they will tell you that you’re always with your friends and that you rarely spend quality time with them. 

Even if this isn’t true, you feel guilty that they’re being left out, or you question whether you’re giving them enough attention, and you cave in. 

Over time, you cancel on friends and family and see them less frequently. At this point, you barely notice that the process of isolation has begun. 

If you’re wondering why a manipulator isolates you, it’s to control you.

Manipulation is hard to spot, and when you’re in a romantic or intimate relationship, you simply don’t see the red flags that are right in front of you. 

But you’re not to blame. 

Manipulative people have very subtle ways of influencing and controlling you. You might scratch your head after an argument and think, “Have I misunderstood, or maybe I am being too sensitive about the whole matter?” 

The more they confuse you through gaslighting and break your confidence with back-handed compliments, the more it leads to self-doubt and emotional fatigue, making it easier to control you. 

Final words

Be aware of the 6 signs that someone is indirectly manipulating you so that you can put an end to a toxic relationship that serves no purpose for your present or your future. 

You deserve better; don’t forget that. 

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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