10 signs someone is more calculating and vengeful than they seem, according to psychology

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Have you ever met someone who always seems to have a plan up their sleeve, or holds grudges longer than most?

These are the people we call calculating and vengeful.

According to psychology, it might actually be worse.

Calculating and vengeful people operates on a whole other level. Such folks are not just your average “grudge-holders” but master manipulators, silently plotting their next move.

They may appear charming and friendly on the surface, but beneath the façade lie hidden agendas and long-standing resentments.

Let’s dive into the signs that someone is more calculating and vengeful than they seem, according to psychology.

1) They’re excessively charming

Flattery is one of the tools in the arsenal of a calculating and vengeful person. They often display a level of charm that can be almost intoxicating.

Initially, you may feel swept off your feet by their charisma and their ability to make you feel special and seen.

Perhaps they shower you with compliments, or they seem to be perfectly in sync with your thoughts and feelings, even when your relationship is still new.

But this is all part of their plotting.

Calculating people know how to present themselves as the perfect match. They read you carefully and adapt their behavior to fit what you need or want.

So, if you find someone being too charming too soon, take a step back. People with manipulative tendencies often create instant bonds to gain control and trust.

Genuine connection and respect take time to grow.

2) They hold grudges

A telltale sign of a calculating and vengeful individual is their ability to hold onto grudges for an unnaturally long time.

They remember every slight or perceived wrong, no matter how minor, and store it away for future reference.

It’s not just that they’re unable to let go of hurt feelings. For them, every offense becomes an opportunity to plot revenge, often in ways that are disproportionate to the original slight.

They use past wrongs as emotional ammunition, stockpiling these incidents to use at a later date, which feeds into a cycle of vengeance and one-upmanship.

3) They play mind games

Calculating, vengeful people often tend to make you question your own sanity or version of events after talking to them.

Being masters of manipulation, they know how to use tactics like gaslighting to make you doubt your own perceptions and beliefs.

It’s a subtle but powerful way to gain control and maintain the upper hand in the relationship.

Even if they convince you it’s for the better, gaslighting is not about love; it’s about power and control. And the gaslighter will keep moving the goalposts to maintain that control.

Remember, real relationships involve mutual respect and understanding, not mind games.

If someone constantly makes you question your reality, it’s a red flag that they may be more calculating than they initially appear.

4) They seem forgiving

Oddly enough, those who are calculating and vengeful can often seem very forgiving on the surface. They may quickly accept your apologies, and seem to move past issues with ease.

But this act of forgiveness is often a facade.

Similar to holding grudges, while they may verbally accept your apology, they catalog the incident in their minds, using it as fuel for their future actions. 

That’s why you should beware of those who forgive too quickly or too easily. It could be a sign that they’re not truly letting go of the issue, but storing it away for later use.

5) They’re always the victim

Have you ever met someone who always seems to be the victim, no matter the situation?

This is a glaring red flag.

Calculating and vengeful people have a knack for portraying themselves as the innocent party, expertly shifting blame onto others.

They rarely take accountability for their actions and instead manipulate situations and narratives in their favor. It’s a way for them to maintain control and divert attention away from their own misdoings.

This persistent victimhood is a sign of manipulation.

By painting themselves as the victim, manipulators shift the focus away from their actions and evade responsibility.

Be wary of someone who consistently refuses to own up to their mistakes and instead plays the victim. They might be more calculating and vengeful than they seem.

6) They struggle with empathy

Those who are calculating and vengeful often struggle with empathy. They find it difficult to genuinely understand and share the feelings of others.

This lack of empathy allows them to manipulate, betray, or hold grudges against others without feeling significant guilt or remorse.

They’re often more focused on their own agendas and achieving their own goals, at the expense of others’ well-being.

They consistently show little understanding or regard for your feelings, which makes them more calculating and vengeful than they initially appear.

And remember, it’s okay to distance yourself from such individuals for your own mental and emotional health.

7) They’re excessively competitive

We all have a competitive streak. From winning that board game on family night to getting promoted at work, we all like to win.

But for calculating and vengeful individuals, this competitiveness extends beyond the norm.

They view every interaction as a potential competition, always striving to come out on top. Whether it’s a casual conversation or a professional setting, they’re constantly looking for ways to assert their dominance or superiority.

This excessive competitiveness can often be a mask for insecurity and a means of control. It’s less about the joy of victory and more about ensuring others’ defeat.

While it’s okay to compete, healthy relationships are built on cooperation and mutual respect, rather than constant one-upmanship.

8) They have a knack for ‘keeping score’

They say love doesn’t keep score—but in the case of a calculating and vengeful person, keeping score is their favorite sport.

Whether it’s remembering that you owe them one because they picked up the bill last time or reminding you of that one time they helped you move, nothing goes unaccounted for.

It’s as if they have an invisible scoreboard always at the ready.

They seem to remember every small favor they’ve ever done for you and expect payback, which can be draining.

Relationships are about give and take, not meticulous bookkeeping!

9) They’re master deflectors

If someone in your life never seems to take the blame, always redirecting criticism or accusations onto others, you need to take notice.

You’re likely dealing with a master deflector, a classic trait of calculating and vengeful individuals.

These people are experts at dodging responsibility and shifting focus away from their actions. They’ll twist the narrative, sidestep blame, and make sure the spotlight is always on someone else’s shortcomings.

They use blame-shifting to manipulate and control situations, using it as a defensive mechanism that allows them to evade accountability.

10) Trust your instincts

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to trust your instincts.

If something feels off about someone, if you feel uneasy or manipulated in their presence, don’t ignore these feelings.

Calculating and vengeful people can be highly adept at hiding their true intentions, but your gut instinct often picks up on subtle signs and patterns that your conscious mind might miss.

Our gut instincts are there for a reason. They alert us to potential danger and help us navigate complex social situations.

So, what should you do if you’re dealing with a calculating, vengeful person?

If you’ve found yourself relating to these points and suspect that someone in your life is more calculating and vengeful than they initially appeared, it’s crucial to remember this: you cannot change them.

You can’t reason with a vengeful person or persuade them to let go of their grudges by being kinder or more understanding.

They see life as a game of chess, always planning their next move.

Essentially, you’ll never be able to predict or control their actions because their thought process is fundamentally different from yours.

What, then, should you do?

The best course of action is to set boundaries. Practice self-care and seek support from trusted friends or professionals. If necessary, consider distancing yourself from them.

Reflect on these signs. Stay safe and trust your instincts. Your emotional well-being should always be your priority.

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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