10 signs you’re being manipulated by a friend without realizing it

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Friends are supposed to make you feel good, not bad.

They’re supposed to lift you up, not push you down.



So why do you sometimes feel like that’s not the case with all of your friendships?

You know exactly who I’m talking about, don’t you?

That one friend who doesn’t always seem like they’ve got your back or have your best interests at heart. Well, if you suspect something, then you may have a very good reason for it.

Sometimes, we end up being “friends” with people who don’t treat us right at all, who manipulate us and play games all for their own gain.

If you’re wondering if that one friend is true blue or not, here are ten signs you’re being manipulated by a friend without realizing it.

1) They’re controlling.

Here’s one of the biggest signs you’re being manipulated by a friend.

They’re super-controlling and want to influence what you say, do, and think all the time.

If you’ve been friends with this person for a long time, you might think this is normal. It’s just how they are!


Do they expect you to do whatever they say, whenever they want? Do they think you should drop everything when they snap their fingers?

Fine. No problem, as long as they give you the exact same behavior. If you have a fair and equal amount of give and take in your relationship, then you’re just great friends.

But if it’s one-sided, they’re using and manipulating you.

2) They create drama.

Not everyone who loves drama is a manipulator. 

Some people just love the intrigue and are hyper-sensitive to what’s going on between people. It fascinates them, and they can’t get enough.

They’ll gossip, spread rumors, and talk about people behind their backs because it’s fun.

But manipulative people will do all these same things for a whole different reason. They’re out to create chaos, shift people’s alliances, and even ruin people.

If you’re worried you’re being manipulated by a friend, just look at how they talk to you about others. 

Are they fair and honest, or are they trying to start something and pulling you in to help make that happen?

3) They guilt-trip you.

Manipulation is all about gaining an advantage.

The American Psychological Association defines manipulation as “behavior designed to exploit, control, or otherwise influence others to one’s advantage.”

So, what advantage would a friend get by guilt-tripping you?

When you’re made to feel guilty, you want that feeling to go away. This can lead you to apologize, grovel, and offer to do things to make up for what you think you’ve done.

In other words, they’ve got you right where they want you.

So they’re happy to take offense at the smallest slight or let you feel bad for things that most friends would easily excuse.

What makes you feel guilty ties you to them and, in their mind, gives them the upper hand.

4) They feel entitled to your attention.

Manipulative friends will act really strange when you don’t give them the attention they want or when you spend time with other people.

It’s a lot like relationship jealousy behavior.

What’s happening is that they feel entitled to attention from you, and when they don’t get it, they can really act out.

They might try to guilt-trip you for canceling a club night with them and going to visit your grandmother in the hospital.

Or they might give you the silent treatment for a while if you didn’t answer their relationship troubles texts in the middle of the night. 

You were asleep. How selfish of you.

They feel like they own your time and attention, and this isn’t the way people behave in normal, healthy friendships.

5) They pressure you.

I had a friend who was always pushing me to do things I wasn’t into.

He was always pushing me to go out to bars and clubs with him, though that’s really not my scene.

OK, fine, I’d go just to hang out with him.

But once we were there, he was always pushing me to get really drunk. He’d buy me shots and even top off my drinks when I wasn’t looking. I was definitely not a heavy drinker, and I’d tell him again and again that I didn’t want to get wasted.

He didn’t seem to care what I wanted, and it actually seemed like he was having fun pushing me.

This is what manipulative people do.

They don’t respect your boundaries and try to push past them and force you to do things you don’t want to do.

Anyway, I’m sure you can guess that we’re not friends anymore!

6) They make/let you feel like everything is your fault.

Emotional manipulation is a really horrible thing to experience.

This is when a person tries to influence your emotions in a way that benefits them but not you.

And one of the most common ways people do this is by making you feel like everything that goes wrong is your fault.


Because this tramples on your self-confidence and makes you putty in their hands.

Whenever something goes wrong in the relationship, they either blame you or just let you assume the blame.

Imagine you plan to meet at a restaurant, but you both end up waiting outside different franchise locations. Who’s wrong? You!

What if you haven’t spoken or met up in a while? Who’s being the inattentive friend? 

Yep, you again!

If it’s always you and never them, this so-called friend has been manipulating you without you realizing it.

7) They always want things their way.

Manipulation is about power, and a true manipulator believes that there should be a power imbalance in every kind of relationship… in their favor, of course!

So if you have a friend who seems to be on a permanent power tip, watch out because this is a sign they’re willing and able to manipulate you.

Friendships are pretty much defined by equality.

You feel like you can rely on each other, share with each other, and take on challenges together.

Why, then, does your friend always seem to want to have the upper hand?

They might show this by constantly competing with you. They might also try to control how and where you meet so that it’s always on their home turf or with people who will be on their team.

If they always want it that way and they’re not one of the Backstreet Boys, they’re probably manipulating you.

8) They ask for favors all the time.

People manipulate others to gain advantages and create benefits for themselves. They don’t really care about what you lose when they gain.

Friends ask each other for favors because friends are the people you’re supposed to be able to lean on when you need help.

But the flip side is that they provide favors for each other, too.

If you have a friend who’s always asking you for help and favors but never reciprocates, one of two things is happening.

Either they’re just the kind of person who truly needs a lot of help or gets themself into trouble all the time, or they’re taking advantage of your good nature.

9) They get defensive.

Have you ever tried to confront a friend about issues and seen them get surprisingly defensive?

All you’re doing is trying to be heard and to express how you feel, but they won’t hear it. In fact, they might turn aggressive and try to turn the tables on you.

They might try to deflect all criticism away from themselves and toward situations or other people to avoid blame.

An honest and caring friend is going to hear your concerns and try to take them on board. They’ll normally feel bad when they hear how their behavior has been affecting you.

Not a manipulator, though. 

They’ll do whatever they can to protect themself and make it not about them.

10) They manipulate others.

Hey, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

If a person is manipulative towards others, what would stop them from manipulating you?

When a person is a masterful manipulator, they don’t let their victims know they’re being manipulated. That’s the whole point!

Sure, you might notice when that person is manipulating others, but that’s because they’re not focused on pulling the wool over your eyes at that time. 

But when they turn their attention to you, they might be so skilled at manipulation that you don’t notice anything, even the warning signs I’ve outlined above.

So at least be on the lookout for manipulation aimed at others because it might be coming your way, too.

Final thoughts

These ten signs you’re being manipulated by a friend without realizing it – until now! – should help you figure things out.

If you think you are being manipulated, it’s time for a serious talk. If that doesn’t work, though, you may have to ditch this toxic friend once and for all.

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