9 signs you’re dealing with an incredibly skilled manipulator, according to psychology

Have you ever felt like someone was pulling your strings without you even realizing it? Manipulation can be a subtle art, and some people are incredibly skilled at it.

The key to dealing with manipulators lies in recognizing their tactics. Psychology offers us insightful clues into their playbook.

In this article, we’ll dive into 9 signs that you’re dealing with an expert manipulator. It’s time to arm yourself with knowledge and stop the puppeteers in their tracks.

1) They’re incredibly charming

Ever met someone who instantly made you feel like you’ve known them for years? This might be a sign of a skilled manipulator.

Manipulators are often quite charming. They know how to make you feel special and important. They shower you with compliments and create an instant bond.

This charm isn’t genuine, though. It’s all part of their strategy.

According to psychology, manipulators use charm as a tool to lower your defenses. It’s easier to sway someone who’s comfortable and feels understood. By creating this emotional connection, they have easier access to manipulate your decisions and actions.

But remember, not all charming people are manipulators. It’s important to watch out for other signs too.

2) They play the victim card

This one hit home for me. I once had a friend who always seemed to be in the middle of some crisis.

It always appeared that the world was against them, and they were just an innocent victim caught up in it all.

I would find myself going out of my way to help them, feeling sorry for all the hardships they were facing.

But over time, I began to notice a pattern. The crises never ended, and they always needed something from me, be it time, resources, or emotional support.

Eventually, I realized that this friend was a skilled manipulator. By constantly playing the victim card, they were able to control my actions and get what they wanted from me.

Psychologists warn us about such people.

They use their apparent helplessness to make others feel guilty and consequently more likely to do their bidding. It’s a classic manipulation tactic. Be cautious when someone always seems to be in need.

3) They’re excellent listeners

Listening is a powerful tool in the hands of a manipulator. They use this skill to gather information about you, which they can later use to their advantage.

Here’s an intriguing twist though: Studies have shown that people tend to trust and like others who show a genuine interest in them. By listening attentively, manipulators create a façade of trust and likability, thus making it easier for them to sway you.

In essence, they are weaving a psychological web around you, using your words and emotions as their threads. This allows them to guide your actions subtly without any resistance.

The key takeaway?

Active listening is generally a positive trait but in the wrong hands, it can be a powerful manipulation tool. So always be careful with what you share and with whom.

4) They use guilt as a weapon

Guilt is a powerful emotion, and skilled manipulators are masters at using it to their advantage.

They make you feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault or responsibility. By doing this, they can make you more compliant and willing to fulfill their requests.

For instance, they might imply that if you don’t help them out, you’re being selfish or uncaring. This can pressure you into doing what they want, just to escape the discomfort of feeling guilty.

After all, it’s okay to say no. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness or well-being. If someone is constantly making you feel guilty, it might be a sign that you’re dealing with a manipulator.

5) They’re constantly shifting the blame

Have you ever noticed someone who never seems to take responsibility for their actions? This could be a sign of a manipulator.

Manipulators are adept at shifting blame onto others. They rarely admit their mistakes or accept accountability. Instead, they find ways to make others feel responsible for the problems they’ve caused.

For example, if something goes wrong, they might say, “This wouldn’t have happened if you had listened to me in the first place.” This way, they escape any negative consequences and make you feel at fault instead.

Always be wary of those who can’t own up to their mistakes. It’s a clear sign of manipulation.

6) They gaslight you

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that can leave you questioning your sanity. It’s a tactic manipulators use to make you doubt your perceptions and memories.

Imagine this: You’re sure they said or did something hurtful, but when you confront them, they deny it. They might even accuse you of making things up or being overly sensitive. Over time, this constant denial and questioning can make you doubt your own reality.

It’s a heartbreaking situation to be in, as it can shatter your self-confidence and trust in your own judgment.

Remember, your feelings are valid and your memories are real. If someone constantly makes you question your reality, it’s a red flag that you might be dealing with a manipulator.

7) They exploit your fears

In my journey of self-discovery, I realized that I have a fear of abandonment. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a while.

I once knew someone who seemed to pick up on this fear. They would threaten to leave or abandon me during disagreements, knowing that it would break me down and make me concede.

Psychology tells us that manipulators often use fear as a weapon. They identify your insecurities and exploit them to keep you under their control. It’s a low blow, but a common one in the manipulator’s arsenal.

If you notice someone regularly playing on your fears to get their way, be alert. You could be dealing with a manipulator.

8) They are always the hero or the martyr

Manipulators have a knack for painting themselves in a good light. They’re either the hero who stepped in to save the day or the martyr who made a great sacrifice.

They use these narratives to gain sympathy or admiration, and subtly control how others perceive them. If they’re always the hero, they appear trustworthy and reliable. If they’re always the martyr, they appear selfless and deserving of empathy.

But the thing is, real heroes don’t need to broadcast their deeds, and real sacrifices don’t come with expectations. If someone constantly portrays themselves as a hero or a martyr, it’s worth considering if there’s manipulation at play.

9) They make you feel indebted

One of the most potent tactics manipulators use is creating a sense of indebtedness. They do you a favor or give you something, making you feel like you owe them.

This debt isn’t always monetary. It could be emotional, like saving you from an embarrassing situation, or practical, like helping you move house. The point is, that they make you feel obligated to return the favor.

This indebtedness can then be used to manipulate your actions and decisions. It’s a subtle but powerful control mechanism.

Always be cautious of those who make you feel constantly in their debt. Manipulation could be lurking beneath their ‘generosity’.

Final reflection: The power of awareness

Delving deep into the world of human interactions and psychology, we realize that manipulative tactics can be subtle, often going unnoticed.

As you know, knowledge is power. Recognizing these signs is the first step in protecting yourself from manipulation.

Understanding these tactics can bring this invisible art into focus, allowing us to see the puppet strings and cut them off.

Navigating relationships with awareness and assertiveness is the key to maintaining control of our own decisions and actions.

So, let’s move forward with our eyes wide open, ready to spot the signs of manipulation. Because in this journey of life, we are our own best protectors.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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