7 subtle ways a master manipulator will toy with your emotions

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Have you ever been in a relationship with a master manipulator?

I have, and let me tell you, it can be a wild rollercoaster ride.

One minute, you’re their favorite person in the world; the next, you’re garbage. They’ll tell you the things you want to hear and be the person you’d love them to be, but none of it’ll actually be true.

They’ll try to fool you and control you.

I’m going to share with you seven subtle ways a master manipulator will toy with your emotions through the story of one disastrous relationship I was in a long time ago. I was subject to all these manipulations, and, like you might not, I didn’t realize it for the longest time.

I hope by sharing this story; you can avoid the pain and anguish that I went through.

1) They engage in lovebombing.

When I first met Cindy, it was like being struck by lightning and surviving – it seemed that rare and lucky.

I couldn’t believe that this gorgeous, exciting, talented woman was interested in me.

But she made me believe it by lovebombing me like crazy.

Every day, there was another fresh, incredible surprise to encounter. 

She’d send me presents, do small favors for me, and even show up at my apartment unannounced with a bottle of champagne and a wicked smile.

She found out my favorite snack food (identity kept secret to protect my waistline) and would make it and feed it to me. 

But most importantly of all, she’d tell me all the time how important I was to her, how much she cared about me, and, surprisingly early in the relationship, how much she loved me.

There was nothing subtle about it. 

What was subtle, though, was that it was all done with a plan. It wasn’t authentic, as I found out much later, but a way to pull me in and ensnare me.

And boy, howdy, did it work!

2) They isolate you.

Things with Cindy were intense and electrifying at first. 

I knew that it would wear off, but at the beginning, I couldn’t get enough of her. We spent all of our time together to the point where my friends started sending me texts to ask if I’d died or moved to Kazakhstan.

So after a while, I started to feel like I was neglecting a lot of other relationships, and I wanted to get back to meeting the other important people in my life. 

Well, Cindy wasn’t very interested in hearing that.

“What did I do wrong?” she asked me. “You know how much I care about you.”

That made me feel like I should think twice. I still started going out to see friends, but I was also really choosy about it. I always thought about her and whether she was free or not. If she was, I’d stay in.

Strangely, I didn’t really think about her going out and seeing her friends or meeting work colleagues. It didn’t bother me, but I didn’t realize how that was a double standard.

I was already being manipulated, and I didn’t know it.

She wasn’t isolating me but making me want to isolate myself for her.

3) They’ll play the victim.

One thing about Cindy that fooled me for a long time was how many friends she had.

At least, how many she said she had.

She was constantly talking about this person and that person, and because she was working at a talent agency, she’d also tell stories about famous people, especially juicy gossip.

But her stories were always full of incredible drama, and she seemed to have as many enemies as she had friends. It got to the point where I could hardly follow the stories of who said what and who did what to whom.

When I couldn’t keep up or get the facts straight, she’d get upset with me. It made her feel like I didn’t care about her life.

I just thought she had a very excitable personality, and she was a sort of lover-her-or-hate-her kind of person. But in her view, people were out to get her or were jealous of her all the time.

It really seemed like so much work, and I began to ask her why she hadn’t changed to another industry to get out of that mess. When I did, she acted like I was telling her to give up and give in, and that really upset her.

4) They’ll lie.

It’s a given that a master manipulator will lie to you.

I mean, all people lie, so it shouldn’t be surprising. It’s just the extent to which they’ll fabricate things that can be really shocking.

With Cindy, it eventually became apparent that her words didn’t line up with her actions, or with reality for that matter.

There were just too many inconsistencies in what she told me to ignore. It didn’t help her that I’m quite a detail-oriented person, and at that time, I had a great memory. 

Don’t know about now!

Although I’d sometimes get lost in the web of stories about friend and office drama, I still retained a lot of that information to the point where I was able to pick out when she was contradicting herself.

She’d tell me she went out with a couple of people last week and what drama unfolded then. But later, she’d tell a story about the same day but with different people and events.

If I ever asked her for clarification, she’d get really upset.

“Didn’t you say you were out with Peter and Tracy on Wednesday?”

“Are you calling me a liar?!”

That’s how these conversations would go. I’d be accused of not trusting her, but I had more and more reason not to.

5) They’ll drain your emotions.

Before I met her, I was living a pretty quiet life. 

I had a small circle of close friends and didn’t go out much except to play sports once or twice a week. I had a quiet office job with none of the drama that Cindy seemed to be experiencing non-stop.

But her life was really wild.

She went out a lot both for fun and for her work, met lots of people all the time, and worked unpredictable hours.

It sounds like I should have had energy to spare, and she should have been the one who was always exhausted, but it was the opposite.

Now I know why.

She must have been some sort of energy vampire who was able to feed off my energy, leaving me drained while she got recharged.

She had started to make me feel tired all the time, and that kept me even more isolated as I didn’t have the energy to go out and see people.

6) They’ll get control of you.

I told you I was young and somewhat inexperienced when I got together with Cindy.

So, as hard as it is to say, I made some really bad choices in the relationship.

One of them was moving in together.

At the time, we spent every waking minute together, so it just made sense. Anyway, why not save money on rent? But I moved into her place, and that meant she had a lot more power than I did.

When we had fights, she’d threaten to throw me out or tell me if I wasn’t happy, I should leave, but I had no place to go to, and she knew that!

It was just one of many ways she gained power and control over me.

7) They’ll gaslight you.

After a while, I started to feel like all this was adding up to something unhealthy.

But when I tried to talk to Cindy about it, she tried to make me confused and unsure of myself.

She’d always say things like, “I never said that,” and “That never happened,” to the point where I actually started to doubt my own version of reality.

But luckily for me, I had a good friend who somehow stuck by me through all of this. And he explained to me what gaslighting was.

I’d never even heard of it.

This was exactly what she was doing to me. It was a little here and there, but enough to always put me on the back foot and doubt myself.

But for every denial she made, my friend was able to say, “No, that really happened. You told me about it weeks ago, and you were really upset about it.”

Last words

Eventually, I was able to realize how messed up my relationship was and get out.

Believe me, Cindy was not happy, but I was so much happier as soon as I packed up my things and moved on with my life.

I hope you don’t recognize these seven subtle ways a master manipulator will toy with your emotions. But if my story does resonate with you, it might be time for you to get away while you can.

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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