What’s the harm in being kind?
I certainly like compassionate and thoughtful people, and most of my friends do, too.
But certain manipulative individuals misuse the kindness of others and take advantage of their sincerity.
Here’s what to watch out for to ensure a manipulator doesn’t use your good nature against you.
1) He wants to know everything about your personal life
The first tool of the emotional manipulator is personal and sensitive information.
The more he (or she) knows about you and your personal life, the more he can use that to get close to you, gain your trust and hold leverage over you.
This is a big reason why emotionally manipulative individuals are so hurtful and vicious:
They’re often those you think are closest and have the biggest interest in your life, but come to find out they just wanted ammunition to use against you.
2) He pretends to care about your problems and poses as a friend
Emotionally manipulative people love to pose as friends and get close to somebody, as I hinted at in the previous point.
He will pretend to be your friend and care about your problems, even going out of the way to be a shoulder to cry on and somebody to confide in.
You start feeling like your faith in humanity is restored and there really are selfless people in this world, only to go down a path where this person becomes more and more demanding and exploitative.
3) He identifies causes you care about and pretends to also care
The emotional manipulator is nothing if not smart. His weapon of choice is your feelings and strong emotions in general.
That’s why one of the most useful things for him is to find out about causes you are passionate about and pretend to care.
For example, you may be a peace activist or involved in legal reform. You may be trying to change the economic system or change environmental legislation.
He comes along talking about how passionate he is about this, too in order to get into your circle of trust and begin being able to string you along with his whims and ulterior agenda.
4) He brings up spiritual ideas and concepts related to compassion in order to pressure you
Another angle of approach for the emotional manipulator is to lock into spiritual or religious ideas that are meaningful for you.
The typical example of this is a preacher or guru who uses his flock’s passion and sincerity to extract money, sex and worship from them.
Demanding their obedience to what he says, the guru slowly turns from being compassionate to controlling and modifying scriptures to only reflect what he says.
5) He uses details of the suffering of others to elicit money, time and attention from you
There’s a lot of suffering in this world, and it needs real action and compassion.
For the manipulative man or woman, however, this suffering is raw material to create scams out of.
He will use it to get your money, time and agreement, demanding that you fall in line if you really care about issue A or B.
The name of the game is to blame you as lacking enough compassion unless you sufficiently help out this person who says he stands for helping on a cause.
6) He plays on your guilt and insecurities to get what he wants
Emotional manipulators look for any hidden insecurities, guilt and issues and then try to use those to control you.
Whatever these may be, they will zero in on them and play on them.
For example if you have a big fear of being alone, the manipulator will provide company to you in the form of being a romantic partner or friend…
But he will then threaten to leave you completely if you don’t do every thing he asks you and validate him in precisely the way he wishes.
7) He traps you into feeling obligated and beholden to him
Whatever favors this person grants always have conditions attached.
It’s a bit like signing a contract only to realize that it has a lot of fine print that has heavy restrictions or penalties that will be bad for you.
The difference is that this time it’s emotional:
This person makes you feel that you owe him and have to do as he wants and agree with him and follow his lead.
If not you’re hurting him and letting him down.
8) He does a favor for you and then makes you feel indebted and selfish if you don’t return it tenfold
This is related to the previous point and is very toxic:
The manipulator will sometimes help you out seemingly without wanting anything back.
But there are always strings attached, and sooner or later he’ll come collecting.
Then he’ll come collecting again. And again. And you’re supposed to do whatever he wants each time.
Doesn’t seem balanced, does it?
9) He finds out details about your financial situation and asks monetary favors
On the monetary side, emotional manipulators are often focused on mixing money and emotions.
They will befriend or get romantically involved with you and then increasingly find out more about your finances.
If you don’t share what they consider enough with them or they desire more funds, they will bring up your connection:
“If you really care about me, give me more,” is their usual line…
10) He uses details about his own difficult life to get you to feel sorry for him
Playing the victim is like a violin concerto for a manipulative man or woman…
He will stand up there making the strings weep and trying to get you to weep too.
He’s a victim, a poor downtrodden figure of life’s tragedies.
And if you care at all you’ll serve him in every way you can.
Aren’t you a good person?
11) He praises your kindness and makes you feel special to ask more of you
Emotional manipulators tend to be very good at flattery.
They will have you convinced that they see all the good you do and really appreciate it.
The idea is that you’re supposed to feel grateful for the praise and hesitate in turning down whatever they want from you.
And there’s always another ask:
Because you’re so great at A, will you help out with B?
Because you clearly care about cause C, will you help out with cause D?
Because your work skills obviously are impressive on X, can you also tackle Y?
12) He gets you to sign onto projects and endeavors that are actually much harder than they first appear
Those who like to use emotions to take advantage of people will often prey on people who are helpful.
If you’re a fairly helpful person, beware of somebody who comes to you asking you to help out on an “easy” or “low-key” project.
It may be a community theater production where he wants help on sets or a fundraising drive or new project at work.
Whatever it is that’s the goal, you get roped in on the premise that it’s no big deal and the least you can do only to find out it’s a headache-and-a-half.
13) He lies about being offended by things you say in order to get you to pay attention to him and give him his way
Emotionally exploitative people love to talk about how offended they are.
They then use this as a way to silence you, control what you say or get something from you.
They may even use their supposed offended status as a way to blackmail you, dangling how offended they are over your head in your personal life or at work.
It’s a low-down trick, but they’re definitely not above doing it.
14) He blames people close to you for harming him and demands that you make up for their actions
Watch out for a person who blames your friends or loved ones for harming him and demands that you make up for it.
This is a classic case of demanding that you take responsibility for the actions of others.
It’s usually you being singled out for the behavior of others unfairly just because you are more receptive and kind.
The manipulator knows that and they are using the bad actions of others around you to get to you and manipulate you.
On a related note…
15) He finds out people you’re close to and tries to cozy up to them as well
The emotional manipulator isn’t just after you. He also wants to get close to those you care about.
This is a classic tactic of fraudsters and scammers the world round for a reason:
By getting in with those you care about, the exploiter opens a whole new avenue of leverage and opportunity to bend you to his will.