Emotional manipulators are not vampires from films about Count Dracula and not devils with horns, these are ordinary people who live among us. They can be our colleagues, relatives, friends and housemates. What distinguishes them is that they solve their problems exclusively at our expense. With the skill of a magician, they get the actions and reactions they need from those around them. And we… It takes a long time for us to understand that we have become pieces in someone’s chess game. And a confident and fast hand moves us.

couple in quarrel - photocouple in quarrel - photo

How to understand that you are being manipulated?

1. Feelings of guilt that you constantly have when dealing with a manipulator. Most people are reflective and that’s okay. We evaluate and re-evaluate our actions for their correctness, and as a result we may regret or even blame ourselves. It’s fine. But in dealing with a manipulator, wine becomes our constant companion. The manipulator masterfully owns the ability to inspire confidence that you owe him and you are to blame. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t do what the manipulator considers proper – you did it, it’s your fault, because it’s wrong and at the wrong time, you didn’t do it, you’re guilty of inaction.

2. A game played behind your back. In order to enhance the effect or hide the mechanics of their actions, the manipulator involves third parties in your interaction with him. You are told how someone spoke unflatteringly about you. You are told that you are dissatisfied, criticized, ridiculed. Your negative moods are also supported. In addition, the manipulator does it so convincingly that you begin to believe that the world is against you and the manipulator is the only figure that seems to be an ally. This game can be clearly seen in the work team, when one colleague constantly tells another that her boss is unhappy with her, that employees are discussing, and customers are complaining. But in fact, a dissatisfied client will turn to the boss, the employee will also either use the manual, or will express claims to you directly in person, and the boss, dissatisfied with the work, will call and chastise him personally. No one will use an intermediary for this. But if such an “intermediary” appears almost always in front of you is a manipulator.

disagreement between a man and a woman in a cafedisagreement between a man and a woman in a cafe

3. Imposed help. There is a big difference between help that is desired, requested, and that which is imposed. The manipulator seems to anticipate your needs. You just hinted that you are thinking about a medical examination, as the manipulator will already give you the phone numbers of a couple of reliable doctors or clinics. You are still thinking about changing jobs, the manipulator immediately recommends you vacancies. You leave, and the manipulator volunteers to water your flowers and take care of the cat. What is important is not what is done for you, but rather the feelings that remain – you are given more than you need or more than you ask for. Making you feel like you’re in debt. And debts, as you know, must be repaid. And the manipulator will definitely ask his debt many times. And if you don’t give it back, it will go to point 1 – speculation on the feeling of guilt “I have done so much for you.”

4. Lack of clear agreements. The manipulator constantly changes the rules of the game and changes them unilaterally. You agreed to meet at seven in the evening, the manipulator will be an hour late and will convince you that you understood everything wrong and you agreed on eight. The manipulator will insult you in the dialogue and again begin to explain that you have misunderstood everything. He will touch you with an act and tell you that you yourself forced him to do just that. This tactic allows you to instill self-doubt and doubts in you, to shake up the emotional balance. And an insecure, doubting person is very easy to manage.


5. Any interaction with the manipulator always ends with a negative balance for you – “I won, you lost.” Whatever you do together, the manipulator will gain, and you will lose. Even if we are talking about an innocent trip to the cinema, the manipulator will arrange everything so that you buy tickets, spend more money on them, sit in the worst seats, and also give him a lift to the cinema.

It doesn’t matter if you have all of these signs or just a few of them in your relationship. The important thing is that there is no equality and positive balance in the relationship, but there are constant heaviness, guilt, resentment, explanations, losses. It doesn’t matter just who the manipulator is to you – family, friend, colleague or loved one. There is only one way to neutralize a manipulator – to get away from him. Do not turn on, do not give in, do not believe. The manipulator will not change. But you can. Stop being a victim. If you cannot, it means that the position of the victim is beneficial for you, and you are manipulating it yourself.