Scientists have come up with 30 characteristics that a manipulator often has. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone who finds a feature or 2 from the list in their behavior is a master at manipulation. Actually, you can have up to 8 of them and still be considered innocent. This goes to show that we’re all just human and sometimes make mistakes. With that said, we should all look out for such traits in order to prevent being manipulated without even realizing it.
1. They pick fights over petty stuff.
It is a common behavior for manipulators to be nice and agreeable at the beginning of the relationship, but then they start arguing over things that don’t even matter. Basically, they are aware that people try to avoid conflict, so by being aggressive, they are making sure you give up easily. Such people always want to be in control, even in the smallest aspects of your life.
- What you can do: Always remember that you’re the one in charge of your life, and make sure you have the opportunity to choose what’s good for you. Set your boundaries and don’t let anyone violate them.
2. You feel like you’re not listening to your intuition.
If you constantly feel like you’re doing something you’d rather not, you might be getting manipulated. In this situation, it’s important to listen to yourself and understand what it is exactly that you’re not comfortable with and why you prefer to convince yourself that everything is okay instead of trying to deal with the issue. It might be because you don’t want to cause a problem, or you’re afraid of being rejected.
- What you can do: Always trust your gut and don’t be afraid to tell other people that you’d like things to be different. If they truly appreciate you, they will have this conversation in a calm way, and you’ll be able to find common ground.
3. They use relationships as bait.
Manipulative people are going to make you feel like you have to constantly prove that you love them (by doing exactly what they want, of course). They can use phrases like, “If you loved me, you’d…” in an attempt to persuade you that you don’t do enough for them and should feel guilty about it.
- What you can do: Make sure that your needs and wants are equally as important as those of your partner, relative, or friend. And if you feel like the balance is off, change things up.
4. They don’t say what they want directly.
People who use manipulative tactics love playing mind games. They twist what you say, put words in your mouth, or outright lie to you. This way of communication gives them the feeling of intellectual superiority over others. Plus, if you’re not communicating directly, it’s easier to persuade people that you didn’t say something or that the other person simply misunderstood you.
- What you can do: Insist on clear and honest communication, instead of hinting at stuff and trying to read their mind.
5. You lose your privacy.
It’s not unheard of for manipulators to doubt anything you’ve said and done. For example, they might call you to check if you’re where you’re supposed to be or even start tracking your phone activity, read your e-mails, etc. You can notice a double standard here because such people are often secretive and tend to hide many things from you.
- What you can do: This is another aspect where putting up boundaries and guarding them is necessary. Make sure your privacy is well-respected, as it should be.
This is another thing manipulators do — they try to make you think that they are better than you so that you think you need them in your life more than you actually do. A form of such behavior is cruel humor: they try to belittle you and make you feel insecure in order to have a feeling of psychological superiority.
- What you can do: Remember that you don’t have to put up with cruel humor because “it’s just a joke.” Make sure you’re appreciated and respected by the people around you, and if it’s not the case, you have every right to walk away.
7. You spend less time with family and friends.
Manipulative people don’t really care for your well-being (even though they try very hard to make you think otherwise), so they do their best to keep you away from people who really care about you. In this case, they can interfere with your happiness all they want and not be called out for that by your loved ones.
- What you can do: If you feel like that’s going on, do your best to rebuild friendships and get in touch with your family members. If all of them tell you someone isn’t good for you, it might be a good idea to listen to them.
8. They tend to exaggerate.
Manipulators love to use big words. For example, they can say stuff like, “No one in the entire world loves me.” Such words are meant to make you feel guilty, or sorry for them, and ignore plot holes and weak arguments in their speech.
- What you can do: Make sure your communication with this person is as direct and clear as possible — this way, their attempts to manipulate you will completely fail.