Emotional manipulation in relationships can be difficult to recognize. Some manipulation tactics can be so subtle that you may end up constantly examining your own behaviour rather than the other person’s.
Being on the receiving end of manipulation tactics in a relationship can have an impact on your mental health. But by learning to identify the signs, you can protect yourself and act on the situation.
Manipulation, as a stand-alone behaviour, is a scream for help. I personally understand where it comes from, although I do not accept or justify it.
The closer you look, the more you realize that they are just wounded. They are clueless about how to get their needs met in a healthy way that does not include manipulation. People who use those manipulation tactics with the conscious intention of hurting you are evil and toxic. Those who do it because they are scared are the majority and their intentions are not pitch dark.
That being said, you still need to protect yourself from manipulation. You still need to hold manipulators accountable for their behaviours.
Lets look at 6 signs that will let you know whether you are being emotionally manipulated;
6 signs of being under emotional manipulation
A person who is gaslighting you may lie to you, blame you for things, and minimize what you’re feeling. They might say, “You’re crazy,” or “You’re too sensitive.” Someone who is gaslighting you tries to make you feel that you aren’t worthy of expressing yourself and that your feelings and emotions are not real or valid. People gaslight in order to deny any wrongdoing on their part and to assert control over what you think and what you do.
2. Guilt as a tactic.
Emotional manipulators may use guilt against you to get what they want.
For example, they may consistently remind you of past wrongdoings you’ve done, or of nice things that they have done for you in the past so you feel a sense of obligation to them.
We are all susceptible to guilt at times, and some use guilt without being conscious of it. A highly skilled emotional manipulator, however, is able to pinpoint how to instill those feelings in those around them, and use this to their benefit.
One example of this could be your partner reminding you of when you’ve cancelled plans with them in the past, guilting you into cancelling current plans with friends and spending more time with them.
Smokescreening is a tactic that’s used when you raise a concern in your relationship. In this, you may try to stand up for yourself and voice a concern, and then your partner deflects from the spotlight you put on them.
For example: “If you tell your partner ‘When you yell at me, I feel disrespected’ and they respond with ‘Really? You’re the one that is always talking to other people on social media and being incredibly disrespectful,'”. In this case, they shift the blame onto you, bringing up an unrelated situation to steer the conversation in a different direction.
This shows a lack of accountability on your partner’s end, leaving the blame shifted on you, allowing your partner to get away with what they’ve done.
4. You Constantly Feel Judged.
In addition to feeling like you’re always wrong in situations, it is common to feel judged all the time by your manipulator. This can make it seem like every action you have is constantly scrutinized, no matter how big or small. You may notice that they either never offer constructive criticism or do so in a patronizing manner. They always make it seem like they know better and that you have to work to get on their level.
5. You Are Love-bombed and Punished.
Manipulators have their way of keeping you coming back to them. In relationships especially, you may find that they will love-bomb you for a period of time in which everything in your relationship seems great. They give you attention, and gifts, and will speak highly of you to other people. While this may seem positive at the time, in reality, it is to gain your trust. You may find after this period ends, they resort to punishing you. Using tactics like the silent treatment, making fun of you, or any of the other tactics listed in this article. This cycle tends to repeat keeping you stuck in it.
6. Violating boundaries.
In an Emotional Manipulation, a manipulator might ignore you when you say “no,” totally ignoring your boundaries.
For example, you might tell your partner you don’t like when they make comments about your appearance, but they continue to do so. Or, if you tell them you don’t like when they yell at you, and they continue to do so.
When they are presented with boundaries they either encroach, push, or completely violate the boundaries. This is a blatant show that their only concern is having their way and getting their need.