Emotional manipulation is a tool that allows someone to get their way through unscrupulous and deceptive methods. I have experienced my fair share of emotional manipulation, and I can testify that it is not pleasant. They say anticipation and uncertainty are the essence of romantic courtship, but that does not, under any circumstances, should be taken to understand that you may allow yourselves to lay open to your another’s underhandedness or negativity.
Retaining your happiness and stability while being on the rough end of such negative behaviour can be a trial, and one you shouldn’t have to endure. So, here are 8 ways you can spot an emotional manipulator and save yourself much unwanted heartache and distress.
1. Twists your words around
It is hard work being honest with an emotional manipulator, especially if you are as painfully and inherently honest and open as I am. If you feel he/she has been neglecting you and the relationship and avoiding confrontations, and you decide to speak to them about it, there are chances that the conversation may go something like this. “You haven’t been giving me enough time for a while now. You’re never around when I need you.” The emotional manipulator’s response may follow something like this, “Things have been so hectic at work. My boss is a really obnoxious jerk. I don’t even know how I’m coping with all of the stress. And is this really all you can think of right now? I’m sorry to hear to hear this of you.” And thus your own words have been contorted and used against you. At which point, you realise that not only is their argument irrefutable in some manner, it also paints them as the victim here. And you are left with a vaguely confused feeling, and still nowhere near a solution to the original problem.
2. Say something, mean another
If you are living with an emotional manipulator, then you would be no stranger to ambivalent behavior. They would say one thing, and then either deny ever having said it, or avoid the confrontation altogether. If you constantly feel you are having to remind yourself about things he/she has said and conversations you’ve had, then that should be a vital clue that you’re dating an emotional manipulator. And the day you start keeping track of conversations and reminding them of it whenever the need arises, is the day they would begin to avoid confrontations with you.
3. Guilt trips
They will manipulate little things you say and then use them to make you feel guilty. “If you really want to chase after this job, go ahead. I just can’t comprehend how you would let home and our relationship in the process suffer due to it.” “You just want us to get married right now. But have you ever given any thought to my goals and ambitions, and what I may be going through? There are so many issues in my life at the moment, I can’t believe we are even having this conversation.” They would use their words to provoke feelings of guilt, self doubt and insecurity in you.
4. Are passive aggressive
Emotional manipulators are, in essence, cowards. They may put on a brave act for the world to see and may always have appeared courageous to you perhaps, but anyone who cannot take a stand for what they believe in is a coward. There are no two ways about it. Courage is one of the few things that isn’t painted in shades of grey. An emotional manipulator would employ passive aggressive behavior to get his/her work done. The silent treatment is a very common method. Instead of venting like an ordinary person, or sitting and talking it out like a rational one, he/she would avoid direct expression of their feelings, and you’d get the unmistakeable feeling that there is an elephant in the room.
5. It’s all about them
Emotional manipulators focus on their own problems, and generally belittle yours. “You think you had a bad day? Try working 100 plus hour weeks in the emergency room at a hospital. Being on your toes for that long is no joking matter.” Somehow, your problems, your difficulties do not take precedence, and haven’t for a while now when you sit down to think about it. There is always something that they say which makes them appear to have it worse than you do.
6. They target the vulnerable or nice
“The values most important to us are always the most easily exploitable.”
– A. J. Darkholme
Emotional manipulators tend to set their sights on the vulnerable, the emotionally insecure, the people pleasers or the simply naive. They would recognise the qualities within you that make you an easy target, and then exploit them for their own gain. Sadly, it is these very qualities that would lead you to try to empathise with them, and endeavour to understand the depth of their situation. The targeted over analyse and are willing to give the manipulator the benefit of the doubt one too many times. Even though it is generally undeserved.
7. No accountability
They have no sense of responsibility for their behavior, because they generally believe they are in the right. And to top it off, they don’t consider themselves answerable to anyone for their actions, even when said actions have an adverse effect on the people and relationships involved. They feel no compunction rationalising their behavior. Don’t mistake their manipulative techniques and initial appearance of honesty for vulnerability. It is always about them.
8. Negative energy
Like any regular relationship, it may start out as roses and light. But a person’s true qualities cannot remain hidden for long. An emotional manipulator exudes negative energy. Being around them, you can’t help but often feel the brunt of their ambivalent and often negative vibes chafing you raw. Being subjected to sarcasm, disparaging remarks, a vast array of defence mechanisms, and backhanded compliments would lead you to recognise and acknowledge the challenges of even being in the same room with an emotional manipulator, let alone living with one.
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