14 Common Manipulators You Meet Daily — Don’t Be a Victim!

Psychology
week ago

Imagine someone offers to help you, making you feel indebted to them. A kind gesture, right? But what if they’re manipulating you for their own gain? Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish genuine kindness from insidious manipulation. However, by recognizing common manipulation tactics, you can avoid becoming a manipulator’s puppet. We collected some tips on how to handle manipulative behavior and protect yourself from emotional exploitation. Stay one step ahead of manipulators by learning their tricks and understanding how to react to them.

1. The emotional blackmailer

The Emotional Blackmailer is a master of manipulation who uses guilt and emotional coercion to control their partner’s behavior. They often resort to phrases like “You’d do this if you loved me,” placing the burden of proving love and loyalty on their partner. This type of manipulator exploits emotional connections to achieve their own goals, making their partner feel guilty or obligated to comply with their demands.

The partner feels constantly drained, walking on eggshells to avoid triggering guilt or conflict. They begin to doubt their own worth and actions, questioning whether they are truly being supportive or loving enough. They may lose their sense of autonomy, frequently prioritizing the manipulator’s needs over their own. Clearly define and communicate personal boundaries to protect emotional well-being. Learn and practice assertiveness skills to confidently say no and stand up for oneself without guilt.

2. The “helpless” act

Beware of the “helpless” act! A manipulator might play the role of a helpless person, seeking assistance for their tasks and responsibilities. Often, women portray this helplessness, though men are increasingly resorting to this tactic too. They seem to glide up the career ladder, thanks to the ’help’ they get from others. Remember, it’s okay to lend a helping hand, but not at the cost of your time and effort. Learn to say “no” to people who try to exploit your kindness for their selfish needs.

3. Skillful word players

It’s normal to occasionally misunderstand someone’s words or actions, but skillful manipulators deliberately phrase things to avoid accountability for their behavior. When you react, they twist your response to make it seem like you misunderstood them. They will also deny making any promises, so it’s crucial to hold them accountable for their commitments.

4. The isolator

The Isolator is a manipulator who seeks to control their partner by gradually cutting them off from their social support network. By making their partner spend less time with friends and family, they create a sense of dependency and control. This type of manipulator often disguises their intentions as concern or love, making it difficult for the partner to recognize the manipulation. Be aware of the tactics used to isolate and control, and acknowledge when these behaviors are occurring.

5. Impracticable promises

Have you ever made hasty promises under pressure? Manipulators often push you to answer immediately, then use guilt to get you to do something. It’s especially hard to refuse when it’s a friend asking for help. Next time you’re asked for a favor, don’t rush into making a promise. But if you’ve already committed, be sure to follow through. Think carefully before taking on extra responsibilities.

6. Parental manipulation

It can be challenging to recognize when our parents are manipulating us, but they might do this to impose their opinions, control our actions, or interfere in our personal lives. It’s crucial to learn how to stand up for your own views and avoid letting others control your life. It might be difficult, but it’s essential to remember your own interests and boundaries.

7. The victim

The Victim is a manipulator who constantly portrays themselves as the most miserable person in the world to elicit sympathy and control those around them. By playing the victim, they shift the focus to their own suffering, making others feel responsible for their happiness and well-being. This type of manipulator often uses their alleged misery to avoid accountability and manipulate others into fulfilling their needs. Clearly define emotional boundaries to protect oneself from being overwhelmed by the manipulator’s constant negativity. Ensure that personal well-being is not neglected by engaging in self-care activities and maintaining a support network.

8. A partner’s parental manipulation

One of the most common types of manipulators is the overbearing parent. Parents often believe they’re acting in their children’s best interest, but their constant nagging can sometimes damage happy marriages. Many mothers try to impose their own ideas about what a perfect partner should be like. To counteract this manipulation, it’s important to assert that your family consists of you, your partner, and your children. Be polite but firm in setting these boundaries.

9. The guilty innocent

Unfortunately, some people completely disregard the decisions, words, and actions of others, including those of their friends and family. They react impulsively and often regret their behavior later, while blaming everyone around them for their own mistakes. Manipulators use this tactic to make you feel guilty and avoid taking responsibility for their failures. Don’t be afraid to point out the real reasons for their behavior.

10. The cost of forgiveness

Arguments are an inevitable part of any relationship, but sometimes the damage done can be hard to repair. Manipulators often try to buy their partner’s forgiveness with gifts, turning a gesture of kindness into a manipulation of your gratitude. If you want to show that you’re genuinely upset, it might be better to refuse the gift and address the underlying issues.

11. “It’s better for...”

A manipulator may try to deprive you of your right to choose by exploiting your love and sense of moral duty to control your life and actions. If you find yourself being manipulated this way, consider using similar tactics to regain control. You can also offer a compromise that benefits both of you.

12. Family comes first

One of the most common types of manipulation in families is the use of a child as a means to control you. Manipulators may try to convince you that a child is the key to a healthy relationship, emphasizing family ties and manipulating your emotions to replace your own values with theirs. It’s important to avoid falling into this trap and to think rationally about the situation.

Consider whether you’re ready for such significant changes. If you need time, communicate that to your partner. Don’t rush into decisions on these important matters.

13. Exaggerated feelings of self-importance

If your boss is a manipulator, you might find yourself in challenging situations. Manipulative bosses give tasks and instructions to assert their importance, criticize and find fault with employees, and are intolerant of objections. To protect your well-being and avoid negative situations, don’t hesitate to remind them when their requests fall outside of your job description. It’s okay to say, “That’s not my job.”

14. Adult child

Sometimes, people struggle to accept life as it is, and their parents end up taking care of everything for them as if they were still children. These parents might pay off debts and juggle multiple jobs while their adult children just drift along and manipulate their parents. This situation is harmful to both the parents and the children. If you recognize that your child is manipulating you, use your parental wisdom to help them adjust to the realities of the world.

Curious about why these manipulators act the way they do? Find out more in our upcoming article on the 8 behavioral traits of a person who grew up in a toxic family. It’s time to get to the root of the problem!

Illustrated by Oleg Guta for Now I've Seen Everything

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