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Manipulation is particularly difficult to see in a romantic relationship. It can be subtle and unconscious or deliberate and aggressive: in either case, this behavior destroys the bond in the couple.

The main thing in a healthy relationship - is the partnership, but manipulation turns you into enemies because it is based on deception. We tried to figure out what manipulative behavior is, how to know if someone is manipulating you, and what to do about it.

Define manipulative person

Traditionally, there are many definitions of manipulation. But what all manipulations have in common is the desire to hide one's own emotions for one-sided gain.

According to Everett Shostrom, an American psychotherapist and author of The Manipulative Man, a manipulator is someone who treats people as objects with which to get what they want.

Manipulations can be conscious or unconscious, but this does not always determine the degree of their danger. For example, one can consciously hide one's opinion to prevent conflict, or one can unconsciously oppress a partner for years and undermine his or her self-esteem.

Shostrom writes that we begin to manipulate from the first months of life, so by the time we reach adulthood, we are quite skilled at this "craft" and use it everywhere. However, the ones who suffer the most are our closest ones: children, parents, and partners.

Signs of manipulation

Signs of men who manipulate:


At the initial stage of acquaintance, he will try to make the best impression on you. He will flatter you, apply all the pick-up techniques, and make you feel like the most beautiful and amazing woman on earth to use you to his advantage.

The Soul of the Company

Beware of guys who try their best to make other people happy. His friends and acquaintances just love him, thinking he is Mr. Charming. In fact, behind the mask of courtesy hides a callous man.

Sense of duty, fear, and guilt

According to psychotherapist Shari Stynes, manipulative behavior involves three factors: fear, guilt, and a sense of duty. When you are manipulated, you are forced to do something you don't want to do. Otherwise, you have fear and an unreasonable sense of guilt. 

You are lost and don't recognize yourself

The term "gaslighting" is often used to define manipulation. It is a form of psychological abuse, the purpose of which is to make your partner doubt your adequacy. You may feel a false sense of guilt for what you have done. In such situations, women lose faith in themselves and do not understand what their mistake is. In fact, it is not your fault; it is the fault of the manipulative partner.

Signs of a manipulative woman:

1. Tears

This is the most powerful manipulation. It can be singled out as the main one. A woman does not cry because she feels bad. So she wants to get from a man what she needs. Of course, this does not mean that tears are always made. They can be sincere. In order to understand, it is important for a man to clearly realize whether he is really so guilty.

Why are tears such a popular strategy? Men are very afraid of them and have a hard time withstanding them. A crying woman seems so defenseless that it is impossible not to feel sorry for her. It is better to do everything possible to make this torture stop.

2. Restrictions on communication with children

Here we directly pass to the category of forbidden methods - blackmail. However, the woman is able to present it very well. The man begins to fear losing contact with those closest to him and goes along with everything.

This type is especially popular when spouses divorce. Many women believe (mistakenly) that this is the only way to influence their ex-husband.

3. Intimacy trading

Here we also have the fact of blackmail, only the bargaining chip is not children, but intimacy. This manipulation can also be cunningly veiled. In the process, there are references to headaches and phrases like: "He does not deserve it.

Although experts speak out against this type of manipulation, women continue to actively use it. And there are risks ... The man may well find a way to close the need without the involvement of the spouse.

How to spot a manipulator?

1. You are being isolated from family and friends little by little

- Why would you go to your sister's? You went last week.

- She was never released from the hospital.

- I repeat: you already went to see her.

Or a milder variation - from personal experience: "Well, why would you go to a reunion when I and I will be sad at home?" And it works!

The time you spend without him is tantamount to a mortal sin. If you do go - it does not matter, to friends or relatives, then return home, you catch him in a bad mood and listen to sarcastic comments all evening.

This is very unexpected at first, and you are sincerely trying to cheer him up. In fact, your absence from the manipulator means a loss of attention, which should be entirely focused on his person, and a loss of control over you.

The ability to project is another hallmark of the narcissistic personality. If a narcissist and manipulator suddenly suspects you of cheating or reacts strangely to phone calls from your coworkers, it's very likely that it's him.

2. He is passing on feedback about you - and it is not always real.

Gradually, a certain "everyone" starts to participate in your conversations: "Everyone says you looked at me weird yesterday," "Everyone knows I used to be a fun guy." Rest assured, this unknown character has stuck around for a long time.

It doesn't even occur to us to check - has this "collective intelligence" really said anything about us?

Meanwhile, new actors appear his classmates who see how he has changed after meeting you, his colleague who says she would be happy if she had such a husband... Even your friends sometimes add something to this chorus (in his retelling).

Keep in mind that in reality, these people may not have said anything at all. When you ask your mutual acquaintance directly, it may well turn out to be the case. If you tell your domestic manipulator about this, you'll get the perfect answer, "Of course, no one will admit it. Why did you even ask them? That's silly."

3. Rules are made to be followed... you

He cheated, and you should forgive him. If you didn't spend so much time with your child, he wouldn't feel alone and seek warmth and sympathy. He has needs, and you have neglected them.

If you rush to meet these needs, it will turn out that they are bottomless and have no specific limits: he needs all of you. Whatever you have done, it is assumed that you have done little. Your needs will never come up. If you happen to smile or joke with someone, be prepared for severe questioning about your infidelity.

Signs of emotional manipulation

1. To love is not to possess

There are couples who like to do everything together, go for walks, spend time together, etc. This is all very positive and even useful, but not if the reason for staying together is to maintain "control". For example, there are people who hate it when their partner leaves the house alone, has friends, or even their own professional life.

We have to be careful. Love is not about controlling another person or forbidding them to do something. Sometimes you hear phrases like this: "Do you really want to go out in those clothes?", "Why go out with that friend of yours when you have me?", "If you do that, you will show me that you really don't love me. I give you everything, and you don't appreciate me at all."

2. The need to maintain self-esteem

Emotional manipulation directly affects your self-esteem. In a relationship, we give everything to the other person, love them above all else, and will do anything for them. This is all well and good, but we need to know how to protect ourselves.

If your partner puts their own needs before yours and acts selfishly, you will start to suffer the consequences and feel worse every day. Many of us believe that love is an exchange of affection and desire, a balance between what you give and what you get. If we realize that we are always only giving, we will feel devastated and manipulated, and lose the self-respect necessary for daily happiness.

3. Gradual loss of identity

Sometimes we fall in love with someone we shouldn't fall in love with. Sometimes it's a love we can't control, and we are increasingly influenced by intense emotions.

There are people who are not mature enough to maintain a healthy relationship, and instead of feeling happy and growing as a couple, they slowly destroy your identity.

Signs you`re in a manipulative relationship: bottom line

You should think about the quality of your relationship if your partner often does the following things:

  • Tries to control you (e.g., asks you to constantly write where you are and with whom)
  • Constantly rationalizes words and actions that hurt you (these can be both seemingly logical explanations and just "I was emotional")
  • He/she considers himself/herself an exception to the rules, even if these rules were set by the two of you (for example, "I don't want to see you with other men, but my friend is a completely different thing, we have known each other since school")
  • Constantly expects gratitude (in any form) for his positive actions ("How no continuation of the evening? I gave you a ride home")
  • Doesn't keep one distance in a relationship (one day he turns on the stalker and wants to be around 24/7, and the next day he freezes up)
  • Likes to "punish" for actions he/she doesn't like (playing silence if you forget about a request)
  • And generally makes you feel as if you are constantly guilty of something (this is where the "piling on the requests" works great - when a person asks for a bunch of things at once and gets offended if the partner forgets about one of them)
  • Often distorts the facts and makes you believe that everything was different in reality (the classic "I never said that" gaslighting)
  • Tries to limit your contact with others (usually, the manipulator starts with light criticism of certain actions, and then openly says that he/she does not want to see you communicate with a particular person)
  • Criticizes, humiliates, or devalues you or your actions/achievements (something like "nice dress, but you should wear something longer with your legs").

The only way to avoid manipulative influence is not to give in. In order to do this successfully, it is important to be able to recognize the mechanisms. For this purpose, we have broken down the main signs of a manipulative partner.

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