After you end the work, love or friend relationship, you learn how badly you’ve been manipulated. Worse, you realize that the longer you allowed the manipulation to continue, the more damage your manipulator did to your heart or career. Defeat a manipulator’s underhanded methods by recognizing these early signs in the future.
Manipulators seduce and entrance. You walk out of an encounter with a manipulator and wonder, “What did I just agree to?” You leave a date or social event enthralled but later can’t explain what was so special. All you can say is “he was.” With skilled manipulators, the messenger outshines the message. If you find yourself unable to explain what you found to be so special to yourself or someone else, you’ve identified sign number one.
Manipulators move in fast, slathering on sweet charm to beguile their targets. They appear instantly interested in who you are and give you the sense that they view your concerns as paramount. This false bond masks their ulterior motives and enables them to then use you emotionally. If you feel things are moving too fast, you’ve caught on to sign number two.
Suppose you tell a coworker, “I wound up working until 9 p.m. because you left me with the whole project.” She retorts, “You shouldn’t have asked me to help; you knew how overwhelmed I was. You didn’t even think about what you might be putting me through.”
When you turn down a friend’s demand, she throws in your face, “After all I’ve done for you, you won’t even do this one small thing.”
Manipulators excel at making the unreasonable sound reasonable. They also act as if you’ve already agreed to what they initially asked, so when you say “no,” they’re the injured party. As a result, you override your instincts and do things that you aren’t comfortable with that violate your boundaries. If you find yourself taking a regular guilt trip, the bags you carry constitute sign number three.
Playing on your emotions
Manipulators play games with your heart and mind, leaving you with a stomach tied in knots. Some tug at your heart strings by telling you that “you’re the only one” or acting deliberatively frail to elicit your sympathy. Others frighten or intimidate you until you yield to unreasonable demands or sacrifice your own wants and needs. If your emotions regularly war with your mind and you feel “gamed,” you’ve stumbled into sign number four.
You feel inadequate
Finally, manipulators keep you off balance. After the initially flattering rush that emotionally entraps you, they make you feel you’re one down in the relationship. Their constant judgment makes you feel “less than” – that there’s something wrong with you. If you don’t see this as the sign it is, the sense that you’re never good enough drives you deeper into the manipulator’s arms because you think you need him.