Manipulative people are masters of deception, they may seem respectable and sincere at first, but they only use it to draw you in and build a relationship with you before they show their true colors. These types of people have several ways of making you gain their trust and breaking it. There are different traits that manipulative people have, these are a few you should look out for to help prevent you from getting pulled into a manipulative relationship.
Everything Has to Be About Them
Manipulative people will honestly believe that their way of handling a situation is the only way because what matters to them is that their needs are being met. According to Abigail Brenner, M.D., manipulative people either lack insight into how they engage others and create certain scenarios where their way must be the only way. Ultimately, everything from situations to relationships has to be about them. What others think, want and feel does not matter.
They Do Not Understand Boundaries
Manipulators will cross lines to make you feel invaded and will use that power to make you feel like there is nothing you can do to change it. According to Sharon Martin, LCSW, people who are manipulative, narcissistic and have a poor sense of self tend to repeatedly violate personal boundaries. They will break any boundaries just to get what they want from you. Brenner says that they lack understanding about what personal space and identity mean, or just don’t care.
Manipulators will try to avoid confrontation and having to take responsibility for their actions. They will avoid conversations about their behavior by refusing to discuss it. If you try to confront them, they will put you on the defensive with blame, guilt, or shame. According to Darlene Lancer, JD, avoidance can be subtle and unnoticeable when a manipulator shifts the subject. They will try to cover it up by boasting, compliments, or remarks you want to hear.
Take Advantage of Others Kindness
According to Brenner, manipulative people prey on sensibilities, emotional sensitivity, and especially conscientiousness. They know that they can lure you into a relationship when you are a kind, feeling, caring person. Manipulators will rely on your kindness to let them into your life, and they will make you feel good about yourself. Over time, their kindness towards you will stop because they only care about what you can do for them.
Talk About Others Behind Their Back
When you are trying to identify a manipulator, pay attention to the way they speak about others when they are not present. According to Brenner, they are masters at “triangulation”—creating scenarios and dynamics that allow for intrigue, rivalry, and jealously. They encourage and promote disharmony. This is important to pay attention to because they can be talking about you the same way with others.
Are Not Interested in Getting to Know You
A manipulator can pretend to ask you how you feel, but they don’t care to listen to the answer you give them. All they want is what they can get out of you, and if faking that they care helps that happen, they will do it. The manipulator will display some fake concern for your well-being, all in an effort to undermine your decisions and confidence, according to Lancer.
Don’t Do What They Say They Will
Another way to identify a manipulator is if their actions match their words. According to Brenner, it is important to observe someone closely, without making excuses for them. Manipulators will only do what is beneficial for them, so they will not be concerned with their broken promises that they make to you. They will lie and try to avoid the responsibilities for their actions.
Attempt to Change Your Mind
Manipulators will try to gaslight you, convince you that something you have seen or heard is not true. A manipulative person will deny anything concerning their behavior and will try to make you feel crazy for even thinking it in the first place. According to the Healing Arts Institution of South Florida, they use gaslighting to hide their other manipulative tactics or out of embarrassment for having been discovered and called out. Over long periods this behavior can have an affect on you and make you believe that you are the problem instead of them.
Pretend to Be the Victim
When the manipulator plays that they are the victim of the situation, it arouses your guilt and sympathy towards them. They will say things to guilt you into helping them or in staying in the toxic relationship. According to Lancer, the compliance you give the manipulator will increase your resentment, damages the relationship, and encourages continued manipulation. This is irrational guilt that manipulators can cause, but it is important to not give in and look for help if you can’t get out of the relationship on your own.