Home  >  My Life  >  Reflections

12 Subtle Signs You’re Being Manipulated By Your Lover

signs you're being manipulated

Do you think you’re a victim of manipulation? Use these 12 subtle and yet shocking signs to find out if you’re being manipulated by your lover.

Sometimes, we end up manipulating our lovers to get things our way.

We may do it intentionally just for fun, in an obvious manner.

Or we may do it sneakily and subtly to get something without confronting out lovers.

And it’s all fun and games for a while, as long as both partners realize that one of them is being arm-twisted into giving in.

But where do you draw the line?

Are you being manipulated by your lover?

Manipulation is cute the first few times, or when it’s a harmless request.

When you hear your girlfriend or wife say something like “I’m not going to have sex with you tonight if you don’t meet me early!” you can’t help but smile about it.

Or if your boyfriend or husband brings breakfast in bed and asks you if he can go out with the guys on a weekend getaway, you may even laugh about it and accept his request.

But what if these cute threats turn into something darker or more bitter or agonizing?

[Read: 21 emotionally abusive tricks your partner may be using on you to make you feel weak and helpless]

Do you think you have what it takes to take a stand and decline something if you think it would go against your principles or wishes?

Do you have the spine to stand your ground and say ‘no’ when you don’t want to do something?

Manipulative partners subconsciously seek partners who can be manipulated into giving in because they’re selfish and always want things their own way. [Read: 10 signs to recognize a selfish person and 5 steps to stop them from hurting you ever again]

You may not see the signs early in a relationship. But if you notice the cute threats turning into bigger requests, or if your partner starts nagging you or trying to abuse you each time you try to decline their request, chances are, you’re playing helplessly into the hands of a manipulative partner.

Recognizing a manipulative lover

How does your partner react to you when you decline them for something? Do they accept your decision respectfully when they realize you’re being serious?

Or do they keep quiet for a while only to bring up the request again a few hours later? Or do they try to force you to do as they say by threatening you or abusing you? Or do they withhold something *be it sex, affection or by giving you the silent treatment* until you give in?

If your partner can’t accept your decision to decline something *even after you explain your reasons clearly*, and try to force you to do something against your will, in all probability, you’re being manipulated in your relationship, in some small or big measure. [Read: 12 signs you’re in love with a selfish partner!]

Giving in is different from getting pushed into a corner

Your partner’s manipulative behavior doesn’t start overnight. It starts small, and with each passing day, their demands get bigger and bigger, and their tolerance for your refusals too start to get smaller and smaller.

And you may find yourself giving in all the time, helplessly, whether you want to or otherwise.

You may think giving in is a sign of true love, or you may assume that’s what lovers do when they love their partner unconditionally. But really, is saying ‘no’ against the principle of true love? [Read: 12 signs of true love in a relationship]

You’re unable to say ‘no’ to your partner, not because of your true love for them, but because of the fear that they may think less of you if you turn down a request of theirs. Truth be told, it’s not love that’s forcing you into a corner, it’s your people pleasing behavior and your low self esteem that makes you do things against your will every single time! [Read: 20 signs you have a people pleaser in you and don’t know it!]

When you’re confident about yourself and don’t feel the need to bend over backwards just to please someone, it means you’re at peace with who you are. You believe in yourself and you’re confident that you’re not wronging your partner in any way.

But when you constantly feel the need to do everything your partner asks of you, even if it means doing something you dislike or something that would affect you negatively, it only means that you think small of yourself and constantly feel the need to please your lover just to be accepted.

12 signs you’re being manipulated by your lover

It’s not easy to reflect within and ask yourself if you’re a victim of manipulation in your relationship. But everything starts with self realization. If you can accept the fact that you’re a victim of manipulation and emotional abuse, only then can you try to work your way out of the web of manipulation your partner has built around you. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re so easily manipulated and taken for granted by people around you]

Use these 14 signs, and ask yourself if you feel any of these symptoms around your partner, or in your relationship. And if you do see these 12 signs in your life, it’s time for you to take a stand and believe in yourself for who you are, or you’ll just get walked over all the time and there won’t be a thing you can do to stop your partner from using you or manipulating you.

#1 Anxiety. You feel anxious each time your partner wants to ask for a favor. You fear they may ask you something that you can’t do, and yet, you know you can’t deny them their request.

#2 You hate yourself. You hate yourself for being so weak. You realize your partner is using you or taking advantage of your niceness and your generosity, but you’re too timid to say it to their face.

#3 You can’t say no. You just can’t say no to them. Just the thought of turning them down or saying no seems like a crazy idea, and you feel helpless and weak each time you even try to say it. You know the right thing to do is say ‘no’ but you can’t bring yourself to say it. [Read: Your self respect and how it affects your relationship with others]

#4 You justify your actions. You try to reason with yourself and justify that you aren’t being manipulated. Instead, you try to convince yourself that it is you who wants to do the favor for your partner.

#5 You’re bad. You feel like a bad partner for turning your partner down, no matter what they ask of you.

#6 Expectations grow. Your partner always expects more from you. No matter what you do, or how much you do, they behave like they’re happy and pleased with your giving ways, but they always ask for more.

#7 You can’t shut up. You just can’t say a simple ‘no’ and shut up. You have a deep need to explain yourself and your actions every time, to everyone. You want your partner to understand your mind and your reasons clearly. While your partner, on the other hand, is always vague or doesn’t justify the things they do. [Read: Am I being abused in love? – 17 questions to ask yourself]

#8 You hate awkward pauses. When your partner asks you to do something for them, you may be able to muster your courage and say ‘no’. But as they pause and stare at you for a few seconds, you can’t help but feel your stomach churn, and you give them an opportunity to use you.

#9 It’s your fault. You blame yourself for not being a good partner. You feel guilty for being idle and relaxed when you could be doing something to please your partner or make them happy.

#10 Obligations. You believe you’re obligated to doing something for your partner. You don’t know why, but somehow, you constantly feel grateful to them for loving you or being in your life. [Read: Should you make this person your priority when you’re only an option to them?]

#11 You can’t lie. You just can’t lie to your partner or anyone else that’s manipulating you, even if you know you’ll never get caught. You can’t tell your partner you’re busy or you’re too occupied to do something for them.

#12 Are you selfish? You think you’ll seem like a selfish person for not helping them in their troubles. You feel really guilty each time you turn their request down. You feel so bad that you can’t even look them in their eyes because of all the guilt you’re carrying. It just seems so much easier to just hate yourself and do what they ask of you!

[Read: 15 types of toxic lovers to watch out for]

Do you see any of these 12 signs you’re being manipulated by your lover in your own life? You may not realize it, but your partner may be using you and emotionally abusing you to get what they want, all because you don’t have the nerve to say ‘no’!

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

Alison Ricard
Alison Ricard
Alison Ricard loves sunshine, good books and contagious laughter. And when she isn’t writing, you’ll find her sitting in a café, people watching and commun...
Follow Alison on

Don't Miss this!


Latest in LovePanky


9 thoughts on “12 Subtle Signs You’re Being Manipulated By Your Lover”

  1. James says:

    this is spot on… Im a victim of this. It’s all true…

  2. Lisa says:

    I’m a victim of this as well. I just wanted to add that the victim could be giving in because they are afraid of physical violence or they could be giving in because that don’t want to listen to the manipulator complain or use the refusal against them. Example is the manipulator saying something like, “I go to work to pay the bills that you and your kid rack up while I’m working my butt off. And you are going to tell me ‘no’? You are an ungrateful person. I could go to a corner that has a homeless woman and have her live here at least she would be grateful and do stuff for me. That just shows how much you love me…” etc.

  3. Harriett Bean says:

    This is the best article I have read so far on this website. Excellent; it hits the nail on the head.

  4. Teete says:

    This helped me understand the questions I have. But I struggle from knowing the difference between my PTSD from the ex in my past compared being really taken advantage of… I always research so I can know the difference also I try not to over analyze.

  5. Dazed and Confused says:

    My boyfriend and I work together. Last night he wanted to leave for a few hours to go play volleyball (it was super slow). I feel like he first manipulated me into letting him go by giving me a shoulder rub and being super nice. I let him go on the terms that he would clean the floors when he got back, he reluctantly agreed. When he got back (a half hour late) he swept the floor but did not mop, and it was quite obvious. I was very agitated and refused to leave without the floors being done so I started to redo his job. When he found out why I was redoing the floors he became very mad and immediately pointed the finger back at me as if it were my fault they weren’t clean and that he did mop and I just didn’t see him etc. He took the broom from me and started sweeping and making passive aggressive comments towards me such as “you missed a spot.” I ended up leaving, and before I did, he started to fill up the mop bucket. (Guilt?) When he got home we didn’t exchange words and I could tell that he had been crying. Now I’m worried that I really didn’t see him mop, but the floors (to me) said otherwise. Is this him manipulating me and acting as if HE is the victim?

  6. Dazed and Confused: reply says:

    I’m afraid you have turned the situation around. If you require him to massage you and do chores for leaving the house a few hours – then you are the one who is manipulate your partner. It is certainly not him manipulating you.
    I know girls who are just like you. My advice: just give him a break. Or he’ll give you a permanent one.

  7. Landon says:

    Not being able to lie is a bad thing? While I agree with everything else on the list, not being able to lie is the mark of someone with great integrity: something the world sorely lacks these days. I dunno, but I’d sooner choose the woman who isn’t able to tell a single lie than the one who is able to and feels no remorse about doing so. No, you shouldn’t ever allow yourself to be manipulated, but use common sense about what’s good and bad, people.

  8. ranger says:

    You would know if they are manipulating you but not if your all head over heels over them. Sometimes you just have to use your head, not your heart, or your dick. LOL.

  9. Jess says:

    It hasn’t always been like that, though.
    Actually it all started off pretty neatly…
    I knew from the very beginning that he is still very close friends with his ex. They had been dating for several years and both eventually decided that a break up was the best for both of them. He never kept it a secret and it was okay with me. I met her and we seemed to get along very well. It amazed me, cause it usually isn’t that simple and I was happy I had found a boyfriend with a really nice ex. Or so it seemed. Things began to change when we had been together for about one year. Suddenly and out of nowhere she started to write and comment things on Facebook that made me look stupid. In front of him, his family and friends. She would constantly like his comments whenever he was disagreeing with me on something, tell me that “I had no clue whatsoever about #insertrandomtopichere anyways.”, complain to him about what I posted on Facebook (which had nothing to do with her, but she “got annoyed by all the pictures I posted”) and so on. It started going on my nerves big time and many friends of mine and even common friends of all three of us have noticed the change in her behavior towards me, so I am obviously not just another overly jealous girlfriend. The only one blind to everything that happens is, of course, my boyfriend. Whenever I mention something he takes her side – “she doesn’t mean it in a bad way, she just sometimes doesn’t realize how the things she writes sound to other people” and so on. And what can I do? She never really said anything obvious against me or told me straight to my face that she doesn’t like me. So if I would delete her from my friends list she could easily turn it around to make me look like the fool. She is very close with his family still and I bet one word from her to them would make them start disliking me as well. At least if she plays the poor victim and tells them I deleted her for no reason. Cause of course she can always say I got everything wrong, as nothing of it is a clear attack against me. Additionally she calls him several times a week for stupid reasons, always wants him to drive her somewhere when she’s in town (which he of course does), asks him to go for lunch with her (and without me), etc. etc. etc. I begin to truly be worried about my relationship because in my eyes she is clearly manipulating at any chance she gets and probably just waiting for me to explode at some point.
    And he? He should be the one supporting me and instead he tells me I am wrong and obviously in his opinion imagining things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *