Home  >  Love Couch  >  Broken Hearts

42 Signs & Ways to See Manipulative Behavior & Stop Being Used By People

Do you think that your partner is using manipulative behavior against you? If you do, then it’s time to start thinking about leaving. You deserve better.

manipulative behavior people

Manipulative behavior happens when people can’t handle not getting their own way. They want everything how they want it, and that’s the end of the story. 

If you attempt to do something differently, or even perhaps offer a different opinion, they don’t like it. Then, to try and pull you back “in line” they start to use manipulative behavior. 

The bottom line is that nobody should ever manipulate anyone with real intent. But especially not those we love.

For sure, we all use somewhat manipulative behavior occasionally, but only in a harmless way. We don’t mean anything by it. 

Perhaps you want to go to a particular bar and your friend wants to go to a different one. So, to get them to do what you want, you persuade her by saying you’ll buy her a cocktail. 

That’s a good example of lightweight manipulation that doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. But, serious manipulation is pretty heavyweight and can have drastic consequences. 

Within a close relationship, manipulation shouldn’t exist. If you think it’s present in yours, it’s time to start seriously questioning your role in that union. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use]

What exactly is manipulative behavior?

Manipulation is very hard to explain without actually using the word. Essentially, manipulation is about tricking someone into doing what you want. But the way in which you do it is key. 

When you manipulate someone, you do it in an underhanded way. It’s subtle and in the worst cases, it plays on someone’s fears and insecurities. 

To give you a clear example of manipulation, let’s think about narcissists. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

Narcissists are masters in manipulative behavior, it’s just what they do. They might want you to stop seeing your friend because they’re pretty sure your friends are going to pull you away from them. 

Rather than just telling you that they don’t like your friend *because they know that won’t work*, they start using manipulation instead. 

They tell you that your friend has been talking about you behind your back. They might say that they heard your friend telling someone that you’re weak and that you can never make decisions on your own. Yes, they’re lying, but lies and manipulation often work hand in hand. [Read: Emotional manipulation – Ways people mess with your mind]

They’re likely to choose something which you’re pretty insecure about. So, if you’ve always been insecure about your ability to make strong decisions, they’ll choose that and twist it. 

Then, you’ll probably argue with your friend and stop seeing them for a while. [Read: 23 subtle but shocking signs of a controlling boyfriend most girls don’t notice]

In this example, the narcissist has got what they want; they manipulated you into doing exactly what they needed you to do.

How common is manipulation? 

Manipulation is everywhere, and it comes in all kinds of forms. On a societal level, everyone from advertisers to politicians try to manipulate people’s opinions to their advantage.

On a more personal level, manipulation happens pretty often too. However, it depends on how you define “manipulation.” [Read: 27 signs of emotional manipulation to know if you’re being used by someone]

If you think that a wife persuading her husband to go see a movie with her is manipulation, then perhaps it is, but it’s not problematic.

Problematic manipulation in relationships is, unfortunately, too common. For example, in the United States alone, approximately 3 million women are abused each year, and 1 in 3 will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

While manipulation is part of the abuse, it’s not the only behavior that is present during the abuse. [Read: Emotional abuse – what it is and 39 signs this relationship is breaking you]

So, the actual statistics on exactly how much manipulation goes on are unclear because it’s complicated and intertwined with other types of negative behaviors.

Why people manipulate

You might be wondering what the motivation is to manipulate other people. The simple reason is that it’s an attempt to get what they want by using someone else. But there are a lot of other deeper psychological factors that contribute to why people do this.

The underlying reason why most people use manipulative behavior is because they have a need for power and control. They need to dominate every situation. [Read: How to beat a narcissist – Ways to win over their manipulation]

This need could be a result of some kind of trauma in their past. They probably feel a need to predict what is going to happen to them in order to feel safer. 

There is also usually a need to control other people to “one-up” them and feel better than everyone else. They could also be looking for attention.

Manipulators probably started using these manipulative behaviors as survival methods and self-preservation. They also feel personally inadequate. [Read: Am I dating a sociopath? 26 warning signs, effects, and ways to get over it]

Is manipulation always wrong? 

As we’ve already touched on, manipulative behaviors aren’t always bad. If you think about it, manipulation is everywhere in our society. From advertising to social media to politicians, it is all around us.

Social manipulation can actually result in positive interactions with others sometimes.

For example, you might use common interests in order to get to know someone you just met. Or you might point out a friend’s positive traits to make them feel better about themselves. [Read: Narcissistic sociopath – how they think, 31 signs and ways to deal with them]

There are also many ways that a person can use manipulative behaviors as a form of persuasion. It can help people express their opinions, help problem-solve, or influence people to compromise.

Even parents and employers often use positive manipulation to influence the behavior of their children and employees.

In these cases, they are using their authority to motivate and encourage positive change. And in no way is any of that a bad thing. [Read: 26 whys and ways to surround yourself with positive people and remodel your life]

It is only when people use manipulative behaviors for selfish personal gain, at the harm of other people, that manipulation is truly awful.

Manipulation in a relationship and how it starts

People are manipulated not because they’re weak, but because they truly believe they stand to lose something by not giving in to this person.

And it’s most common in romantic relationships where one partner always gives in to the other partner just to please them *or to avoid offending them*.

Are you in a relationship with a partner who is manipulative? It’s not easy to recognize the signs of a manipulative lover or learn how to stop being manipulated. [Read: 20 signs to recognize a selfish person and steps to stop them from hurting you]

But it always starts with requests that soon turn into veiled threats, which eventually turn into outright abuse.

The things manipulators do to manipulate and use you

Before you learn how to stop being manipulated by someone you love, you need to understand how manipulators work.

Manipulators use different ways to make you feel insecure and guilty to make you give in to their demands. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and the best ways to deal with them]

They may withhold information from you to make you seem unimportant. Or they may blatantly lie to you because they know you don’t have the courage to question them back. 

They could even play the victim’s card by talking about how sad and pitiful their life is.

Or they may force you to take sides by bitching about someone you trust or picking flaws in them, and eventually convincing you that they’re the only person you can trust in this cruel world. [Read: 16 abusive relationship signs of a devious lover]

The tricks manipulators use could be many. But it’s all done to bring just one effect: they want to break your morale, make you completely dependent on them, and convince you that you need them more than they need you.

And this combination is the perfect recipe for a manipulator to turn you into soft putty each time they want to use you or abuse you!

Why is manipulative behavior so toxic?

It’s not only narcissists who manipulate people. Everybody does it to some point, but usually very lightly.

But, if someone regularly manipulates you into doing what they want, that’s damaging on many levels. [Read: 33 toxic signs of double standards in a relationship and ways to deal with it]

Why? Because it’s just not healthy. If you want something from your partner or your friend, you should be able to ask them and explain yourself. If you know they’re not going to agree, you’d most likely respect their answer and leave it at that, right?

Well, a manipulator, abuser, or narcissist just can’t have it any other way than their own. Instead of respecting someone’s answer, they’ll manipulate them and get what you want in an underhanded way. 

Manipulation is taking away someone’s ability to choose based on a fair argument. And, in the worst cases, it can twist someone’s mind into not really knowing which way is up or down. [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 signs you manipulate the people in your life]

It’s emotional and mental torture when someone is manipulated constantly over a long period of time.

The fact is, manipulative behavior, especially if it’s long-term, harms a person for life if they don’t know how to stop it or get away from it. It has the potential to permanently harm someone’s self-esteem, even spinning them into depression. [Read: How to build self-esteem and love life with 10 simple life changes]

Malicious manipulation seems like a little thing, but it has lasting effects that most people don’t even realize stem from manipulation.

Why are manipulative lovers so manipulative?

In most cases, a person’s manipulative behavior is acquired from the people around them, usually their parents or other people that they’ve grown up with during their formative years.

Let’s say that while you were growing up, you saw that your mother did whatever she could to avoid confrontations with your father. But, somehow, she still managed to get her way by subtly tricking him with manipulation and deceit. [Read: Toxic family members – 15 signs are reasons to cut them off for good]

If you saw that play out time and time again while you were growing up, you’ll reach adulthood thinking that manipulation is a much better way to deal with a problem and avoid confrontation at the same time.

This might be especially true if you believe you don’t stand a chance of getting what you want with outright aggression or confrontation. [Read: 20 signs you’re a people pleaser who may turn into a manipulative person very soon]

That’s just one example of how a manipulative person’s mind works.

They avoid direct confrontations, and instead of going against someone to their face, they use subtlety and trickery to convince someone into doing something for them, without ever opposing them to their face.

Each time their manipulation works, they’re more convinced that manipulation and deceit are a much better option than outright confrontation. [Read: Dark triad personality – what it is and 25 signs and ways to deal with them]

Why are you the unlucky one to end up with a manipulative lover?

People with manipulative tendencies are drawn to people who lack assertiveness. 

If you can’t say “no” or have a hard time stopping yourself from doing favors for someone even if you don’t want to do it, in all probability, you’d be drawing manipulators like moths to a warm flame.

If you lack assertiveness in your personality, you’d have the tendency to bring out the manipulative side in any of your lovers or the people you date. [Read: 21 signs of emotional abuse your partner may be using on you right now!]

Initially, your partner may use flattery or plead with you to get things done their way. But as they get more and more confident, they may use blatant aggression to frighten you into submission because, unfortunately, they know based on your personality that it will work.

Signs of manipulative behavior that are major relationship red flags

A new relationship should be a time to sit back and enjoy someone else’s company. However, be on guard for some red flags that may make you want to rethink getting into a relationship with someone in the first place.

If you’re unfamiliar with what to look for when it comes to manipulative behavior, have no fear. Luckily, we’re here to help navigate you through all the worst manipulative, red-flag behaviors to look out for. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]

1. Jealousy 

Obviously, jealousy in small amounts isn’t something to be concerned with. Nor is it bad if you have an adult discussion about why jealousy presents itself in your relationship. It becomes a problem when that jealousy or that conversation around jealousy becomes angry and manipulative.

People often get jealous because of their own insecurities. That’s only natural. But a manipulative lover will take their jealousy and use it in order to control their partner. [Read: Controlling people – The common traits and ways to deal with them]

If your significant other gets jealous all the time and then blames you for being “too available” for others, pump the brakes on that relationship.

2. They never apologize or refuse to do so 

This is a very difficult thing to catch. There are a lot of ways people work around apologizing without actually saying sorry. If you can’t even remember a time when your partner apologized, you are probably being manipulated.

If your significant other never takes responsibility or has an excuse for everything they do that upsets you, they basically make you believe they don’t have to be sorry for anything and their behavior is acceptable. [Read: 15 signs of a toxic person to recognize the bad people in your life]

They might also subtly make you think that you’re the one in the wrong, so you end up apologizing for something you never did.

3. Lack of empathy 

If your partner is someone who responds to your concerns with, “you’re crazy,” instead of listening and trying to come up with a solution, they’re not cut out to be your partner.

By dismissing your feelings, they’re manipulating you into thinking you don’t have valid concerns. Sometimes, a manipulative partner will go so far as to try to convince their lover that they really are crazy. [Read: 24 signs of people who lack empathy to know they don’t care what you think]

But don’t let it get to you. They’re only trying to knock down your concerns so that you don’t bring them up again. And why don’t they want that? Because they want to keep getting away with their abusive or manipulative behaviors.

This links very easily into gaslighting, a tactic used to make someone feel like they’re losing their grip on their own sanity by manipulating them to the point of no return.

4. Location advantage

This is one you really have to pay attention to. If you’re out in public, or even driving somewhere, and get into a little fight about something, pay attention to if they actually want to fight it out. [Read: Narcissistic behavior – 27 signs to identify them when you see one]

Manipulators often save their arguments for when they’re at home. Why? It’s all about being dominant. When they’re in their own home, they hold the power, which subconsciously makes you realize you can’t win the argument. 

So then, you back down, and again, you probably apologize for something you don’t need to apologize for. It’s a power play and it’s hugely manipulative.

5. They blame you

“I wouldn’t have even been out at the bars if you didn’t go to the movies with your friend when I wanted to hang out.”

Does something of this variety sound familiar? Well, if you’ve ever been in a manipulative relationship, it will. [Read: Subtle signs you’re clearly being manipulated by someone you love]

If your new beau is already pulling this stuff, run far and run fast because they’re manipulative. 

By using this tactic, they tell you they’re justified in their actions. They can’t be punished because you did something bad, too. 

Anything you ever accuse them of doing will somehow be your fault from the start. [Read: Narcissistic victim syndrome – what it is and how to escape the mess]

6. They don’t keep their word

Empty words foster empty hearts. There’s a reason people end up feeling like the joy is sucked out of life when they’re let down by a loved one. If your partner never follows through on their word, you’re going to be miserable.

The bad news is that misery breeds vulnerability, so your partner may be purposefully falling short of doing what they say they will in order to make it easier to further manipulate you.

If you’ve been promised really fun dates, that they’ll treat you amazing, and they’ll even cook for you, yet you never experience those things because they don’t follow through, you’re being manipulated. 

How? Well, they tell you that they’ll do something that you really want. You become hopeful, and then those hopes are dashed when they don’t follow through.

You’re sad and disappointed, and while you’re vulnerable, they put you down or they blame you for something you didn’t do because you’re more likely to apologize for nothing. Then, they make more promises so that you don’t leave them, and the horrible cycle continues.

It’s also possible that their actions and words just don’t match up. If someone says one thing and does another, be very wary indeed. [Read: Types of liars – Ways to confront them and not lose your cool]

7. Regular guilt trips 

This is the best-known manipulative behavior, and it’s also the easiest to spot. If someone says anything that seems dramatic and makes you feel bad, it’s this. 

Something along the lines of, “Fine. You can go out with your friends. I’ll just stay home and clean the bathroom,” is manipulative and purposefully said to make you feel guilty.

But while making someone feel guilty is one of the most common and easy-to-spot types of manipulation, it can also be subtle at the same time. [Read: The best guilt-free ways to handle guilt trippers in your life]

It’s subtle because it’s powerful. It will make you drop everything and do whatever they want because nobody likes to feel guilty. 

8. Passive-aggressive behavior 

Leaving notes all over the place, talking to people behind your back, and leaving a sink full of dishes when they know it’s your night to do them – these are all passive-aggressive manipulative behaviors.

They’re not verbally telling you they’re upset, but they make sure you know they are. This is one of the most immature signs of manipulative behavior. [Read: How to deal with passive-aggressive behavior calmly and with class]

It’s best to just walk away and not return. 

If someone isn’t able to actually communicate with you and tell you what the problem is, they’re not going to be someone you can have a mature, healthy relationship with.

9. Fish for compliments or praise by verbalizing self-doubt 

People fish for compliments all the time. While it’s really annoying, usually they’re harmless. However, if a person is also manipulative and they do this, it’s a red flag. [Read: 16 attention whore signs to watch out for]

If they always tell you they hate the way their body looks or they can’t stand their hair or they wish they were just a little bit attractive, they’re fishing for compliments as a way of manipulating you. 

They make you feel bad for them, so you’ll do anything to cheer them up. 

That’s when they’ve got you where they want you; when it’s likely that you’ll put your own needs on the back burner so you can make them feel better. [Read: Attention seeker – 17 signs you’re one even if you can’t see it]

10. Forces their insecurities onto you 

If you’ve ever been with someone who made you act a certain way because of something that once happened to them, they manipulated you. This is a fairly common technique that some people actually think is justifiable.

This is when someone says something like, “I don’t want you to have any male/female friends because I was cheated on. I’m sure you can understand that.” 

It’s the idea that they push their insecurities onto you so you must deal with them. [Read: Insecurity in a relationship – How to feel more secure and love better]

This manipulates you by bringing your attention to their insecurities instead of your own concerns with being told who you can or can’t be friends with. 

But that means you’re the one suffering because of something that their ex did. That’s not fair.

11. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. [Read: Gaslighting – What it is, how it works and 22 signs to recognize it instantly]

People who are the victims of gaslighting can feel anxious, and confused, and oftentimes they can’t trust themselves.

An example of gaslighting might be when someone questions your memory. They might say things like, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory.” Or they could say, “I think you forgot what really happened.”

Another gaslighting tactic is pretending that they don’t understand the conversation. [Read: 52 reasons why women stay in abusive relationships and how to get out]

They refuse to listen and make the person doubt themselves by saying things like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “Now you’re just confusing me.”

12. Criticizing or judging

No one likes to be criticized or judged. We all want to be liked, loved, and accepted by other people. A manipulator knows this, and that’s why they resort to criticizing or judging other people.

They are trying to make other people feel bad about themselves because people with low self-esteem are a lot easier to manipulate than those who love themselves. [Read: Lessons to deal with judgmental people]

In order to get their way, they have to tear down someone’s sense of self and chip away at their self-esteem. They also do this because they don’t love themselves, so they want everyone else to be miserable too.

13. The silent treatment

You might not think that the silent treatment is so bad because at least you’re not getting negativity spewed at you. For some, silence would be welcome. 

But believe it or not, the silent treatment is abusive. It is basically saying to the other person, “you’re not even important enough for me to acknowledge your existence.” [Read: Silent treatment abuse – how to take a stand and get back in control]

And when other people feel unimportant, they are vulnerable to being manipulated.

People can only take being ignored for so long. Eventually, they will beg and plead to be acknowledged and heard. But it comes with a price – they have to do what the manipulator wants them to do. 

In short, the silent treatment puts the manipulator in a power position. Once that is achieved, then manipulation is a lot easier. [Read: How to respond to the silent treatment and stop being power-played]

14. Flattery

You also would think that flattery is a positive thing. After all, who doesn’t like being told nice things about themselves? 

But you’ve probably seen this situation before. If someone suddenly becomes very nice and complimentary to you by saying things like, “You look so gorgeous today!” or “You are the most amazing person in the world!” then you might be likely to pay more attention to them.

But the flattery strategy is just a way to lure people in. They think that the manipulator is genuine, but they are not. [Read: 16 secrets to manipulate a manipulator and make them feel powerless around you]

They are just using it as a way to trick someone into doing what they want them to do.

15. Love bombing

Similar to flattery, love bombing is also a confusing way to be manipulated. This happens a lot at the beginning of a relationship when people first start dating.

When someone love-bombs another, they tell them how amazing they are, how much they love them, and how they are so lucky to have found them. They shower the person they’re dating with gifts, affection, and flattery, making them truly feel like the most special person in the world… after only knowing them for a couple of weeks. [Read: Love bombing – what it is, how it works, and 21 signs you’re being manipulated]

But they don’t mean it. They are just “word vomiting” in order to get the other person to love them. Once they gain your affection, then they turn around and become a completely different person. Just like with flattery, it reels people in quite effectively.

What should you do if you think you’re being manipulated?

Now you know what manipulative behavior is and a few examples of what it looks like, what should you do if you think you’re being subjected to it? 

You shouldn’t stick around and do nothing, that’s for sure. Manipulation isn’t healthy and if someone you care about is doing that to you, you need to work out why and address the issue. [Read: Gray rock method – what it is, 23 secrets, and how to use it on a narcissist]

The best thing to do is sit down with this person and have an adult and gentle conversation. 

Don’t go straight in there and accuse them of manipulating you. Instead, use language which is blame-free and gentle, such as “I feel like…” rather than “you keep manipulating me into doing what you want.” [Read: Stonewalling in a relationship – 15 signs and the best ways to fix it ASAP]

Set out some boundaries and make sure that they know they should ask you if they want something and not just try and get it through manipulation. 

If conversation and boundaries don’t work, you may simply need to work out whether this relationship is worthwhile or not. 

After all, if you’ve highlighted the problem and they still do it, clearly they have a problem with manipulative behavior that they don’t want to change. [Read: 34 big relationship red flags that most people completely ignore]

The best ways to stop getting manipulated in a relationship

Once you realize that your partner is manipulating you, it’s very easy to say that you should leave them. But it’s so much harder to actually bring yourself to do anything. The first thing you need to do is accept; accept that you’re a victim of manipulative behavior and that something needs to change.

Each time you accept to do something when your mind silently screams ‘no,’ you’re giving your partner an opportunity to use you and manipulate you. And over the years, you’d only lose your self-esteem and feel smaller and weaker each time you find yourself getting used and manipulated. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships to stay away from!]

If you truly want to stop being manipulated in your relationship, you need to learn to take a stand and believe you’re worthy of your partner. Use these 27 tips to change for the better and stop getting manipulated by your lover:

1. Accept the situation

You can’t do anything if you don’t accept the situation for what it is. Realize that you are a victim. And then use the frustrations, anger, and resentment you feel each time you feel manipulated and try to convince yourself to act on your partner’s behavior.

Tell yourself that you deserve a better life that’s full of happiness and not deceit and trickery. Believe in the strength you have, and realize that you do have the power to say ‘no’ if you choose to. [Read: 16 ways to deal with your partner’s controlling and manipulative behavior]

2. Communicate with your partner

Talk to your partner and explain how you feel each time you feel manipulated in the relationship. Remember, sometimes your partner may not realize that they’re manipulating you to get what they want. 

Confronting them will give you the courage to decline them *because you’ve explained your need to decline their requests when you feel manipulated*. [Read: How to communicate better in a relationship and fix a lack of it]

3. Recognize their emotional blackmail

Keep an eye on the way your partner tries to manipulate you. Do they try bullying you, intimidating you, or do they say something that makes you feel weak and want to give in? 

Try to pinpoint the signs that make you feel vulnerable and used in the relationship.

4. Take a stand

You may not be ready to say ‘no’ just yet. But you could at least take a stand when you don’t feel like doing something, right? [Read: 27 signs of manipulation to know if you’re being used by someone]

If your partner asks you for something you don’t wish to do, explain yourself calmly and tell them why you don’t wish to do it. 

You don’t have to say no right away. But you can try to explain why you don’t want to do something for them. Start with this, and your strength will grow. [Read: How your self-respect affects the way you see your relationship]

5. Set boundaries

Sit down by yourself and ask yourself what you’re willing to accept and where you want to draw the line. 

Setting boundaries, having clear principles in life, and knowing when to stop doing favors for someone, will help you recreate a whole new ‘you’ who’s more confident and clearer about what’s right and what’s wrong. [Read: How to set personal boundaries and guide others to respect it]

6. Get your independence

Most lovers who get bullied in a relationship allow it to happen only because they believe they are dependent on their partner. [Read: Spirited steps to be independent in a relationship and learn to love better!]

So, learn to be independent in all ways *social, emotional, and financial* so you can have the strength to stand on your own feet again and reclaim your life.

7. Respect and love yourself

Typically, manipulative people find those who are easy to manipulate. They target people who are in a crisis or have low self-esteem because they make for easier victims. 

The best way to deal with manipulative people is by boosting yourself up and remembering all the wonderful qualities you possess. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

No matter how hard they try to put you down and tell you who you are, if you believe in yourself, then they can’t touch you. 

Instead of trying to convince them you are awesome, which you never will, just convince yourself.

If you don’t love yourself or believe in your abilities, there’s no way you can ever stand up for yourself. You need to realize that you’re not a pushover. [Read: 34 life-changing steps to fall in love with yourself all over again]

Stop giving people the opportunity to use you by being firm and valuing yourself.

8. Don’t give up

It’s very hard to make such a big change in your life, but it’s not impossible. Don’t give up and don’t stop hoping for a better life – away from the manipulative behavior. 

You’re the only person who can stop you from living a better life. So even if you fail and fall prey to emotional manipulation now and then, don’t give up. Just try harder to stand strong the next time around. [Read: 16 things you need to give up to have a happier life]

9. Build a support system

If you’re being manipulated by your lover, build a small support system with your family or your close friends. 

Meet them often, stay busy in your own life, and when you have a hard time confronting the manipulation, use the help of your support system to boost yourself back up.

10. Get stronger

Each time you find the strength to say “no” to someone, be it a salesperson, a coworker, or even your partner, take a moment to experience the high and control over your life you feel right then. [Read: How to find inner strength in a messy relationship]

Use this strength to feel stronger, and more in control of your own life, and learn how to stop being manipulated by someone.

11. Don’t let it get to you

Don’t let your partner’s bitter remarks, their expectations, and the mean things they say get to you. 

Doubting yourself is the easiest way to lose control of your own life. Turn a deaf ear to anything that you perceive as negativity, and just believe in yourself. [Read: How to get rid of nervousness and calm your mind wherever you are]

12. Don’t fall prey

Don’t fall prey to their pleas, false excuses, or lavish gifts. When a manipulator feels like they’re slipping out of control, they may try really hard to please you or win your affection back, just before they ask you for something. 

But this is when you need to avoid falling into their trap. 

As convincing as they may seem, be strong and don’t give in to their demands, even if you feel obligated because they’re being so nice to you. [Read: Love bombing and 21 signs someone is manipulating you to fall harder in love]

13. Don’t let them beat around the bush

Most manipulators never get straight to the point. They always talk about all the things they’ve done for you, or they promise you something special, and just when you seem really happy, they try to get something out of you.

Remember, they want to put you in an awkward spot so they can trick you into doing something. Don’t let that happen. If you sense a request coming, ask them to be direct and tell you what they want so you can stop being manipulated.

14. Ignore everything they say and do

If someone is using manipulative behavior on you, a big mistake a lot of people make is trying to correct them. But if you do that, you walk right into their trap. [Read: How to ignore someone you don’t like without stressful drama]

Because they like to use frustration and confusion to bait you into a conflict with them, they are actually trying to make you emotional. 

They want to observe your behaviors and reactions so they can see how you operate. In other words, they are trying to find your triggers.

Once they know what triggers you, then they will use these things against you. The reason they do this is so they can influence your behavior. [Read: 44 stress-free ways to ignore someone and stop people from hurting you]

So, instead of correcting or confronting them, just ignore them completely.

15. Turn the tables on them

Since manipulative people are using their own strategies against you, try turning the tables on them. For example, if they hold what you’ve done in the past against you, do the same to them.

Or, if they dangle a reward in front of you so you chase it, dangle your own reward in front of their face. You can also make allies with people who are close to them and work together if you can. [Read: How to play a player – 26 sneaky ways to return a favor like a boss]

In other words, beat them at their own game. This throws them off and forces them to “look in the mirror”, so to speak, and get a taste of their own medicine.

16. Trust your judgment

If you really want to stop manipulative behavior in a relationship, then trust your own judgment. You know yourself better than anyone else – at least you should. So, don’t go around asking other people for their opinions about everything. 

You know that you are being manipulated, so you don’t need to ask anyone else for confirmation. Trust your gut! [Read: Gut instinct – what it is, how it works, and 30 tips to follow and listen to your gut]

And if your gut instinct knows that you are being manipulated, use your beliefs as your boundaries. Hold them hard and fast so you can prevent the manipulative person from affecting your life.

17. Stop compromising

Guilt is a very bad emotion, but it’s a very powerful tool to manipulate another person. It’s one of the main weapons that a manipulator will use against you. 

They make you feel guilty for mistakes and failures. And they’ll even make you feel guilty for being happy or self-confident. [Read: Don’t be run over – how to stand up for yourself in a relationship]

The reason for this is that they don’t want you to feel good about yourself. They want you to doubt yourself, your abilities, and your worth. They’re trying to gain power over you by creating a feeling of uncertainty.

When are feeling uncertain, then they have a better chance of getting you to compromise your values, goals, and self-esteem. So, stop compromising. You don’t owe anyone anything. Stand strong.

18. Don’t ask for permission

Manipulative people will make you feel like you can’t do anything without asking. If you do, there is hell to pay. [Read: How to say no – 15 ways to reason politely, stop pleasing, and feel kickass]

The problem is that you are stuck no matter what it is that you want. Always waiting for the approval of someone else can make you feel bottomed out and alone.

Soon enough, you feel like you can’t breathe without them saying it is okay. 

It is a vicious cycle, but it is much better to deal with the repercussions of doing something wrong than being paralyzed by not ever being able to make a decision for yourself. [Read: How to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

Make your own decisions.

What you will find is that no matter what choices you make, they won’t be happy with them. That is the whole idea behind manipulating people. 

But at least you won’t be sitting around waiting and being controlled. [Read: Why am I so indecisive? 25 whys and ways to be an instant decision maker]

19. Take personal responsibility

If someone manipulates you once, shame on them. But if it happens again, then shame on you. 

Stop blaming them for everything, and stop letting them walk all over you. You aren’t a punching bag. You need to have enough self-respect to say no when you recognize they are manipulating you.

Yes, horrible, manipulative partners exist. And yes, what they are doing is wrong. But that doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to be used. [Read: Manipulative people – how to spot them and stop playing the victim]

Remember this… no one can manipulate you without your permission. You’re responsible for your own successes and failures. Be accountable and learn from your mistakes. If others out-think or out-strategize you—it’s your fault, not theirs.

20. Ignore what they tell you about yourself

One of the best ways to manipulate and control someone is to convince them that they aren’t worthy of love or attention. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]

So, manipulative people go to great lengths to make sure to gain control over those they use. If you want to combat manipulative people in your life, you have to stop listening to what they tell you.

You know what the truth is. Just look at your other relationships, and at all the people who have ever loved you. You have to decide for yourself what reality is and stop letting someone create it for you.

As hard as it is, if you have someone who is manipulative in your life, the only way to stop the abuse is just to stop listening to what they have to say and what they tell you. [Read: 17 relationship red flags that most people ignore completely]

Listen to your inner voice, not the voices they put in your head.

21. Don’t get sucked in

Yup, people who use manipulative behavior know exactly the right buttons to push to make others go from zero to crazy. 

If you notice that you are suddenly behaving in ways that you haven’t before, or finding yourself losing your temper, there is a likelihood that they are intentionally setting off the crazy in you. [Read: How to calm down when you’re angry and regain your composure quickly]

No matter what buttons they push, the only way to deal with manipulative people is not to get sucked in. 

Regardless of how hard it is, those things that hurt the most have to be the glue that bounces off of you and gets stuck to them.

22. Find out what makes them tick

Manipulative people are especially good at one thing… finding your Kryptonite. [Read: How to play a guy at his own game and 40 ways to beat a player in style]

The best way to save yourself from the manipulative person in your life is to find out the thing that makes them powerless. In essence, you have to fight fire with fire.

Once you find out what makes them tick, you can use it against them to get them to stop abusing you. 

Holding things out as a reward, using things that hurt them, or withholding things they desire; you can turn the manipulation right back on them and take the pain and hurt off you. [Read: How to tell if someone is using you – 22 signs a user just can’t hide]

23. Be unpredictable

People use predictable behaviors to manipulate others. If they know that you will always react in a specific way, show up at a particular time, or give in under certain circumstances, they use that predictability to control you.

Make sure to mix it up to try to divert their abuse. Don’t feed into the predictable nature of your abusive relationship. 

Always keep them guessing about your comings and your goings, don’t be there when you are supposed to like clockwork, and don’t be their punching bag when they think you will. [Read: How to be mysterious and leave everyone smitten and craving for more]

24. Stop giving in

Another one of the things that manipulative people are very, very, good at is guilt. By making you feel guilty about what you do, they can control you. 

Like that bad sitcom where someone saves someone else’s life only to be indebted to them forever, a manipulative person will use guilt to make you do what they want.

The worst part about this is that it is a cycle. They push your buttons so that you behave in a way that you aren’t proud of, then make you feel guilty to control you. [Read: Guilt-free ways to handle guilt trippers in your life]

Once you are finally over the guilt, they push your buttons again to get the circle back in the circuit. 

Masters of their trade, guilt is something that mothers use for good not evil. But manipulative people only use their powers for evil.

25. Realize there’s no free lunch

When a manipulative person does something for you, there is always payback. [Read: How to get revenge – cold, calculated moves to hit back and get even]

Just like the “free cat” that ends up costing you a fortune in vet bills to make it well again, if you allow a manipulative person to do a “favor” for you, then they have you, and they own you.

If they do something, realize that there will always be payback and decide if it is worth it, or if you should just do it on your own.

26. Know what you want in life

The way that manipulative people work is by convincing you that they are the goal. [Read: Feeling stuck in life? How to change directions and live your dream]

If you have a goal, something to believe in, and faith in what you are working toward, then you won’t worry so much about what they do and how they respond or react to you.

Believing in something greater than just your relationship with them or their conditional love will help you find your freedom from them. [Read: 15 questions to reveal a controlling personality instantly]

27. Walk away

Living with a manipulative partner is like walking in a minefield. You can’t relax, you can’t just love them for who they are, and you’ll always have to be on guard. 

And that’s not really the recipe for a happy relationship, is it? If you can’t feel carefree and happy in your lover’s arms, is it worth staying in the relationship? [Read: How to break up with a narcissist and fly out of their gilded cage]

If your partner doesn’t try to change even after you’ve given them enough chances, walk away for good. Their manipulative behavior is too deeply ingrained in their mind to ever change. 

And you’re better off leaving the relationship, than letting this person break your spine and your morale, which would only lead to you getting used and manipulated by everyone else in your life.

[Read: How to stop being manipulated in any of your relationships]

Manipulators are all out there and ready to pull in the next over-trusting person with their manipulative behavior. Luckily, you can now weed them out and end that relationship before it even begins.

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. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...