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Am I Manipulative? 20 Signs You Manipulate the People in Your Life

Am I manipulative? If you’re asking yourself this question, it is time to take a deep dive inside yourself and discover the truth.

Am I Manipulative

Am I manipulative? Admit it or not, at one point, we have all used some mental trick to make another person do something we want.

Even as a child, you threw a tantrum to get your parent to buy you a lollipop or something along those lines. Everyone manipulates others in some form. Most of this is minuscule and not out of cruelty, but convenience.

But, when that convenience and ease of power over someone else becomes your norm, you start to spiral downward and become manipulative. At first, you think you’re just clever, but when that skill you have to overpower others takes over your better qualities, you have a problem.

If this sounds like you, you should keep reading. [Read: 16 tactics psychological manipulators use]

What is manipulation?

First of all, what is manipulation? How can you answer the question, am I manipulative? Without first knowing exactly what it is?

Well, it is subtle. It can be obvious in some cases, but manipulation is such a common trick that it often goes unnoticed. You may not realize you’re doing it until it becomes a pattern of negative behavior that invades those around you.

This is the same for the victims of manipulation. They often don’t realize what is happening until it is too late, or they are so deep into a relationship it is hard to get out. Manipulation not only ruins relationships, but it can have a major and lasting effect on people’s emotions and ability to trust others and themselves.

If you are causing someone pain, changing how they feel about you or themselves, or controlling someone else’s life, you are likely manipulative. And that isn’t a good thing.

But, there are many ways to be manipulative, and because you came here looking for answers, you probably don’t recognize these signs. Once you can answer the question, am I manipulative? Hopefully, you can learn to stop those behaviors and have healthier relationships for your sake and the sake of those in your life.

[Read: 20 signs you’re a control freak]

Am I manipulative?

As you can see, nobody wants to be manipulated, and no one wants a manipulative person in their life. Being manipulative isn’t just a little thing. It can have a major impact on people and really cause a lot of damage.

And once you are outed as manipulative, you become a bit of a pariah. Manipulative people end up being alone as they cannot sustain a long-term relationship based on deception. The lack of trust is so blatant that you end up hurting yourself at the end of it all.

You do not want to be a manipulative person. So, if you wonder, am I manipulative? These signs point to yes, and say it is time to change. [Read: Stop your bad behavior and change your life for the better]

1. You keep secrets

Deception is manipulation. By either lying straight to another person or deliberately withholding vital information that concerns the person, you manipulate them into a course of action devoid of the facts.

Example: Gossiping that a guy your friend has a crush on is a player so that you could pursue him yourself.

2. You gaslight people

Gaslighting is a covert form of deception. Instead of withholding information or lying, you make the person doubt their own thoughts and decisions by implying they are mentally incapacitated.

Example: “You were drunk that day so that you couldn’t have seen me with another woman. It’s the booze playing tricks on your head.” [Read: The 16 signs of a gaslighter]

3. You guilt-trip

Guilt-tripping is a form of manipulation that attacks emotion. As we all know, guilt is a strong emotion most people avoid as much as possible.

Feelings of guilt cause a great amount of distress. People who experience this would be easily driven into a course of action that somehow alleviates their feelings of guilt. Guilt-tripping involves using a person’s sense of guilt to do their bidding.

Example: “You should feel bad about forgetting our anniversary. Now, you should make up for it by doing this for me.” [Read: 10 guiltfree ways to handle guilt trippers]

4. You play the victim

Playing the victim is another form of emotional manipulation. Humans feel sympathy for the victim with their altruistic nature even when logic advises us against it. By playing the victim, you divert another person’s attention or sometimes diffuse hostility towards you by appearing as the aggrieved party even if you are not.

Example: “I cheated on you because I’ve been cheated on my whole life.”

5. You blame others for your actions

Shifting blame towards others is how manipulative people get away with being accountable for their mistakes. While normal people apologize or make up for a mistake, seasoned manipulators concoct a scenario where other people accept the blame for their screw-up.

Example: “I only cheated because you didn’t trust me. You pushed me into it. It’s your fault.”

[Read: How to stop playing relationship games]

6. You’re passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressive is also a form of manipulation. It involves indirect hostile activities such as procrastination, forgetfulness, stubbornness, and silent treatment.

Passive-aggressive is particularly annoying since it requires little effort from the person doing it while causing immense emotional distress. By being passive-aggressive, manipulative people emotionally wear down the target of their hostility to do their bidding while at the same time appearing innocent.

Example: Your partner accidentally shrunk your favorite sweater. Instead of talking about it and forgiving them, you stain their favorite shirt intentionally but play it off as an accident. [Read: How to stop being passive aggressive]

7. You sabotage relationships

Sabotage is self-explanatory. It is an act that immediately results in a strained relationship. By sabotaging relationships, manipulative people influence people’s perceptions or decisions that result in their favor. This way, manipulative people pit people in a good relationship against each other or sway people to agree with their ideas.

Example: You tell your friend their partner is up to something sketchy, so they break up and have more time for you. [Read: 10 things you do that sabotage your love life]

8. You fake kindness for your gain

We all hate this sort of behavior. We’ve met some kind of person who tried to do this to us. Similar to the saying, “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” manipulative people butter up others by flattery and act nice to them until they get what they want from the person.

Example: Flirting with a classmate that you bully to get him to do your homework.

9. You feign concern

Like playing nice until you get what you want, feigning concern is another type of emotional manipulation to make you appear genuinely empathetic to a person experiencing distress to gain something from them.

You would be present in their time of need, offering empty words of support while doing nothing helpful. This way, you undermine their suspicion and gain their trust until you need them for something.

Example: Texting someone to ask how they’re doing and catch up, only to ask for a favor. Once they agree, you stop being so concerned with their well-being.

[Read: 11 sweet and genuine ways to show you care]

10. You raise your voice and act hostile

During an argument, people want to resolve disagreements through a mature, intellectual conversation.

However, manipulative people suddenly go into a fit of rage and turn the conversation into a shouting contest to raise pulses and veer the conversation off its course. They usually do this once they feel cornered and on the losing side of the argument.

This behavior usually shocks or even scared people into giving in.

Example: You’re fighting about something petty but are about to lose the argument, so you yell and scream, so they feel uncomfortable and give up. [Read: 10 unassuming signs they’re a jerk]

11. You play dumb

Ignorance is bliss and innocence. If you are unaware, then you are not culpable. This is how manipulative people use the playing dumb tactic to manipulate others. It is usually used to get out of a pinch, and more commonly, to avoid responsibilities.

Example: “I cannot do this task since I’m not trained to use this software. Ben here knows how to so he can get this assignment.”

12. You start fights

If you are manipulative, you tend not to have a problem with confrontation. In fact, you thrive in a fight. You know how to make things work to your advantage, so starting fights to get what you want is your go-to move.

Example: You want to have a night out with friends, but your partner wants to have a date night. You pick a fight with them, so they ask for space from you, then you don’t have to be the bad guy.

[Read: Stop fighting in a relationship & learn how to really talk]

13. You never apologize honestly

Taking responsibility for your own actions is almost unheard of when it comes to manipulative people. The only time you’ll hear an apology from them is if it is for their own gain.

If you rarely accept that you were wrong or say sorry, you are probably manipulative.

Example: You say something rude or insensitive publicly and apologize, but only to repair your reputation. Behind closed doors, you don’t believe you did anything wrong.

14. You blame others for everything

Not only do you blame others for your own mistakes, but you blame people for things they have no control over. This could be a waiter, a coworker, or your partner.

Example: You come home from work and blame your partner for your bad day.

15. You’re always right

Even when you’re wrong, you’re right. Being manipulative is about convincing others you’re right even if deep down you know you’re not. Instead of accepting a difference of opinions, you shut people down until they agree with you.

Example: “My college is better. It is a pure fact. I don’t care what the statistics say. Those are all skewed.”

[Read: How to tell if you’re the toxic one]

16. You like to be the center of attention

You may not be the life of the party, but as a manipulator, you draw people’s attention your way. Perhaps you fake being upset, so people feel the need to comfort you. Maybe you’ll make up a rumor to start drama. You need people to care about what you have to say, even if you made it up.

Example: No one at a party is talking to you, so you make up a rumor that the couple hosting is separating.

17. You’re nosy

You have no sense of privacy when it comes to others. You feel you have the right to know what your friends, family, and partner are up to. The superiority that manipulators feel makes them believe they deserve this information.

Why? So they can use it to their advantage once again. You may hold onto it for blackmail or bring it up when you need something.

Example: You snooped on your partner’s phone and found out they friended their ex on Facebook. Instead of bringing it up when you find out, you wait until you need something or they’re mad at you, so you have something to fight back with.

[Read: The guide to keeping secrets in a relationship]

18. You make things about you

Every situation has to be about you if you’re manipulative. You twist people’s stories or their chance to vent and make it about yourself.

Example: Your partner is in a bad mood because they had a stressful day. You feign an apology as if you did something to upset them so that their energy goes to coddling you instead of you being there for them.

Making them feel guilty because their bad mood is affecting you is prime manipulative behavior.

19. You talk down to people.

This may be the most blatant and common type of manipulative behavior. Think about your boss who talks down to you so you feel bad about yourself and work yourself to the bone just to impress them. That would be a great example of this.

But when it is, you make other people feel small to improve your own self worth and control their behavior around you.

Example: A school bully threatens kids so they feel better about themselves, and so those kids are scared of them and offer them snakcs or do them favors in exchange for not being treated so poorly.

20. You prey on the kindness of others

Am I manipulative? Yes, if you seek out kind and caring people because they are easy targets for your manipulation.

Example: A new person starts their first day at your work, and they are sweet, innocent, and maybe gullible. You befriend them, so you have someone to control and use for your own gain.

[Read: How to spot manipulative people and stop playing the victim]

Am I manipulative? If you found these signs of manipulation familiar and even comforting, the answer is yes. Now it is your chance to fight that behavior and become a more positive and authentic person.

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