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How to Protect Ourselves From Emotional Manipulation

free your mind

Given the reality that we as human beings have a very strong self-centered aspect of our beings called the ego, many problems arise when this aspect of the human experience goes uncontrolled. Manipulation has always been a favored tool of the ego in order to get what it wants. This manipulation can come in either a physical form or it can be seen to work on the emotional level in order to break the psyche into meeting the manipulator’s desires. Properly identifying the ways in which people emotionally manipulate others can save us much suffering in the future when identified early enough.

By protecting ourselves from being manipulated on the emotional level, we are able to free ourselves once and for all from the violation of our universal right of free will. Just as we can shift our consciousness from the state of fear which is often imposed on us by emotional manipulators, we can shift away from any debilitating mindstate.  The following will be a detailed list of signs to look for in people that are trying to emotionally manipulate others and how to defend against these sinister tactics. Many thanks to Fiona McCall who wrote Eight Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation that is the inspiration for this article.

You make a statement that is turned around to be used against you in a negative way.

The person will speak with an air of honesty that is in fact a cover for their true intentions. An example would be that  you would tell this person something like,  “I am really angry that you forgot my birthday.” Their response would be that  “it makes me feel sad that you would think I would forget your birthday, I should have told you of the great personal stress I am facing at the moment, but you see I didn’t want to trouble you. You are right I should have put all this pain (by this point, persuasive tears may begin to appear in order to give more credence to this manipulation tactic being used) aside and focused on your birthday. Sorry.” Your intuition may sense that this elaborate apology is not genuine. However, since they said the magic words,  you are essentially left with nothing more to say or you will find yourself trying to control their fake anger. When this scenario plays out, do not accept an apology that is as real as their true intentions. If you do accept the apology, you have just been emotionally manipulated! If it does not feel genuine,  it probably is not. Do not allow yourself to me emotionally blackmailed because if you do that one time, the emotional manipulator will see that it can be used as a successful method of getting what he or she desires.

The person presents his or herself as a willing helper.

A person that acts as an emotional manipulator plays the part of someone who is willing to help out with any given task. If you ask for their help with something, he or she will be more than willing to agree. If you did not ask for their help, he or she will volunteer to help with any given task. Seeing an offer for help looks like a wonderful thing, but in the mind of an emotional manipulator, this is merely a tactical move in order to fulfill a selfish desire he or she has. If you accept their offer to help,  he or she will express their unwillingness to help by letting out several sighs that are loud enough for you to notice, or some other non-verbal signs that let you know they actually do not want to help you with whatever it was they offered to help with. You will notice this and tell them that it does not seem as if they actually want to help, and this is when he or she begin their main manipulation efforts. He or she will show their great will to help you and that you are being unreasonable. In order to bypass this manipulation, ignore the fake sighs and subtle cues that he or she is unwilling to help. You can also confront the individual directly and deliver an ultimatum (albeit in a civil manner).

They say something but later assure you that they did not say it at all.

This is one tactic that you can see being used in many aspects of society, perhaps the political sphere being the greatest user of this. If you constantly feel like there may be something wrong with your memory recall because you remember one thing and the emotional manipulator “remembers” another, then be cautious. Those who have mastered the “art” of emotional manipulation are experts in justifying their actions, turning things around against you, and rationalizing situations. It is as if they have graduated The University of Lying and are incredibly skilled in passing off even the most ridiculous lie without giving any hints that he or she is being deceitful. They can be expert persuaders to the point that you begin to question your own memories and sanity. To combat this technique by the emotional manipulator, keeping a log of what he or she says is a good start to having definitive proof that he or she is lying right in your face. It does not matter how you go about doing this. It can be in the form of having another person with you when the manipulator is saying whatever it is they are saying, writing it down, recording it, etc.

They put you in a guilt trip.

Emotional manipulators are experts in the craft of guilt-tripping. They have the ability to make you feel guilty either for not speaking up, for speaking up, for not showing enough emotion, for showing too much emotion, for not giving and/or caring enough, and for giving and/or caring too much. There are no lines that the emotional manipulator will not cross in order to put you in a guilt trip. This person will very rarely exhibit any real needs or desires he or she has. Instead, emotional manipulation is the game they play in order to get these needs and desires satisfied. Combined with guilt, sympathy is a very powerful tool to manipulate your emotions. The emotional manipulator is excellent at playing the victim. They stir up your will to support, care, and nurture them. These individuals very rarely do their own dirty work, so to speak. They are able to make you do it for them and when you do (through indirect means) they will say that they never expected or wanted you to do anything at all. Do not worry, you are not losing your sanity! Make it abundantly clear to them that you are not going to do their dirty work, which can be said by saying  “I am fully confident in your ability to work this out on your own.”

They are indirect.

By taking the passive-aggressive route, emotional manipulators are able to deal with things indirectly. Actions in this category include talking behind your back, getting others to say to you what they would not say themselves, and finding subtle ways of letting you know they are unhappy. They will tell you things that you want to hear, but then do something to undermine that. An example of this would be if the manipulator says that “of course I want you to go back to school baby and you know I will always support you.” Fast forward to a night where you are either studying for an exam or perhaps finishing a project for work and your children (if you have some, that is) are throwing temper tantrums, the television’s volume is set really high, and your pets need taking care of  – all the while “honey” is sitting on the couch looking at you blankly. If you were to call them out on this, they will likely say something like “well you can’t expect life to just stop because you have an exam or have to finish a project for work can you dear?” This is a difficult one to deal with, and if an emotional manipulator pulls this one, the choices for response are very limited…even as much that I do not have an adequate method to combat this besides getting this person out of your life.

They always seem to have it worse than you.

This tactic is pretty straight-forward. No matter what problems you may have in your life, the emotional manipulator always has problems worse than you. They shift focus from your problems to their supposed problems (which almost never exist in the way they claim they do). If you sense that they are not being genuine and are just trying to shift the focus of the conversation on themselves in order to satisfy an egoistic desire, they will display feelings of being deeply hurt and will call you selfish. Yes, they will call you selfish, when in reality it is they who are selfish. Every day is Opposite Day for this emotional manipulator. It is difficult to combat this, because it is difficult to prove that you are not trying to be in the spotlight, so to speak. However, a clear and effective solution is to simply trust your intuition on their genuineness and walk away.

They are able to lower the positive energy of others around them.

Given the interconnected nature of human consciousness, everyone affects everyone else. This reality is able to both benefit and hurt us. If an emotional manipulator is in a room with others who are feeling fairly content and positive, the manipulators’ low level of consciousness will negatively impact all the others around his or herself. If they are angry or sad, others will begin to feel these emotions creep up into their consciousness and bring them down. The instinctual result of this is that others will try to bring the energy level back up by trying to make the emotional manipulator feel better. By staying around such a person for a long period of time, you will find yourself exhausted with always trying to bring them back up to the positive end of the emotional spectrum and become burnt out.

They have no sense of accountability.

Emotional manipulators do not take responsibility for their own actions. They always turn around a situation to see what others have done to them. An easy way to identify an emotional manipulator using this tactic is to see if he or she attempts to establish intimacy via the early sharing of what is considered very personal information that is the kind that makes you feel sorry for them. You may at first feel that this individual is very sensitive, emotionally open, and perhaps even a little vulnerable. This is precisely how they want you to perceive their actions. Emotional manipulators have emboldened their ego to such great heights that they practically never feel vulnerable. The best way to combat this tactic is to identify it early on and cease giving these individuals an audience.

Every one of us is bound to come across an emotional manipulator sooner or later. By understanding how they operate and what tactics they use on others, we can be well prepared for their attempts at using us for their own egoistic desires and can prevent much pain, sometimes even a lifetime’s worth. Spread awareness to others by educating them on emotional manipulation and with our collective efforts, we will no longer fall for their tricks.

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300 comments to How to Protect Yourself From Emotional Manipulation

  • This is a really good post, everything described is true. If I would have found about this topic 3 years ago I could have gotten away from an emotional manipulator that made my life so sad and difficult for almost 3 years. Thank you for posting, I hope more people read about this.

  • manipulated

    I love this article. I have identified with it. Oh my Gosh, it’s eye opening. I know I am being manipulated I just didn’t know how to define it. But all the poitns are so correct. I also started to bring a notepad with me, cause I question my sanity. I love the person, and the person loves me but I can’t have this feeling of quilt all the time. It’s new to me and and I take it as a great life learning lesson.

  • Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :-)

  • Tara

    This is cool :) thank you.

  • Okme2

    This is very confusing to me. I feel that these tactics are being used against me, but I’m being accused of usig the same tactics. They seem to go both ways.

  • Rina

    I have a question – my friend is having a very strange relationship with this new guy. She’s just got out of a love-less marriage and was craving attention and love when she met this very good-looking man, younger than herself, who simply flooded her with both love (verbal and physical) and attention. But then, when she was head over hills madly in love with him, right before St Valentines, he … simply disappeared. Just like that. She called and emailed and texted him – no response whatsoever. Needless to say her heart was broken. Now, I find out that the guy is back and they are ‘trying to make up’ etc, etc, etc. Honestly, I didn’t like the man the very first time I saw him, I cannot say what it was, just an inner ‘gut’ feeling. I know there is a manipulative technique based on ‘feed-the-need/ hook up/withdraw-and-hurt/come back’ ground but I don’t know what it’s called. Could anybody give me the name of this technique or a link to where it’s describe please? I really hope I am wrong, but I would love my friend to read about it to be aware that it exists, perhaps it would spare her other heartbreaks. Thank you very much in advance!

  • Robyn

    Wow I’ve just come out of a relationship with a guy who exactly fits this! I feel absolutely drained…he even tried to make me feel guilty for saying I wouldn’t go out with him if he had sex with his ex! THEN he got angry with ME when I was angry he slept with a different ex behind my back….who was PREGNENT! I have a GIGANTIC LONG list of all the mean, guilt tripping, victim playing stuff he did. I’m so relieved he is no longer in my life!

  • julie

    I’m wondering if the blog writer or others could give some tactics to respond to manipulation. Above, and on many sites, there is great information about recognizing manipulation but not how to respond to it. Or they suggest just to stay away from the person, which isn’t always an option, like if it’s your boss.

    For example in the first one, “You make a statement that is turned around…” what’s a quick healthy simple come back response to the person? I have an example of what I’m looking for. I had a boss once that always asked when conflict/problem arose, “What’s the problem and how do we resolve it?” He never blamed anyone or anything. It always left people speechless it was so effective. Asking him where he got this technique, he said that he had a very serious anger problem. His shrink taught him, when he was about to have an outrage, 1.focus on the problem 2. focus on it’s resolution, 3. don’t blame anyone. It was a great technique. It took the fear away and everyone quit bickering. I use it today myself. Thanks for any response.

  • Jennifer

    The original article is by Fiona McCall – shame that whoever posted it here didn’t credit her. The same article can be found at http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/emotional_manipulation.htm with many links to articles which describe how to deal with this kind of person (in many cases psychopaths / sociopaths, see also the book ‘Without Conscience – the Disturbing World of Psychopaths’ by the world’s leading expert on psychopathy, Dr. Robert Hare).

    Good luck to everyone dealing with an emotional manipulator / psychopath – you might be taken in by what you see as their ‘genuine, caring side’, but don’t forget that these people don’t have any real feelings for other people – however they are experts in mimicking human emotions and using these skills to manipulate others.

  • My apologies, I will add information about Fiona’s article concerning this topic. This article was meant to expand upon her original article and give solutions to the presented emotional manipulations that are used by said manipulators, as it is an incredibly important topic for everyone to know.

  • This information is so helpful and right on point. I consider myself an intelligent person and thought I was losing my mind. Thank you for helping to define this “manipulation” tactic for what it is. Now I just to figure an escape plan.

  • Sleepwalker

    There is one sad fact about surviving psychological abuse. Chances are, you might have to survive it over and over again when you’ve been re-victimized.

    My father was horribly abusive, using methods of terror and shame to “shape and discipline” my siblings, myself, and my mother. Yes, my mother. Its a sad reality that the damage is is so long lasting and continues to fester like an open wound.

    It seems as if emotional predators can smell this internal infection the instant they come in contact with you. I’ve been dealing with episode after episode of these kinds of relationships for all of my adult years. Because I am vulnerable to feelings of shame, I have been easily manipulated into unhealthy, damaging relationships with friends and partners. Because I have had a hard time sticking with my “no”, I do not guard my own boundaries very well, I find it difficult to bring down the ax on the relationship, feeling like I have been the problem all along.

    This last episode in my life was the worst. It wasn’t until after this that I was able to put all of the pieces together to see that my shame-based mentality led me into trap after trap.

    Every manipulator is different. Some are blatantly cruel, and obvious. This last occurrence in my life was with someone who seemed very loving and caring, would never say a cruel word to me, but used persuasive, repetitive emotional tactics, including sad mournful looks and silent treatments, to wear me down to the point of unwanted emotional connections, which eventually led to consensual sex, something I made very clear, many times, that I did not want to do. When I tried to break away, he played on my sympathies so severely (even suggesting that he could not live, survive or maintain his sanity without me) that I felt guilty for trying to “leave him behind”.

    Mind you, I am married, and not to this particular person. I never wanted this kind of relationship with this person, I even told my husband about it, taking the chance that my husband might divorce me for cheating. But my husband did not…he instead confronted the manipulator and told him to stay away from me, which he did not do. It was a psychological nightmare for me, him coming around me at work, Eve teasing, mouthing words to me when no one was looking, making me uncomfortable, and making me feel loved, it was all so confusing! I began to break down. I felt like I was in love with him, but I knew it was horribly wrong. I was not in a position to quit my job, its a small town, and my manager was one of my best friends. I felt like everyone was watching me. I became paranoid, sick, and anxious, and began to take no food, preferring death than to live in this perpetual hell, worrying about being “found out” and stuff like that. I began to become obsessive, while at the same time wishing I could run away and forget. I saw him touching other women, and that was it for me. I wanted OUT! Long story short, I quit my job, I am now in a program for eating disorders, and heading into counseling and therapy.

    I will not say that I am not at fault for allowing my boundaries to be crossed and not putting my foot down hard, I’m very angry with myself for allowing it. My core values are FAR better than that! Whether my marriage was bad or good, I should never have allowed myself to be manipulated against my own conscience.

    At the same time, I will have to say that some predators are very persistent and sneaky, and have a way of brainwashing by preying on the weaknesses of others. They read you, penetrate your mind, and take advantage of those most beautiful qualities of the heart: love, compassion, empathy, and mercy. For someone like me who comes from an abused upbringing, I tend to feel more pain for others than I should, because I know how bad it can feel to hurt inside. I see someone hurting, I want to comfort them. But I’ve been played for a fool, and when I look back to the beginning, my boundaries which I set forward in most definite vocalizations with the blatant “NO!” was always responded to with this reply….”NO is such an unfriendly word.” Ugh.

  • JC

    This article hit me so hard! My story is so similar; I am at the stage of questioning myself/sanity. The only information missing is to what degree it becomes dangerous? I already fear for my well being. I am trying to leave with as little conflict as possible but, I feel I will be “punished”. I realize that males and females of all ages exhibit some of these behaviors, some more than others. As we all know it comes down to what we let happen to ourselves. No one can control anyone, we can hardly control ourselves! However, we can choose the perspective (the criteria for our interpretations) and a nurturing environment! Thank you all for sharing, I wish you all well.

  • tm

    My two step daughters have a very controlling mother who has used emotional manipulation to turn the girls against thier father.

  • JH

    I was in a relationship with an emotional manipulator for more than 10 years. We have one child together and this person continues to use the child against me… and he does exactly what the experts and articles say – twists words, twists the truth, he is the “perfect” victim, keeping people away from each other so they dont “talk”. I am – believe it or not – now acquaintances with his ex, who he has a child with, and he also has a third with someone else. And the thigns I found out AFTER I left, make it difficult to not feel guilty – that I Didn’t see it then. I am 2 1/2 yrs out of that relationship – my relationship with my son is much better – he is not growing up in a hostile environment. He turned my child against me at a young age – meaning he manipulated our child as well, and would use and threaten to take the child away from me if I ever left or didnt send my other children to live with their dad. And when confronted, he acts like “he did the right thing” – when he did the wrong thing . He took my 4 yr old (who is now 7) away from me for months, would not let me see him unless I went to his house, etc. The list goes on and on. I am starting to heal, to get better, and be in the emotional state I was before meeting him. I will never be fully better, nor with all my children – of which everyone BUT HIM is in counseling, including his two other children who want nothign to do with him.

    To JC – I feel I continue to get kicked in the teeth by this man and the system – he even gets the system to believe him. Please Get out. Do it just as if you were battered physically – in secret. Don’t let yours do to you what mine did – use my child against me, take him from me, and go through the missing your child (if you have any with this person). Just be safe. I was afraid my ex would hurt me too, and he did – and of course – turned it all around in court – that I was the aggressor. And I wouldnt’ put it past him if I am ever able to get our child out of that situation. I wanted to get all of us out – didn’t want to raise my children in that environment, but for whatever reasons he was able to convince the court otherwise. Imagine that. If you have children – get the orders for cutsody moving before leaving so you are not in the same situation I am. These people are smart enough to not physically hurt you – because they know you’ll leave.

    Yes I take responsibility for giving up, for allowing this to happen to me. I consider myself an intelligent person and couldn’t believe I allowed this to happen. That’s the guilt I will have to learn how to let go of and still have trouble doing. I get stuck in those feelings. Remember you have no control over other people’s actions. But remember – you will NEVER be able to show the emotional manipulator how “good” relationships and love can be. You will never be able to get them to see the way.

    Everyone has something “wrong” with them. Everyone has personality traits that aren’t so desirable all the time.

    Sleepwalker – yes you are right – you WILL be victimized over and over – even by the same person. Espcially when children are involved as you must continue contact with the person who “doesn’t ever see your side” of things. I see now I am and always have been easily “manipulated” because my goal was always to make everyone happy, at my own expense. Didn’t matter if it made me happy – as long as the house was in homeostasis of some sort, then I was ok. I was the buffer. But the rules, the demands, the expectations of the other person -became totally unbearable.

    Good luck to all of you -s orry for the rambling and hope it made sense – and please excuse the typos. Thanks!

  • Ana

    Response for JOAN: Tell your friend to stop giving in, all she will get in the end is more pain, manipulators love to make a comeback and stab further, it gives them absolute control.
    Best option is always get out and cut it short…or if you are strong enough…give them a bit of the same. For this you must be well-equipped, since you are prepared to enter a dangerous territory.

    I was myself in a relationship with a man who promised to help me, used me for sex and setting his own boundaries… all this happened while I was blindly falling for him. It was more of a rebound relationship for this man who after a year felt confident enough to look for someone better off … who would give him what his ex-wife had taken away from him: money and good fun.

    Beware of lies, people who make you perceive them as vulnerable and sensitive, victims of their ex, having to deal with lots of problems themselves, texting you just to gain back control over you… they NEVER change.
    Especially when they are trying to get back at their ex and fail, then they take it on somebody else, the perfect victim.

    Amazingly helpful site, did clear many doubts I had.

  • I am currently writing a blog series on an entire relationship where this happened. The relationship part is all written out, just not posted. This article was great. I shared the link in my blog and am sharing it on Facebook as well. I am so tempted to un-block my ex’s email and send this link to him as well. But I’m not going to because he is out of my life.

    I have to say I could not put my finger on his techniques, but this helped a lot. Thank you! :)

    My blog address is misdiagnosisdotcom1.wordpress.com/

    Maybe you’ll like it, or have some feedback for me.

  • To JC – I left one thing out. I think constant manipulation can be dangerous and have long term effects. At the end of the relationship I got so stressed out and so isolated that my body just freaked out and I couldn’t walk for five days. They said it was probably PTSD, but it was definitely stress related. It took me a long time to recover. He actually left me initially because my physical condition freaked him out, but when he visited me in the hospital, my body doubled in it’s episodes. It was violently moving by itself. People get that when they come back from war.

  • -S

    We knew we weren’t crazy, but my husband’s mother could sure make us question our sanity like no other! This explains so much. It feels like we have our lives back. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!

  • Kat

    WOW. This article is dead on and I am in the process of rebuilding my sanity at this very moment and this is a big help. I have been with a man for a year and a half that has managed to make me question my sanity for sure. I still have the hook in me but hope to remove it soon.

  • chris

    Thank you for this article! I was encouraged by someone who I thought was a good friend to leave a bad situation, move closer to him and start over. His circle of friends and colleagues, who are also my friends, were the only support system I had. He knew this and took full advantage. Then a month after I moved, he had his friend railroad me with his innermost ‘true’ feelings for me when I was no where near ready to be confronted with anything like that and I thought I made that clear. Then he began to shower me with expensive gifts, volunteer his help and money so my daughter and I could get on our feet. If I turned down his ‘help’, I was met with overly emotional responses and “I know what you’ve been through, I would never hurt you, I don’t want anything in return blah blah blah” I’ve now lost friends due to his attempts to isolate me so he’s the only one on the receiving end of my attention. Avoidance isn’t working, he finds a way to corner me, I’ve caught him doing drive-by’s past my house, checking up on me, snoopy around my desk at work, making commitments on my behalf without asking me first, playing on my love for my daughter and her affections, it makes me sick. He plays the pity card of ‘nice guys finish last’ when he’s really not a ‘nice guy’ but a fraud who always wants and expects something in return. Beware, some ‘nice guys’ have not so nice motives. Now my professional reputation is on the line because of the belief that I didn’t gain my success through my own merits and luckily I have one friend stick by my side because she saw the same manipulation. This sticky, uncomfortable, dangerous smothering is now burying me and what I’m trying to accomplish in my life especially the stable environment I want for my baby girl. At the same time I’m sad because I truly believed he was genuine and honest, one of the only male friends I’ve whole-heartedly trusted, that is completely lost now. In his efforts to warp my perception of the situation is another one of his tricks because he has intimate knowledge of my mental health due to past circumstances. He’s now the cruelest person I know, everything he claimed to do for the benefit of my daughter and I was a facade, it was all in some sick way for his benefit.

  • chris

    To JOAN, just a little confirmation that you aren’t losing your mind. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. That’s what made me dig in to my current situation. Manipulators have a magic way of clouding boundaries. There’s always some excuse why it’s ok for them to cross the line and it’s never their fault. Now that I’ve begun to recognize these sick little tricks they use, the response is staggering, sometimes scary. Please be careful, don’t let them get you alone, these are potentially violent people under their fake charm.

  • Chris, you are completely right in that some so-called “nice guys” are in fact anything but. I found some excellent background info on this phenomenon which I posted on the forums here: http://peaceandloveism.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5590

  • mark

    I was so glad to chance upon this article as it describes my mother to a tee.

    However, sorry to say this but this is blatant plagariasm – why?


    You could have just asked that website to republish the article.

  • @Mark, the link to the article that inspired this article is given at the beginning of the article. It’s not the same, although proudly inspired by it.

  • Selah

    Wow!!!! Thank God am outta that spell!! Worst 5 years of my entire Life. I’ve never meant anyone like that before and I couldn’t really figure it out. Looking back it was always so obvious but I just didn’t want to believe anyone can be so EVIL. Especially when you were married to them. It was hard to accept taht it was happenning to ME. Thank you for defining it so well- “EMOTIONAL MANIPULATOR”. I still yearn for JUSTICE!!1

  • B

    Oh I’ve been in one also for 4 years, and still is. But refused to be manipulated again. His playing the helper i will abuse all the help he offers.

  • Clarity

    I came upon this article after a particular argument with my mom in which I realized, at 37, that she uses guilt as a tool to emotionally manipulate. The really difficult part to swallow is that I am emotionally manipulator as well. So twisting around the Victim/Perpetrator/Rescuer triangle for years..my mom see’s me as the perpetrator and I see her as the perpetrator. So the question is, when that’s all I was taught and all I know about social interaction…how do I stop?

  • I have a question for everyone!

    I have recently gotten out of am emotionally manipulative and verbally abusive relationship. It wasn’t even until I was out of the relationship (a couple of weeks ago) that I realized just how bad things had been (hindsight is 20/20). What is almost worse than the emotional manipulation for me right now is HOW I REACTED TO IT. There were many things my ex would do ( like threaten to kick me out of the house every time we got into a fight- it was his house.) he would name-call (horrible things) and all sorts of things. But, one thing that we often fought about was porn.

    One day we were at the dining room table and he was on his computer. I came over to him and looked at this screen. He was deleting his history, and the thing on the top if his list was a porn site. I was immediately like “what?!” (I mean, I was in the kitchen cooking us dinner and he was at the dining room table…) I was upset. And he denied and denied it. (Um…I saw it with my own eyes).

    He has an addictive personality (cigarettes,which he did quit shortly after I moved in. Alcohol-he drank at least one drink a night 5 days a week-although I don’t think of him as an alcoholic- sex, etc.) So I immediately felt weird- and wondered if this was an addiction of his as well. So, I snooped on his computer (wrong, I know) and I found tons of folders of porn pictures. Adding up to 1,000’s of porn photos. I confronted him about it. eventually, he deleted them. But by then there was already mis-trust in the equation. I would continue to snoop from time to time because I never fully trusted him (when he said he had deleted them he had deleted SOME photos but then also just moved pictures into folders hat he thought I wouldn’t find. I found them.)

    I feel that my snooping was emotionally manipulative and also how I brought it up to him was not always calm, loving, and caring. He would respond with a terrible temper and we were never able to have a calm, real conversation about it. He would say i was crazy and that everyone else (his friends and family) thought I was as well.

    So, my question is- did you ever feel like by being in an emotionally manipulative relationship you became emotionally manipulative as well? eventually, after being confronted with his temper and yelling, I would yell and have a temper as well. Sometimes, I name called (although never as much as he did to me) and I am trying to reconcile how I handled the relationship, as I am dealing with the PTSD of it.

  • Rose

    I came to this link thanks to a friend, because last night I was having the worst fight ever with my boyfriend. My friend asked me if he was an emotional manipulator, and then it hit me that he actually was. He gave me this link, and reading this over basically all points in here that was said, is true. Especially when you say something, and he turns it around into something completely negative when you didn’t even mean it that way. This is the biggest point of all that is happening in our relationship. He also knows damn well (sorry for my language) how to make me go on this guilt trip, by telling me that I can’t let him breathe to do other stuff besides hanging with me. The information on here is really helpfull. Whenever something like this happens again, which will happen very soon, I’ll simply just ignore and won’t even bother giving him a response. He knows I’m a softie in any given way, so when he sees I’m not gonna let him walk all over me like that again, he’ll think twice before emotionally manipulating me again. Thanks for this great post, it really did open my eyes.

  • R

    Oh my word, oh my word, oh my word…. I thought I was the problem in our relationship…. I have battled for 3 years of my marriage, always being wrong, I have been accused of being paranoid to the extent degree, it’s all in my head… It’s all about him, his wants, his needs… no offence intended here, but even a prostitute gets treated better… at least they get paid… and so my list goes on… 3 months ago I walked out of our marriage with our baby girl now 8 months old and the attitude from him is HOW DARE I WALK OUT WITH HIS DAUGHTER… I have been seeiing a spiritual councilor for the emotional abuse I have been under, and was told one of the signs to look out for. I was very taken back by what she said so I was doing some searching and came accross this… I was a victim to a manipulator… he has not contributed towards our childs wellbeing but keeps telling me to ask him when I need money and he will give me half for creche etc… when I do mention it he tries to put me on a guilt trip and says because I left him he has no money and he can’t afford it right now. I am in the process of divorce proceedings…

    HOW do I protect my baby girl from this man who is her father?… he has solely destroyed one daughter from his previous marriage. She is under his spell… “It’s hot outside you don’t need a jersey”, but you can clearly see she has goose flesh and shivering and she looks to me and her aunt horrified and said “no I’m fine it’s hot”… I told her to go get her jersey out the car and told him she is old enough to make her own mind up… she is 19 …….. According to his ex-wife, she has had her at the shrink every 2nd week for the emotional neglect since she was old enough to know what was going on and when she realised there was an emotional problem with her…….. I feel so bad that I never wanted her there, but I was so broken to see her expression when her father pushed her away or yelled at her or even smacked her on her bum for not listening to him (this was when we got engaged she was 14)… He tells her how useless her mother is and that she is just the same as her mother………. I cringe inwardly when I see the hurt in her eyes… She soooooooo wants his attention but he only gives it to her when he feels like it

    Now this brings me back to HOW do I protect my 8 month old baby? she is my world and my life… I can’t bare seeing her go through the same as her half sister….

    If I didn’t have her it would be so easy to divorce him and be on my merry way and cut him out of my life for good…. but our daughter still holds us together…

    Please help someone… I’m only a mother trying to protect her baby….

  • Michelle

    Hi R from September 19th,
    If you are already in the process of divorcing your daughter’s father and there are multiple witnesses and documentation that he currently mistreats his other daughter from a previous relationship, why not petition for sole custody and limit his visitation as much as possible. Remember he has cost people years of resources paying for his other daughter’s therapy–that’s the daughter, her mother, and a therapist as potiential witnesses. Without physical violence, I don’t know that a neutral court would feel justified in cutting him off entirely from his own child (If that’s what your perspective on the situation tells you is best, go for it without guilt!), but maybe the court would limit your child’s time with this man to Supervised visits.

    Are there any books for kids of unstable/abusive parents? Maybe when she gets older, you can jump start her social skills, so she at least understands what’s happening in any interactions with him, and can feel confident in her responses to him.

    That’s years away, so I feel silly suggesting it, but I’m forty, with two whacky parents, was abused by the psychologist I went to for help, and am wrapping up a bad relationship with a “friend” I wish I’d never met. When I tried putting the friend’s behavior into words, I got on the internet and discovered names for types of manipulation, manipulative personalities, and ways to respond. Even in the swirl of so many types of manipulation from so many people, this knowledge has already been life altering. If you get stuck, and the best you are allowed to do is wait it out, she can still learn to respond to rotten treatment in ways that will make her proud and kind.
    **bet she’ll make you proud**
    : ‘ )

  • Lucas

    From the perspective of someone being called an emational manipulator… Keep in mind people are hurting and have come from that place. People also heal and change… Please, if someone is offering help and has truly humbled their heart and taken a protrate position before God and his wife: accept that, and help him through it.
    Don’t continuously reject him as everyone else in his life has. Let him lead you with wise counsel involved and the Holy Spirit truly leading.
    People that have realized and accepted they have done the wrong thing can turn around (repent) and be different. They can fulfill the perfect purpose. THEY CAN BREAK THE CURSE OF EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION THEY INHERITED SOMEWHERE IN A PAST HURT…

  • Jeff

    This is the EXACT description of my ex-wife. I allowed myself to be manipulated for a total of 12 years, I thought it was over when we divorced, but now its worse than ever. She has managed to move my son 1000 miles away from me and is doing everything she can do to keep me away from him. She is even telling his school not to talk to me, changing doctors when they give me information (all court ordered). She only hears the part of the order that benefits her, anything that benefits me she ignores and says to take her back to court if I don’t like it.

    I wish I knew a way to stop the manipulation, but I’m just not sure there is a good way with her.

  • Thank you for this article, and these comments. It’s really helpful. And I would love insight from anyone on a situation I find myself in.

    My girlfriend came out out of a 9 year emotionally abusive relationship. She was diagnosed with PTSD last year as a result of the abuse, and she is currently on medical leave from work.

    But, she also does a lot of things described in this article (I was looking through the internet to see if what I am experiencing is emotional manipulation). And sometimes, because of the PTSD, she says I’m doing things which I know I am not doing. I have called her out numerous times on her emotional manipulation, but then I find that I am in a tight spot because she is currently mentally ill. Then I feel like the bad guy. It means I have to stay aware and on my feet ALL the time because I never know when she’s going to say or do something. But, again, I also feel like a bad guy because – as she says – then I am always starting from the point of not trusting her. Of looking for her to do something “wrong”. This language is hers, not mine. I don’t ever put my feelings in terms of right and wrong. She usually reframes them that way, when I say something has upset me, she responds by saying, “What did I do wrong?” which immediately leads me to say, “you haven’t done anything wrong, but what you just said hurts my feelings and I need you to hear that.” it’s an ever on-going exchange…and I don’t know if it’s the PTSD or emotional manipulation.

    Her most common techniques for deflecting my feelings is to tell me she is joking and I just didn’t get the joke, or to say she feels sorry that I feel that way. Her second most common techniques are to “feel sick”. Because she has PTSD, I have no way of knowing if she is actually sick, or is just sick because I’ve called her out on something. Her third most common technique is to remind me that we are in a cross-cultural relationship, and I have missed the cultural cues.

    I love her, I adore her, and I also don’t know what to do. I mean: is PTSD forever? Or is she emotionally manipulative? Or both? And what can I do? Am I the bad guy here? I mean, I do love her. And I love myself. I know something is wrong, and I know that I have to figure out if her behavior and her illness is something I can live with. But,it’s not as black and white as just breaking up.

    Or is it?

  • Brenda Lee

    I would also like to add that these aren’t always boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. I seem to be a magnet for this kind of long term female friendships. Now I am 55 years old and trying to distance myself from “Best Friends” of 25 or more years! And asking myself how did I establish this “pattern” in my life!

  • 4Mrs.Red1

    This is my husband. I have tried to figure it out for over 1 years and each year he has gotten worse and worse. I am at a point of no return it seems. I have paid for the divorce and he did not got to court. He is now manipulating my kids. I know he had a awful child hood it is not my problem. He is awful. I want out. but, how without losing everything I have worked for with my family. I just want him out of the house but, police says I can’t make him move. IHowever this article is good information.

  • indu

    yes my sis in law is a bitch she is a emo manipulator this article has true statement

  • ImontoyourwaysbutpretendImdumb

    My Narcissist manipulator uses Pavlov’s Theory tactics on me. He is very ambient in his abuse so that when I try to call him out on his BS, I look like the crazy one. Back to Pavlov: Here’s an example: He has my house keys and whenever I stand up to myself, he casually puts his hand in his pocket and jingles the keys as a reminder that I will lose him forever because he will give the keys back to me and never see me again. He sees all women as bitches, he even refers to his pre-teen girl cousins as bitches. He uses other tactics to try to “condition” me but I’ve become numb to them. I called him out on his conditioning behavior, told him I’m not a dog and he acted so calm as if I was the crazy one. He acts like he is such a prize and takes no accountability whatsoever. He actually thinks he has control over me but I LET him believe that only to keep him from going psycho til I can separate myself from him for good. God is on my side and no weapon formed against me shall prosper. In Jesus name, AMEN!

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  • Karen

    Wonderful article! Sometimes I felt so guilty and I was always helping. I felt twinges from my heart many times that made me think “this is manipulation” yet, I was always pulled back into the scenario and ended up doing the bidding of the manipulator.
    Now the manipulator is manipulating someone else close to me to get to me.
    Thank you so much for this information. I woke up in great pain this morning and found this website. You have hit home with the 8 tactics. I knew this person was a manipulator but I didn’t realize what MASTER this person was at it.
    Thank you again.

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  • Morena

    Hi everyone, thank you for this article and the comments. Iam not a native speaker of English, my husband is…. What is PTSD?

    Iam freaking out reading these lines….. I am in the relationship 18 yrs, have 3 children, already had 3 attacks of “some sort of illness” – layed down for 5 days, did not eat, i just slept, lost weight, exhausted… I feel so emotionally drained out. I have experienced already everything that i have read on the internet about emotional manipulation…..Iam very sensitive and caring person, always stood by him, hard working…… I have heard so much violent words about myself, so cruel, so rude, so insultive, painful…. Heard repeatedly how bad mother i was, bad wife, bad worker (iam working in his company, brought it up from nothing….) Taking care of all kids basically alone, he is always gone (working…). Experienced physical violence too…. He always knows what to say to hit my sensitive spot. Everything is my fault, his moods and opinions are changing day by day. He did not have nice childhood, experienced bad things in life “before me”, but why should i suffer because of it? I thought by making him a nice home, family, aleays caring, telling him and writing him how much i care and appreciate him…. What i got back in return was always coldness. Every good will of mine turned against me in a negative way. Why? I do not understand this. It must be an illness, iam afraid it cannot be cured….. He never has concrete complain or concrete desire, always answers me in some sort of question, or “figure it” kind of answer. When i ask why am I attacked of wasting, what exactly do i waste . Answer is : “look around you”. It drives me crazy. We cannojt talk about anything normally. Never admits his fault. He Has problems with people in general, at his work, treats them without respect. Generally he does not respect anyone.

    I think Iam quite attractive person, slim, athletic, with good skin and hair, well dressed, clever, taking care of myself. I have so many times heard bad things about myself, how bad i look…. He never compliments on my look, he only mentions when something is not right. When i ask why we have problems answer is “look in the mirror” or “you dont know what it is to be a partner” …….

    He always works harder, does more than me, has more health problems (all caused by me by the way because he works too much, and i do not help him…. Not true of course).

    Someone could ask why iam still there – i love him, always did, he can be very charming and sweet, same as he can hurt me, he can say beautiful thing that makes me think he must be nice person, who just had bad luck when he was small….. But i think i should stop apologising him.

    I am just 39, I do not want to live that way. I want to get out. I am afraid I can really go crazy…..

    Its a christmas day, he did not come home for christmas dinner, insulted our friends who came over, did not bother to get out of bed to see our small kids unwrapping presents (which i have bought 95% , wrapped them all, under tree i decorated, in house i decorated….). I did not get any presents……

    I think enough is enough. It helped me i could just write it down somewhere…… Its long, if i write about my life with him, it would turn into a book..

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