How to spot a manipulator and what to do about it


Manipulators can be found just about anywhere, these people will accurately detect your weaknesses and use them against you to gain your control in serving their own interests. If you’ve ever experienced pressure, control, or gaslighting from someone for example you may be a victim to manipulation. 

What is manipulation?

In the context of relationships, manipulation refers to the use of psychological influence to gain control over someone in order to achieve a desired outcome, often done deceptively in an unfair or dishonest way.  

Knowledge is power, and becoming aware of the signs, tactics and types of manipulators will help you build strength and confidence so you can make informed choices when dealing with these types of uncomfortable situations:   

Signs of a manipulator 

They like to..

  • Play mind games
  • Compulsively lie 
  • Act passive aggressive
  • Complain all the time
  • Deflect blame on others 
  • Say one thing and do another
  • Justify their irrational behaviour 
  • Disrespect personal boundaries  

3 characteristic of a master manipulator 

  1. They know your weaknesses and how to use them against you 
  2. They can convince you to give up parts of yourself to better serve themselves
  3. Once they manipulate you, they won’t stop

The 2 types of manipulators

  • The bully: who makes you feel fear
  • The victim: who makes you feel guilt 

Manipulative behavior involves three factors, according to Stines: fear, obligation and guilt. Now that you know how to spot a manipulator, how can you put an end to their twisted ways?

How to deal with a manipulative person

A manipulator's behaviour goes against reason, and because of that it can make us go crazy! Being on the receiving end of a manipulative relationship can seriously damage self-confidence, self-doubt, and mental health. Furthermore, responding to the manipulator will only pull you deeper into that viscous cycle, which is why it’s important to learn how to deal with these behaviours:   

Think before you apologize: manipulative people love playing the victim in bad situations, especially the ones they cause! The next thing you know, they’ve turned the tables on you and you’re apologizing for something you weren’t responsible for in the first place. Stand your ground and stop yourself from getting sucked into their unhealthy cycle by reminding yourself that you're not responsible for something you didn’t do. Psst.. the truth will set you free!  

Don’t react: manipulators want a reaction to see what really grinds your gears! They want you to become emotional so you fall deeper into their trap, but the less you say and react to a situation the faster it will help diffuse a negative outcome, eventually they will realize their tricks don’t work on you and move on to the next victim.  

Establish solid boundaries: it’s important to note it’s okay to set boundaries, especially in these types of toxic situations. This can simply be done by letting the person know you understand they are manipulating you and are no longer going to play along. Oftentimes these manipulators pick on those who they perceive as weaker, therefore remaining compliant will only satisfy their superiority. Having the strength and confidence to defend yourself will not only set you free, but also show the manipulator you have a backbone which will likely cause them to back down. 

Cut the cord: decide whether or not this relationship is serving you. How is it impacting your mental health? If you notice they could be taking a toll on your confidence, or well-being it’s probably time to distance yourself from that person. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s perfectly okay! People go in and out of our lives for many reasons and it’s important to realize when someone is no longer healthy to be around.  

1 comment

Wow thank you for the article! My mind is blown I wasn’t aware of these signs

Sara T August 10, 2021

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