Manipulation of any kind is a sure-fire way to make a relationship toxic. It's something that nobody should ever have to put up with - no truly loving partner would treat their other half in such a despicable way. It's basically emotional abuse, and it's totally intolerable. Often, the manipulator in question has learned exactly how to hide or disguise their actions in order to keep their victim under control. They try to make their partner think that their manipulative behavior is normal, acceptable, or simply not happening at all. This makes it super hard to leave a manipulative boyfriend or husband: they make you feel like you're the problem, not them. They often blind you to their true motives and consequently get away with their sinister emotional and mental control.
Have you ever worried that you or someone you love is being manipulated by the guy who's supposed to care for them? Do you even know what the signs of such behavior are? Here are just some of the things that most men do when they're manipulating you. If you recognize any from your own relationship, it might be time to question whether just how healthy and loving it actually is.
15 They Start Off Super Charming
At the beginning of their relationship with you, a manipulative person won't want you to realize that this is a factor in their personality. After all, how are they going to gain control over you if they can't attract you in the first place? If it was evident from the start that they're only going to manipulate and hurt you, you're hardly going to give the relationship a chance. To avoid this, the manipulator will bombard you with flattery, love, and charm. They'll make you think that they're the sweetest, kindest, and the most caring person in the world. They would never try to upset you or harm you in any way. They're not going to control you. Only good things will come from the relationship. Unfortunately, by the time many women realize that this is all a lie, it's too late. They're stuck in an abusive relationship and see no way out.
14 They Constantly Lie
A manipulator uses lies as a weapon. They make you constantly unsure of what's true and what's false, often overwhelming you with the confusion of it all. They try to force you to believe their version of events, even if it has absolutely no basis in fact. It's just another way to control you - by forcing you to believe lies, they directly impact your view of the world. It may get to the point where you start blindly accepting everything they say: they've become such a good liar that you genuinely can't tell they're doing it anymore. Even if you catch the manipulator out in one of their less-than-truthful statements, they’ll only deny it and try to convince you that you’re incorrect. There’s no way to ‘win’: you’ll always be the one in the wrong.
13 They Try To Downplay Any Issues You Raise
If you ever dare to raise any kind of issue or concern to a manipulative person, they will immediately shoot you down. It doesn't matter if it immediately impacts them or not: whatever issue you're having is totally stupid and not worth talking about. If you share that you've had a bad day at work, for example, they'll just tell you that other people have it worse. They'll refuse to comfort you or even listen to your perspective. If you dare to directly criticize them or their actions, all hell will break loose. They'll try to shift the blame onto you, claiming that you're just being too sensitive or have misinterpreted what actually happened. Of course, all of their problems will take center stage. They'd never let their worries be dismissed - they're far too important for that to happen.
12 They Make You Doubt Yourself All The Time
One of the manipulator's most-used weapons is doubt. They twist your thinking and your self-perception so much that you start to wonder if you really are the problem. You start to listen to their claims that you have nothing to complain about. Maybe you are just being too sensitive? What if you did just take their hurtful comment the wrong way? You worry that other people will side with your abuser because you're actually the one in the wrong, and feel very isolated as a result. Often, this leads to the manipulated person becoming totally resigned to their fate. They might even start to blame themselves for their troubles - they start to doubt that the manipulator has actually done anything wrong. It's so difficult to escape from that mindset, but it needs to be done if the victim is going to escape their toxic relationship.
11 They Say Something, Then Totally Deny They Did Later On
Manipulators will often quite literally try to rewrite the past to suit their own purposes. They try to control the narrative like they're controlling you, even if that means flat out denying that they did or said things. It doesn't matter if they 100% did treat you in that hurtful manner, or say that painful insult - they'll adamantly claim that it never happened to absolve themselves from guilt. Unless you literally record everything they say and do, there's no way to prove that you're in the right and they're in the wrong. Even if you did that, the lack of trust such an action shows would only aggravate the manipulator more. If someone completely refuses to accept that they did or said something, there's not a lot you can do to persuade them to admit the truth.
10 They Constantly Twist Your Words For Their Own Gain
Manipulators don't just try to retrospectively change their own words and actions. They'll also do the same to yours. They'll claim you said and did certain things to fit their own twisted narrative. Sometimes, they'll be so insistent that you did say something that you'll begin to wonder if they're right. It's an extension of the intense doubt they provoke. Did you actually say that offensive thing and just forget about it? Did you actually agree to do something that you thought you'd turned down? The manipulation is so pervasive that nothing you do or say is safe. There’s a high chance that it’ll be used against you in future, whether the manipulator’s claims are based upon truth or not. Everything that takes place is a changeable story that they can mold to fit their needs.
9 They Make You Feel Like You're Going Crazy
All of this manipulation, control, and lying is bound to take a toll on anyone's mental state. Being the victim of this kind of behavior can often make you worry that you're going crazy. When you lose track of what's true and what's a lie, your grip on reality can start to slip. You worry that the manipulation is all in your head feel guilty for thinking your partner could act in such a way. You basically let them control your reality: they have power over what you think, what you do, and how you feel. Your sense of self takes serious damage - your idea of 'you' is now entirely what your manipulator wants it to be. The feeling that you've lost control can be overwhelming, and your sanity begins to weaken. It's no wonder that so many victims of manipulation suffer from anxiety and depression.
8 They Guilt Trip You Over The Smallest Things
A prominent emotion felt by victims of manipulation is guilt. Your partner is never, ever the one in the wrong: the blame is always shifted onto you. You end up constantly apologizing for things, often undeservedly: "I'm sorry" basically becomes your catchphrase. Even the smallest of offenses is made into a huge deal, and you might even need to grovel to get back in the manipulator's good books. In extreme cases, the manipulator might hold you totally responsible for their success and happiness. If anything at all goes wrong in their life, it's somehow made into your fault. Your self-esteem can be seriously impacted by this kind of treatment: you might start to feel like you can’t do anything right, and that you only ever make your loved one miserable. In reality, that’s not the case – they’re only pretending it is to control you.
7 Instead Of Addressing Things Head-On, They're Passive Aggressive
A manipulator will rarely actually tell you straight-out that you've upset or annoyed them. Instead, they'll leave passive-aggressive little hints that you've apparently done something wrong. They might even get other people to tell you that you've upset them, or talk about you behind your back. You're always made out to be the bad guy: they portray themselves as being too scared or worried to bring up issues. In reality, it's them who inspires fear in you. Indirect criticism or bullying can be just as harmful as directly telling you that you're at fault. You end up feeling constantly paranoid that you've offended the manipulator, and since they never actually tell you if you have, you've no way of knowing either way. You’re left in a permanent state of panic and tiptoe around them to avoid confrontation.
6 They Get Angry Super Quickly
One of the scariest traits of a manipulator is just how quick to anger they can be. Even the smallest of criticisms can set them off, and even minor annoyances get a severe furious reaction. This kind of behavior can even make you worry for your physical safety - there's no telling what the person might do if they continue to fly off the handle. They'll rarely show remorse in the aftermath of their angry outbursts, instead seeing their response as proportionate and justified. In reality, that's very rarely the case. Blowing things out of proportion is one of a manipulator's greatest talents, and is a way to keep your fearful and thus controllable. If your partner constantly uses threats, aggression, or explosive anger to get their own way, it might be time to consider removing yourself from that situation. It can only end badly.
5 They Always Want To Be The Center Of Attention
Manipulators thrive on attention. It's what they need to boost their probably quite fragile ego. If you dare to focus on something other than them, they will pester and nag you until you abandon everything to please them. They're keen for everyone to know if they're angry, upset, or hurt: they thrive on making everyone focus on their emotions. Often, they genuinely see themselves as more important than everyone else in the room. Why would you bother talking to anyone else when they're in your presence? However, the only attention the manipulator really wants is that which will present them in a good light. They want others to support them, praise them, and even feel sorry for them if it suits their purposes. The minute you try to draw attention to their harmful or controlling behavior, they'll make everything about your flaws and faults. Their aim will be to make everyone distrust you and support them.
4 They Like To Bring Up Your Deepest Insecurities
Everyone has their own insecurities and worries. There are aspects of ourselves that we wish we could change, and there are faults that we're sure the entire world can see. The manipulator knows this and uses it against you. They'll constantly bring up your insecurities in order to make you feel small. Even if they don't directly try to convince you that your worries are true, they'll make you experience all of the negative emotions that come with that kind of self-doubt. They might use your perceived flaws as a reason why you should stay with them. After all, who else would want to date someone with those faults? They try to make it seem like they are your only option. It's the perfect method of control that plays on all of your deepest insecurities. After a while, you might start to believe that what they're saying is true. You might genuinely feel like you're an irreparably flawed person, and your self-esteem will suffer.
3 They Make You Feel Ashamed Of Yourself and Your Relationship
If you're embarrassed or ashamed to talk about your relationship with friends and family, there's probably something seriously wrong. If you suspect that your loved ones would be concerned and shocked by the way you're treated, you'll probably try to hide the truth from them. The sad thing is, many victims of manipulation know that what they're enduring is wrong. They know that they deserve better, and know that they shouldn't tolerate their manipulator's actions. However, they feel too trapped to risk telling anyone about their struggle. They might feel ashamed that they managed to get into such a toxic relationship in the first place. They might worry that they'll be judged or criticised for letting it happen if they do decide to come clean. Victim-blaming is a real phenomenon that is far too prevalent in our society, and the shame it creates stops many women from getting the help they both need and deserve.
2 They Give You The Silent Treatment
It might seem like a tactic that only petulant children use, but the silent treatment is genuinely employed by a lot of manipulators. It's yet another way for them to gain control over their victim. They might refuse to even discuss what's made them upset in the first place, making it impossible for you to resolve the dispute. Trying to get them to talk can be emotionally draining and exhausting, and is often a lot of effort for very little gain. You become desperate and begin the cycle of constantly apologizing and trying to make up for a crime that you're not even sure you committed. The manipulator knows all of this – it’s their intention to make you emotionally fraught. It’s far easier for them to take advantage of you when you’re willing to do anything to please them once again.
1 They Don't Respect Your Boundaries
Personal boundaries don't exist to a manipulator. They believe that they own you and thus have a right to act however they please. They might push your physical boundaries, touching you without consent or getting far too close for comfort. Invading your personal space is a normal occurrence for them - they have a right to be there, after all. They might push emotional boundaries too, prodding and poking at your state of mind with jibes and insults until you finally snap. You could be forced to answer a whole load of personal questions that you'd rather not respond to, or share secrets that you wanted to remain unspoken. Eventually, the victim will give up on enforcing boundaries altogether - what's the point of having them if they'll just get ignored? Unfortunately, this leaves them all the more open to the manipulator's controlling ways.