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Dealing with Manipulation

Updated on April 13, 2015
Who is pulling your strings?
Who is pulling your strings?


We have all found ourselves doing something that we really did not want to do, but we did it anyway, as we were manipulated, or guilt tripped into doing it.

Understanding how manipulation works gives the potential target an intuitive grasp of the type of encounters and sensitivity to the many tactics a manipulator may use.

Many people lack insight into their behaviour, and react on instinct and may have begun manipulating at a young age to avoid consequences.

The behavior may have been learnt from an older sibling or parent, the message being: “Do whatever you need to do to get what you want.” Therefore, manipulation, pathological lying and conning others becomes a tool.

Some people are consistent and will manipulate in one situation and not in another. For others, it is a character trait. If it is obvious it may not be harmful in a relationship if both people are aware of it. When it is covert and is used against someone is when it becomes a problem.

As we said, conscious manipulation such as friends wheedling things out of each other, both parties being aware of what’s happening and lovingly accepting that in each other. Other times the charming manipulator becomes your friend and then always makes you feel as though you owe them something and through this, get you to do whatever they want such as taking over their responsibilities, to siding with them against someone they don’t like.

It is commonplace behaviour for these people who always tell you how much they do for you or that they only have your interests at heart, the reality being that they are only interested in their own agenda and using you to get there.

The target is usually a consistent, honest, responsible person who has integrity. These positive personality aspects are precisely what a manipulator uses against their victims. Also, it is done so easily as the target is so fundamentally different that it doesn’t occur to them that the manipulator would think like that.

Tactics of Manipulative People - megan9309

Emotional Manipulation

The Emotional manipulator is a highly toxic individual who has no sense of accountability and plays the victim role to perfection. They seldom express their needs or desires openly they make us feel guilty for not complying and invoke our sympathy while their victim act inspires our sense of nurture.

When justifying their behavior, they know what they’re doing and have a purpose in mind. They will use this tactic when know they’ve either done something or will do something most people would regard as wrong. They will maintain a favourable social image if they can get someone else to see things their way or agree with the reasonableness of their actions. Once this is achieved, they are on the way to winning interpersonal control. Think about how many times you have relented after accepting an excuse only to find that you are dealing with the same behavior repeatedly.

One of the most common methods is talking behind someone's back and then going to the person about whom they were talking and repeating what you said in the conversation. Thus creating distrust amongst those two people.

People with this personality disorder almost never take responsibility for their actions. They will not apologise but rather blame others, use excuses; claim misunderstandings and depict themselves as a victim.

They may also use active techniques such as anger, lying, bullying, and shouting. Or use methods such as sulking, ignoring you, or giving you the silent treatment.

Rationalise – Rational lies

Manipulators will often use denial and/or feigning innocence with such intensity and conviction that you question your own perception.

When they say one thing and later assure you they said nothing of the kind, will make you doubt your own sanity. You cannot be honest with them as they will turn what you said around and use it against you.

Whatever else you may want to talk about, they have a way of de-railing the conversation and turning it around to themselves.

Quote from 'The Brothers Karamazov'

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie,
 comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

And having no respect he ceases to love,
 and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices,
 all from continual lying to other men and to himself.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

How do you deal with manipulative people?

Firstly, be aware you are being manipulated, and ask yourself:

· Is someone constantly pushing their agenda and try to make you side with them?

· Is there someone who always says how much they have done for you?

· Is there someone who gossips about others but swears they only trust you?

· Are you doing something for another, which makes you uncomfortable?

· Are you reluctant to sever a relationship as they may hurt you in some way?

· Do you feel that your partner frequently takes advantage of your giving nature?

· Do your feel that when you do something that pleases another or your partner that the positive feelings do not last?

Mind Manipulation - 7 Sneaky Secrets - Covert Coercion

Stop Manipulative Behaviour

Although they are difficult to deal with, rule number one is to trust yourself, your senses, your gut feel and assertively set limits, commit to not straying from them and move out of the manipulator’s vicinity.

You can define your boundaries by looking them straight in the eyes and saying, “ We both know that you have a pattern of playing on my fears to get what you want, but I am no longer going to accept your threats.”

Explore your own feelings and why you react as you do, and the practice alternate responses, which although difficult will have far-reaching benefits.

If you see someone being manipulated, say, “I am not sure what’s happening here, but tell me what it is you want or state it clearly." If it is a child, you then show them a behavior that is more appropriate.

Another approach is to reflect on what is going on as manipulators gain the upper hand by forcing someone into a quick decision.

Focus on changing yourself, as you cannot change a manipulative person’s behavior, only he or she can do that.

Please remember that someone who has been in an emotionally manipulative relationship takes more time to recover than someone who leaves a physically abusive one.

A punch is something you see coming, and emotional manipulations are insidious, subtle and very toxic – walk away.


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    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Pamela99, Thank you so much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the votes too.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Pamela99, Thank you so much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the votes too.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Pamela99, Thank you so much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the votes too.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This hub really explained the aspects of manipulation very well. I have been manipulated several times, but over the years I have grown stronger and now I have boundaries. I also agree with your thoughts, and this is thought provoking hub to me. Up, useful, interesting

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      ologsinquito, Thank you so much for reading, your comments and pinning!

      FlourishAnyway, you are right you have to recognise it, sometimes I've complied and then could kick myself. Usually I don't get caught twice. Thanks for the visit Flourish and your Eleanor quote.

      DDE Thank you for dropping in, and the kind comments.

      billybuc, Appreciate your visit Bill, and yes we do smile when beloved family members manipulate - but that is harmless as you say.

      Rebeccamealey, Thanks for commenting Rebecca, my next door neighbour tried again - she is quite adept at it - and now I'm getting the silent treatment because I refused to play. LOL

      suzettenaples, Glad you stopped by, and yes, family members can make things awkward. Thank you for your kind comments.

      travmaj, Agree totally with your thoughts here and I thank you for your visit too, I appreciate it.

    • travmaj profile image


      4 years ago from australia

      Interesting hub, grabbed my attention throughout. Perhaps recognising being manipulated is the most difficult. It is so easy to go with the flow, almost a habit. Emotional manipulation is both hurtful and damaging.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article. We run into these types of people all the time. When they are in your family, it is difficult but not impossible to walk away. Very astute article and I enjoyed reading this!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This hit home. I had a friend like this once. I am glad she is no longer a part of my life. Well written! Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I think there is harmless manipulation, like in a marriage. LOL But I agree with you on the rest. Nicely done on an important topic.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting hub. Sometimes people just enjoy being that way great insight here.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Eleanor Roosevelt once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. With manipulators, their techniques fail if you simply refuse to participate in their charades. (Of course, you have to recognize them as such first.)

    • ologsinquito profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      This is an excellent article. The more the general public knows about this type of behavior, the better. I'm pinning this to one of my new boards.


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