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The Covert Tactics of Manipulators

Four signs you may be in a relationship with a manipulator.

Everyone has used manipulation at some point in time, and this is usually to get something of value. However, most people feel guilty if they know they have pushed or forced someone into a situation, and they do not make this a typical mode of behavior.

There are also those people who use manipulation on a constant basis. Manipulation often feels like being pressured, forced, or controlled, but it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly how the other person is creating this environment. The reason it can be so hard to pinpoint the source of the manipulation is that the individual doing the manipulation is highly skilled in using covert tactics and psychological strategies to make you feel unsettled, unsure, or confused about your own perspective. Many people who are manipulated in a relationship with a manipulator find they begin to second-guess everything or to constantly question themselves in decisions and behaviors.

To understand if you are in a relationship with a manipulator, or are being taken advantage of through manipulation, look for the following signs and behaviors:

· Playing the victim: a manipulator often creates a scenario where she or he is the victim. They play on your concern for their health and well-being to have you engage in behaviors that you would not if you did not think they were threatened. Typically, the manipulator stages the scene and provides their version of the story to convince you of their hurt, making the other person feel protective or even guilty in not being there for them.

· Being a bully: the opposite of the victim manipulator is the bully manipulator. These individuals use fear or aggression to make the other person agree, go along with, or be controlled by the manipulator. This fear can even be the fear of losing the other person if you do not agree or do as told.

· Faking concern for your well-being: a very common tactic of a manipulator is to find out about the insecurities, fears, and self-doubts of an individual. This information provides the manipulator with all he or she needs to know about your weaknesses. Once this information is known, they can use these personal triggers against you in a coercive and covert way, subtly controlling you while appearing to be focused on your well-being and protection.

· Using pressure: often manipulators use high pressure sales tactics to get the answer they want. They demand immediate answers to questions and immediate commitment for the person they are interacting with. By demanding immediate responses, he or she can then use guilt, fear and even embarrassment to lock you into a decision you would never have made if you had time to think about the question and consider your options.

Manipulators are highly skilled at what they do. Recognizing if you constantly feel controlled or pressured around another person is the first step in identifying a manipulator. The next steps include developing an effective strategy to prevent manipulation in the future.


Shortsleeve, C. (2018, October 16). How to Tell if Someone Is Manipulating You - And What to Do About It. Retrieved from TIME:

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Psychological Manipulation. Retrieved from Wikipedia: