Psychological manipulation is “undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits and privileges at the victim’s expense,” according to the book How to Successfully Handle Manipulative People.
In other words, people using you for their own their own benefit, with no regard to your feelings.
An emotional manipulator, it states, deliberately causes an imbalance of power by detecting your weaknesses and using them against you to for their own agenda.
This is what emotional manipulation looks like, so you know how to spot the signs:
1. They put you down
Emotional manipulators may criticise, shame and humiliate you, exclude or pressure you, or withhold intimacy, according to the book.
2. They’re weirdly nice
Alternatively to being unpleasant, an emotional manipulator might give you insincere flattery, fake closeness, or promise rewards after treating you badly.
3. They’re deceptive
Someone who’s trying to manipulate you might try to confuse you by blaming you for something, making excuses, lying, or give you mixed messages. A big red light is if you find yourself apologising for something they’ve done.
4. They appeal to your good nature
They might try to make you feel guilty by trying to gain your sympathy, dramatising events and trying to come across like the victim, the book states.
5. Your feelings are ignored
An emotional manipulator will respond with anger, despondence or deflection if you tell them they’ve upset you, according to life coach Patty Blue Hayes. They may also turn the blame around on you.
6. They’re two different people in public and in private
You might be the brunt of their jokes in public, or subject to rude behaviour, Hayes said, despite them flooding you with apologies when you’re alone together later on. And they’ll try to blame someone else for their behaviour.
7. They pretend you’re the odd one out
Emotional manipulators might use the fictitious opinions of others to further their case. They’ll make you doubt yourself and trust them by telling you everyone you know agrees with them, and not you.