The Five Warning Signs Of Emotional Manipulation
Some people are assholes. Period. It’s hard for “normal” people to understand, but it’s true. Those of us who live our lives guided by our moral compasses, virtues, and integrity find it difficult to understand others who have no concept of what any of those terms mean. But they ARE out there. These are the people who leave you feeling drained after interacting with them. They may even make you feel confused and inadequate. Worse, they could make you question and doubt yourself without reason.
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It’s one thing if a friend/coworker/partner/etc offers constructive criticism. We need interactions like these to form positive, healthy relationships. This person came to you with the intention of helping you. There’s nothing behind their actions or words except their concern for your well-being and growth. For emotional manipulators, it’s a different story. Their concern is for themselves. The purpose of their interactions with you is to create an imbalance of power, one which will exploit you and serve them.
How do you even know if you’re dealing with an emotional manipulator? What are the signs? Are there different types? How do you handle them? I’m so glad you asked. Yes. There are different types of manipulators. Yes. There are red flags you should look out for and, yes, there are things you can do to protect yourself from this person and prevent them from taking advantage of you.
Here’s How To Tell If He/She Is An Emotional Manipulator
How do you figure out if you’re dealing with a Truth-Twisting Ninja? Look out for the following warning signs:
1. He Treats You As An Adversary
This one may seem obvious, but it can be done with subtlety. The key word here is opposition. Your emotional manipulator will oppose you at every turn. It doesn’t matter what you’re discussing or doing; he will consistently challenge your thoughts and opinions, even going so far as to try to change your perception of the situation. The whole purpose of this is to shut down any chance of a constructive conversation. There will be no give and take, no exchanging of ideas or considerations. Your manipulator doesn’t care about your feelings or point of view, only his.
2. She Turns The Tables To Shut You Down
Your manipulator isn’t interested in having a conversation with you if it doesn’t meet her agenda. Again, she doesn’t care about your feelings, only hers. She will do anything in her power to avoid interacting with you on topics she can’t control. If you try to push the issue, she will block you at every turn. It begins with an attempt to switch the subject to something she is more comfortable with. If that doesn’t work, the accusations will start flying. “You’re the one who doesn’t care about MY feelings!” “You’re the selfish one!” “You can’t do/think/feel/etc. this way!”
3. He Makes You Feel Less Than
Belittling, demeaning, discounting-these are all tactics he uses to make you feel like you are beneath him. Your manipulator will trivialize your experiences, your beliefs, etc. He will minimize your emotions and make you feel like you don’t matter because, in the end, you don’t. Only HE matters. Not you.
4. She Constantly Undermines You
Undermining is all about breaking down your self-esteem and confidence. She may tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. She may consistently interrupt you, talk over you, or even speak on your behalf. The reason for this is to elevate herself and feed her self-worth. In some cases, she may even do this so you can become dependent upon her for your decision-making. Control, possession-both of these are ego boosters for her and the reason why she can’t have you self-assured. It is, after all, her world you are living in.
5. He Gaslights You
If he really wants to gain control over you, then he will gaslight you. If you aren’t familiar with this term, allow someone who has been a victim of this to break it down for you. Gaslighting is a shrewd and cunning form of manipulation. Its purpose is to get you to trust your abuser (yes, I said abuser because that’s what emotional manipulators are). Once he’s gained your trust, he’ll start to systematically alter your perception of reality. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. This is a type of psychological abuse and, if he’s really, REALLY good at it, you won’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late. Gaslighters are charming, seductive, and they know this. On the outside, they seem polite, caring, considerate. They aren’t, though. Inside, they’re reading you, taking in your weaknesses, your insecurities, your faults. They do this for one purpose-to break you down, to mentally disable you so you are dependent upon them. They’ll take the information they’ve gathered use it to plant seeds of doubt in everyday conversation. This will make you question your instincts, your thought processes, your feelings. If you’re dealing with a gaslighter, then you’ll know it by the mental exhaustion you experience whenever you’re around them.
These five things are all red flags to look out for in your relationships with other people. I’m not only speaking about romantic relationships here. Emotional manipulators can show up in every aspect of our lives. They can be co-workers, parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, bosses, etc. Sometimes, they can be people you have to deal with. Next week, I will discuss the different types of manipulators and how to effectively handle each one. Until then, here is another article you may find useful.