If you’ve found yourself googling this search term then the chances are you are dating a manipulator. Manipulative people can be very clever at making you question your own sanity to the point where you start to think maybe it is you after all. If you feel like you’re never sure of where you stand in the relationship, or that they’re putting in minimal effort and you’re doing all the work, it’s quite possible that the person is good at manipulation.
To help you identify and spot manipulation, let’s take a look in detail at all the subtle signs:
It feels like it’s all about them
Is everything about them? Do you only meet up when they want to meet up? Do you only go to places that they want to eat at? This is a strong signal that you’re dating a manipulator. If you ask them to get dinner they’ll tell you they’ve got to go to the gym or they just want to eat at home tonight. Yet when they want to get dinner, they’ll message you last minute and expect you to drop everything.
Here’s an example:
Him: Plans tonight?
You: No plans…
Him: Wanna hang out?
You: Sure! Wanna get dinner later? I’d really like to go and get Thai food.
Him: I don’t like Thai food
You: OK, well what about Mexican?
Him: I’m not hungry. I ate not long ago.
Him: I’d be down for a cuddle though
See how this guy is only thinking about he wants? He doesn’t care whether you’re hungry – he’s not hungry. There’s no element of compromise, or perhaps meeting up with you. He wants sex, and he’s manipulate the conversation into getting what he wants.
Everything is spontaneous, never planned
Does the person you’re dating always seem to want to do something spontaneously? Often manipulative men will suddenly want to do something at a moment’s notice and expect you to come along for the ride. But the moment you try to suggest doing something in advance, you’re met with “you know I don’t make plans”. Their time is more valuable than your time, period.
They conveniently go missing
Right at the crucial moments, or just when you need them, they’ll conveniently disappear. Instead of texting you back they might say they “fell asleep” for instance, when really that they were online all day. Don’t they know you can see their WhatsApp status? Probably, but that’s part of the allure – if you suggest that they’re lying, you’ll look like the crazy one.
They never apologize
If they’ve done something wrong they’ll never apologize for it, ever. In fact, they’ll twist the blame onto you. Before you know it you’re apologizing for something you didn’t even know that you did!
They tell you you’re “lucky” to be with them
A classic example of manipulative behavior is when someone says that “you’re lucky I didn’t dump you like all the others” or “you’re lucky I still speak to you”. These types of sentences are designed to make you feel like they are superior, you are inferior and you should be grateful to be with them.
You have to “earn” or “deserve”
When dating I would argue that trust is a choice, and a certain amount of trust should be granted from the beginning. If someone says you have to “earn” their trust or affection, they’re basically asking you to perform, keeping score. It creates winners and losers and it’s all about them.
They invalidate your feelings
You try to express something that upsets you but he tells you you’re “being emotional” or “overreacting”. Of course we all have our moments where we do overreact but if you genuinely know they’ve done something completely unacceptable that upsets you, they should try to understand where you’re coming from. A manipulative person, however, will tell you your feelings aren’t valid. They’ll tell you your feelings are based on things that aren’t true, and are even toxic. A manipulator will say you always play the victim when in fact, they’re the ones who play the victim.
All their exes were “crazy”
When a guy constantly talks about past toxic relationships or tells you that all their exes were “crazy”, this is a huge red flag. There’s one common denominator and it’s usually them. This shows they have little ability to take responsibility for the problems that existed in their relationship and tend to blame everything on their ex. And when you guys become exes, he’ll probably say the same about you.
They pick at you
Initially narcissists and manipulators will often tell you you’re amazing and “love bomb” you. They’ll get intense very quickly, possibly spending lots of time with you, showering you with gifts and compliments. Then in the “devaluation” stage, they’ll quickly start to pick at you. They might regularly comment on your boobs being small for instance or the way you style your hair (this happened to me). They often tease you but tell you they’re “just joking” when really you just find it cruel.
They refuse to answer your questions but make you answer theirs
Manipulators can have double standards. When you want to talk about something important they’ll say “I don’t want to talk about this right now” but when they want to discuss something, they’ll say something like “Answer me, I asked you a question” and keep repeating it until you cave. They also keep a lot of things about themselves under wraps but will make you feel comfortable so that you pour your heart out to them. It’s a clever tactic, as this gives them more information to use as ammunition against you later on.
They have little respect for your boundaries
Manipulators are obsessed with retaining control of their space. While everyone needs boundaries, a manipulator’s boundaries are so strong that you often feel like you can never really ever get close to them. They’ll stonewall you for days or even weeks without responding to your messages but when they want to speak to you, they want an answer now. Your boundaries aren’t important to the narcissist, so don’t be surprised if a manipulator uses tactics to push you and get you to give in. They can even push your boundaries in the bedroom, trying to get you to agree to threesomes or other things you’re not comfortable with. If you say “no”, they’ll keep trying to persuade until you react, then they’ll call you dramatic or “punish” you by going quiet.
It’s not about understanding, it’s about control
Forget trying to reason with a manipulator or a narcissist. When you try to talk about their behavior or even slightly criticize them, they’ll retaliate by being verbally aggressive and turn it back on you. Instead of getting defensive, it’s more likely they’ll go on the attack and say hurtful things against you. In a narcissists mind, you are a competitor and a threat. When you realize they have no intention of trying to understand you, you’ll realize it’s pointless to try to reason with them.
They’re nice to you, when they want something…
Manipulative people often hang out with people that they want something from. When they need you or want something from you they’ll do their best to charm you but if you don’t give it to them, they’ll soon disappear or lose interest.
They’ll find your weak spots, or even try to make you question your positive traits
Narcissists are always trying to assess your character and find out your weak spots so that they can manipulate them. For instance if they know you’re an empathetic, giving person, they’ll take advantage of it. Or sometimes they’ll even note your best assets but try to make you question them. For example, a manipulative guy I dated insisted I couldn’t dance, when in fact, I’d always prided myself on the fact that I could dance. I started to question myself and yet when I got out of that relationship, the next guy I met said “you’re such a great dancer” as soon as we hit the dance floor.
They control the pace of the relationship
There’s no discussion about what you both want or whether you’re on the same page. Everything is about what they want and how they feel. Just as you think you’re taking a step forward, he’ll then take the relationship two steps back. You never really know where you stand from one minute to the next, which can leave you feeling confused.
They’re “just being honest”
They say things that could feel cruel or manipulative but then say they’re “just being honest”. As the saying goes, “honesty without tact is cruelty”. Amen.
Just as you’re getting over them, they keep coming back
Narcissists and manipulators have a way of knowing when you’re pulling away or just getting over them. As soon as you get a little bit of the control back, they want to suck you back into their world again. Don’t be surprised if a manipulative person comes back as if nothing happened.