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12 Signs Of Manipulation Abuse

12 Signs Of Manipulation Abuse


Manipulation is when an individual uses controlling and harmful behaviors to cast doubt, hide their true intentions, and avoid responsibility.

There are many forms of manipulation and therefore can be hard to spot without knowing the signs of manipulation abuse.

But first, let’s be clear- Manipulation is a form of verbal and emotional abuse that is done intentionally to break down another person’s self-esteem and thoughts.

It is used to change a person’s thinking and behavior to control them to do the actions or intent of another person.

This type of abuse is seen in a variety of relationships including friendships, parental relationships, and even marriage.

No matter what relationship context it appears in, manipulation of another person is never ok.

Those who suffer from manipulation from those they love suffer greatly and the effects of emotional abuse stay with them for years.


Signs Of Manipulation Abuse

1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a specific manipulation abuse tactic that’s used to distort another person’s sense of reality.

Conversations you had with someone are turned around and manipulated so you find yourself questioning your own sanity, “Did he/she really say that?”

This type of abuse is extremely dangerous because there are many manipulation tactics that ‘gaslighters’ use to gaslight and manipulate another person.

If you ever find yourself questioning your own versions of events or conversations that took place, you are likely dealing with gaslighting.

Gaslighting over time will break down your own mental health and leave you with feelings of insecurity resulting in second-guessing your experiences within the relationship.

You may even feel like you’re going crazy!

For more signs specifically related to gaslighting read this article: 19 Signs You’re A Victim Of Gaslighting

signs of manipulation abuse

2. High levels of intensity

While intensity in the form of passion in a relationship is a good thing, there is an intensity of emotions that comes when someone is manipulating you.

Passion typically occurs when you have a romantic connection with someone and the feelings of love are overwhelming but in a good way.

The intensity of emotions in a relationship is much different.

A gaslighter may switch between emotions going from irritable to depressed to happy all in one day.

This is intentional to keep you on your toes and keep the level of your relationship intensity at a high level.

Once you get to know someone you begin to feel comfortable around them.

But when you’re in a relationship with someone who manipulates you, you never feel that sense of comfort and relaxation.

Instead, you feel tense around a gaslighter due to their ever-changing moods and the intensity of those moods.

3. Uses sex as a weapon

Sex is a beautiful thing. But if you are being manipulated in a relationship, sex can be used as a weapon. So how exactly can someone use sex as a weapon against you?

A manipulator will not use sex as a way of expressing their care and love for you, but instead, have underlying motives for sex such as…

-Wanting something from you (emotionally or physically)

-Giving you a false sense of security through sex

-Trying to prove their love to you (even when you don’t have the same feelings)

-Withholding sex to get something they want

While these don’t seem too bad, sex without an intimate connection can make your relationship feel fake or can give you self-confidence issues because of a lack of intimacy.

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4. Feeling insecure

When you are in a relationship with someone who manipulates, you will begin to display feelings of insecurity you possibly never felt before.

Since a manipulator wants you to be reliant on him/her you will find yourself double-checking your own decisions for your life with them and feeling unsafe or uncertain about many aspects of life.

Worse of all, these feelings of insecurity may continue to build till you are left feeling like you are not good enough for anyone or anything.

This is the lowest point of losing your self-esteem and it will begin to affect your life negatively. 

5. Codependency

Codependency is a relationship term that’s used to describe a giving and taking type of relationship.

Much of the time codependent relationships are not healthy and can be mentally and physically exhausting because the “giver” is always satisfying the needs of the “taker.”

Unfortunately, the “taker” in the relationship never stops taking from their partner and the “giver” develops an unhealthy attachment to their partner because he/she feels a deep need to be needed or to care for their “taker.”

With time, a “giver” will begin to ignore their own needs to give everything they have to their “taker.”

Some signs of manipulation abuse related to codependency include:

  • A need for approval
  • Avoiding conflict at all costs
  • Saying “yes” even though you want to say “no”
  • Your own desires are ignored
  • Guilt or anxiety when you do something for yourself
  • Doing things to make others happy
  • Your self-worth is defined by how your partner sees you
  • Fear of rejection or abandonment 

6. Selfishness

The selfishness is not displayed by you but by your partner, friend, or parent who manipulates you.

Think back to all the times you did everything your manipulator wanted to do. Did your feelings, wants, and needs always take a back seat to their needs?

A person who does not consider your needs and wants first is acting selfishly.

In healthy relationships, there is an equal exchange where both partners are trying to please the other to fulfill the other person’s desires.

7. Love bombing

Love bombing is a manipulation technique that involves bombing someone with gifts, affection, and time. This may seem innocent and even loving, but it’s not.

It’s a huge red flag for future emotional and possibly physical abuse.

When someone love bombs they are trying to create an illusion to fill you with a false sense of security.

This type of manipulation is typically carried out by narcissists.  

The thing about love bombing is that it is not done out of love at all.

Instead, it is used to either create an illusion to set you up for future abuse or to lull you into a sense of false security.

Love bombing does not last forever and manipulation tactics will increase as well as other forms of emotional abuse.

However, love bombing can start again every time the manipulator (or abuser) wants something from you.  

For instance, if you try and get some space from your manipulator, you may he/she trying to wine and dine you with gifts, loving text messages, phone calls, and more.  

Please, be aware that with love bombing there is a very fine line between love bombing and stalking.

Love bombing can quickly intensify into unwanted stalking before.  

For more information about love bombing and how to stop it, CLICK HERE!

8. Refusing to compromise

In a relationship where one person is constantly being manipulated, you will find that a manipulator is unwilling to compromise.

This has to do with many factors including selfish behavior.  

You will find yourself making all the sacrifices in the relationship including making all the plans, taking over household chores, finances, and even organizing dates are determined by your partner or spouse.

Ultimately, it’s not about what you want or need, but what he/she wants and needs from you.

This creates an extremely unhealthy balance in the relationship where one person holds all the power and decision-making instead of decisions and more split equally.

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9. Dramatic statements

Everyone can be dramatic from time to time. But, when dramatic statements are used to coerce you into doing or feeling something you don’t want to, that’s when it crosses the line.

Many times, dramatic statements are used to make you feel guilty or to make you question the reality of the situation.

Some examples of dramatic statements include:

-“You are my only true love”

-“I would die if I wasn’t with you”

-“I’ll kill myself if you leave me”

10. No boundaries

Boundaries are very important for your self-confidence and self-worth. When you set physical and emotional boundaries with others you are prioritizing your self-care first as well as your mental health.

There’s nothing wrong with that!

Someone who manipulates has a way of breaking down all your boundaries. What once you said you would never do, you do now out of coercion.

Many times even if you have set boundaries a manipulator will completely disregard them or conveniently “forget.”

For instance: If you are trying to get physical space from your partner after a fight and you have asked them explicitly to not touch you in any way and to have the space you desire, a manipulator will disregard your request and hug you anyway to get you to forgive them.

This type of situation puts it into perspective of how a manipulator can break down or disregard your physical and emotional boundaries you have set for.

11. They play the victim

Do you always feel yourself feeling guilty even though you are not the one in the wrong?

That’s because one of the signs of manipulation abuse is for the manipulator to play the victim.  

Instead of you being angry toward what he/she said to you, you will find yourself suddenly feeling sorry for them because they are merely victims of circumstance.  

Pulling the “victim card” is done with a combination of guilt-tripping and a need to avoid responsibility for their actions.

You can catch the manipulator in a lie and he/she will still turn their actions around to avoid what they did wrong and blame it on you.  

12. “No” is not acceptable

Saying “no” is healthy. The more you say “no” to people the more you realize your own self-worth and boundaries.

But for someone who wants to manipulate you, “no” is not an acceptable answer.

When he/she wants something from you they will work hard to change your “no” to a “yes” to satisfy their own needs.

You should never be made to feel like you want to say “yes” to anything you are uncomfortable with!

Your boundaries are important and do matter. In a healthy relationship where there is no manipulation, your boundaries are respected and your “no” to something is not held against you.

Final Thoughts

Do you recognize any of these signs of manipulation abuse in your relationships?

If so, know that you are not at fault! Those who manipulate are often extremely self-centered and care only for their own needs.  

Typically, they will seek out people who are kind, compassionate, and empathetic.

If this is your personality, these are beautiful qualities to possess.

However, some people will prey on these qualities to sway you into doing their bidding.

This is where firm boundaries come into play.

You need to stand up for yourself and recognize that no one deserves to be manipulated.

It’s not ok for someone to convince you to knock down all your boundaries and always meet their needs while disregarding your own.


Works Cited

Manipulative Behavior: Signs, Definitions, and Tactics (

How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You—And What to Do | Time

Covert Tactics Manipulators Use to Control and Confuse You | Psychology Today

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