Emotional Manipulation in Relationships

What is emotional manipulation?

Emotional manipulation is when friends or loved ones use methods such as guilt-tripping, shaming and using fear to manipulate others. It can be done in both a subtle or very overt manner, but either way is unacceptable.

It’s safe to say that at some point in our lives we may have done of the following, but it’s usually followed by a great guilt and remorse.

Below are eight signs to watch out either in yourself or someone close to you!

1. Word manipulation

When a person says something in a genuine and honest tone but they do so to hide their true intentions. For example, you can express anger at them for missing a birthday/special occasion and they would respond “it makes me sad that you think I would forget your birthday”. By using these words, they are making you feel guilty even though you are the innocent party.

2. Verbal denial

This is one that politicians are very good at performing. When you and the other person remember events or spoken words very differently. People who emotionally manipulate are very good at spinning things, rationalizing situations where they are in the wrong and justifying their behavior.

3. Guilt trips

Emotional manipulators are excellent at making you feel guilty for speaking, for not speaking, for caring, for not caring enough etc. They have realized that sympathy is very useful in manipulating your emotions. They play the victim card with ease.

4. Diminish difficult problems

Emotional manipulators do not care about your problems because their problems are so much worse. They will take whatever you say, and make you feel guilty for saying anything, as their problems are much worse/ their job more stressful.

5. Passive Aggressive

They typically say supportive things to you or about you, but they behave in a very unsupportive manner. Giving someone the “silent treatment” is something manipulators use to make you feel guilty and try to talk to them.

6. Energy sucker

Emotional manipulators have a dark cloud that follows them wherever they go. When they enter the room, the cloud envelops everyone in the room so the attention all falls to them. A normal person would then ask them what is wrong and try to find out what is making them angry/sad/depressed. The best thing for you to do is leave the room.

7. Aggression

Manipulators can often use aggressive language and actions to intimidate you. If they know that you do not confrontation they will do so to make you feel uncomfortable and therefore they will get their way easily. The manipulator will learn how to act in order to get what they want and for you to relent.

8. Insecure seekers

Manipulators will seek out people who are over-trusting, too kind or quite insecure because these types of people are much easier to control. They may draw you in by appearing to be warm and kind, but over time their true intentions become clear with aggressive behavior, silent treatment, and temper tantrums, not to mention their dark cloud following them everywhere.

If you recognize these “symptoms” in a loved one, you may feel like it’s hard to break free because of guilt and loyalty, but it’s vital for your own mental health.

By Holly W.