By now, you may be pretty educated about manipulation in relationships. But watch out! You may not be aware of its sneakiest forms.

Manipulation in relationships is a form of control.

I think most of us know that already, and we are all capable of this act. I would even go as far as to say that we all do this. We do, we use subtle expression and words to persuade people and influence things to go the way we want them to, it just varies from person to person.

And then you have those people who cannot live without manipulating everyone and everything. There is a difference between these two and a difference in each conduct as well. Over time, we have learned to pick up clues that alert us to manipulative circumstances.

We’ve learned to read facial expressions, analyze words and even body language that tells us when we’re being manipulated. But there are worse forms of this action, a sort of sneaky manipulation now used in relationships to retain control, paired with gaslighting techniques to pose questions about the other person’s sanity.

Recognizing sneaky forms of manipulation

So, the objective today is to learn about even the most minute forms of manipulation in relationships. Until we can see every telltale trace of this toxic action, we will struggle with our own self-esteem and worth. Here are a few ways to tell when and how you’re being manipulated under the radar.

1. The guessing game

When sneaky manipulation tactics are at hand, you will see that your boyfriend/girlfriend exhibits a drastic change in mood from one day to the next. Everything will seem fine, maybe for days at a time, and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, your loved one will turn into a fire-breathing dragon.

Then, just as mysteriously as they grew angry, they will be calm again and act as if nothing ever happened.

You may ask them what’s wrong, but more than likely, they will say “nothing”. But, they will leave just enough inflection in their voice to let you know that you should be concerned. This is where the manipulation does its deep work.

The thing is, they want you to try hard to figure out what’s wrong with them because, with that trying, you will give them special treatment. It was the plan all along. If they can keep you guessing, they will keep you on your toes.

2. No apologies

You will know for sure that manipulation in relationships is occurring when someone you love refuses to apologize for their actions. As long as they can lie to shift blame or make you feel like you are over-reacting, they will always withhold an apology.

People who manipulate you feel a stronger need to be right than to repair the relationship. But instead of arguing with them, which can continue for hours at a time, choose to walk away with your truth. It’s just not worth the stress and subjecting yourself to further controlling actions.

3. Gaslighting

This form of manipulation in relationships can be dangerous. As subtle as it may seem, gaslighting can turn a perfectly sane person with good morals into a mess of nerves. I’m not saying that gaslighting reveals weak mental functioning, but it creates an illusion that a person is “crazy”.

For instance, a manipulator will convince his mate that she is losing her mind simply because she got angry about something he did. He will project the blame and convince her that she is the one who isn’t thinking in the right way.

If you are familiar with the terms “flip the script”, then you know what I’m talking about. You can probably Google that phrase by now, it’s just that common.

4. Downplaying your success

Pay attention when you tell your significant other about a promotion or new job. Most people would be happy for you when you move forward in life because those who love and care for you really want to see you succeed.

Manipulators, such as narcissists, psychopaths, and other toxic people will always try to downplay your success. They will insert negativity in some form or another into your stories of success.

You may even see them get angry when they realize you are becoming self-sufficient. Now, there are a couple of reasons why they do this, but the biggest reason is that they feel the more you are successful, the less control they will have over your life.

If you make good money with your job, you will no longer need their help to survive. This is extremely threatening to a partner who is used to a dependent mate.

5. The exaggeration tool

Nobody is perfect, and we all do things, say things and take actions that are not that great. But a master manipulator with the ability to use covert tactics to get their way will exaggerate your negative qualities in order to gain the upper hand.

They will say things like, “You always want to argue”, “You never do this or that..” etc. Anyway, the fact that you “never” do something is probably wrong.

The goal of making these accusations is to make you feel regret for things you failed to do or things you shouldn’t have done, according to your perfect interrogator. This makes you feel bad and try harder to be a better person.

When they see you struggling to improve, they realize their technique worked and they have used you like a puppet.

6. Proving yourself

Sneaking manipulation comes in various forms, including being forced to always prove yourself to your mate. No matter how much you try, you will always have to show how devoted you are to the manipulator.

They will say things like, “If you loved me, you would cook my favorite foods, you would keep all my clothes clean and you would do special things to make me happy”.

While some may never really voice these “demands”, they will use other tricks to get this same point across. They may always feel competitive with other things you love. They may ask you to get rid of certain things that they feel come between you and your duties to them.

You will always have to prove that they come first in the relationship.

Manipulation in relationships is a tricky thing

While some forms of control are pretty obvious, some are not. Although love is supposed to be a pure thing and actually, the most important aspect of life, some people see it as an abusive game. I guess that’s why we’ve invented such terms as “players” huh.

Don’t be in the dark about what’s happening to you – awareness is power. If you think you’re being used in this manner, seek help. If you cannot change your relationship for the better, then it may be time to start over.

Remember, part of living a healthy life is being in a healthy relationship.

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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