If you ever find yourself in a situation where you suddenly realize you’re constantly doing things you never thought you’d do, chances are you might be getting emotionally manipulated. We try to surround ourselves with genuinely good people, but people change over time, and not always for the better.
When you love someone unconditionally, you kind of expect the same in return, right? So, it can be difficult to accept the fact that your significant other may be a manipulative human being who is playing mind games. But as hard as it might be, acknowledging the signs of manipulation in your relationship as soon as possible is important.
Emotional manipulation occurs when a person tries to gain power or control by using sneaky, deceptive tactics to change the thinking, behavior, or perceptions of their victim.
The signs of emotional manipulation are often subtle, because manipulative partners are masters of disguising their overwhelming need for control in ways that look like real love. We know, we know, it sounds confusing. But once you take the rose-colored glasses off, it becomes a lot easier to spot these manipulative qualities.
And of course, we’re here to help. Here are nine signs you’re being emotionally manipulated.
1They’re expert victims.
It seems like every time you get into an argument, no matter what was done, or what was said…your partner is just incredibly heartbroken and *literally* can’t wrap their mind around why you’d ever hurt them like that. Even if they were the one who did something wrong, you always end up apologizing. This isn’t okay. Apologize for the part you played in the fight, and let the rest go.
2“If you really loved me, you’d…”
You should be able to change your mind, disagree with, or say “no” to your partner without them questioning your love and hitting you with “If you really loved me you would _____.” This manipulation tactic basically asks you to prove your love by giving them exactly what they want. Just shut it down. Let them know you won’t be guilted into submission.
3They’ll make you question your sanity.
This is also known as gaslighting, and will probably make you feel like you’re losing your mind. This happens when someone is intentionally trying to make you believe you can’t trust your own instincts. They’ll do or say things, then pretend they didn’t. They’ll conveniently omit information from their stories. They’ll mess with your routine to make you forget things so you find yourself becoming more dependent on them. And you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
4They’ve got the “home court advantage.”
As human beings, we find comfort in the familiar, in our routines. But when someone is trying to manipulate you, they’ll try to take you out of your element. Think about your relationship: Do you exist in your partner’s world, but they don’t make an effort to be a part of yours? Do you only go to the places they want to, and only see their friends? If yes, this puts them in control. Take some time to evaluate and let your voice be heard.
5The silent treatment.
More often than not, your master manipulator will also be very petty. They’ll intentionally not respond to your calls, text messages, emails, or other methods of communication, all in an effort to gain some control by making you wait, and planting seeds of doubt and uncertainty in your mind. It’s all just a game for them, and you’re no Mario. You’ve only got one life, this is no way to spend it.
6Baby is always just *too* calm.
If your partner is eerily calm during moments of chaos, this could be their messed up way of trying to make you think you’re just being dramatic and overreacting. By downplaying the situation, they’re pushing you to question your emotional reactions. In times like these, the best thing you can do is try to remember you don’t have to justify your feelings to anyone. Always trust your gut.
7Accountability, what’s that?
Someone who’s trying to manipulate you emotionally will almost never take responsibility for their actions. They’ll keep coming up with new ways to flip the blame and make it seem like something you did provided justification for their missteps. Or they’ll say something like, “I only did it because I love you so much!” Listen to us when we say: The only actions you can be held accountable for are your own. You can’t make someone do anything they don’t want to do. But if this is a regular occurrence in your relationship, we gently suggest you leave.
8You feel like they’re always criticizing you.
A manipulative individual wants you to think that you need them, that you can’t do better, that you’re not worthy. And so they’ll use every opportunity they get to chip away at your self-esteem. If your partner is always focusing on your flaws and trying to make you feel inadequate, they could just be projecting their own insecurities. They might even be afraid that one day you’ll wake up and realize you can do so much better. And you probably can!
9They always seem to have it worse…
You’ll say something like, “Baby, my mom just called and our family dog passed away.”
They’ll say, “Oh, okay. But one time I had a dream about my best friend’s uncle’s daughter’s pet fish dying and that really messed me up emotionally. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly get over it. You’re so inconsiderate for bringing that up now when I’m obviously hurting!” At this point, it should be clear that they only care about themselves and will continue to invalidate your feelings.
If these signs are hitting a little too close to home, then it might be time to voice your concerns. If that doesn’t work, consider putting your own happiness first and doing what feels right to you. Remember, we all deserve healthy and happy love. Stay woke.