How to Recognize a Manipulative Personality


It’s interesting how “falling in love” and “falling for somebody’s tricks” are expressed so similarly. Sad but true: many women wind up in damaging relationships through no fault of their own, but simply because they don’t know how to recognize the traits of someone who will only end up using them, without any regard for their wellbeing or feelings. 


These people are experts in identifying and taking advantage of others’ weaknesses. They may not even be particularly smart, but are able to do this almost on an instinctive level. The optimum outcome, from their perspective, is to have you in a completely lopsided relationship with them, where you serve their needs while receiving nothing from them in return. Romantic relationships are perhaps the worst examples of this, but it can also occur at work, in social situations or in every other imaginable context; for example, successful salespeople tend to be natural manipulators. Such a parasitic relationship can also continue for years, if you do not recognize it for what it is and take action to put a stop to it. Here are a few typical behaviors to be on the lookout for:


Manipulating the Truth


This may sound like just another euphemism for lying, but it can go much deeper and wider than that. Claiming not to have said or promised something when they certainly did, making improbable excuses and then daring you to confront them about the fact, acting as if angry whenever you don’t agree with them, or simply making a habit of presenting only those aspects of the truth that puts their actions in a good light are all behaviors that benefit them while harming you. Once a manipulator has gained sufficient control over his victim, he can even make her believe that her misfortunes are her own fault.


Subtle Intimidation

Speaking more loudly than necessary, displaying anger or other negative emotions, and bullying body language such as standing too close or making wild gestures are all used to make someone give in to their demands. Once agreeing to do what they want you to has become a habit as far as small things are concerned, it’s much easier for them to ask you to sacrifice things that are more important to you.


Constant Judgment and Criticism


A confident person who knows her worth is very difficult to manipulate over the long term, so a manipulative person will try to wear that confidence down. This is often disguised as humor, or as a backhanded compliment, so that confronting them about it makes them look like the victim. Almost anything can be used in this way to make you feel less secure, from your appearance to trivial mistakes you’ve made, but especially be on the lookout when someone starts questioning your core competencies.


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There are many other signs that someone is manipulating you for their own ends: if they are constantly getting you to feel guilty without real reason, or insist that you feel grateful for things you didn’t ask them to do, you would be wise to re-evaluate that person’s role in your life. 


Especially in a relationship which has been established for some time, changing a manipulator’s behavior is difficult. The best, and possibly only solution, is to remove them from your life completely. If you think that you might be the victim of this kind of psychic predation, or you need advice on how to escape it, remember that professional help is now easier than ever to access. While you may be too close to the situation to see what damage is being done, describing it to somebody else can quickly help you to see things as they are.


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