Emotional Manipulation

White man wearing black sunglasses smoking cigarette

Manipulators are all around us. Sometimes they are our friends, family members, acquaintances, coworkers or strangers. These people love emotional manipulation and can also use fear tactics to further attempt to control your thoughts and behavior. It’s important that you learn how to catch onto manipulative behavior so that you can protect your mental health. It’s not hard for someone to attempt to manipulate you but it can be difficult to catch onto their behavior if you’re not aware of it in the first place.

Narcissistic man practicing emotional manipulation using shh sign

Emotional Manipulation: What to Look Out For

People who manipulate enjoy getting you to do things which aren’t in your best interest. They use tactics such as lying, deceit, passive-aggressive behavior, withholding information, gaslighting, psychological and physical abuse and even sex to achieve selfish goals. Some manipulators are very obvious in what they do and don’t hide it. They have mastered the art of getting others to do what they want. Other manipulators are very discreet and have learned to manipulate without the other person noticing.

All manipulators are dangerous to your mental health but I would argue that the discreet ones are most dangerous. The classic obvious manipulators are people with antisocial personality disorder and/or substance use disorders. These people get stuck in a life of crime or drug abuse, and resort to manipulation to make their ends meet. They’ve done so much manipulating in their past that it’s second nature for them. Discreet manipulators are those with narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathy.

Narcissists are excellent at getting what they want because their inflated ego is full of confidence. They tend to be sharp and emotionally intelligent and have mastered the art of manipulation. Sociopaths have similar traits in addition to dangerous behaviors such as killing, stalking, raping, kidnapping, etc. Either way, whether you’re dealing with an antisocial, narcissist or sociopath, they all have one goal: to win and to see you lose. Keep in mind that many people don’t have any of these personality disorders but still manipulate. They probably aren’t as intense as those with personality disorders, but they can still get away with manipulation if you’re aren’t aware of what they’re doing.

In the end, trust your gut feeling if you think someone is manipulating you. Your intuition is often right.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)