How To Tell If You Are In A Manipulative Relationship

By Alice Nduta

According to Sharie Stines, a therapist and an expert on abuse and toxic relationships, manipulation is an emotional and unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want and need in a direct way.

Manipulation occurs in different forms from an emotionally abusive partner to a physically abusive partner.

Psychopaths (a person with no normal conscience who perpetrates bizarre violent acts), sociopaths (a person with an antisocial personality disorder), narcissists (one who show extreme love and admiration for themselves) and others may highly use manipulation techniques to exert control over their victims

According to experts, here are some of the signs that you may be a victim of manipulation.

  • You feel fear, committed and guilt

Fear to do what the manipulator wants you to do, committed to doing it or guilty of not doing or doing it.

  • If you really love me

This may sound like a very innocent statement but may be very manipulative. It acts around controlling someone’s emotions and a guilty conscience. It’s about giving your partner what they want by proving whether you love them or not. Since it may sound very harmless, it may be used repeatedly

  • Emotional blackmail

It may be something like ‘I will commit suicide if you leave me’. It’s a manipulation technique used to bring about fear and guilt. Fear that if you leave them they might kill themselves thus leaving you with the guilt of you caused their death.

  • Playing the victim

If your partner is always heartbroken after an argument and you find yourself always or mostly apologize in the relationship even for things you actually didn’t do, then there may be some sought of manipulation. Manipulators act as ‘victims’ so as to make their victims feel worthless and for them to escape the consequences of their actions.

  • You are questioning yourself- ‘ Gaslighting’.

Manipulation in a relationship is dishonest behaviour which may be a serious problem. Master manipulators can twist your words and actions to seem like every mistake you made was your idea. This can make you feel like you are not in control of your own thoughts, feelings and actions. Thus you can’t trust your own instincts.

Questioning yourself at some point in time is very normal but when a relationship puts you in a position where you constantly question your feelings etc. then it may be alarming.

  • Always just joking

This may occur when your partner critics you in a hurtful way and it’s your fault if you get annoyed because for them they were just but joking. They may end up claiming that you are too sensitive or you are overreacting.

This may also occur when your partner critic you by saying mean things to you in public but will end up being annoyed at you if you react towards the bad joke and may claim that you have no sense of humour.

  • Plain bullying

This involves the old tactics of bullying. It may not comprise of actual physical bullying the other but it’s one of the highly noticed manipulating tactics. It may be observed in the body language when someone is asking you for a favour or in the tone of their voice. Such that they instil fear in you that your answer to the asked favour will definitely be a yes.

Manipulation is all about control and the manipulator can either act as ‘the victim’ or ‘the bully’. We may have been a manipulator or a victim of manipulation at one point in time due to different reasons.