Signs of Psychological and Emotional Manipulation

Manipulation can happen to anyone, and it can be challenging to identify it when it’s happening to you. Psychological and emotional manipulation describes the various not-so-obvious ways that people try to control and manipulate others. Manipulation can be so subtle and insidious that even the person being manipulated does not realize they are being taken advantage of. If you think you might be the victim of manipulation, it’s important to understand the signs to watch out for so that you can protect yourself.

What is Psychological and Emotional Manipulation?

Psychological and emotional manipulation refer to the actions taken by one person to take advantage of or control another person. Manipulation can occur in any relationship. It can be as simple as a person convincing their partner to watch a movie that they don’t want to or as complex as someone grooming a child to sexually abuse them.

The person who manipulates often seeks to control the other person’s behavior or emotions. They use various tactics to erode the other person’s self-esteem, undermine their confidence or change their perception of reality. Covert manipulation can occur in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Gaslighting
  • Withholding information or communication
  • Threatening or intimidation
  • Guilt-tripping or shaming
  • Isolation or separation from other people
  • Power dynamics that create dependency
  • Controlling access to resources such as money, transport, or shelter

10 Signs of Psychological and Emotional Manipulation

Manipulation is often so subtle that it can be challenging to spot at first. Here are some signs to watch out for:

1. They are Always Right

A manipulator will continually make you feel like you are wrong, and they are right. They rarely admit when they’re wrong and often act like they have all the answers.

2. They Dismiss Your Feelings

Manipulators often dismiss other people’s feelings, arguments, or opinions. This type of manipulation tactic is used to make the other person feel unheard, unimportant, or dismissed.

3. They Use Stalling Tactics

A manipulator might use stalling tactics, such as avoiding the conversation or postponing it, to buy themselves time to come up with a plan or manipulate the other person. They use this tactic to control the conversation and avoid confrontation.

4. They Gaslight You

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that involves manipulating someone into questioning their reality, memory, or sanity. The manipulator will make the other person doubt themselves and make them believe that they are the problem.

5. They Use Flattery

Manipulators often use flattery to put their victim on a pedestal and make them feel special. This tactic is used to build trust and gain favor with the other person, which can create a sense of dependency or obligation.

6. They Give You the Silent Treatment

It’s common for manipulators to use the silent treatment as a way to control and manipulate the other person. This tactic involves withholding communication or information to create anxiety and uncertainty.

7. They Use Fear

Manipulators often use fear to control others. They might threaten to harm the other person or use scare tactics to keep them in line.

8. They Project Their Behavior Onto Others

Manipulators often project their behavior onto others, blaming other people for their mistakes or faults. This tactic is used to create confusion and take the focus off the manipulator’s actions.

9. They Use Guilt-Tripping

Manipulators often use guilt to control other people. They might remind the other person of their past failures or make them feel like they are responsible for their problems.

10. They Control Your Access to Information

Manipulators often control access to information as a way to control others. They might restrict access to communication, money, or other resources to keep the other person dependent on them.

How to Protect Yourself from Psychological and Emotional Manipulation

If you think you might be the victim of psychological and emotional manipulation, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Trust your instincts
  • Set boundaries
  • Stand up for yourself and your beliefs
  • Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals
  • Limit your exposure to the manipulator
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no”
  • Seek professional help if necessary


Psychological and emotional manipulation can be challenging to identify and even more challenging to escape. Understanding the tactics that manipulators use can help you recognize when someone is trying to control and manipulate you. Remember that you have the power to protect yourself by setting boundaries, seeking support, and trusting your instincts. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if necessary. By protecting yourself from psychological and emotional manipulation, you can live a happier and healthier life.


FAQs about Signs of Psychological and Emotional Manipulation

What are some examples of psychological and emotional manipulation?

Psychological and emotional manipulation can take many forms, such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, blame-shifting, isolation, and passive aggression. These tactics are often used by people who want to control or manipulate others for personal gain or to maintain power over them.

What are some signs that you might be the victim of psychological and emotional manipulation?

If someone is using psychological and emotional manipulation against you, you might feel confused, anxious, or uncertain about your own thoughts and feelings. You might also feel like you can’t trust your own judgment, or that you’re walking on eggshells around the person who is manipulating you. Other signs include feeling as though you’re being controlled or coerced, feeling guilty for things that aren’t your fault, and feeling like you can’t express yourself honestly.

How can you protect yourself from psychological and emotional manipulation?

The best way to protect yourself from psychological and emotional manipulation is to be aware of the signs and trust your intuition. If you suspect that someone is trying to manipulate you, try to distance yourself from that person and seek support from trusted friends or family members. It’s also important to learn healthy boundaries and practice assertiveness. Remember that you have the right to set boundaries and say no to things that make you uncomfortable or that go against your values.


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