1. You’re the one who’s guilty. Always.
Manipulators share one common skill: they’re truly excellent at making you feel guilty even when you’re not.
Have you ever asked your partner for help and received an answer along the lines of “Don’t you think I might be busy? I’ve told you before I’ve got lots of things to do! Why do you always think only about yourself?” And here you are, guilty just for asking for help.
If this is the case, your partner is most likely to be one of those few people around whom the whole world revolves.
Barrie Davenport suggests the following tips to resist such manipulation:
- Realize your partner is trying to control you.
- Stay calm.
- Remind them that they are an adult and are supposed to be responsible for their own behavior.
2. And they are victims. Always.
Who wouldn’t feel pity for a poor little kitty? That’s how manipulators want you to see them. Their life is so extremely difficult and full of misery that you should definitely feel compassionate about their misfortunes (and help them with the extra work they received today).
Manipulators use this trick to ask for a “favor” or when they’re trying to avoid responsibility. If you notice that your partner often feeds you tons of emotional stories about the misfortunes of their life, this might be the case. However, don’t confuse this with your partner sharing their feelings with you, which they do to get support. A manipulator tries to get benefits.
3. They provoke.
If a manipulator is out of arguments, they might try to provoke you as a last resort. They might say things that would make a normal person question a manipulator’s sanity or do anything to trigger negative emotions and make you angry.
The purpose of this is to involve you in a pointless quarrel and make you say something that the manipulator can use in their defense. Tell them that what they’re saying makes no sense — you’re guaranteed to see a tragedy no worse than a Shakespeare play.
If you spot this behavior, it’s essential that you stay calm and don’t give in to provocations. Just try to bring the conversation back to the topic. But if your partner goes on behaving this way, it’s better to end the conversation politely.
4. They push.
The less time we have to decide, the less time we have to think. Manipulators push you to make decisions faster so you can’t really think them over. That’s why it’s a question of global importance that you give an answer after a minute or so.
Preston Ni from Psychology Today advises that it’s better not to make a decision straightaway. Instead, take your time to think it over. If your partner is still pushing, it’s good to slow them down by saying that you’ll think about it.
5. Your problems? Never heard of them.
The other thing manipulators have in common is that they don’t really care. If you want to talk about your problems and share your feelings, a manipulative partner is very likely to do one of the following:
- Avoid the conversation and pretend they’re busy.
- Turn the conversation toward their problems: “It’s awful that you were given this extra work today. But can you imagine how I feel dealing with it every day?” Do you think your partner is really concerned about your problems after this?
Davenport says there aren’t many ways to protect oneself from this behavior. It would probably be better to find a new partner, one who is more caring and compassionate.
6. I’ll die without you.
This manipulative technique is commonly called emotional blackmail and is arguably the vilest and most selfish of all. The manipulator plays on your feeling of fear and guilt, imposing responsibility for their life and health on you. In other words: “I’d kill myself if you left me.” But it’s only a threat, and it’s more likely to see a snowman festival in Miami.
To avoid being manipulated this way:
- Remember that it’s only a threat your partner uses to ensure their own well-being.
- Remind your partner that you’re not responsible for their decisions.
7. Didn’t you say it?
Another nasty technique manipulators use is called gaslighting. It’s based on distorting the past and twisting facts to put the manipulator in the most comfortable position and confuse you.
“No, I most definitely didn’t call you that. What? I’d remember if you asked for help. Something’s wrong with you today.” That’s what it looks like in practice. Some manipulators use this trick so skillfully that you begin to question your memory.
But it’s easy not to fall into this game. Just consider 2 things:
- Rely on your memory. Be sure you remember things as they were.
- Insist that you remember perfectly what you said, but don’t fall into a quarrel.
8. They are like a broken record.
Manipulators don’t want to discuss your common problems. They’re just fine here and now. They sneakily lead you to believe that your discussion is over before it actually is. That’s why you start your old arguments over and over again.
It’s actually easier to get walls talking than to make a manipulator change their standpoint, but here are 2 tips that’ll help you not to fall into their game:
- Always keep in mind the topic of discussion.
- Remember what caused the problem and why you started the conversation.
9. They use tricks.
Manipulators use this easy trick to get what they want from you. They exaggerate a request to an enormous extent and then follow it up with their real, seemingly smaller,request.
“Well, if we can’t get a blue whale’s heart for dinner, why don’t we just go and dine in that Italian restaurant downtown?”
You’re more likely to choose the one that’s easier to fulfill. But the trick here is that you don’t have to choose. It’s easy to avoid this trick. Just remember 2 things:
- You don’t actually have to help.
- Your decisions should be based on a rational basis, not comparisons.
10. They simply play dumb.
Pretending you don’t understand is doubtlessly a childish trick, but it’s not a problem for manipulators. They use everything to keep themselves in a comfortable position.
There are not many ways you can avoid this behavior, but bringing your partner to a store and buying them a toy they want could be just the right decision. But hey, we’re adults here, aren’t we? So it’s better to:
- Try different approaches when asking the same question.
- Behave the same way. Does a partner who simply avoids helping you deserve better treatment?
Manipulation is a trait of character, so remember that you can’t make a manipulator a better person. They’ll stick to their behavior, even if it means breaking up with you.