It’s never fun to think you might be in a manipulative situation. While we hope you never have to deal with such a situation, here are some classic behaviors that master manipulators employ and some ways to respond to and cope with them.
A manipulative person typically avoids taking responsibility for their mistakes or any role they may have played in a conflict. Things seem to always happen to them, but they never see those things as consequences of their own actions. As a result, they tend to be unwilling to discuss conflict or say they “don’t want to hear it.” A manipulator may also practice avoidance by deflecting or trying to confuse you. It can be hard to hold your ground, but it is necessary to prevent yourself from being persuaded into doing things you don’t want to do or believing something to be your fault when it isn’t.
The Blame Game
Often manipulators will play on your weaknesses to make you feel less than or like you owe them for everything they’ve done for you. In these moments, it’s important not to blame yourself. When you are in a manipulative situation, the person making you feel bad for not being “good enough” or “appreciative enough” is trying to make you feel guilty. Instead, be sure to question whether that person’s expectations are realistic and if they genuinely deserve your respect.
Manipulators often try to play the victim. They tend to create mountains out of molehills and then take advantage of your concern for their well-being. That person may be dramatic to show that they are hurt or in trouble so that you will come to their rescue. Recognize the patterns of this person in your life and learn to set boundaries. It is sometimes best to detach from that person, even if you still empathize with them.
Exploiting Low Self-Esteem
Manipulators often attempt to exploit other people’s weaknesses (such as low self-esteem) to their advantage. This is why how you see yourself is so important. By trusting yourself and your decisions, you can better recognize when someone is trying to manipulate you. It makes sense to question yourself now and then; in those circumstances, talk it out with a friend, family member, or therapist you trust.
How do you handle being in manipulative situations? Share your experiences in the comments below!