5 Signs You May Be Manipulated And You Don’t Even Know

Asmita Karanje

And how you can deal with it

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4VhEmL_0YodzhvO00Photo by Hailey wright on Unsplash

“You are so sensitive,” “You are upset over nothing,” “You are always so negative,” “I never said that,” “You are in PMS,” “You need help — you are not thinking straight.”

If that sounds familiar, chances are you have been manipulated by people around you. 

We all want to be the master of our lives. But sometimes other people hold the strings to our lives — they control our thoughts and beliefs. 

We see what they want us to see; we hear what they want us to hear. We start talking their language. Our thoughts are muddled with their opinions. That is manipulation. To overcome or become immune to manipulation, the first step is to identify the signs of such behavior. 

We might come across manipulative people in our personal and professional lives. Here are 5 signs of manipulation that I have observed in people around me and some strategies on how to deal with it.

You are getting mixed signals 

Has someone been super nice to you in private but really mean in public? Chances are they are manipulating you. 

By constantly switching gear, they confuse you and cause frustration. 

Every time you tell them how you feel, they’d try to console using all the right words, so it provides assurance that everything is fine. 

But in reality, nothing is and never was.

How to deal with it?

Don’t trust in what they say. Ask them in writing (a chat, a text, or email) — use that as a piece of evidence if you need to prove to them what they said previously. Communicate your feelings and tell them that their behavior is causing cracks in your relationship. Set clear expectations. If they don’t change, you need to decide if it is worth staying together. 

You feel trapped in the relationship

Manipulators would raise the stakes in a relationship so high that getting out doesn’t seem a viable option. 

You feel like owe them. 

They try to create mental barriers that close all the doors out of that relationship. 

You believe there is no world without them. You start speaking their language and live the lie they have told you. Lies that your life is incomplete without them and that you cannot be happier elsewhere. 

In reality, someone who truly loves you would never need to tell you you’d be happier with them. If you do, you’d know. 

The fact that you are arguing about it is a big red flag that you aren’t. 

How to deal with it?

There is always an option. You come alone into this world and you die alone. We need companions to go through life, but if they make life hell, you need to get out of that toxic relationship. If ever you can’t make your independent choices, it is time to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional counselor.

You feel like a bully, but really, you are the victim.

Manipulators know how to trick you into believing you cause all the pain in the relationship. Some of them don’t need to say anything. 

Their silence speaks more than their words. 

If your partner is being super sensitive on little things and then subjects you to the silent treatment, that’s your cue. 

During my teenage years, I was in a relationship with this person who’d get annoyed on little things and then not talk for days about it. My young and naïve mind wasn’t able to understand their behavior. I started being overly cautious about every little thing I said or did. 

Today I won’t tolerate such behavior even for a day. There is no need for us to keep up with their unreasonable attitude. 

A mature relationship would allow enough space for you to be yourself and say things freely. If it restricts your thoughts in any manner, you know you are being manipulated. 

How to deal with it?

Manipulators feed on attention. Stop giving them the attention they seek and they’d be the ones wondering what’s wrong. Let them come to you instead of you reaching out to them. If they need you as much as you need them, they’d try to mend things. Tell them that talking about their feelings is the best way to deal with it — not silence. 

You are being gaslighted

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the manipulator sows the seeds of suspicion in your mind, so you doubt your own memory, perception, and sometimes even your sanity 

I had this office colleague who was extremely difficult to work with — she would act entirely different when with me and when in a group. She would twist the narrative while presenting to the team. And it’s not the words or facts but her tone and attitude that gave away. She’d ignore my suggestions, avoid eye-contact and if she had to answer my questions — she’d provide a non-answer in a condescending tone that made me feel stupid about my question. 

Because they operate in shades of gray, it makes it quite difficult to assess such behaviors.

How to deal with it?

Recognize such behavior patterns, especially the person’s non-verbal gestures. Their tone, facial expressions, eye contact, and how they address you — these are all dead giveaways. Don’t confront them directly. Ask them in writing if your profession demands you to engage them. But don’t indulge their mistreatment. You deserve to be treated with respect and politeness. 

You feel guilty when you have no reason to

There was a time when I was always apologetic. I thought I was the reason for everything bad ever that happens. 

If someone is upset, it’s because I must have said something nasty. 

If something doesn’t go as per plan, it’s because I didn’t do enough. 

If someone somewhere on the other side of the world sneezes, it’s because I dusted my furniture today. 

Okay, that last one was total overkill. But you get the point — you are forever guilty of doing something wrong. 

In reality, there’s nothing you have done to cause that. But you have been made to believe so, and no one told you it’s not your fault. 

How to deal with it?

Trust yourself. If you have said nothing nasty or done nothing wrong, it’s not on you. It’s on them.

If they have a problem, wait for them to approach you and tell you that. If they don’t, just move on with life. Not worth your time to decode their emotions and mood swings. Be assertive. Choose your words wisely. Don’t apologize if you aren’t sorry. Sorry undermines your position. 

Always remember it’s not about you, it’s about them. 

Be aware of what they say and do around you. Use your intuition to guide you in such situations. Know it’s okay to say “No” and stand for your rights. 

You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. You are allowed to be angry and selfish and forgiving. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself. -— Anonymous

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX

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