You've been dating for what feels like forever, and at long last, you feel positive you've met "the one" — that perfect person you've been waiting to fall in love with for so long.
What makes it especially exciting is that the feeling is obviously mutual. They've been showering you with the gifts, affection, and love you've craved, and which you'd almost given up hope of ever finding.
Unfortunately, your friends aren't so sure about your new relationship.
They’ve noticed some signs of emotional manipulation, in person or from afar, and they believe your partner's behavior may hint that this person is toxic for you, perhaps even abusive.
People who know how to manipulate others can be tough to identify, especially when you want to hope for the best and avoid becoming bitter or jaded about romantic relationships.
Emotional or psychological manipulation is defined as "a type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through indirect, deceptive, or underhanded tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at another's expense, such methods could be considered exploitative and devious."
Finding yourself in the position of often feeling like you have to make excuses for the person you love is a good hint you may be falling for someone who excels at — and thoroughly enjoys — emotionally manipulating you ... and that their techniques for doing so are working.
Below are 9 signs of emotional manipulation to watch out for in romantic relationships.
1. Your relationship is in a constant state of flux.
Even though you're being showered with gifts, words of love and affection, in your heart, you're never certain where you stand with your partner emotionally, and it's all so confusing.
Gifts and affection are great, but in order to know if their feelings are real, they should be willing to help you find clarity.
2. Your partner seems to have an agenda.
Have you ever noticed that your relationship seems to move forward or backward according to your partner’s pace and plans, with little or no consideration for yours? Manipulators are completely comfortable with requiring you to compromise your own needs and standards, as long as you meet theirs.
They may tell you they just know what’s best for you, but in reality, they only believe things are good for you when it suits their definition of what's good for themselves.
3. Being in the relationship requires you being OK with not having your needs met.
For example, your partner may have told you on many occasions that what’s good for the goose is definitely not good for the gander. He needs his freedom, while you should need only whatever it is he wants to give.
When a manipulative mate places restrictions on your independence and you accept them, you are telling yourself that your your own happiness simply is not important.
4. You experience intense and unpredictable highs and lows.
In between exciting episodes of love and affection come scary episodes of negativity, adding to your overall sense of confusion about how this person feels about you.
Allowing your partner to constantly make negative comments about things like your looks or your character eventually causes you to question your every remark and action in order to protect yourself from what you know could be devastating backlash at any moment.
5. Your connection is volatile.
It may be true that all couples argue from time to time, but what's important is how you each handle these challenges.
If your partner has a tendency to escalate every argument or ignore you until you give in and admit defeat, you're dealing with someone who isn't interested in your thoughts or opinions unless they align with their own.
6. You're becoming increasingly isolated and distant from your friends.
While you may not think your friends have abandoned you on purpose, you're seeing and connecting with them less by design. Your manipulative partner wants to isolate so that all of your attention can be focusing on the relationship.
This type of environment only becomes more toxic and isolating in time.
7. Your partner uses their rough childhood as an excuse.
Your partner’s ultimate fear is that you will no longer need them. To keep that from happening, they insult you and shut down emotional and physical intimacy until you give in and accept blame.
When you call them out on their manipulative behavior, they overwhelm you with stories of traumatic past experiences until you feel sorry for them — and guilty for being so "selfish."
8. You can (almost) never do anything right.
Your partner thrives on chaos. Criticizing you for small details like wearing something with a small stain or failing to keep a spotless home keeps you focusing on everything you get wrong rather than on how unhealthy the relationship is in general.
The self-doubt this creates also reduces the chances you might leave for someone who could and would provide for your needs, because you become convinced that no one else would have you.
9. Physical intimacy and affection have become almost non-existent.
Your partner focuses on what you aren't doing, while simultaneously withholding affection and intimacy as a form of punishment.
If you're unsure whether or not the basis of your relationship is healthy or toxic, take a step back.
Examining the excuses you make for your partner can be an effective way to see a relationship for what it really is.
Once you do this, you can take the steps necessary to end the hold their manipulation has on you and move on to attract the love and affection you deserve from someone who offers it genuinely, not from a partner who will never focus on the needs of anyone but themselves.
Original content published on YourTango.com