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sad girl-signs of manipulation in a relationship

9 Warning Signs of Manipulation in a Relationship Not To Be Ignored

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I’m pretty certain we’ve all been manipulated at some point in our lives. Siblings are good for doing that! Ha! We can laugh it off now but it wasn’t so funny back then. We didn’t even know we were being manipulated. But we’re adults now and some of us still can’t recognize the signs of manipulation in a relationship.

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It can be difficult to see the signs of manipulation in a relationship

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In my opinion, this is a pretty serious topic. It honestly can be kind of difficult to recognize the signs of relationship manipulation so I want to point out a few of them in this article. Please share it with someone you know who needs to read this.

So many of the signs we misinterpret as our partner just being overly protective or loving us so much they don’t want to see us hurt. Know this right now, it’s not any of those things.

Sure they probably do love you but it’s unhealthy love if you are constantly being manipulated in your relationship.

What is manipulative personality disorder?

Did you even know this was a thing? I discovered this many many years ago when I was in a relationship with a woman (don’t judge). She was the queen of manipulation.

I Googled the definition for you:

According to this is what manipulative personality disorder is

Manipulation is particularly common with personality disorder diagnoses such as borderline personality (BPD) and narcissistic personality (NPD). … Characteristics of narcissistic manipulation may include shaming, blaming, playing the “victim,” control issues, and gaslighting.

It’s pretty serious. You’re not dealing with someone who has good intentions or is emotionally stable.

Now in case you aren’t really sure if you are being manipulated in a relationship (partner/friend/coworker/etc) let’s look at some warning signs. If you do recognize some of these signs, later on this article we’ll talk about how to stop being manipulated.

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You may also like these articles:

sad girl-signs of manipulation in a relationship

9 Warning Signs of Manipulation in a Relationship

Please keep in mind these go for any relationship, not just your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. Being manipulated by anyone in any setting or relationship is damaging and very harmful to your self worth, self confidence, self esteem and so much more.

1 Putting blame on you if you don’t give in

You know what I’m talking about. “Well if you don’t do this for me now this disaster_________ will happen”. Suddenly it’s all your fault. It’s up to you do something they should have done and if you don’t a bad thing will happen to them. Ugh!! This one drives me crazy, but manipulators use it all the time.

They know you don’t want to see any harm come to them so you do what they ask you.

2 It’s your fault I’m mad

More blaming but this time they are blaming you for their feelings. If they are angry, sad, mad, frustrated or whatever, it’s all your fault. People with manipulative personality disorder cannot and will not take responsibility for their actions or their feelings. Always looking to point the finger at the next guy, usually a loved one.

You will feel awful, apologize profusely and this in turn gives them ultimate control and makes them feel powerful.

3 There are strings attached

I’ll do that but first you need to do this. OR. Yes we can do this but only if I can do that after or tomorrow. This is not unconditional love or kindness. This is cut and dry manipulation. Kids do this!!

There always seem to have to be something in it for them otherwise they aren’t happy.

4 You always feel fear around them

If this is the case they have bullied you into complete manipulation and control. They know they now have the upper hand no matter what you do or what goes on in the relationship.

Many manipulators and bullies (or narcissists) want you to feel fear. They thrive on that emotion because it makes them feel powerful.

5 They tell twisted stories

Like not the whole truth but part of the truth and mostly a lie because they have something to hide and don’t feel the need to tell you. So they’re kind of lying but not really and then trap you in an argument about whether or not they are lying because in their mind, they aren’t.

You only need to part of the truth, not the whole truth and to them, that’s good enough.

6 What they want you want too- you’ll see

They will use whatever tactic known to convince you that whatever thing they want (that you clearly don’t) you want too. Regardless of the fact you really really don’t.

They will argue until you finally give in. They’ll be happy because they have won. You’ll be exhausted because once again, you’ve fallen into the trap of a manipulator.

7 Hurry and make up your mind

If you don’t answer or make a decision fast enough, they’ll do it for you. It’s not that the manipulator is impatient. They just want the upper hand and really don’t want you to make a decision.

They want to. So if fail this test don’t try to complain about what they’ve decided on. You had your chance.

8 No communication/cold shoulder

They won’t reply to your calls or even talk to you if you’re in the same room. They want you to feel guilty and beg them to talk to you again.

They feel this is power move and will use it any chance they get. Why? So you come crawling back to them apologizing profusely for something that wasn’t even your fault.

9 Feel sorry for me dammit

They will often play the victim to get you to do what they want you to do or to feel sorry for them. This way, once they have your pity, they know they can use this chess piece every single time they want something.

And they remind you about it often, throw it in your face even, just so that they will always get their way.

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How to stop being manipulated in a relationship

Please remember this applies to all relationships in general. I get that dealing with a manipulator in a romantic relationship may be a little different but generally the same tips apply.

And if you are in a relationship with a manipulator and they don’t see their ways (they probably don’t anyway but people do change) then you may consider leaving or maybe start with some relationship counselling first?

The first step to stop being manipulated in a relationship is:

  • Disconnect from the conversation. 

You already know they are about to go off on their usual “if you don’t do this” or “because of you this happened” rampage so immediately disconnect from the conversation. Let them know you aren’t buying into their usual bs tactics. You can either say “this conversation is over” or “please don’t start that up because I have no interest in this conversation”.

It’s up to you take the upper hand here.

  • Stay firm in your decision

Don’t sway and don’t let them talk you out of your decision. We’ve been doing this for so long now it’s time to stop. You let them know this is how it is, this is what YOU want and you won’t back down. Period. Find and use your voice.

They may even garner a little bit more respect for you.

  • Call them out on their bs

Stop them in their tracks and let them know right out of the gate you know are being manipulative (or lying or being a bully or whatever) and that they need to stop using these childish tactics on you.

For so long they have been using you as a doormat. Get up off the floor and stand tall in your ‘I’m not taking your bs’ stance.

I found this great video from Stephanie Lyn Coaching on YouTube. She actually has a lot of really valuable videos on relationships, toxic relationships, narcissistic relationships and so much more. I really enjoy listening to her. Check it out.

How to move on from a manipulative relationship

It’s tough. Leaving and trying to rebuild your life after you’ve been in a manipulative relationship is hard af. You constantly second guess everything you do. You hardly trust anyone anymore. You live in fear a lot and your self worth and self confidence are almost non existent.


You can move on from a manipulative relationship and be happy again. It just will require some work on your part. Healing from any kind of toxic relationship takes a lot of work.

You might want to check out my self help guide From Hell to Happiness where I help you:

  • let go of the past
  • remove toxic people from your life
  • learn how to love yourself again
  • build self confidence and self esteem, and
  • make changes so you can be finally be happy

From Hell to Happiness

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What other signs of manipulation in a relationship do you know?

Have you recently been in a manipulated in a relationship and were able to get out? What other signs of manipulation in a relationship did you experience? Share them with the readers so they know.

I’ve only touched upon 9 but there are so many other little signs that some of them may even go unnoticed.

Please know that manipulation is control and power and no should ever do those things to you. Ever. They will break you down and make you feel totally worthless.

You are not worthless and you deserve so much more than this. Find your voice, use it.

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Iva Ursano is a retired hairstylist turned badass freelancer, who left behind 52 years of her life in Northern Ontario, Canada for a life of freedom, love and beauty in sunny Guatemala. She has two main purposes in life: feed hungry bellies and help inspire people to live a life of joy and love.