Has someone you loved told you they felt manipulated by you? Do people tend to stray away from you because of something you don’t even realize you’re doing?

Admitting you’ve manipulated people can be hard; but coming to terms with your own toxic behaviors is the first step on a journey to self-improvement. Acknowledging that you can be manipulative will not only help your relationships with others, but can also help you work on rebuilding a strong relationship with yourself.


What Does It Mean to Be Manipulative?

Being manipulative means using untruthful and indirect tactics to get someone to say or do something you want. A manipulator uses lies and threats to control people without directly telling them to do anything. By putting their emotions in the forefront, a manipulator disregards whether or not their behavior is healthy for a person they’re in a relationship with (romantic partner, family member, friend, etc.).

You might be thinking: “how could someone be so terrible to someone they care about?” Well, most people who manipulate don’t even realize they’re doing it; and there may be a few reasons for that.


Why Someone May Show Manipulative Behavior

Manipulative behavior can stem all the way from childhood. For example, if a child grows up seeing their mother threatening to leave their father without discussing her feelings, they may think that this is the right way to communicate. If they see manipulative tactics get results, they’ll begin or continue to use them.

People who manipulate could even have the best of intentions, but still act in a deceptive manner. These behaviors are very common for individuals with insecurities or anxiety disorders.


Signs You May Be Manipulating Someone

Have you been told you’re manipulative, but don’t understand why? Take a close look at the signs of manipulation below to see if you may be behaving this way:

  • Attempting to control someone else’s feelings — making them feel bad
  • Lying or misleading people
  • Withholding communication & affection
  • Blaming others for your actions
  • Keeping intentions vague — not saying what you want
  • Having know-it-all tendencies
  • Having issues with jealousy

Behaving this way doesn’t make you any less human; it just means that it may be harder for you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and others.


Manipulation in Personal Relationships

Your girlfriend, husband, mother, brother, or best friend could feel manipulated by you. Manipulation appears in every type of relationship, most commonly in romantic ones.

Here are some examples of manipulation that you can find in a one-on-one relationship:

  • Withholding something (sex, money, affection) until they get what they want
  • Using love as bait, claiming, “if you love me, you’d ____…”
  • Refusing to do something until they get a favor done for them
  • Deflecting responsibility or blame in situations/arguments
  • Always needing to know where the other person is
  • Expecting others to know what they want
  • Telling others they don’t put effort in
  • Spreading gossip about the other person
  • Twisting the truth

Do any of these behaviors look familiar to you? If so, you may be manipulating the people you care about. But, thankfully, this is something you can turn around.


8 Ways to Not Be Manipulative

Looking to change your manipulative behaviors and strengthen your relationships? Below are eight ways to work on these patterns and stop being manipulative:

  1. Work on your self esteem. Lots of people who manipulate have some sort of insecurity. Start by practicing self love — buy some new clothes or try out a fun skincare routine.
  2. Don’t be a perfectionist. Learn to go with the flow. Not everything is in your control, and you have to remind yourself of that regularly.
  3. Learn something new. Find new hobbies and try something you’ve never done before. This will help you focus more on your interests and less on your relationships.
  4. Try to ease anxiety. Meditating and doing yoga can do wonders for anxiety. In combination with other treatments, these practices can help keep your mind and body clear when you’re feeling on-edge.
  5. Exercise. Need some serotonin? Hop on the treadmill or do your favorit at-home workout to improve your mood and turn your attention toward improving yourself.
  6. Go to therapy. Therapy can help just about anybody, but especially those who may not be aware of possibly destructive behaviors.
  7. Respect others. Acknowledge others’ boundaries and personal space. Be respectful during arguments and try to stay as rational as possible.
  8. Listen. When someone is telling you how you make them feel, take notice and pay attention.


Moving Forward Without Manipulation

To fix manipulative behavior, you first need to recognize it. Once you can realize when you’re beginning to act this way, you can work to stop yourself. Try your best to let things go, be spontaneous, and make decisions with the help of others.

There are many ways to achieve successful relationships after previously showing manipulative behavior. If you or someone you know is acting manipulative and would like to change, help is around the corner.


To learn more, give our team of mental health professionals a call at 267.719.8528.