Signs That You’re Manipulative and Don’t Realize It. Manipulation is a complicated topic. On the one hand, it’s often an effective tool for getting what you want. On the other hand, though, it can be harmful to yourself and those around you. You could say that we’re all manipulative in some ways; it’s just a matter of how much and whether it’s healthy. And you may be surprised to learn that you’re doing it right now in ways you might not even realize!
You Do Things for Others Just So That They’ll Do Things for You
If you find yourself doing things for other people only to get something in return, it’s a sign that you’re being manipulative. The problem is not necessarily with the act itself; but rather, your motive. You may feel that if you do something nice for someone else, they’ll be obligated to return the favor or like you more. But no one owes anyone anything in terms of how much they should care about other people’s feelings. Doing nice things out of obligation or expectation can really backfire.
You Fake Concern
You may not realize it, but if you frequently pretend to care about others, their problems, lives, opinions, and feelings, while you don’t really care, you’re likely being manipulative in some way. For example, you might text your roommate to ask how their day went and find out that they had a rough day at work. But then, later, you ask them to pick up something for dinner. You may be able to tell when someone is upset or struggling and even ask how they are doing, but then you go on with your life like nothing happened as soon as it’s convenient for you.
You Set the Rules, Then Change Them at a Moment’s Notice
This is a classic manipulation tactic. You want something in a certain way, so you decide to make up rules for others to follow. If they don’t comply with these rules or if they do something that doesn’t fit within those parameters such as disagree with your point of view, or want things done differently, you find ways to get your way by changing the rules on them instead of compromising or doing things another way that would be more suitable for everyone involved. This way, even if someone tries to argue with what you’re doing, they’re forced into submission because if they want their needs met, they have no choice but to follow along.
You Talk Down to People
If you talk down to people in order to make yourself feel better and gain control over their behavior, this is another sign of manipulation. This can be especially apparent when you say something that could be perceived as mean or insulting but you insist that it’s for the other person’s own good. In fact, the person being patronized often agrees with your criticism and even apologizes. This kind of helpful criticism rarely comes from an authentic place; instead, it serves as a way for you to maintain control over others by making them feel small and powerless.
You Make People Feel Guilty
Guilt-tripping is a form of manipulation that attacks emotion. It’s when you make someone feel bad about themselves in order to get them to do what you want. You know exactly which buttons on someone’s emotional remote control are marked guilt or shame, and which ones will cause them to say yes instead of no. Or at least give in after a few minutes of pouting, silent treatment, or crying fits because they don’t want you to feel bad.
You Don’t Keep Promises
If you have a habit of not following through on what you say or commit to, you might be manipulative. This means you often make promises you never intend to keep, knowing you can get away with it because the other party won’t hold you accountable. And if someone is disappointed by your lack of follow-through, you just brush it off as them being too sensitive.
You Wear People Down with Arguments
Another common sign of manipulation is when you wear people down with arguments. You get angry when someone doesn’t agree with you, and you always have to be right even if the other person is trying to help or offer advice. You’re aggressive in your arguments and can’t stand to be wrong. While it’s important for people to feel heard and understood, this kind of behavior shows that you don’t listen to other people’s points of view unless their views align with yours.
You Blame Others for Your Actions
Blaming others is a way of distancing yourself from the problem and avoiding taking responsibility for your actions. It’s also a way of getting people to feel sorry for you, making it easier to manipulate them and get what you want. When everything is someone else’s fault, it allows you to wriggle out of blame when something goes wrong. You’re too often able to make others feel responsible for your actions or that they have to do things to please you for your approval.
Your Apologies Are Never Sincere
If you’re the kind of person who never apologizes sincerely, then there’s a good chance you’re manipulative. You might ‘say sorry’ when someone calls you out, but you do so without meaning it. In fact, it’s proof that you don’t think anything is your fault or that there are things about yourself that need improvement. You think your way of doing things is the only way; and if anyone else has a different opinion on how something should be done, they are wrong, even if it means that they have to suffer because of it.
You Confuse People On Purpose
If you tell people what they want to hear, say one thing but then do another. Or if you’re not clear about your intentions, expectations, or boundaries, you may be manipulative without even realizing it! Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to many problems in relationships. As well as create confusion for others when it comes to what they should expect from you and how they should respond accordingly.
You Project onto Others
Projection is a defense mechanism involving projecting your feelings and thoughts onto someone else. It’s when you attribute your faults and insecurities to others. Because it’s too painful to admit that you have them yourself. For example, if you have trust issues, you might think everyone else is untrustworthy. Or, if you feel like a fraud, you accuse others of being phonies. In general, projection is when you see your faults in other people or blame others for mistakes you made yourself.
You Feel Entitled to Get Your Way, No Matter What
If you think your needs are more important than anyone else’s. You believe that whatever you want should be yours. And if someone stands in your way, they need to step aside! Instead of taking no for an answer and moving on with your life. You maneuver a situation until you get what you want. Even if it means putting other people in a bad spot. And you may think that this is something everyone does. But the difference between healthy and manipulative relationships is that healthy people don’t do it at the expense of others.
It’s not easy to realize that you’re manipulative. But if you start to notice some of these signs in yourself, it might be time to stop. And reflect on what they mean and how they affect others around you.