How to deal with Manipulative Personality

First thing first… This article about how to deal with manipulative personality is basic and only indicative. Please seek help from a related expert to know more on how to deal with a compulsive manipulator.

Everyone knows the subtle art of manipulation and everyone does it too, from time to time. But the problem arises when it becomes an unhealthy psychological habit, wherein the manipulator wants to get the job done, by any means possible, including playing the victim card. 

I have nurtured you for 25 years and you do not even have time to spend a day with me?”

I am not interested in what pained you.”

We have done so much for you, it is now your turn to give us back.

Manipulative personalities abound everywhere around you

Manipulators are everywhere, whether it is the roadside shopkeeper trying to sell his wares, friends or acquaintances or even your family- you will experience such people at every stage of your life. While some can be ignored and thrown out of your life completely, some cannot be neglected by virtue of the relationship you share with them. 

Or at times, you do not even understand that someone so close has been manipulating you for years on end. The result- you get perturbed, frustrated and upset. But how do you tell that you are being manipulated and how do you deal with such personalities. To understand this, you need to get into the roots of what manipulation is and what are the behavioural traits you should be wary of when dealing with people. 

What do Manipulative People do?

A Manipulative Personality embraces a sort of counterfeited behavior, by means of which, they try to control you and fulfil their own desires or wants. Manipulators are the people who know just how to trigger you, to push you beyond your limits or wishes and do things their way by applying coercion, rationalising their behavior, guilt tricks, abuse, blame, intimidating thoughts, half truths or even emotions and appreciation.

A manipulator tries to normalise everything, every action of theirs. They will make you believe it is you who has the problem and they are just being your well-wishers.

They know how to play with your emotions… For instance, your friend’s emotional utterance “I was there with you when you were the worst phase of life” or your mother’s intermittent assertion that she had done so much for you, may just make you feel guilty and drive you to do things beyond your limitations. In doing so, they get what they want, while you end up feeling disturbed and even go the extra mile to do things for them, even if that means giving money or sacrificing your family time to be with them.

Being manipulated can be like a slow boil, you only come to know about it when you feel the pain of that burn.

Although such manipulative behaviours may not seem detrimental in the beginning, especially when it comes from a family member, spouse or friend, yet in the long term associating with these people causes long term harm to your mental stability. So how do you deal with someone who has manipulative personality?

Signs of Manipulation to watch out for…

It may not even strike you that you are being manipulated because often these behaviours are veiled under the garb of actions or utterances that may otherwise seem harmless. Here are some manipulative behaviours to look out for:

1/6. Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a from of manipulative personality trait - a psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity and perception of reality.

 “This is not my experience, it’s yours.

If you talk to me like this, I will leave this place immediately.

Have you ever questioned your identity, the reality of life and been left confused and flabbergasted about your abilities or authorities? If so, you have been a victim of Gaslighting. 

Gaslighting is a manipulative behavior shown by people who leave you confused about reality, about yourself and your abilities and this has a serious effect on your mental health. 

Contradictory statements like “I never told you wouldn’t be able to achieve it, how could you blame me of that?” or “Such things never happened, it was your imagination,” are examples of how you are being manipulated through gaslighting.

2/6. Guilt Tripping
Guilt tripping is where the guilt inducer induces a sense of guilty feeling, in an effort to control and manipulate someone's behavior.

Making others feel guilty about things that they have actually not done or may have done unconsciously is guilt tripping. 

Guilt tripping to some extent is normal and is done by almost everyone. But when it becomes a habitual affair, it’s then that it turns out to be detrimental. 

For instance, if such statements “I have done so much for you, and this is what I am getting back” or “ I helped you financially during your troubled times, and now you are not even considering my situation,” if repeated again and again is bound to make one feel upset and guilty and act the way the manipulative person wants, even if that means going beyond their limitations.

3/6.  Insincere ‘Flattery’ Praise
Insincere flattery praise is where the manipulator fake compliments you in order to get something out of you. Insincere praise is damaging for growth.

Appreciations are always welcome, but when such appreciative behavior seems more like flattery rather than real feelings, it is then that you can smell something toxic. 

Exaggerated statements “You are such a good person, I have never come across someone like you.” “I always keep telling people about you and what a brilliant person you are.” When you sense something fishy in appreciations, it is time that you should be wary of that person. 

4/6. Aggressiveness
Aggressiveness manipulation by a dominating attitude or behavior by showing aggression, shaming, condemnation, threats or intimidation.

“Whatever I have told you is for your own good.”

Learn to be organised the way I tell you, you will never be successful in anything if you don’t.

Someone trying to manipulate you by a dominating attitude or behavior by showing aggression, shaming, condemnation, threats or intimidation is actually trying to control you by their threatening words or actions. 

5/6. Victim playing

Manipulators know how to play around with the truth to portray themselves as the victim. In fact, some of the manipulators pretend to be dumb, thereby making you do all the work for them. If by chance, things do not go as they want them to be, they conveniently blame you for their ‘misery’.

6/6. Withholding Emotions
withholding emotions is the most toxic form of abuse. Aloofness, denying affection, sex, communication are some of the tools.

Have you ever felt someone close behaving in a weird way wherein you felt the love they are showing is a farce or shown just for the sake of it? Or someone may be avoiding you purposely which strikes you as absurd. Such behavior ‘withholding emotions’ is also a sort of manipulation to make you feel hurt and upset and thus do things their way ultimately. 

How to deal with a Manipulative Personality

When dealing with someone who has manipulative personality, who are difficult to gauge, here are a few things you can do to ensure they do not impact you psychologically.

1/3. Go by your gut feeling.

When you feel that something is wrong with the statements that the person is giving to you or you get bogged down by their behavior, trust your sixth sense or your instincts and try and avoid them.

2/3. Take a second opinion, to double check.

If you are scared of what the manipulative person to do to your image, take your close ones into confidence and get to know their opinions about you. If they know you well, unless they are naïve, they will not be influenced by anyone’s words.

3/3. Create a boundary line. Let them know your limits. 

For instance, “If you continue such conversations, I will limit myself to only formal meet-ups.” The limitation should be for your own self too, so that you do not go beyond your means to make that person happy. Once they understand that you are firm, they will respect it and behave accordingly.

Finally when one family member or friend is acting manipulative, confide in another family member, your spouse or friend which can help alleviate your feelings of depression and confusion to a great extent. There are some relationships you cannot forego, but it helps to distance yourself so that you do not lose your calm and your mental well-being.

Go easy on yourself, if you are being manipulated…

Being manipulated is not your fault. Don’t beat yourself over it. We all manipulate/get manipulated, some time or the other. It is a normal process of life.

BUT when you feel things have gone out of hand, dealing with the situation may require you to take external help, from someone, who can give an impartial point of view. A third person perspective is a must, if you feel you are under the spell of a manipulative personality. Please seek help, when required…

Also Read…

[1] Toxic Masculinity: What is it and ways to fight it

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