We all know what it feels like to be emotionally manipulated. It can be extremely effective, which is why some unscrupulous individuals do it so much. Fortunately, emotional manipulators are easy enough to spot if you know what to look for.
1. They undermine your faith in your grasp of reality. Emotional manipulators are incredibly skilled liars. They insist an incident didn’t happen when it did, and they insist they did or said something when they didn’t. The trouble is they’re so good at it that you end up questioning your own sanity. To insist that whatever caused the problem is a figment of your imagination is an extremely powerful way of getting out of trouble.
2. Their actions don’t match their words. Emotional manipulators will tell you what you want to hear, but their actions are another story. They pledge their support, but, when it comes time to follow through, they act as though your requests are entirely unreasonable. They tell you how lucky they are to know you, and then act as though you’re a burden. This is just another way of undermining your belief in your own sanity. They make you question reality as you see it and mold your perception according to what is convenient to them.
3. They are experts at doling out guilt. Emotional manipulators are masters at leveraging your guilt to their advantage. If you bring up something that’s bothering you, they make you feel guilty for mentioning it. If you don’t, they make you feel guilty for keeping it to yourself and stewing on it. When you’re dealing with emotional manipulators, whatever you do is wrong, and, no matter what problems the two of you are having, they’re your fault.
4. They claim the role of the victim. When it comes to emotional manipulators, nothing is ever their fault. No matter what they do—or fail to do —it’s someone else’s fault. Someone else made them do it—and, usually, it’s you. If you get mad or upset, it’s your fault for having unreasonable expectations; if they get mad, it’s your fault for upsetting them. Emotional manipulators don’t take accountability for anything.