Sometimes, and around certain people, you feel stressed, pressured, and anxious. You walk on eggshells around them, they make you question everything you do, and make you regret voicing your concerns. Those people, at the same time, would still tell you how much they love and care for you, and will claim that every time they have gotten tough with you, "it is just for your own good". This state is a very clear, undeniable demonstration of emotional manipulation.
Emotional manipulation is when one person exploits emotions and uses mind games to have control over the other person for personal advantages. The signs of emotional manipulation can be subtle, hard to pick, and can leave you rather confused. But if you encounter any or more of the signs we will talk about now, then you need to end this kind of abuse.
1. They pick up and start fights very frequently.
What looks or started like a normal conversation would then turn, in a blink of an eye, into a heated argument and an ugly fight. You keep wondering where you have gone wrong and they will convince you that their shouting or screaming is solely and entirely because of you and will never admit that the way they are communicating is wrong.
2. You end up apologizing even when you don’t know what you have done.
You start by voicing a simple concern or talking about something they did to you that you found hurtful, then suddenly, you find the conversation taking a different direction where they are pointing fingers at you, blaming their reaction on your actions, and ever so surprisingly you find yourself apologizing instead of receiving an apology. Emotional manipulators, when and if confronted, never own up to their mistakes and will always blame it on anything or anyone but themselves.
3. They give you ultimatums or guilt-trip you.
When you are put in a situation of taking a decision that the emotional manipulator doesn’t really like, they would use one of two very stressful tactics: guilt-tripping and/or ultimatums. You are then left in a very tough position of not knowing what to do and you sometimes step over yourself to please them out of fear.
4. They belittle your problems or concerns.
Every time you go to them with a problem, concern, or something that is worrying you, they will make you feel like you are overreacting and will accuse you of being dramatic. They will then try and convince you that they are only giving you tough love because they want you to toughen up and be stronger. But remember that is only a defense mechanism for their unacceptable abusive behavior.
5. They will use your insecurities against you.
Once an emotional manipulator has identified your weaknesses or insecurities, they will use them against you when they need to. They will give you the harshest criticism in areas they know you are very insecure about then will seal it with a sly ‘it is all for your own good. I just want what’s best for you.” Also, they might bring up your flaws when you already feel down or maybe point them out jokingly in front of others.
6. They make you doubt your judgment of situations.
That is what is known as gaslighting which is an insidious tactic of emotional manipulation. This is because it makes you doubt your reality and separates you gradually from your gut instinct. When you talk about a specific situation that bothered you, the emotional manipulator will tell you things like ‘that never happened’ or ‘how could you make up such a scenario!’. They will also tell the story differently, only from their unfair side. With such things being said, they will make you feel it is all in your head. You will begin to doubt your perceptions, and bit by bit, doubt your judgment of all situations.
7. They stir negative emotions against others they don’t like.
Emotional manipulators want it to be like it is you and them against the world. If they are on bad terms with someone, they wouldn't want you to be friends with them but they won’t say it directly. Instead, they would badmouth the other person or would tell you something about them that would change their image in front of you forever.
Dealing with an emotional manipulator can be one of the most stressful situations. They make you run around in circles of self-doubt and guilt. Bare in mind one thing, a person who truly cares about you, wouldn't put you through such discomfort. Read the situations well, analyze their actions, and don't delude yourself further falling in traps of their concealed toxicity.