10 Subtle Signs A Master Manipulator Is Trying To Control You

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At times, it is difficult to determine whether or not someone is doing or saying something because of genuine concern or manipulation. Manipulation is often very subtle and hard to notice, depending on the circumstances and type of relationship. Manipulative people are everywhere and it’s important to know the characteristics of a master manipulator.

At first, master manipulators come off as sincere, compassionate, and charming. They may appear kind, gentle, and calm. This is just a tactic to lure you closer and get you to trust them early on.

Once they have you in a relationship and in a vulnerable position, they will start to utilize their tactics of deception that they have become experts at.

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Learn the signs of manipulation and how to overcome people manipulating you. Remember, many of the signs and characteristics of manipulation are subtle and can come off as general concerns.

Be aware of these 10 signs that a master manipulator is trying to control you:

1. They often lack insight into their behaviors and actions.

They will believe wholeheartedly that their way is the only way to deal with things because it ensures their needs are met and as long as it is beneficial to them, that’s all that matters in a manipulator’s mind.

2. They avoid taking responsibility and accountability for any of their actions or behaviors

Oftentimes, you will hear a manipulator say "If so and so didn’t approach me that way, I wouldn’t have had to act that way" or something similar to that. They do know the meaning of responsibility but they will not hold themselves accountable nor will they listen to anyone who tries to hold them accountable.

Manipulators place the responsibility for their needs in your hands and as a result, you ignore your own needs.

3. They often criticize and judge you.

They tear you down into little bits and pieces. While they will talk down to you and judge your actions, behavior, and character, they provide no solutions or alternatives in order for it to be constructive.

4. They will isolate you from what you cherish most

This includes friends, family, school, or work. They may threaten to ruin things in your life as a scare tactic.

5. They will distort the truth or facts

This often depends on how beneficial something is to them.

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6. They bombard victims with statistics and data

Often, they do this for subjects or topics you may not know a lot about.

7. They give you little to no time to make a choice or decision

This is to put pressure on victims to make a quick and possibly irrational decision that benefits the manipulator.

8. They pretend they don't understand you

By pretending that they don't understand what another person is saying, manipulators, feel that they shouldn't be held accountable or responsible because they will justify their actions and behaviors by saying they didn't get what the other was saying.

9. They give you the silent treatment

This is a way for manipulators to have power and superiority over victims and is an effective and extremely damaging form of psychological abuse.

10. They hold you responsible for your happiness.

If they're experiencing negative feelings or emotions, they will either blame you or someone else but eventually, it will become your fault.

None of what manipulators are projecting onto victims is their fault. These are the tactics manipulators use in order to gain or benefit from a situation or from a person.

How to deal with a master manipulator

Know the red flags and note these suggestions on how to deal with a master manipulator and make the manipulation stop:

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1. Keep your distance

This is for you to observe the manipulator's behavior in different settings. You'll be able to observe their behavior and how they act and behave from one person to another.

2. Avoid self-blame

It's easier to blame ourselves for feelings of inadequacy and inferiority because this is what manipulators want. You are not to blame. You are being manipulated. Remember, you are not the problem.

3. Ask probing questions

When you hear a request or expectation that is unreasonable or seems irrational, ask questions such as "Are you asking me or telling me?" or "So, how is this fair?" This shifts the focus back to the manipulator.

4. Use your time wisely

Manipulators are going to want you to provide an answer to their request. It is important to separate yourself from the manipulator's influence to think about the request rationally without letting their influence sway you one way or the other.

5. Learn how to say "no"

This is critical for anyone to communicate effectively. Learning how to say "no" early on will only help you in stopping manipulation.

6. Set boundaries and consequences

Make sure you set boundaries and practical consequences for crossing those boundaries. Stick to them as well. Actions speak louder than words.

These are the tell-tale signs and characteristics of manipulators. They have mastered the craft of manipulation and have become experts in the field of manipulation. Prepare yourself early on to deal with difficult people and behaviors.

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Brittney Lindstrom is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She writes about relationships, organizational psychology and behavior, personality psychology, and more.