25 signs of a manipulative relationship (+ what to do about it)

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Some people love you, some people hate you. Some people try to control you, and others just need your time. 

So what makes a person manipulative? 

There are many ways in which someone can manipulate their partner. Manipulative relationships can be hard to spot, but there are tell-tale signs that will help you figure out if something is off-kilter. 

This article provides 25 signs of a manipulative relationship, from feelings of guilt and shame to controlling behavior and gaslighting actions. We will also discuss possible solutions for how to handle the situation so that it doesn’t become worse.

25 sure signs you’re in a manipulative relationship

Have you ever found yourself in a manipulative relationship?

Or maybe, you’re not 100% sure about it.

It is not easy to spot a manipulative relationship at first. Manipulative people often hide their intentions and actions that could be damaging to you and your feelings. 

You might have noticed some signs of manipulation, but it’s often difficult to determine if they are all there or not.

So, do you want to figure out if your relationship is manipulative or not?

Then take a look at the 25 signs of a manipulative relationship that might be familiar to you.

1) They make you feel guilty for normal things

When was the last time you felt guilty?

Last weekend? Yesterday? Maybe even this morning.

Admit it. You notice that your partner makes you feel guilty about things that are not your fault.

You did not do anything wrong, but you feel guilty about it. Your partner makes you feel bad about everything and anything that they can.

And they often do it to make you feel bad or guilty about yourself. It is one of the manipulative relationship signs that should be on your watch list.

When someone makes you feel bad about things that are normal, such as being angry or sad, it can be one of the signs of manipulation.

This can happen when someone tries to control how much time you spend with your family or friends. It is not unusual for a manipulative person to make you feel guilty about spending time with your friends and family.

They might even try to manipulate you into spending less time with them.

Sounds familiar?

This is one of the signs of manipulation that can be difficult to spot at first, but it is something that you should pay close attention to.

2) They blame you for everything

It all begins with a feeling of guilt and shame.

You might be wondering how it is possible to blame someone for something that is not their fault.

However, manipulative people are very good at this.

They are far better at this than you can even imagine.

They will blame you for everything in a relationship and even things that don’t have anything to do with it.

They will make you feel bad about yourself and what you have done to hurt or upset them. One of the signs of manipulation can be the way they talk to you and blame you for everything that goes wrong in your relationship.

It is not unusual for a manipulative person to blame you for things such as: being too quiet, too loud, too friendly, not friendly enough, too smart, not smart enough, etc. The list can go on and on.

And guess what?

When someone blames you for everything, even when it is not your fault, this is one of the signs of manipulation. And it’s toxic.

So, remember: you should keep an eye out for this type of behavior from a manipulative person in your relationship. It is one of the more obvious signs that you are dealing with a manipulator.

3) They play the victim role very well

Have you noticed that your partner is acting like a victim even when you haven’t done anything wrong to them?

If so, be careful. Why?

Because this is one of the signs of manipulation.

Being a victim is an easy way to manipulate someone into feeling guilty. And guess what?

If you are around someone who plays the victim role, they will take advantage of it.

They will use it to get out of things or to get you to give them something that they want.

They will play the victim role so well that it might even fool you into thinking they are a real victim.

When a person plays the victim role very well, this is one of the manipulative relationship signs that should be on your watch list.

There are two types of people who play the victim role very well: those who actually feel victimized and those who pretend to be victims when they really aren’t.

Manipulative people often fall into the second category, but they can also fall into the first category as well.

This can be very difficult to identify, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. However, if you pay close attention and watch for this sign, it is easier than you might think to notice it.

4) They make you feel bad about yourself and your life situation

The manipulator wants you to think that their problems are more important than yours and that your problems are not as important as theirs.

This is one of the more subtle signs of manipulation.

The fact: manipulators will make you feel guilty about things that you have no control over, and they will make you feel bad about yourself and your life situation.

And you know what?

This is how they keep you under their control and how they get what they want. They do this by making you feel like the bad guy and by making you think that their problems are more important than yours.

They do this in subtle ways, such as telling you that your problems are not real problems, or in more obvious ways, such as telling you that your problems do not matter to them or to anyone else for that matter.

5) They try to control how much time you spend with others

The manipulator wants to keep you all to themselves, and they do not want you to spend time with anyone else.

They want you all to themselves, and they will try their best to make sure that this happens.

They will make comments like, “Why were you talking to him/her?” or “Why did you go out with him/her?” or “You should not have gone out with him/her.”

They may even accuse you of having an affair if they see that you are getting close to someone else. This is a sign that the manipulator does not like sharing your time with anyone else but them.

So, don’t let anybody control your time and don’t let anybody tell you who you should spend time with.

6) They don’t take responsibility for their actions

Manipulators will never admit that they are wrong, even when they know that they are.

Yes, it’s true that it’s hard to take responsibility. But it doesn’t make them right.

Therefore, if you point out to them that they did something wrong, they will deny it and make up some excuse for why what they did was not wrong and why you misunderstood what happened.

They will do this because they want to protect themselves from any sort of bad feelings or hurt feelings that may occur if you were to find out their true intentions.

7) They make promises about the future and do not keep them

Let me take a wild guess.

Does the person you are in a relationship with make promises about the future?

Don’t worry, because most of us have been there.

The manipulator will make promises about the future and will tell you exactly what they are going to do for you and how they are going to change, but they will never actually keep those promises.

They may even tell you that they are going to change in ways that you want them to change, but it is all a lie. They never actually keep their promises, and they do not really care about changing themselves.

8) They try to control your feelings

Manipulators will try their best to control your feelings and emotions. This way, they can make sure that you do not feel any sort of negative emotions toward them.

They do this by making sure that you only feel positive emotions and that you do not feel any sort of negativity toward them.

For example, if a manipulator does not want you to feel angry towards them, they will try their best to make sure that you do not feel any anger towards them.

They will do this by making sure that they are always doing things for you and by always making sure that they are taking care of your needs. They will make you feel like they are the best person in the world and that there is nobody better than them.

However, once you get into a relationship with them, they will start showing their true colors and you will see that they are not the perfect person that you thought they were.

9) They will make you feel like you are the only person in the world for them

What’s better than being the most important person to someone?

At first glance, this is the best-case scenario, isn’t it?

However, there are some manipulators out there who will tell you that you are the only person in the world for them and that they have never loved anyone else like you.

This is all a lie, and they will start showing their true colors once they have gotten into a relationship with you. If a manipulator starts telling you that you are the only person in the world for them, do not believe it because it is just another lie.

10) They make you feel bad about yourself and your achievements

Do you notice that you don’t feel good about your achievements?

Manipulators will make you feel bad about your achievements and about yourself. 

They will do this by making you feel like you are not good enough for them and that you are not good enough to be in a relationship with them.

They are doing this so that you start feeling bad about yourself so that they can make themselves look better than what they truly are.

11) They want to control who you talk to and spend time with

Nobody likes to be controlled by anyone.

But sometimes we still let people control us for some mysterious reason.

Just admit it.

You are working hard on something important, but your partner just keeps making you feel bad about it.

Do you feel bad when you do not listen to what your manipulator wants?

Keep in mind that there’s no need to feel bad, though.

Manipulators are very controlling and want to control who you talk with and spend time with. They will start telling you that certain people are bad for you and that they do not like that person.

They will try their best to make sure that you do not spend time with that person anymore because they don’t want anyone else in your life other than them.

12) They try to control everything in your life

Do they know what clothes you wear? Do they know what food you eat? And even how much money do you spend on shopping?

Yes, they do.

Manipulators like to control everything in your life.

They will try to make sure that you don’t talk with anyone else except them. They will try to make sure that you spend all your time with them and that you do not go out with friends or family anymore.

Just like the previous point, they think that they know what’s best for you, but in reality, they don’t know anything about you or what’s best for you.

13) They are extremely jealous of everyone

Manipulators are extremely jealous of everyone around them. They will start telling lies about people who are close to you and saying bad things about other people who are close to you just so that you won’t trust them.

Manipulators will also start acting extremely jealous of you and be very suspicious of your actions.

They are doing this because they want to make you feel like nobody else loves or cares about you, but them.

14) They can be nice one minute, but mean the next minute

Manipulators will make you feel good about yourself one minute, but then they will start saying bad things about you the next minute.

You never know what to expect from them because they are always changing their moods and personalities.

They do this so that they can get what they want from you. They do it so that when they say bad things about you, later on, you will start feeling bad about yourself and think that you deserve it.

15) They are very sneaky and like to play tricks on people

Manipulators are always playing tricks on people. They will say one thing to a person, but then they will do something completely different behind their back.

They do this because they want to make sure that nobody knows what they are really doing.

And guess what? They like to play tricks on you too.

They will say one thing to you, but then they will do something completely different behind your back.

They do this because they want to make sure that nobody knows what they are really doing.

16) They have a reason for everything they do

Is your partner always trying to make sure that you are happy and doing well? Do they always have a reason for everything they do?

They might be manipulators. Manipulators always want to make sure that you are doing well, but the reason for this is that they want to keep you under their control.

If you need anything, they will be there for you. They will want to make sure that you are comfortable and happy at all times.

If something goes wrong, they will act like it’s their fault and apologize to you over and over again until you forgive them.

Yes, apologizing is important in romantic relationships.

But guess what?

They know that if something goes wrong in your life, it is going to affect them in some way, so they want to make sure that you are happy and doing well.

17) They make you feel like you owe them something

Manipulators will make you feel like they have done so much for you, that it is time for you to return the favor.

They will do this by always talking about the good things that they have done for you in the past and how much better your life would be if it weren’t for them.

They want to make you feel that if it weren’t for them, your life would be miserable.

18) They are always “forgetting” important dates and events in your life

Manipulators hate being around you when you are happy.

If you have a birthday or some other kind of special event coming up, they will start to forget about it.

They will even tell you that they forgot about it and that they are sorry. They do this because they want to make sure that the special day isn’t very special for you.

They want to make sure that you don’t feel like your life is going well, so they will do their best to ruin your special day for you.

19) They like to stir up trouble between other people

Imagine you’re meeting important people in your life. Your friends, family, and loved ones.

Manipulators will do their best to get rid of these people. They will tell you that they are not good for you and that they are going to do you wrong.

Why do they do that?

Because they want to make sure that these people don’t have a positive effect on your life, they will try their best to get rid of them.

Yes, it’s true.

Manipulators like to stir up trouble between other people so that they can watch them fight and cause harm to each other.

This is because manipulators don’t have many friends themselves, so the only way for them to have fun is if someone else is

20) They enjoy making dramatic statements

Who plays the role of drama queen more often between you and them, you or you?

Let me guess.

Manipulators are always the ones who will say, “I am so depressed!” or “I am so angry!”

They don’t really mean it, but they will play the role of the victim to make you feel bad.

21) They expect specific reactions from you

When they meet you, they will tell you that they are glad to see you.

They are not just saying that because it is polite.

They really mean it.

Manipulators expect specific reactions from you, so if you don’t give those specific reactions to them, they will get angry and upset with you.

22) They don’t take responsibility for their actions or words

Manipulators will always blame others for their actions or words. They will even blame the people who have hurt them in the past, but never themselves.

They will even blame the people who have hurt them in the past, but never themselves.

Why?

Because they want to make sure that you don’t see their bad sides, they won’t take responsibility for their actions and words.

23) They use emotional blackmail

Do you believe that when someone is being nice to you, they are still thinking about making you unhappy in the future?

Manipulators will use emotional blackmail on you to make sure that you don’t do anything that they don’t like.

They will say things like “I am doing this for you” when they are really only doing it because they want something from you.

The truth is that manipulators will do anything to get what they want.

They will use emotional blackmail, which means that they will use your emotions against you.

Manipulators will do whatever they want, even if it means breaking up with you or hurting the people you care about.

24) They are very good at pretending

Have you noticed that your partner is really good at pretending?

Manipulators will always pretend to be nice and kind.

They will pretend that they are not mad or upset about anything, even if it is true.

Manipulators will pretend that they are not mad or upset about anything, even if it is true.

25) They make you feel insecure

Do you ever feel as though your partner is constantly trying to make you feel insecure?

Manipulators will always try to make their partners feel insecure about themselves.

They will do things like telling you that they are thinking about breaking up with you, or that they don’t like the way you look.

They may even make fun of your weight or appearance in front of other people.

What to do if a partner is manipulating you

So now you know how to spot a manipulator, but what are you supposed to do?

The best thing that you can do is to tell your partner that they are being manipulative.

I know, it’s hard, but you have to explain how they are manipulating you and how it is affecting you. You need to make sure that they know that you know what they are doing.

So, don’t hesitate anymore. Don’t let anybody control your life or try to take charge of your relationship.

Remember: there are ways to get out of this situation. You can leave a relationship if it really is that bad, or you can change the way you react to these manipulators so that they don’t have as much power over you anymore.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.