How to Recognize Manipulative Behavior

manipulative people
Category: recovery

Some people view others as mere stepping stones on the path to achieving their goals. They might only contact you when they believe you have something they need, and dealing with them leaves you feeling drained and questioning your reality. Manipulation is a classic type of toxicity you’re better off not having in your life. What are some examples of this harmful behavior, so you can recognize when someone is using it on you?

1. They Don’t Respect You

Manipulators are determined to get what they want, even if that means they might hurt others along the way. Even if you try to protect yourself by setting boundaries, they will ignore them. Ultimately, every interaction you have with a manipulator will be demeaning and mentally unhealthy.

2. They Sow Doubt and Make You Second-Guess Yourself

Manipulative people are expert gaslighters – a trait they share with narcissists, abusers, dictators and cult leaders. They understand how to use confusion to their advantage. Often, their actions don’t align with their words, but when you question their dishonesty, they brush off your concerns.

3. They Always Deflect Blame

Instead of stopping to analyze whether a problem lies with them, a manipulator will immediately place all blame at someone else’s feet. To a manipulator, the goal of every relationship is to have power over the other person. A manipulative person sees nothing wrong with refusing to take responsibility for their actions, even while forcing you to own yours.

4. They Justify Their Behavior

Even if a manipulative person is wrong, they will never admit it. When you mention times when they acted inappropriately, they’ll have an argument ready to rationalize things they said or did, creating an exhausting cycle of deceit and disharmony.

Healthier Ways to Deal With Manipulative People

Is being on the receiving end of a manipulative relationship straining your self-confidence? Here are some constructive ways to handle this situation.

  • Don’t automatically say you’re sorry: Manipulators love to play the victim. When you try to explain how they harmed you, they turn the tables, and next thing you know, you are apologizing for something that wasn’t your fault. Hold your ground and don’t take responsibility for things you didn’t do.
  • Know when to say no: The goal of manipulation is to control others. Be firm about what you won’t tolerate, and don’t feel guilty about enforcing your boundaries.
  • Avoid contact: If possible, it’s often best to cut toxic people out of your life altogether. However, sometimes that’s not realistic – for example, if your manipulator is a co-worker. In that case, keep your distance as much as possible and talk with your manager or HR department about constructive ways to handle the situation.

Is It Time to Seek Help?

Being a victim of manipulative behavior can cause significant guilt, shame and uncertainty, which may make you reach for drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we provide proven treatment for addiction and any co-occurring physical or mental health disorders in an ASAM-accredited setting. To learn more about what to expect in rehab or the evidence-based therapies we use, please contact us today.