11 Signs of an emotionally manipulative personality

Woman distraught and crying while man stands next to her.

In past blog posts I wrote such as 21 Things To NOT Do To Be Successful I talk about various things you shouldn’t engage in to be successful. But one aspect of that I touched on briefly in that post is staying away from negative/toxic personality types. These individuals will destroy you mentally, spiritually, emotionally and any hope you may have at success. Knowing how to deal with them or avoiding them when you can is also an important aspect to being successful.

The below list will highlight 11 traits of the toxic people out there that are emotional manipulators. I’m not claiming it’s an exhaustive list of every tactic emotional manipulators employ and everything you need to know to deal with them, but the list that follows is a good starting point.

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1.) They distort what you say, to make you look or feel bad

Emotionally manipulative people will often take what you say and mischaracterize it to make you look foolish or stupid or to make people flat-out dislike you. And no matter how many times you try to correct them, they’ll do it anyway. It’s like they can’t help themselves.

A few reasons why emotional manipulators do this is because:

a.) They are natural liars so they can’t admit to any wrongdoing,
b.) twisting your words is their way of controlling you, whether they are conscious of it or not,
c.) and lastly, they want to destroy your image and like-ability in the minds of others. They fear you having any friends and allies because that support group might clue you into their manipulator bullsh*t and they can’t have any of that.

2.) They say terrible things about you, or others, then deny that they said it.

A manipulative person can careless about your feelings and an example of that is they will often say the most embarrassing or hurtful things about you – some to your face but more often behind your back. They will look you in the eyes and still claim what said was not what you heard said. It can be maddening and frustrating just getting them to admit to their mistake.

3.) They use guilt trips to control people

Guilt is one of the emotionally manipulator’s biggest tools to control you. You tell them you have to leave their party or social engagement early due to you having to be at work for example and they will lay on a guilt trip so thick they’ll have you thinking you’re one making a terrible mistake.

4.) They minimize your difficulties or problems, so they don’t have to be there for you

To a manipulator, nobody’s problems are a big deal except theirs. Since they don’t care about anyone else, for damn sure they don’t want to help anyone or be there for someone who is having issues. They will frequently dismiss your problem outright or mis-characterize your problem in such a way so as to not be a big deal as far as their concerned.

5.) Their situations or problems are always so much worse than everyone else

Speaking of problems, when the emotional manipulator has a problem, they often make it sound like it’s the end of the world. When they have a problem, it’s all hands-on deck and they expect you to drop everything to be there to help them, and if you’re not, they will badger you or guilt trip you into doing what they want. They often live their life from one crisis to the next and they’ll make sure you come along for their insanity ride too if you let them.

6.) They are experts at using passive aggressive behaviors to hurt you

When someone is passive aggressive to you it means they are trying to avoid direct confrontation with you but they still oppose you in other, indirect ways. An emotional manipulator will do this to you while pretending to your friend, or it could be a family member.

For example, a passive aggressive so-called friend who you put in charge of getting important items for your party knows full well this party is important to you but will deliberately show up late to the party with the knifes, forks and paper plates, etc. while guests were waiting and having a hard time eating. Part of their goal in doing this is to make you look bad (that’s how the manipulator sees it). This “friend” will of course have some slick excuse as to why they were late. There many other games they play using their passive aggressiveness I could go into but you get the picture.

7.) They focus their attention only on their own unhappiness. They never acknowledge your pain.

One thing you have to realize about an emotional manipulator is that they live in their own world. They want everyone and everything to revolve around their world. So, when they are unhappy, they only care about that and not anyone else’s feelings. To them it’s always about them, never you, never anyone else.

8.) They thrive on conflict and use it to intimidate you

Other types of emotional manipulators will employ a tactic of anger and some form of aggression to get you to comply and make themselves feel better. Some personality types get off on always being in a state of war – with someone. They’ll deliberately start an argument or some conflict to get themselves in a better mood. If there is peace in the world, they feel something is wrong. These are the worst types of emotional manipulators in my opinion and they need to be avoided at like the plague.

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9.) They know exactly what buttons to push to control you

An emotional manipulator that is your spouse or significant other is often the deadliest kind because they know you best. Not just because you’re in a relationship with them, but because they are a toxic personality, an emotional manipulator, they secretly make themselves an expert student of studying you so they know exactly what to say and/or do get under your skin.

The best defense for this is to
a.) Realize they are an emotional manipulator
b.) Be extremely aware of what your buttons are so you know when he or she is trying to push them

10.) They will psychologically eviscerate you and your grasp of reality

Dealing with emotions manipulators can absolutely destroy you mentally and emotionally to the point where they will have your head so twisted that you lose your sense of what’s right and wrong. The worst ones can twist and turn logic on its head to the point that you will be questioning darn never everything you’ve come to understand about yourself and the world in general before you were involved with them. They are experts at getting inside your head and planting, viruses, of sorts, that eat away at your grasp on reality.

Possibly defenses:
a.) Be aware of and don’t resent what they are trying to do to you. The anger and hatred they invoke in you is a major factor in their bullsh*t working on you.
b.) Meditation. Certain meditations can help you to see and understand yourself. Knowing yourself will help you to better understand others and better keeping yourself from being undone by toxic personalities such as emotional manipulators
c.) Have a close friend or family member you can quietly vent to. The reason why I suggest this is because emotional manipulators often like to isolate you from whatever friends or family you had from before. They want your world to be them and only them and having someone to talk to outside of the toxic manipulator’s orbit can be therapeutic. Just be sure not dump all the craziness they put on you on to them every day. Nobody wants to hear you complain constantly.

11.) They seek out sensitive, insecure or trusting people, who have no idea the kind of people they are dealing with. They take advantage of the genuine or naive souls.

I believe this is where meditation can help that I spoke about earlier. If you are one of these vulnerable personality types then you must know yourself well enough to recognize this about yourself and realize you’re susceptible to these predatory, emotional manipulator types. You must make yourself secure in who you are, so you are not vulnerable to these types of people. You must learn to recognize the signs of these toxic personality types from a mile away and stay away from them if, at all, possible.

Those are my thoughts about emotional manipulators and some tips to deal with them. What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.