10 SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE DATING OR FRIENDS WITH A MANIPULATOR:
1. Playing Innocent
A manipulator does not take responsibility for hurting others and instead plays innocent, acting like he is the harmed party when confronted about his hurtful behavior. By playing innocent and casting himself as the victim, he tries to throw his partner off balance, making her feel unjustified or even guilty about challenging his behavior. She may even become sympathetic, feeling that his bad experiences hurt him, instead of seeing his manipulative behavior as an attempt to win at all costs.
2. Rationalizing Behavior
A manipulator will offer rationalizations that justify his behavior, reasons that come close enough to making sense that the partner being manipulated is easily put off guard. The rationalizations are not his true motives, merely a means of justifying his conduct so as to avoid having to have a realistic discussion about changing it.
3. Now You See It, Now You Don’t
Try to discuss an area of disagreement with a manipulator, and the manipulator may try to retain control by changing the topic or throwing in everything including the kitchen sink to distract his partner from the discussion topic.
A classic example of how a manipulator diverts attention from the topic at hand is to talk about how the behavior he’s committed, and the partner has identified as a problem, is something other people do to him. He turns the discussion from his wrongdoing to how he is so often wronged.
Another approach is for him to introduce extraneous factors rather than respond directly to comments or questions.
4. Playing Dumb
Rather than address criticism or requests to change behaviors, a manipulator will often play dumb. With the goal of maintaining power and control, he will ignore the requests and not listen to others’s suggestions.
5. Sharing Half-Truths
A manipulator is likely to hide information that is relevant or deny his behavior by sharing just enough of the truth as necessary to convince others of his honesty. Key aspects of a situation may not be disclosed by a manipulator seeking to maintain control.
6. Inducing Guilt
A manipulative person makes accusations when confronted about his own behavior. Some classics are to accuse the partner of not loving him enough, not doing enough for him, or not doing enough to help him. His inability to change is portrayed as his partner’s fault. Typically, a manipulator chooses an empathetic partner who is vulnerable to this tactic.
7. Jokes and Insults
A manipulator will try to shame or intimidate his partner by making insulting remarks. When confronted, the manipulator will often try to pass off his rude and insulting remarks as “jokes.” A careful and honest listener will realize that his jokes are not funny and have serious, unfriendly overtones.
8. Blaming Others
A manipulator avoids responsibility for his own conduct by blaming others for causing it.
9. Minimizing the Significance of Behavior
Expect a manipulator to accuse his partner of making too big a deal out of his behavior. The partner will be accused of exaggerating the behavior itself or its significance. In other words, the manipulator contends “it’s not me who has the problem.”
10: Bullying the Victim
At the first sign his partner is trying to hold him accountable for his behavior, a manipulator may begin to turn the tables by bullying the partner. He may accuse the partner of wrongdoing on other occasions or of always treating him badly. By bullying the partner, he expects her to back off and let him maintain his controlling position.
***”Manipulation is a learned behavior — no one is born with it. It’s very much a survival strategy learned from early childhood and therefore changing the behavior is near impossible. Your time is better invested in developing strategies to protect yourselves, because you can never change a manipulator’s actions.”
In other words, dump the jerk and then look into how you attracted him in the first place. “Women who attract manipulators tend to lack self-worth and assertiveness, and they tend to be people pleasers. They trust to the point of ignorance and therefore do not realize that they are being manipulated until they have been in emotional turmoil for some time. It can often be years before they see the situation for what it really is.”
But once you do recognize it, you can put a stop to it. “First, take responsibility and own up to being a victim and a target. And most importantly, get out of the relationship and become who you really are; not something someone else wants you to be.”
Sources: Carol Bengle Gilbert and Colleen Oakley