Understanding the signs of emotional manipulation and what to do about it

John Updike asserted that “We are most alive when we’re in love.” but being in a toxic relationship where you are subjected to some sort of emotional manipulation can leave you for dead. Yes, every relationship comes with its own unique challenges, but nobody should endure emotional torture that can see them delve into depression

Some folks who claim to be in love endure every form of manipulation from their partners. They do not understand the concept of emotional manipulation, hence, they suffer in their relationships. Meanwhile, there are others who know they are being manipulated but they are stuck in that toxic situation because they hope that their partners would change for good.

Alas, these manipulators take delight in this power gimmick because they feel they are in control, and they often get all they seek using manipulative antics.

Let’s take a swipe at the definition of emotional manipulation

Emotional manipulation is the antics employed by one party in a relationship in order to control, deceive, lure, extort and drain their partner in a relationship. Oftentimes, those who manipulate others do so deliberately, while their victims are unaware that they are being subjected to manipulation.

Meanwhile, this sort of manipulation can psychologically affect the receiver if they fail to get out on time. If you find yourself unhappy about how you are being treated in your relationship, you may need to check the following signs to know if you are being manipulated.


Manipulators always try to make you feel responsible for anything that could possibly be wrong. This toxic behavior is also amplified by lack of owning up and taking responsibility. It is always everyone’s fault but theirs. You find their partners always apologizing for what they didn’t do.

Imagine you went to the market to get groceries and you had a budget for this shopping but on getting back, your partner says they do not have snacks and even though you are not aware, they act angry because you didn’t get them snacks – and next time you get to the mall, you get snacks for them but they tell you they didn’t ask for it. This is a classic case of manipulation.


Emotional manipulators are very secretive, they tend to hide their feelings, money, and their daily dealings. They feel if they lay bare their reality, it will make them a bit vulnerable. I have a friend, who doesn’t really qualify as a manipulator but he exhibits those tendencies because of his propensity to lie. He lied to his wife about his monthly salary, because he doesn’t want her to ask too much and because he wants to be getting a cut from her own pay. Manipulation is beyond physical abuse, it gives a feeling that you are in control.


We all have unique talents, ability and intelligence. Knowing this, manipulators tend to compare their victims to others. For instance, most women experience increased weight postpartum and some are unable to shed this baby weight – manipulators may start comparing their lovers to other people who didn’t add weight after childbirth forgetting that it can affect the self-esteem of their partners. Comparison makes the victim feel inadequate and unappreciated.

Fear of Heartbreak

Emotional manipulators make their victims feel they are indispensable to the point that despite the abuse, victims are scared to call time on the relationship. There’s a thing line between compromising in a relationship and enduring manipulation. Manipulation leaves you with a tiny feeling of fear while you cannot be afraid when you are compromising.

Lack of sympathy

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel sick but you start tending to a sick partner as well? That’s a classic demeanor of manipulators. You may say you have a headache but instead of tending to you, they may dismiss the headache as bearing or nothing serious, or even claim they are feeling sick as well. All they seek to do is to get more attention from their partners regardless of the situation. Appalling I must say.

Gossip and dirty fighters

Emotional manipulators have tendencies to talk bad about your friends. They may start pointing out the bad behaviors of your friends and family members in order that you can leave them – this particularly happens if they do not like the friend in question. Stuff like “Your friend might be cheating on her husband because of how she laughs on phone” This set of people just cook up lies so you can do their bidding.

They hardly forgive and may not tell you you’ve  have wronged them. Rather, they can give you the silent treatment that lives you wondering if you are adequate.

How to deal with Emotional manipulation

Now, if you find that you are being manipulated and your partner show no sign of repentance, there are ways you can deal with him/her to have peace. Thus.

Take a long walk away

Yes, you can be truly in love with a toxic man or woman but something has to give if a toxic partner fails to treat you rightly. Though difficult, it is better to walk away from a toxic relationship than to continue to remain in same. One of the effects of manipulation is that it affects the self-esteem of the victim, and some victims can even get depressed.

One thing is certain, it may take a while, but every broken heart can get healed.

Seek Support

A lot of people die in silence when a pep talk from a therapist is all they need to get their mojo back. There are people who are learned and professional in helping victims of abuse deal with their situation. Therapist, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, social workers and etc. are all trained to quell the effect of psychological and emotional abuses.

Not just the victims, manipulators can also seek the aid of professionals in this field to help them turn this demeanor.

Instigate Boundaries

From the onset of relationships, you may start to see red flags. This is the right time to let your would-be partners know the dos and don’ts of how you’d love to be treated. Boundaries let your partners know and understand your love languages, and how you enjoy love.

You can set boundaries using the experience of your previous relationship.

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