3 Signs You Are a Victim of Emotional Manipulation

When it comes to relationships, emotional manipulation is a tricky, under-the-radar kind of mistreatment that can leave you feeling confused and drained. While both men and women can be manipulative, emotional manipulation doesn't discriminate; it can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 

So, how do you know if you're being manipulated? Here are three major signs to watch out for.

 1. Guilt Trips Are a Regular Feature

Ah, the guilt trip—a classic go-to for emotional manipulators. Ever had someone make you feel like you've committed a cardinal sin for choosing a restaurant they didn't like? Guilt trips often start small but can grow into a giant web of emotional turmoil. 


> “I mean, sure, I guess dinner was OK. It wasn't what I was hoping for, but I guess as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”

Notice how the manipulator subtly flips the situation to make it about them, insinuating that you've failed in some way? That's a guilt trip. The aim is to make you so concerned with their feelings that you forget your own. Over time, this can wear down your mental health and leave you feeling like you can never do enough to make them happy.

Don't get this twisted—guilt trips are not a sign of love or caring. They're a manipulative tactic designed to keep you off balance and willing to make sacrifices for the manipulator's benefit.

 2. Your Partner's Insecurities Become Your Burden

Everyone has insecurities; it's part of being human. In a healthy relationship, partners support each other without using their insecurities as emotional leverage. However, a manipulator will often project their insecurities onto you, making them your problem to solve.


> “I’ve been cheated on before, and that’s why I don’t want you to have any male friends. You can understand that, right?”

This is where things get muddled. Of course, you might empathize with your partner's past experiences, but that doesn't mean their insecurities should dictate the terms of your relationship. If they do, that's manipulation. The line between showing empathy and being manipulated can be thin, but the deciding factor often boils down to guilt. Are you making choices out of love and understanding, or are you doing it because you've been made to feel guilty?

 3. You Start to Doubt Your Own Judgement

If you find yourself constantly second-guessing decisions you once would've made easily, you might be experiencing another classic sign of manipulation: the erosion of self-trust.


> They consistently point out what you're doing “wrong” and how they could have done it better.  

> They point out your weaknesses, then show you that, with their help, you can do better, be better.

Sound familiar? This tactic is known as gaslighting, and its purpose is to make you distrust your own thoughts and feelings. Over time, you may start to depend on the manipulator for guidance, which gives them more control over you.

When you're made to feel that you can't trust your own judgement, it becomes easier for the manipulator to get what they want at your expense. Whether it's convincing you to isolate yourself from family or friends, or making major life decisions that only benefit them, the endgame is control.

Emotional manipulation is insidious and often hard to recognize when you're in the thick of it. If you find that guilt trips, projected insecurities, and self-doubt are prominent features of your relationship, it's time to take a step back and assess the situation. Remember, a loving partner will build you up, not break you down. If you're feeling drained and uncertain in your relationship, it may be time to seek advice and consider your options. Because everyone deserves to be in a relationship where love, not manipulation, is the guiding force.


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