Psychology Today defines psychological manipulation as “the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits and/or privileges at the victim’s expense.”
Being in a relationship with a partner who manipulates your emotions in order to serve their own purposes is exhausting, and even worse; sometimes it’s not even completely clear or recognizable when it occurs.
It might be your blind love for your partner shields you from the truth, or it might just be that your partner is in fact a f*cking pro at using people’s emotions as a weapon. Whatever the case, it’s important to look for the warning signs early on and address the situation as you see best.
You partner may be emotionally manipulative if these 5 red flags show up on your relationship.
1. Your partner’s problems are bigger than yours, and so are their accomplishments
Sometimes the need to emotionally manipulate you arises from a need to satisfy the ego.
An emotionally manipulative partner will bring up problems when you try to vent or work through your own.
Ugh. You think you had a bad day, well let me tell you all about mine for the next 45 minutes. Trust me, you’ll forget all about your problems when you hear how much worse mine are.
And if you’ve done something great, they might attempt to belittle your success or bring up their own successes to hint at the fact that you’re not as wonderful.
Oh wow. You got a promotion! It’s about time since you’ve been there so long you should be the boss by now. I would’ve left the company long ago if I were you. I can’t believe how little of a pay raise they gave you too.
If your gut feeling tells you that your partner is being insincere, you might want to bring it up. However, usually discussions about discomfort at the fact that your partner never shares the spotlight can be met with the word selfish being thrown around. The Mind Unleashed suggests “ a clear and effective solution is to simply trust your intuition on their genuineness and walk away.”
2. You feel guilty often
Guilt is usually the strongly felt when being with a partner who is emotionally abusive.
A partner who loves to manipulate you will convince you that they do a much better job at loving you than you do loving them.
Clearly I care more about you since I call you every night no matter what. You always forget to call me when you go hang out with the guys.
What’s the point of this?
To get you to start doing things they’d prefer by way of guilting you into thinking that the things you do or don’t do prove that you don’t love your partner. In the example above it might be that you don’t go out with the boys anymore and instead stay in every night with your partner.
3. You’re responsible for your partner’s emotions
Psychology Today calls this guilt-baiting, which is defined as targeting your emotions in order to deem you responsible for their own.
The truth is your partner is responsible for their own emotions and their own happiness.
When you go out with the boys you make me feel unloved.
This statement is aimed to make you believe that your actions are the cause of your partner’s unhappiness, but you should be allowed to have and see friends.
Compromising can be attempted, but if the person asks for a wild demand (like asking you to no longer see your friends again), they’re being emotionally manipulative.
4. Your partner plays the victim
If you find that you constantly have to accommodate your partner’s personal issues, you’re definitely being emotionally manipulated.
I only yelled at you in front of your friends for talking to Mary because of my trust issues that stem from my father’s infidelity that led to my parents’ divorce when I was a child. I hope you understand.
The problem with dating a person who is constantly a victim is that you automatically get labeled the bad guy if you don’t appear understanding.
5. Your partner has a high emotional intelligence
According to an excellent article written in The Atlantic titled When Emotional Intelligence Goes Wrong, studies have found that having a high emotional intelligence (or EI) can actually use their skill to be deceptive or manipulative when the reward is something of value.
Of course, not all people with a high EI are going to be emotionally manipulative, but if you see this red flag combined with others, than you might be in a relationship with a manipulative person. In which case, what to do about your partner and relationship is now up to you.
1. How have you handled being in an emotionally abusive relationship?
2. Should you tell a friend if you think they’re in an emotionally abusive relationship?