Signs Of Manipulation In A Relationship

signs of manipulation
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Have you ever felt like your relationship was not quite right, but you couldn’t put your finger on it? It could be that your partner is manipulating you. What is manipulation in a relationship? It is when one partner uses psychological tactics to control the other partner in order to gain power and influence. Manipulation can be subtle and hard to detect, so it is important to be aware of the signs. In this post, we will discuss twelve signs to watch out for that may indicate manipulation in a relationship.

Signs Of Manipulation

1. Your Partner Constantly Criticizes You

When your partner constantly criticizes you, it can be a sign of manipulation. Criticism may come in the form of nit-picking and pointing out your flaws, or even belittling your accomplishments and successes. This type of criticism is not only demoralizing, but it also makes it difficult for you to trust your own judgment. If you feel like your partner is always criticizing you, it could be a sign that they are trying to control or manipulate you.

It’s essential to recognize the difference between constructive criticism, which is meant to help you improve, and criticism which is designed to make you feel bad about yourself. If your partner is constantly criticizing you without offering any helpful solutions or advice, then this is likely an attempt at manipulation.

Set boundaries with your partner if they are constantly criticizing you. Explain that you won’t tolerate their behavior and that if they continue to do so, there will be consequences. This will help ensure that your partner understands the importance of respect in a relationship.

2. Your Partner Threatens You

Threats are a common form of manipulation in relationships. It can be difficult to recognize threats for what they really are, pay attention to them. Your partner may make veiled or explicit threats, such as using physical force, withdrawing love or affection, threatening to leave the relationship, or even threatening suicide.

Know that any kind of threat is unacceptable in a healthy relationship. Threats can create an atmosphere of fear and powerlessness, which can lead to emotional and physical abuse. If your partner is making threats, talk to someone you trust and take action to protect yourself.

3. Your Partner Guilt Trips You

Guilt tripping is a form of manipulation that your partner may use to control you. Guilt tripping involves your partner attempting to make you feel guilty for certain actions or decisions, in order to manipulate you into doing something they want. This might include bringing up your past mistakes or failures and using them as a way to manipulate you into feeling guilty and ultimately getting what they want.

When your partner guilt trips you, they may use phrases such as “After all I’ve done for you” or “You owe me this”. They may also tell you that for you to feel bad for not doing what they ask or expect of you, even when it is not something reasonable or rational.

You need to recognize these signs of guilt tripping and call out your partner on their behavior when necessary. Guilt tripping is never an acceptable way to get what you want from a relationship, and it can be damaging to both partners in the long run. If your partner is consistently trying to guilt trip you, it may be a sign that there are deeper issues in your relationship that need to be addressed.

Read: Is The Silent Treatment In A Relationship A Form Of Abuse?

4. Your Partner Dismisses Your Feelings

When a partner dismisses your feelings, it means they are not taking your concerns and emotions seriously. This kind of behavior is one of the most damaging signs of manipulation in a relationship. The manipulator may try to invalidate your feelings or brush them off with phrases like, “You’re overreacting” or “That doesn’t matter.”

In a healthy relationship, both partners should feel like their feelings and concerns are heard and respected. If your partner continually disregards and ignores your feelings, it could be an indicator of manipulation. Make sure your feelings are being taken seriously in any relationship. Otherwise, you could be in a toxic situation that can cause deep emotional distress.

5. They Withdraws Affection As Punishment

One of the most common signs of manipulation in a relationship is when your partner withdraws affection as punishment. This could be anything from giving you the silent treatment, to withholding hugs and kisses, or even not speaking to you at all. This behavior can be damaging to a relationship because it makes you feel unwanted and unloved. It can also lead to further conflict and hurt feelings if it becomes a regular occurrence.

If your partner is withdrawing affection as punishment, do address the issue and try to resolve it. Talk to your partner about why they are doing this, and express how it makes you feel. Then come up with a plan together on how to manage this behavior in the future.

6. Your Partner Uses Sex As A Weapon

Sex can be used to manipulate a partner in many ways. Some examples include using sex as a reward or punishment, guilt-tripping you into having sex or using sex to make you feel inferior or undesirable. These tactics are designed to give your partner power and control over you.

Your partner may act more affectionate after sex or lead you to believe that things will only get better if you comply with their wishes. On the other hand, they may withhold sex if they don’t get what they want, leaving you feeling like you’re not worth the effort.

Using sex as a form of guilt-tripping is just damaging. Your partner might pressure you into having sex when you’re not comfortable or make you feel guilty for not wanting to be intimate. They may use words such as “If you loved me, you would…” or “It’s your fault that we aren’t having sex.” These manipulative techniques leave you feeling powerless and confused.

Finally, using sex to make you feel inferior or undesirable is another form of manipulation. Your partner might compare your body or performance to someone else’s or make degrading comments about your appearance. They could also use suggestive language to make you doubt yourself and your attractiveness.

These tactics are unhealthy and can have long-term consequences on your self-esteem and mental health. If your partner is using sex as a weapon, it’s necessary to talk about it. If they continue to manipulate you, it may be time to seek professional help and consider leaving the relationship.

7. They Are Always Right

Do you ever feel like you’re walking on eggshells in your relationship? Does it seem like your partner always has the last word, no matter what the conversation is? Do you find yourself constantly agreeing with them or doing what they want just to make them happy? If so, your partner might be trying to manipulate you by always appearing right.

This kind of behavior is not healthy and can be emotionally damaging. It’s important to recognize when your partner is always right in order to protect yourself and maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some signs that your partner is attempting to manipulate you by always being right:

  • They rarely apologize when they are wrong.
  • They don’t let you finish your sentences or disagree with them.
  • They brush off your concerns and feelings as if they aren’t valid.
  • They never admit when they are wrong or take responsibility for their mistakes.
  • They make decisions without consulting you and expect you to follow through.
  • They constantly remind you that they know better than you.

It’s essential to recognize this behavior and set boundaries so that you can preserve your self-esteem and sense of autonomy. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about how their attempts at manipulation are affecting your relationship, and try to reach a compromise that both of you can be happy with.

8. Your Partner Gaslights You

Gaslighting is one of the most insidious forms of manipulation in a relationship. It is a form of psychological abuse where one partner attempts to manipulate the other into doubting their own reality, memory, and feelings. This is done by constantly questioning the other person’s perceptions and making them feel like they’re crazy or wrong for feeling the way they do.

The gaslighter will often use phrases such as “You’re too sensitive” or “I never said that” in order to confuse and make their victim feel invalidated. They may also try to use denial and blame-shifting to keep their victim off balance and make them question their own sanity. It is important to recognize this behavior and not allow it to continue in your relationship. If you feel like your partner is gaslighting you, talk to them about it openly and seek outside help if necessary.

9. Your Partner Play On Your Insecurities

One of the major signs of manipulation in a relationship is when your partner plays on your insecurities. They do this by intentionally pointing out things that they know will trigger you and make you feel bad about yourself. Manipulative partners may bring up past failures, use sarcasm to mock your weaknesses, or belittle your accomplishments. All of these behaviors are designed to make you doubt yourself and question your self-worth.

You must recognize when someone is trying to manipulate you by preying on your insecurities. It can be difficult to recognize this behavior in the moment, but if you find yourself feeling worse about yourself after interacting with your partner, it’s likely a sign of manipulation. Once you recognize this behavior, take steps to protect yourself and your self-esteem.

10. They Use Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology is a tactic that manipulators often use to get their way. They will pretend to be against something in order to get you to do it. For example, they might say, “You won’t even try to help me with this. You never do anything to help me.” When you feel guilty and start to do what they asked, they have successfully manipulated you.

Reverse psychology is designed to make you feel guilty or obligated to do something that you may not want to do. This tactic is meant to make you think twice before saying no, which is why it can be so dangerous in relationships. If your partner constantly tries to guilt trip you into doing something you don’t want to do, it could be a sign of manipulation.

Read: 9 Signs Of An Unhealthy Relationship And How To Fix Them

11. They Play Victim

Playing the victim is a common tactic used by manipulators. They will try to portray themselves as an innocent, helpless victim to make you feel guilty or obligated to do things for them. For example, they may act like they have no control over their feelings and you are responsible for how they are feeling or blame you for their bad decisions. They may also lie or exaggerate their experiences in order to manipulate you into sympathizing with them.

In extreme cases, manipulators may also resort to physical, verbal, or emotional abuse in order to gain control and sympathy. Playing the victim is a form of emotional manipulation and should never be tolerated.

12. Isolating You From Friends And Family

One of the most insidious signs of manipulation in a relationship is when your partner tries to isolate you from your friends and family. This can take many forms, such as criticizing them, belittling them, or even outright forbidding you from spending time with them. This is a sign that your partner doesn’t want you to be exposed to outside sources of support or advice, which can make it more difficult for you to recognize and break away from the manipulation.

If your partner insists on coming along whenever you see friends or family, this is a sign of manipulation. It is an attempt to control the environment and make sure that you are not getting any outside input. Even if they don’t say anything, their presence can be enough to make you feel uncomfortable and awkward.

If you feel like you are increasingly isolated from friends and family, this could be a sign of manipulation in your relationship. It is important to remember that you have the right to maintain healthy relationships outside of your romantic one and that you do not have to submit to your partner’s attempts at controlling your social life.


Manipulation in relationships is never acceptable, and if you are experiencing it, you must recognize the signs and address them safely and healthily. It can be difficult to admit that someone you care about is manipulating you, but it is essential for your own mental health and well-being. No one deserves to feel like their partner is trying to control or manipulate them. If you think you are in a manipulative relationship, try to talk openly with your partner about it. You should also reach out for support from family, friends, or professionals.

Not that you have the power to make your own decisions, and no one should be able to take away that right. Stand up for yourself and not let anyone dictate how you should feel or act. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, know that it is okay to walk away and find someone who respects and values you.

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