How to Recognize Manipulative Behavior

manipulative behavior

We’ve all met people who view others as stepping stones on the path to achieving their goals. They might only get in touch when you can help them get something they need, or you find every interaction with them leaves you feeling guilty and second-guessing yourself. Manipulative people are a classic type of toxic person you’re better off not having in your life. What are some red flags of manipulative behavior, so you can recognize when someone is using it on you?

1. They Don’t Respect Boundaries

Manipulators tirelessly go after what they want, without worrying about who they might hurt along the way. You can try to protect yourself from their toxicity, but they will leech off your emotions and ignore your need for personal space. You’ll find dealing with them is draining, demeaning and bad for your mental health.

2. They Make You Question Your Reality

Manipulative people are masters of gaslighting – a trait they share with narcissists, abusers, dictators and cult leaders. They know confusion weakens people, and they use that to their advantage. Often, their actions don’t align with their words, but when you try to call them out on their dishonesty, they dismiss you as being unreasonable or even “crazy.”

3. They Always Deflect Blame

Manipulators don’t stop to analyze whether a problem lies with them. They immediately lay all blame at someone else’s feet. To a manipulator, all relationships are about having power over other people and using them to have their needs met. A manipulative person sees nothing wrong with refusing to take responsibility for their actions, even while forcing you to take ownership of yours.

4. They Justify Their Behavior

Even if a manipulative person is in the wrong, they will go out of their way to make it seem like they’re right. When you point out ways in which they acted inappropriately, they’ll have an argument ready to rationalize their behavior. They create an exhausting cycle of dishonesty and disharmony.

Dealing With Manipulative People

Is being on the receiving end of a manipulative relationship straining your self-confidence? Here are some constructive ways to handle this situation.

  • Don’t automatically apologize: Manipulators love to play the victim. At one moment, you’re trying to explain how they harmed you, and before you know it, they’ve turned the tables, and you find yourself saying you’re sorry for something that wasn’t your fault. Hold your ground and don’t take responsibility for anything you didn’t do.
  • Know when to say no: Manipulation is all about controlling others. Be firm about what you won’t tolerate, and don’t feel bad about putting your foot down.
  • Minimize contact: If you can, it’s best to cut toxic people out of your life altogether. However, sometimes that’s not possible – for example, if your manipulator is a co-worker. In that case, keep your distance as much as possible.

Reclaim Your Life

At Canyon Crossing, we believe all women have the right to live a life free from fear and shame. Contact us today to learn more about our women’s-only continuing care addiction program in Prescott, Arizona.

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
Scroll to Top