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We have all been manipulated at one time or another, it’s part of human nature. Children manipulate parents, lawyers manipulate jurors, and salespeople manipulate buyers. But when manipulation goes too far, it can be destructive. If a manipulator is controlling your life, your own mental health is at risk. Do you think you’re being manipulated? Here are 20 signs and behaviors to look out for.

Slide 3 of 21: <p>A <strong>manipulator</strong> demands attention. They make themselves appear as victims, feign illness or create drama to keep you focused on them and their needs. If you are an empathetic and nurturing person, you may be easy prey to this covert-aggressive behaviour, allowing your manipulator to gain power over you.</p>

Slide 4 of 21: <p>If a manipulator does you a favour, you may feel obliged to repay them for their sacrifice – over and over again. Machiavellians and other personality-disordered types will always remind you about that time when they did something for you.</p>

Slide 5 of 21: <p>Often people who are in a manipulative relationship <a href="https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-spot-manipulation/">don't recognize the manipulation</a> because they have never known anything different. Someone who was raised by a manipulative parent or has co-dependent tendencies may simply think manipulation is a normal part of a relationship.</p>

Slide 6 of 21: <p>Master manipulators tend to have little empathy for others. Of course, if it suits their needs, they can easily pretend to care. This lack of empathy or callous behaviour is a personality trait that is consistent in dark personalities.</p>

Slide 7 of 21: <p>A manipulator avoids guilt and shifts the blame – and the punishment – onto you. They hold you responsible for their happiness and success and it’s your fault if things don’t go well.</p>

Slide 8 of 21: <p>Manipulators are motivated by their own success, not yours. Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep's Clothing, defines this behaviour as <a href="https://www.culteducation.com/brainwashing11.html">selective inattention</a>: your manipulator chooses to ignore your requests or is oblivious to your desires. By implying your needs aren't important, they assume more power for themselves. In a normal relationship, the needs of both individuals are met, but when a manipulator is in a relationship, their needs become a priority.</p>

Slide 9 of 21: <p>Manipulators will use sarcasm and put-downs to make you feel uncomfortable and inferior to them. They may dig up past mistakes to remind you of your incompetence. Shaming isn't unique to narcissists and Machiavellians; it has long been a means of social control: the branding of criminals, public stockades and stoning are just a few examples.</p>

Slide 10 of 21: <p>Your self-doubt is an ace-in-the-hole for a manipulator: it means he is gaining control. Your constant emotional state of guilt, shame and insignificance eventually begins to whittle away at you. Robin Stern, Ph.D., describes this imbalance of power as “<a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/power-in-relationships/200903/identify-the-gaslight-effect-and-take-back-your-reality">the gaslight effect</a>,” where the gaslightee (victim) allows the power-wielding gaslighter to define her reality.</p>

Slide 11 of 21: <p>Manipulators think nothing of lying to protect themselves or deny their behaviour. They will play innocent and manipulate the truth rather than accepting blame or responsibility. When a manipulator gets caught in a lie, they downplay its significance. They might even make you feel bad for bringing it up or for making them lie in the first place.</p>

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Slide 12 of 21: <p>A manipulator doesn’t understand boundaries and they certainly won’t respect yours. They will crowd you, touch you (even if you aren't close), ask very personal questions and invade your space whenever it suits them. Victims of manipulation tend to have weakened boundaries. Establishing or redefining <a href="http://www.guidetopsychology.com/boundaries.htm">boundaries</a> can be a key to pulling away from their manipulator.</p>

Slide 13 of 21: <p>The silent treatment is another standard manipulation tactic. In manipulative relationships, this might happen in early stages, where the victim is still trying to learn how to please their new friend, boss or partner. Their ignoring you can breed desperation as you try to figure out what you did wrong and try to fix it.</p>

Slide 14 of 21: <p>At first, their unpredictability is exciting. It’s always an adventure getting to know someone. But as the inconsistent behaviour continues, it becomes a challenge and a guessing game. “Is he coming home? Will he be in a good mood? Does he want me to do this again, or will it make him mad?”</p>

Slide 15 of 21: <p>Emotional manipulators will overwhelm you with facts, roadblocks and procedures to make things hard for you to understand, or difficult to do. The result makes them feel important, as you are clearly inferior in their mind.</p>

Slide 16 of 21: <p>With boundaries invaded, feelings disregarded and ability to trust torn apart, the emotionally manipulated person becomes a <a href="https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/chapter/the-feeling-self-self-esteem/">textbook</a> case for low self-esteem. An accomplished manipulator will make you feel unlovable, afraid to make decisions on your own and have you questioning your own abilities to do anything.</p>

Slide 17 of 21: <p>Trusting souls are very attractive to manipulators. Dr. Simon warns that words and gestures can’t be trusted – watch for consistent, habitual behaviour patterns before you decide to give your trust.</p>

Slide 18 of 21: <p>The elderly are an easy target for psychological manipulation. Illness or finances put them in a position of vulnerability. The manipulative abuser – a partner, family member or caretaker – will use lies, insults, degradation and possibly violence to build a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in the senior who depends on them. According to the <a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs357/en/">World Health Organization</a>, 1 in 6 adults over 60 were subject to abuse in the past year; psychological abuse accounted for 11 per cent of cases reported.</p>

Slide 19 of 21: <p>Although an addict isn’t necessarily born a master manipulator, they adopt a manipulation skill set to get what they want. An addict will shift blame, lie, make up excuses, and can distort your thinking enough that you believe you are the cause of their addiction.</p>

Slide 20 of 21: <p>Fear is a natural result of abuse. Manipulators develop fear in their victims with their unpredictability, accusations and sudden outbursts of verbal or physical abuse. As a victim of manipulation, you fear being criticized, being lied to, and being wrong. You may even fear being abandoned by this all-controlling person in your life.</p>

Slide 21 of 21: <p>If you get a gut feeling that you are changing to satisfy your manipulator, you might get out of the relationship soon enough to save yourself. But if you are in deep, the person you were when the relationship started is deeply hidden; you become compliant, isolated and defeated. Family and friends will see the change in you and tell you, “You aren’t yourself.”</p>

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