What Is An Emotional Manipulator? The 6 Characteristics And Warning Signs

What Is An Emotional Manipulator? The 6 Characteristics And Warning Signs

These are the warning signs that we are dealing with an emotional manipulator.

In our closest environment, there is always someone who uses emotional blackmail and all kinds of stratagems to get people who say they want to do the unimaginable for them.

Emotional manipulators are people who, despite being very insecure inside, use the weaknesses and weak points of others to gain a position of dominance and influence other people to put their priorities first to satisfy their selfish desires, using them as puppets

Next, we are going to see exactly what an emotional manipulator is, what its main characteristics are, and what to do to deal with it.

The emotional manipulator: what are its characteristics?

Emotional manipulators are people who use emotional blackmail strategies to get others to do what they want as if they were their puppets. They convince and influence using their great oratory, being able to turn things around at their convenience, and using psychological tricks and emotional exploitation to control the will of the other.

Emotional manipulation occurs when the manipulative person tries to persuade others to do things that are only in their own interest, not those who are asking for the favor. This behavior differs from social influence in that this healthy behavior is normal behavior between people and is part of the give and take of all socially constructive human interaction. On the other hand, in psychological manipulation, a person obtains profit at the expense of his victim.

Within psychological manipulation, there can be all kinds of socially inappropriate behaviors. Among them is to know and take advantage of the psychological weaknesses of his victim, to determine the most effective tactics to achieve his purpose. Those who exercise manipulation have no qualms about causing physical or emotional harm to their victim, nor about showing a high level of cruelty to achieve what they set out to do.

The manipulated person ends up being the victim of a situation that has led him to stop being the owner of his own life. He cannot do what he wants and puts the other person above his own needs and interests. Their self-esteem ends up being very low, their self-respect is non-existent and they are insecure people who feel great sadness and dissatisfaction. And the worst of all is that on many occasions they justify the behavior of their manipulator or even feel guilty about his situation.

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Distinctive signs to detect it

Several characteristics characterize people who exercise emotional manipulation.

1. Few scruples

Emotional manipulators are people who do not usually have too many scruples to achieve what they set out to do. Once they detect the weak point of their victim, they will have no qualms about taking advantage of it by appealing to the most intense fears and fears of their manipulated. By achieving their goal, they will gradually make the victim fall into a dynamic in which they will end up renouncing their needs and values, sacrificing themselves to put those of the person who manipulates them ahead of them.

2. Insecure

Although it may seem just the opposite, the truth is that manipulative people are very insecure and have very low self-esteem. They do everything possible so that this weakness is not seen, hiding their fears, weaknesses, and insecurities.

To do this, they use a wide repertoire of selfish and dominant behaviors, showing themselves as superior to others, and making sure that whoever they want to manipulate sees them as someone who possesses the absolute truth. No one should know how insecure they are because, if it becomes known, their influence will fall like a house of cards.

3. Little assertiveness

The manipulator’s insecurity causes him to have serious assertiveness problems. It is difficult for them to say things clearly, although this is also a point that they use to their advantage, since not saying what they want at first, using euphemisms, and making detours, influence those who manage to manipulate them. They use subtle means to get others to do what they want.

4. Low tolerance for frustration

They do not tolerate frustration at all and do not take “no” for an answer. At the slightest that they experience this emotion or that they perceive that there is something that puts at risk their position built through lies and exaggerations and their status of domination, they become alert or attacked by the most extreme intolerance and the cruelest and destructive criticism. to override.

5. Victimism

They resort to victimhood using all kinds of exaggerated behaviors and reproaching things that have not happened or that are no big deal. They exaggerate health problems, and show dependency and, if they see that the manipulated person tries to free himself from his chains, they make themselves the most defenseless and delicate victims. They can even say that their world will collapse if the person they manipulate leaves their side.

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6. High level of demand

As a final characteristic of emotional manipulators, we have that their level of demand is very high. The manipulator always wants more, without limit. He only disproportionately thinks of himself, wanting to satisfy his ego through the manipulation of his victim, without thinking for a moment about what he feels or wants that person from whom he asks for favors. He feels powerful because it is as if he has a slave.

How to deal with an emotional manipulator?

The first thing we must do to deal with an emotional manipulator is to become aware that we have rights and that we are people who are ahead of others on our list of priorities.

This should not be interpreted as that we should behave as emotional manipulators, but understand that we have desires, rights, and needs that are ahead of those of any other person. Before helping others we must do what we want.

We deserve respect and dignity. We have the right to express our opinions, feelings, and wishes as long as they are not hurtful and aggressive. If we do not want to do something, we have the right to say clearly and emphatically “no”, and we should not feel guilty about it. As we have already said, the manipulative person can react to this in a very bad way, but he must understand what it is. If what he asks of us supposes a great sacrifice for us, or even harms us, it is not bad not to do it.

It is important to develop our assertiveness, asking him clearly what he wants. Emotional manipulators are not at all direct in their requests, going around the bush that makes us dizzy and catches us in their web of deception. We must ask him clear questions about what he wants, and try to clarify as much as possible what his intentions are, what he wants from us, and why he wants us close. If he doesn’t ask us for something clearly and explicitly, don’t give it to him. If he wants something, let him say so, but don’t use his influence, let’s not give him that pleasure.

Over time, the emotional manipulator will see that his techniques do not work with us, and the most effective thing is that he has to make direct requests. These are much easier to reject and less frustrating for us if we don’t agree. If we do not want to do it, we must express it clearly and explicitly.

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If he has already manipulated us but we have realized later, something that will make us angry, we can use it for our benefit. The situations in which emotional manipulators use their tricks are usually very similar, so we can learn from the one in which they have achieved what they had set out to do. Thus, we can think of an answer for the next time he tries again and use it to confuse him.

The presence of a third person can prevent the emotional manipulator from achieving his goal. The manipulator knows that her behavior is socially incorrect, and he won’t have the courage to do it in front of a person he doesn’t know. By doing so, he risks receiving a dose of reality, making a fool of himself, showing his insecurity, and showing how badly he treats his loved ones. If even with these the emotional manipulator stops trying to manipulate us, at least we will have the objective opinion of a third person, whom we can ask for their advice and use as a point of support to free ourselves.

Finally, the best way to avoid being manipulated is the most radical and obvious, but also the most delicate. It is about confronting the person who manipulates us, telling him clearly that we are tired of him abusing us, and that it is over. The best way to do this, to confront an emotionally manipulative person, is to do it calmly, using logical arguments and, if he simply doesn’t listen to reason, walk away, and distance himself.

We must never resort to violence, neither physical nor verbal since doing so will have reasons a posteriori to try to manipulate us and use the crutch of “but remember what you did to me”. We will not give him that satisfaction, much less when he or she has done even more damage to us.

Bibliographic references:

  • DeGue, S. and DiLillo, D. (2005). “You would if you loved me”: Toward an improved conceptual and etiological understanding of nonphysical male sexual coercion. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 513-532.
  • Van Dijk, T. (2006). Speech and manipulation: theoretical discussion and some applications. Signs Magazine, 39(60): 49-74.
  • Braiker, Harriet B. (2004). Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation. ISBN 978-0-07-144672-3.
  • Simon, George K. (1996). In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. ISBN 978-1-935166-30-6.


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