Is your gut telling you that something is not right in your relationship? Love manipulation techniques can be hard to recognize and harder to address.
It’s rather easy to identify manipulation when someone close to you is on the receiving end of this kind of emotional abuse. But it gets a bit tricky to detect the manipulative strategies when they are targeted at you.
What Is Manipulation?
Manipulation is a twisted mind game played by a conniving individual who unleashes several psychological tactics to exert control and dominance over others. The end goal is to emotionally exploit and influence the unwary victim so that they do the manipulator’s bidding.
Especially, romantic manipulation can be quite a challenge to detect because manipulation in romantic relationships can come in the guise of love bombing, gaslighting, ingratiating behavior, and many other covert and overt intimidation techniques.
The incohesive combination of lies, blames, denials, omissions, smothering, and other psychological warfare strategies are meant to make you disoriented, confused, and question your own rationalization capability and sanity. And in the mist of chaos, your partner always gets his way.
Even the most visibly toxic type of emotional manipulation in romantic relationships can start subtly and eventually transform into an established relationship dynamic. By the time you realize you are being emotionally manipulated by your romantic partner, you are already far too deep in a messy relationship.
If you are in a similar situation, to safeguard your safety and emotional well-being, you need to be aware of the signs of psychological manipulation in romantic relationships and figure out a way to deal with them, quite early.
So, What Are The Love Manipulation Techniques?
The followings are 10 telltale signs of manipulation in a romantic relationship. Be on your guard if you can identify with more than one.
Your partner always downplays your emotions and invalidates your feelings. Not only do they lie about past events or their actions, but they also twist the narrative in such a way that it seems like you are exaggerating your experiences. They flip the blame on you and accuse you of being hyper-sensitive or unstable. They do this to avoid accountability for their misdeeds, to make you doubt yourself, and to control the way you think and react.
“I was not even talking to that girl. Have you slept well last night? You seem to be delirious”, this is how a manipulator argues in a romantic relationship when straying and gaslighting their partner.
Your partner is being hostile towards you and you can sense their displeasure and rebuff in their body language and verbal communication. They avoid eye contact, sigh dramatically, pout, get sarcastic, whine, and do everything in their power to make their dissatisfaction clear, except for talking about it.
If your romantic partner adopts juvenile emotional expressions to get a reaction from you, instead of being upfront about what’s bugging them, this signs you’re being manipulated in a relationship through passive-aggressive behavior.
After a fight between you two, does your partner stonewall you and give you the silent treatment? One of the love manipulation techniques is when one of the partners chooses to be evasive, dodges questions, and tunes out of conversations deliberately. They make you feel that you, your emotions, and what you have to say don’t matter to them. They simply refuse to engage with you and all your pleas fall on their deaf ears.
One of the more non-subtle and obvious love manipulation techniques is threatening or coercing you to do something against your will. Does your partner make threats to leave you at the drop of a hat? Or do they threaten to harm themselves if you leave them? Both of these are emotional abuse. If they frequently imply that they can hurt you, be it physically, emotionally, or financially, unless you do what they want, seek help from a trusted source immediately. You must also take threats of self-harm seriously and report to the concerned authority. All these are signs of emotional manipulation in romantic relationships.
One of the most emotionally painful love manipulation techniques is when your partner withholds their affection until you comply with their demands. They might also withhold sex, money, resources, or deny you vital information unless you cater to their whims. A manipulator can adopt this withholding tactic to punish, shame, and control you.
If you are dealing with a manipulative partner, you might feel that you are losing all your support systems. A classic case of romantic manipulation involves a severance of external support and resources. This can happen in two distinct ways. Sometimes your toxic partner might get you cut off from your friends and your family of origin. Especially if they are on to the manipulation strategies, your partner might try to keep you from visiting them by either coercion or by making you believe that they are a bad influence on you and your relationship with the manipulator.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, your partner might be indulging in ingratiating behavior and going out of their way to impress your loved ones. Your partner is good at maintaining a fake image and winning the approval of others when needed. They have made their way to the good books of your parents and close friends and now you feel you have no one to turn to.
7. Love Bombing
Love bombing is when your romantic partner lays the groundwork of future manipulation with an intense, dramatic, and fast-paced whirlwind romance. They will shower you with gifts, check up on you every two minutes, divulge all their deepest secrets, all to the specific end of controlling you.
They will try to get to know your insecurities and vulnerabilities. As soon as they win your trust, they will use these sensitive pieces of information against you to keep you under their thumb, all the while keeping you confused with intermittent rewards and other psychological ploys.
Comparing you with others is another of the burning love manipulation techniques. By constantly making comparisons regarding your looks, income, or other attributes, the manipulating partner tries to invoke a feeling of inadequacy and competitiveness. They thrive when people compete with them. This is why they pull out all the stops to criticize you and make you feel inferior and jealous of others.
9. Selective Manipulation
One of the most innocuous yet recurring love manipulation techniques is selective manipulation. Who will do the dishes tonight? Surely not your partner as he is working late, like always. Your mom is going to pay you a visit today? Your partner will be out with their friends for sure! This relatively harmless romantic manipulation technique pops up only for some specific events and if not addressed properly it can put a rift between you and your partner.
Splaining or making you feel dumb for not knowing something is another one of the toxic love manipulation techniques. If you ask them a simple question, a manipulative partner might overwhelm you with jargon or statistics or they may choose to oversimplify facts. Either way, this is a form of intellectual bullying that makes you feel diminished and humiliated.
Some Other Love Manipulation Techniques Are:
- Moving or shifting the relationship goals as per the convenience of your manipulating partner
- Constantly criticizing you to induce an inferiority complex
- Maintaining a home turf advantage by compelling you to meet at places where they feel comfortable
- Taking advantage of your finances and other resources
- Guilt-tripping and shaming you into doing things against your will
Love And Manipulation
After learning about the most troubling love manipulation techniques, let’s take a look at some other romantic manipulations used by emotional abusers, that often get misinterpreted as love.
- Being vague about their emotional needs
- Keeping tabs on you
- Using love as an excuse for bad behavior and even abuse
- Threatening to self-harm if you leave
- Buying you stuff of their choice and replacing your existing ones with them
- Trying to make you exclusively dependent on them
- Controlling the way you dress as well as your food and drinking habits
- Making your life decisions for “your own good”
- Flattering you all the time to earn your trust
Consequences Of Romantic Manipulation
The consequences of romantic manipulation can be emotionally scarring and long-lasting on the part of the victim. The following are the symptoms of being manipulated in a relationship.
- You always feel the need to defend yourself
- You are in a co-dependent relationship
- You feel unsafe in your relationship
- Your relationship is always in flux
- You cannot trust your partner
- You have a damaged sense of self
- You tend to apologize even when your partner is in the wrong
- You harbor negative feelings such as hurt, anger, and resentment toward your partner
- Your instinct tells you that something is off about them
Reasons That Make A Person Manipulative In A Romantic Relationship
One might wonder what someone gains from manipulating another romantically; maybe you will get a better insight with the following reasons that attempt to explain why manipulators behave the way they do:
- To get the upper hand in the relationship
- To control or punish their partners
- To get attention or sympathy
- They had to manipulate to have their needs met during their dysfunctional childhood
- Their caregiver (s) manipulated them during their impressionable years
- They have trauma-based attachment issues
- They suffer from psychological issues like anxiety disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or Borderline Personality Disorder
Examples Of Manipulation In Relationships V/S Healthy Relationships
The following 3 examples highlight love manipulation techniques and distinguish them from those of a healthy romantic relationship.
Signs You’re Being Manipulated In A Relationship:
- “If you cared about me enough, you would have never said yes to the party before asking me”
- “If I mean something to you, you will never talk to that friend of yours”
- “If you want to see your kids again you better be nice to me”
Signs Of A Healthy Romantic Relationship:
- “You could have run it by me once before saying yes. It’s easier if we keep each other in the loop.”
- “I don’t think your friend has your best interests at heart. However, I will support you if you want to keep your friendship with her.”
- “I don’t like the way you treat me in front of the kids. It’s bad for their emotional growth.”
What Are The Signs Of Female Romantic Manipulation?
A female romantic manipulator will tend to show the following behavioral signs:
- Crying at the slightest pretext
- Appearing weak and needing support round the clock
- Being the victim and playing the martyr
- Using sex as a reward and a means to get what they want
- Parading her ex-boyfriends around to make her partner insecure
- Never sharing the financial responsibility with her partner
How To Respond To Manipulation In Romantic Relationships?
If you are being manipulated in your romantic relationship, consider the following options:
- Identify the signs of love manipulation
- Observe how you feel and how your mood changes around your partner
- Don’t enable or minimize emotional manipulation
- Apologize when you are wrong
- Learn to distinguish affection from power-play tactics
- Take charge of your finances
- Openly communicate about the manipulative behavior to your loved ones
- Set boundaries and prioritize your safety
- Seek help from trusted people or get the authorities involved if needed
- Be prepared to walk away and keep your distance from the manipulator
- Don’t fall into the pitfall of guilt or regret; have self-compassion
- Contact a therapist or relationship/marriage counselor depending on your situation
Refuse To Play The Game
Psychological manipulation in romantic relationships might be a means to an end for the manipulating partner; the end being the full authority over the other. But it can leave the suffering partner with immense trauma, self-doubt, and pain. No one deserves to be manipulated by their loved ones. If you find yourself entangled in a manipulative relationship, seek help or strategize an exit plan.
Did you find our article on love manipulation techniques helpful? Do you know any other dark manipulation techniques for love? Share your thoughts by commenting down below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to spot a manipulative woman?
If you consider a woman to be manipulative, identify whether she tries to get her way all the time in her relationships.
Can manipulators fall in love?
If an emotional manipulator genuinely wants to change their ways, they can surely have a healthy relationship.
What does a manipulative relationship look like?
In a manipulative relationship, a partner will always try to get what they want, even at the expense of their partner’s wellbeing.