6 Signs You’re Manipulative Without Realizing It

Have you ever caught yourself saying manipulative words?

Often, manipulative people don’t realize their own actions.

But they will notice friends going distant and relationships being put at risk.

So if you’re here, you’re probably experiencing something along those lines and are asking yourself the grand question:

Am I a manipulative person?

Let’s find out.

FRIENDLY DISCLAIMER: Please know that if you do find yourself showing the different behaviors listed below, you are not a bad person. There are always ways to work on them and improve. Going to a licensed therapist has also been proven to help. 

You are not alone.

1. You’re kind of a know-it-all.

Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Do you often feel that people should follow you because you’re the one that knows best?

This type of behavior may make the people around you feel like they’re suffocating.

Do you notice your friends avoiding you?

Is it rare for someone to ask you for advice?

You might have this constant urge to put yourself first, and this can make other people see you as selfish.

As a result, they turn away.

You might not even realize you’re emitting this type of behavior.

This is because it stems from mental problems and childhood upbringing.

For instance, insecurity may make you feel like you always need to get the upper hand.

Or, if you had strict parents that made you obey their every demand, you might have been imitating that behavior all along without knowing.

But don’t worry.

Remember that people will not leave you even if you do something wrong.

Healthy relationships stay together and grow as a team.

So take some time off and focus on yourself.

You can slowly build up your self-esteem by finding your preferred ways of self-care.

Perhaps a skincare routine, exercise regimen, or shopping spree may help!

2. You shower someone with affection then pull back if they do something wrong.

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Do you ever avoid someone after an argument to prove a point?

The point being that you don’t need them and they should go to you first if they want to make up.

Do you find yourself doing passive-aggressive acts as a form of lashing out?

For example, you just fought with your partner and you’re indirectly tweeting about their “bad” behavior.

This is a push-and-pull type of behavior.

You make them feel happy when they’re doing something right, and “punish” them for doing something wrong.

You feel like you have to be in control.

It helps to remember that nobody can be perfect, and that applies to you as well.

In relieving this stress, it is encouraged to find methods of relaxation. 

You can take deep breaths, soak in a warm bath, or take a calming walk.

If you want to learn more about different ways to relax, you can check out Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body.

3. You’re very adamant about getting what you want.

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Do you notice that you’re very persuasive?

In some situations, you might go to extreme lengths just to get what you want.

Let’s say you want candy for everyone but others want chocolate.

So what do you do? You throw out all the chocolate so they won’t even have a choice.

Because of this constant urge to be in control, you may do just about anything from lying, guilt-tripping, and blaming.

If you ever catch yourself doing these acts; stop, breathe, and step away.

Give yourself some time to think.

Where did you go wrong?

How can you fix it?

These continuous moments of self-awareness and reflection are what can aid you in moving forward.

Changing your habits may not be easy, but it is doable.

And you are more than capable of achieving it.

4. Jealousy makes you do problematic things.

Photo by Christian Diokno from Pexels

How do you respond to jealousy?

Do you perhaps resort to passive-aggressive means?

For example, you see some friends hanging out without you.

You feel offended and invite another friend to go out with.

You take heaps of pictures and flaunt them on social media for them to see.

And to put a cherry on top, you even share posts about friends betraying each other.

That was just a random scenario, but have you ever done something like this?

Manipulative people have issues with jealousy (Steps To Recovery, 2021).

When you feel like you’re not on top of a situation, you create another one you can control.

Even if it’s at the expense of your own relationships.

It may help to give space between yourself and the people around you.

Try acquiring new hobbies. Come into terms with the fact that not everything other people do is related to you.

Read a book. Watch a movie. Focus on your interests.

Know your own self-worth first so you won’t feel threatened that others don’t.

5. You never say what you want outright.

Photo by Rafael Barros from Pexels

Do you find yourself guilt-tripping others into doing a favor?

According to Barham, manipulation can arise from an inability (or at least a reluctance) to simply say what it is you’re feeling or needing (Regan, 2021).

Manipulative people don’t like confrontation.

Instead, they work on the sidelines to get what they want.

You may tell your coworker “Oh, I’ve been so busy lately that I’m getting sick all the time.” just to let them take your shift, even if it’s a lie or an exaggerated version of the truth.

You may feel like this because of underlying anxiety, insecurity, or a strict childhood upbringing.

Strict parents who don’t let their children open up may bring up people who avoid confrontation completely.

In this case, you might find it helpful to contact a therapist to talk to and address your problems.

Take it step-by-step. You can handle this.

6. You use relationships as bait.

If you’re my friend, you would…

You love me, right? Then why don’t you…

Do this or else…

Are these kinds of statements familiar to you?

Have you ever used them before?

If so, then these are moments when you use your own relationships as bait to get something you want.

Whenever you do this, you’re cutting off the other person from saying their side.

You’re basically saying that if they don’t do what you want then you’ll break things off with them.

And that type of behavior can hurt others.

As mentioned earlier, it is highly possible that you are not aware that you are even doing these things.

That’s why it’s good to have a keen sense of awareness about your own actions now and before.

Respect others and find ways to build your self-esteem.

Remember that all of this is part of your journey and growth.

If you’re reading this article, then you’re already one step ahead.

You can do this.


Do you find yourself relating to one or more of these points?

Being associated with these signs does not make you a bad person.

It makes you human.

And as a human, you have opportunities to grow and people to get support from.

Listen. Go with the flow. Practice self-love.

If you know someone who can empathize with this article, please don’t hesitate to share it with them.

We hope this helped. 

Thank you so much for reading. Until next time.



Bright Side. (2017, December 18). 8 Situations That Reveal a Manipulator. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://brightside.me/inspiration-relationships/8-situations-that-reveal-a-manipulator-417510/

Healthwise Staff. (2020, August 31). Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body | Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan Health. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2209

mindbodygreen. (2021, June 30). Are You A Manipulative Person? 13 Behaviors To Watch For In Yourself. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/am-i-manipulative

New York State. (n.d.). What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like? The State of New York. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.ny.gov/teen-dating-violence-awareness-and-prevention/what-does-healthy-relationship-look#:%7E:text=Healthy%20relationships%20involve%20honesty%2C%20trust,or%20retaliation%2C%20and%20share%20decisions.

PsychAlive. (2021, May 17). How to Overcome Insecurity: Why Am I So Insecure? Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.psychalive.org/how-to-overcome-insecurity/

Steps to Recovery. (2021, January 25). How to Stop Being Manipulative. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.stepstorecovery.com/rehab-blog/how-to-stop-being-manipulative/

Vann, C. (2017, July 22). Overly Strict Parenting Causing Long-Term Psychological Consequences: Experts. CAMBODIA. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.voacambodia.com/a/overly-strict-parenting-causing-long-term-psychological-consequences-say-experts/3953896.html

WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2020, December 3). Narcissism: Symptoms and Signs. WebMD. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissism-symptoms-signs#:%7E:text=Manipulative%20Behavior,needs%20will%20always%20come%20first.

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