6 Signs You’re Unintentionally Manipulative (But Have a Good Heart)

Hey, Psych2goers!

It’s always good to see you again.

In a previous video, we talked about 6 Signs You’re Manipulative Without Realizing It. After listening to your feedback, it seemed that a lot of you resonated with the signs, so we made this article as a part 2 to discuss more of them in detail.

We’re always here as a safe, educational space for you. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or let your thoughts be heard in the comment section.

Now, why do some people act manipulative even though they seem like a kind person?

See, every human being manipulates someone in one way or another. It’s just that some forms of manipulation are more socially acceptable than others.

According to Ni’s article in Psychology Today, people become manipulative due to family history, bad social experiences, and other environmental factors.

For example, if you were raised or are currently living in a highly competitive environment with little to no room for steady growth and affirmation, you would likely resort to underhanded acts and mind games to get what you want.

Chances are, you have good intentions in mind. Manipulation usually becomes your survival tactic when you’re not acquainted with healthy ways to communicate with others.

In today’s article, we will be discussing 6 signs that you’re unintentionally manipulative along with some tips to help.

FRIENDLY DISCLAIMER: If you can relate to any of these signs, please do not take this feedback as an indication that you are a bad person.  This article is meant to be an educational guide for those of you looking for answers. We hope you learn from this article!

1. You tweak facts or events to your advantage.

When you’re retelling an event to someone, do you notice yourself leaving out parts or twisting events because the original version doesn’t fit your narrative?

This is a form of manipulation.

You’re probably twisting facts because you want the other person to go along with your side of the story.

Doing this may bother you a little bit, but you’ll probably end up shrugging it off because after all, “it’s just a little thing”.

Well, pretty soon, these “little things” will boil into bigger ones.

Without noticing, it may become a habit and escalate to lying.

Manipulative people tend to be defensive. You probably don’t want to be in the wrong because it puts you in a vulnerable position and may even change other people’s opinions of you. 

Because of that, you end up doing what you can to shift the odds in your favor.

It’s good to recognize that this is not healthy behavior especially because it’s built on misleading people.

And don’t worry, you can always work on improving this habit by practicing mindful speaking. 

If you catch yourself in the middle of spinning a story, try to stop and think – do you really want to continue this, or would it just give you guilt later on?

It’s not easy to change something you’re used to doing, but the important thing is that you’ve recognized it. After a while, you’ll probably notice it more and more and give yourself chances to choose a better option.

2. You’ve unknowingly mastered the blame game.

Do you always try to point out other people’s mistakes?

Playing the victim often ends up with more problems than solutions.

It can brew anger, start fights, and even end relationships.

It’s good to hold someone accountable for their actions, but when it looks like it’s always them who’s wrong, there may be an issue. 

Before pointing fingers at who’s wrong, try considering their side first.

What, in your opinion, made them do that?

If you were in their shoes, would you have done the same thing?

Mistakes will always be mistakes, but by considering their perspective, you’re learning to look at things with a more open, less judgmental mind.

Also, when you’re the wrong one, the best thing to do is just accept it.

Try not to give roundabout excuses, and do your best not to blame others for your fault.

It will just repeat the cycle and complicate things.

Mistakes are lessons, and each one is an opportunity to grow.

3. Your go-to line is “I promise.”

Do you have a habit of making promises and shrugging them off later on?

Promises have weight.

Even though promises and pinky swears may feel like such childish moves sometimes, it requires a degree of responsibility to uphold.

It’s basically a personal agreement or an unwritten contract that when broken, puts the trust between you and another person – or other people – at risk.

So when you have a habit of making promises and end up breaking or forgetting them, there’s a high chance that you’re leading on and hurting the other person.

Remember that you don’t have to make promises especially if you don’t think you can keep them.

As a person, you go through a lot of things every day. People change, and life moves on and evolves.

If you notice that it’s difficult for you to stick to a promise, that’s okay!

Trying your best and proving yourself through actions is always much better than false words and hope.

So remember to think before you promise.

4. You do good things for others while expecting them to return the favor.

Have you ever been super kind to someone because of an ulterior motive in mind?

If the answer is yes, don’t beat yourself up too much. Plenty of us have also been there.

In life, one of the ways you survive is by building a good network.

You meet people, socialize with them, and reap the benefits in whatever form.

Now, the issue arrives when you’re doing everything just for these benefits.

When you’re being nice to someone or giving them gifts because you want to gain something only they can give you, that’s already manipulation.

Furthermore, it can greatly hurt their feelings if they find out it’s why you were kind in the first place.

It’s a different story when we’re talking about professional business negotiations. In that case, this type of behavior is common.

It causes hurt and confusion when you’re applying this same method to genuine people with pure intentions.

Being strategic and having good people skills can get you far, but sometimes, putting other people first with no underlying motives can help them and you immensely.

In an article by Mental Health Foundation, helping others can also benefit our mental health and wellbeing. For example, it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem, and happiness.

It’s good to be selfless sometimes. 

What good deed can you do today?

5. You tend to exaggerate.

Earlier, we mentioned that one of the qualities of an unintentionally manipulative person is their tendency to twist facts.

Another quality is the tendency to exaggerate them.

Are you the type of person who tends to speak in hyperbole?

Do you exaggerate facts to the point where they seem more extreme than the actual truth?

For example, you have a friend who borrowed some money from you and forgot to pay it back. Because you’re angry, you tell your other friends about the issue, and instead of saying the original amount of money borrowed, you declare a bigger one.

This method often leads to misleading information which can cause discord among you and other people.

If your main intention is to persuade, it’s always better to relay accurate information first before sharing your own opinion, not adjusting the whole story itself to fit your narrative. That way, you’re being honest and open about how you feel. 

6. Everything always seems to go your way.

Do you notice that nobody seeks to contradict you anymore?

Is everyone following what you want even if they clearly prefer something else?

When everyone appears to be subservient to your every wish, it probably means that you’ve gotten the hang of manipulating them, or they’ve grown tired of it.

You may not notice it, but you probably display manipulative behavior when things don’t go your way.

Perhaps you do silent treatments, tantrums, or show negative behavior and the people around you are trying their best not to let that happen by going along with whatever you want.

Often, you unconsciously resort to these acts because you don’t know how to communicate your needs properly.

Direct communication is highly important, and it’s good to accept that not all things will go your way sometimes.

It may be quite difficult and awkward to communicate openly, but you can always start with what you can handle.

If you can’t do it face to face, you can always do it through messaging. It also helps to have understanding and honest people around you who aren’t afraid to call you out.


Do you see yourself in these signs?

If so, then please take this as a reminder to not let guilt get the best of you.

Every human is prone to being manipulative because there are a lot of factors that can cause this behavior.

We’ve already mentioned this before, but you’re already an amazing person for educating yourself on this topic.

If you’ve shown manipulative behavior before, this is not the end for you. Rather, it shows that you have a better, healthier road ahead of you once you take the initiative to build better habits.

The first step is to recognize this behavior and then make peace with it.

Identify why you act the way you act, and be gentle with yourself as you take small steps in healing.

It’s never easy to face negative aspects about yourself, but there’s no doubt that you can do it and come out a better person than yesterday.

Thanks for listening! See you next time.



Mental Health Foundation. (2021, April 6). Kindness Matters guide. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/kindness/kindness-matters-guide#:%7E:text=Evidence%20shows%20that%20helping%20others,%2C%20self%2Desteem%20and%20happiness.&text=There%20are%20so%20many%20ways,part%20of%20our%20everyday%20lives.

Ni, P., M. S. B. A. (2019, December 8). 3 Reasons People Become Manipulative. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201912/3-reasons-people-become-manipulative

Powerbutton. (2022, January 6). 5 Signs You’re Unintentionally Manipulative – Powerbutton. Medium. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://clinnetworks.medium.com/5-signs-youre-unintentionally-manipulative-b4ec0bab6382

R. (2019, November 14). How to Stop Being Manipulative. SELFFA. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://selffa.com/how-to-stop-being-manipulative/

ReGain Editorial Team. (2022, April 18). “Am I Manipulative?”: How To Tell If You’re The Problem | ReGain. Regain US. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.regain.us/advice/general/am-i-manipulative-how-to-tell-if-youre-the-problem/

Touroni, E. (2020, February 11). Psychological benefits of giving to others and thinking of others. The Chelsea Psychology Clinic. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.thechelseapsychologyclinic.com/wellbeing/psychological-benefits-giving-others-thinking-others/

Villines, Z. (2019, September 17). Red Flags: Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated? GoodTherapy. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/red-flags-are-you-being-emotionally-manipulated-0917197

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