How to Deal with Manipulative People

Do you happen to know someone who just can’t accept anything less than having their way? And to get what they want, they are ready to use any tactic that comes to their mind – lying, gaslighting, playing mind games, blaming you or guilting you into doing what they want. They are manipulators, the artists of deception, and dealing with them can feel like an art form on its own. Being constantly manipulated could make you question yourself, your actions or your sanity, so learning how to defend yourself from these people can be important for your mental health.

Here are some strategies you can use the next time you hang out with that master manipulator.

1. Recognize the signs

Getting manipulated or gaslighted can leave you confused and wondering “is it me or is it them”? To be able to recognize that you’re actually getting manipulated, and that there’s nothing wrong with you, it could be beneficial to learn about the signs on how to spot a manipulator. Often times they share some common traits:

  • they instill self-doubt in others
  • they are experts in guilt-tripping
  • they take advantage of your kindness
  • they spread false information on purpose
  • they never take the blame
  • they’re good at hiding their manipulative traits
  • they feign ignorance
  • they make their tactics seem normal

These traits are further explained in one of our videos, so feel free to take a look if you wish to know more.

2. Don’t apologize

Unless you’re 100% sure you did something wrong, don’t apologize to manipulators. One of their tactics is to play the victim, and make it as if everyone else is in the wrong or against them. No matter what you do around these people, it’s always somebody else’s fault to them, and they just won’t accept taking responsibility for anything. And when you apologize to them, they take it as a victory and it makes them feel like they hold even more power over you. 

3. Speak your mind

Manipulative people strongly believe in having a right to an opinion, but of course, only when it comes to their opinion. One of the best things you can do is show them that it actually goes both ways. Feel free to express what you want and what you need, say how their behavior makes you feel, and ask them to stop with their manipulative strategies. Tell them you know what they’re doing and that it won’t work with you, and enjoy watching the surprised look on their face.

4. Don’t take it personally

It may be hard not to feel personally attacked when someone treats you that way, but you shouldn’t let the manipulator get to you. Even if you don’t fall for their tactics, you still might feel like something is wrong with you if they try to belittle you in their own way. But it’s important to know that being manipulative is the way they are, it is how they choose to behave and it is a trait of their personality. If they act this way with you, they would act the same way with anyone. So don’t let them make you think less of yourself.

5. Just ignore them

Some might say this one is childish, but really, what else can you do with such people? When they start having temper tantrums, or crying about being the victim, or trying to sound smart, just either walk away or change the subject. You be the one in control of the situation, for a change. This way they won’t even have the opportunity to go deep into their manipulation, because you’re just not going to let them.

6. Share your frustration

Dealing with these kinds of people can be extremely frustrating sometimes, and even harder if you’re dealing with it alone. You could try sharing your frustration with someone you trust – talk to them about the treatment you’re receiving from that person. This can help you feel a bit better when you see there is someone on your side, and maybe they even offer some good advice on how to handle the situation you’re in.

7. Distance yourself

It’s not an unheard of advice: cut toxic people out of your life. If that person just keeps doing what they do, without any intention of changing their behavior, do they really deserve for you to feel bad for them and stay? By distancing yourself from them, you distance yourself from their manipulation as well. So whenever you can, stay away from their company and surround yourself with people who respect you.

Photo by Olga from Pexels

Standing up to manipulators might not be easy. Depending on how well ahead they are in their “talent”, they may be very good at masking their behavior and making you doubt yourself. Learn about the red flags and signs of manipulators, learn how to recognize who is being honest and who is trying to manipulate you. And once you’re able to spot them, you’ll be able to protect yourself from them. Good luck!

Thank you for reading!
Written by:
Stela Košić

If you wish to find out more about topics on manipulation, feel free to check out some of the videos from Psych2Go’s YouTube channel:


  • Brewood, V. (2019, March 11). A Handy Guide to Dealing With Manipulative People. Thrive Global.
  • Manipulation: Symptoms to Look For. (2020, November 23). WebMD.
  • Melvin, K. (2020, March 10). Dealing with manipulative people. A Lust For Life – Irish Mental Health Charity in Ireland.

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