Red Flags To Watch Out For: 7 Signs Of Emotional Manipulation

“Hello, climb into my strikingly sketchy white van.”

Manipulation isn’t always in your face and is as easily recognizable as this. Emotionally manipulative people live and thrive between us. They act as lovers, friends, confidants, or sometimes caring family members. 

Unfortunately for us, they are so well-versed in their abilities that it is hard to notice or spot emotional manipulation when it is happening to you. Because, of course, you are being manipulated. However, if you look from a third-person perspective, signs of emotional manipulation are easy to spot and recognize. 

There can be different types of manipulations – from a toxic partner, a pushy salesperson, or one of the unsolicited advice givers. It can range from subtle, backhanded comments that make you doubt yourself to outright gaslighting that makes you question your thoughts and judgments. 

Emotional manipulation can take a brutal toll on your well-being. And that is precisely why understanding the signs of emotional manipulation are important. To help you get started, here are the seven most common signs of emotional manipulation that you need to watch out for in your everyday life.

Signs Of Emotional Manipulation

Signs Of Emotional Manipulation 

1. They constantly twist and turn your words and lie.

One of the most common signs of emotional manipulators is the ability to lie without even batting an eye. Additionally, they will twist and turn your words and make you believe in their version of what you said or meant. This includes downplaying their role in whatever issue that has happened and overstating your mistakes in turn. 

2. You constantly feel like questioning your sanity.

This is commonly known as gaslighting and is one of the tell-tale signs of emotional abuse. Gaslighting will make you feel like you are losing your mind. It happens when someone deliberately manipulates you into believing your instincts are untrue and you can’t trust yourself. 

Read more: Signs Of Gaslighting In Relationships To Look Out For

3. You can’t say no to them. 

You are terrified or intimidated to say no to them. Just the mere thought of turning them down makes you uneasy and uncomfortable. You constantly feel weak and helpless. You are always acting against your wishes. Even though you feel like saying no is reasonable, you just cannot bring yourself to say it.

4. They make you feel insecure.

Emotional manipulators often make you feel insecure to keep you hooked to them for validation. They toy with your insecurities to often dispel their personal self-doubts and insecurities. This can feel like a highly unequal situation where someone constantly pushes your buttons and makes you feel like you are not enough. 

5. They are too much and too soon. 

Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, one of the most common signs of emotional manipulation is a sense of urgency in building that relationship. Emotional manipulators often seem to skip steps whenever they try to get to you. They might share too much early on and expect the same from you. This tactic is used to make you feel sad and responsible toward them.

6. They make you feel guilty for voicing your opinions.

Another common sign of emotional manipulators is that they constantly make you feel guilty for expressing your opinions. They try hard to shame you into silence and make you submissive to whatever they are doing. They will often tell you that you are overreacting and making a big deal out of nothing whenever you question them. 

7. They frequently use the silent treatment.

Contrary to its name, the silent treatment is a loud and clear form of emotional manipulation. It aims to make your thoughts spiral and get you to overthink where you went wrong. This happens because silence is uncomfortable, especially when it is unexpected. Eventually, all the other person wants you to do is to reach out to them and apologize for something that clearly isn’t your fault. 

Read more: How To Save Your Relationships From Displaced Anger?

You feel like you are being emotionally manipulated. What to do next?

Now that you have made it through this list of signs of emotional manipulation, you might feel you are being manipulated. Once you have understood this, how do you proceed?

Well, as always, it depends on your situation’s context. If the manipulation is by a stranger like a salesperson, it can be relatively easier to shut it down. Once you let the person know that you understand what they are trying to do and call them out, the situation might improve. 

When emotional manipulation happens from people you share a relationship with, it is so much more complicated. But does that mean that it is okay? Absolutely not. 

Therefore, it is important to have direct communication with the respective person. Be honest and state clearly how you may have been feeling. Some people might not take such conversations well, so be ready to set your boundaries with them.


If you probably aren’t sure whether you are being emotionally manipulated, you probably are. And while it is difficult to do so, whenever you feel like something is wrong, take charge. Set clear boundaries, use assertive communication, and try to detach from the said person. Detachment is tough, but sometimes, you must let go of toxic relationships that have hurt you. To learn more about how to detach from someone, click here.

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