How To Spot A Manipulator

Manipulative people are good at hiding their intentions, especially if you don’t know them well. However, there are some telltale signs that can indicate their true nature. 

It’s important to note that, as in all cases with human behavior, there’s always more than one explanation. Somebody who fidgets, for example, could be lying … or they could have had one too many cups of coffee. Most people aren’t manipulators, so use caution when making judgements. 

If someone’s behavior concerns you, talk to someone you trust who won’t have a strong bias either way. Counselors are a great resource for this, but a close friend or mentor can also be a good resource.

1. They lie a lot about small things.

Everybody tells little white lies sometimes, but if somebody you know lies frequently, even if it’s small things, that could mean that they’re lying about bigger things as well. Sometimes people who have been around toxic people for a long time will get into the habit of lying. This is often done to avoid the toxic person’s anger. This doesn’t mean the victim is a bad person, but it is a defense mechanism that should be unlearned. 

2. They see your relationship as a transaction.

Manipulative friends, family, and significant others will often support you in hard times, then expect you to do favors later on because they helped you. While most relationships are based on give and take, it’s also more nuanced than just a series of transactions. If someone who’s supposedly close to you frequently talks about what you owe them or what you can do for them, that’s a major red flag.

3. Your friends don’t like them.

Sometimes people just don’t get along, but if your entire friend group or family has a problem with somebody in your life, it might help you to hear them out. Often your friends and family will notice problems before you do. They have the distance necessary to see the bigger picture. They are able to notice changes in your behavior and the way you carry yourself. 

4. They don’t really respond to you.

When you’re having a conversation with somebody and their responses don’t address anything you actually said, chances are you’re dealing with a manipulator. They’re simply waiting for a gap in the conversation so they can talk. They’re not truly listening to you. Conversations can seem pointless or go in circles until you get frustrated and give up.

5. They always push you to change your plans.

Maybe they ask you where you want to go for lunch and you suggest a certain restaurant but they sound so obviously disappointed that you change your mind. Or maybe it’s something bigger, such as where you want to go to college, and they tell you to be more realistic or go a route that will make more money. This can make it hard for you to make your own decisions due to self-doubt, which is exactly what the manipulator wants.

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