How to Tell if You’re Being Manipulated

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Puppet on strings
Image by The Wandering Faun.

 

Emotional manipulation can be so subtle and undercover

that it can control you for quite a while before you figure out what’s happening, if you ever do. Some manipulators are highly skilled. They’re described by some as puppet masters, and you could become an unknowing puppet if you don’t know the signs.

As your strings are pulled this way and that, you do just what the puppet master wants you to do. You think you’re acting from your own free will, but the truth is you’re not. Once the relationship ends, many victims finally see they were under the manipulator’s control.

If you’re a victim of manipulation you know something is wrong, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Or you might suspect you’re being manipulated, and you want to know how to tell for sure.

It’s actually easier and more obvious than you might think it is.

I have a page on this site about the techniques of covert emotional manipulation, but the truth is you don’t have to know anything at all about the techniques to know if your strings are being pulled. It’s definitely good to know them, because then you might see them. But it’s not necessary. You only need to look at yourself to know if manipulation is a t play.

If you’re in a relationship and notice a few of the following signs, there’s a high probability you’re being manipulated:

  • Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. You will start feeling stressed at this point. Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation. (This is known as the “manipulative shift.”)
  • Your mood depends entirely on the state of the relationship.
  • You’re unhappy in your relationship most of the time…yet you dread losing it. You feel like you’re screwing up the best thing that ever happened to you, but you’re not sure how.
  • Your relationship feels very complex, although you’re not sure why. When talking to your friends about it, you might find yourself saying “It’s hard to explain. It’s just really…complicated.”
  • You obsess about the relationship constantly. You endlessly analyze every aspect of it as you desperately try to “figure it out.” You talk about it constantly, to whomever will listen. None of this gets you anywhere.
  • You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner, which leaves you in a perpetual state of uncertainty and anxiety.
  • You frequently ask your partner if something’s wrong, or you want to ask. It really does feel as if something’s wrong, but you’re not sure what it is.
  • You always seem to be on the defensive. You find yourself feeling misunderstood, so you continually feel the need to explain and defend yourself.
  • You’re angry and frustrated when you question your partner about something that’s bothering you,  because he or she immediately shifts the focus onto you — it becomes all about your problem with trust or insecurity, while the original question or issue is never addressed.
  • You feel that you just don’t know how to make your partner happy. You try hard but nothing seems to work, at least not for long.
  • Expressing negative thoughts and emotions feels restricted or even forbidden, at times causing you to experience extreme frustration and even hostility.
  • You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship. You feel less strong, less confident, less secure, less intelligent, less sane, or in some way “less than” anything you were before the relationship.
  • You always feel you’re falling short of your partner’s expectations.
  • You often feel guilty. You continually try to repair the damage you believe you’ve caused. You blame yourself for your partner pulling away from you. You can’t understand why you keep sabotaging the relationship.
  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, carefully controlling your words, actions and emotions to keep him from withdrawing his affection again. Your suppressed feelings build inside of you, and sometimes you erupt like a volcano. You’ve never acted this way before. You can’t seem to help it, and it only makes things worse.

_____________________________________________

You might be wondering how you (or anyone else) could stay in a relationship that causes fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, frustration and hostility. Wouldn’t you know something is terribly wrong?

There are two reasons people stay. First, the relationship got off to an amazing start. He or she seemed like your perfect partner — your soul mate, probably — and the honeymoon phase was idyllic. Since you’ve been manipulated into blaming yourself for the problems, you stick with the relationship and desperately try to repair the damage.

Second, “manipulation is an evolving process over time,” according to Harriet B. Braiker, PhD., author of “Who’s Pulling Your Strings,” Victims are controlled through a series of promised gains and threatened losses covertly executed through a variety of manipulation tactics. In other words, the manipulation builds gradually as the abuser creates uncertainty and doubt by going back and forth from hot to cold, by going back and forth from giving you what you desire to taking it away.

“In the end, it doesn’t matter how you got into that relationship, it is the realization that it is one-sided, exploitative, and toxic. The questions that need to be asked are very simple. ‘Are they using their charms or behavior to control you or others for their own benefit? Are they manipulating you? Are they doing things that hurt you or put you at risk? Do you feel like this relationship is one sided? Are you hurting in this relationship?’ If the answer to these questions is yes, it is time to untangle yourself from the toxic strings that control you so you can get your life back. Take heed – you have no social obligation to be victimized – ever.”

~ Dangerous Personalities, by Joe Navarro, M.A., a 25 year veteran of the FBI

Emotional manipulation is emotional abuse. And emotional abuse is abuse, plain and simple, just as physical abuse is. If you believe you’re in a relationship with an abuser, no good will come of it. This person does not respect you or care about your well-being. Seek professional counseling as soon as possible from a therapist familiar with the effects of emotional abuse.

 

© 2012 – 2014 ‘Psychopaths and Love’ All Rights Reserved

 

 

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“This small book was full of tons of useful information. I don’t usually write in my books, but my copy of Boundaries has underlining on almost every page. I was really glad I bought it.” ~ Amazon Reviewer

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“If you have been the victim of a psychopath or you think you may be the next target of a psychopath, this book lays it all out for you…It gets right to the core of the predator.” ~ J. Hunter

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55 comments on “How to Tell if You’re Being Manipulated

  1. sportsgod on said:

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I
    am impressed. Extremely helpful info particularly the last part :)
    I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  2. candice on said:

    I found this helpful and I saw one of the signs and got a bit scared but I thought about it and it’s actually my fault. I even found out that I may have been the manipulator at one point…whew and I am working on it.
    this was lovely

  3. I have been a victim of an emotional abusive and manipulated relationship. We were together for almost 8 years. It has come to the time where I need to tell people exactly what happened but the fact that he never did anything infront of anyone is proving to be the reason I don’t have hard evidence. Does anyone have any advice for me? I just want him out of my life so I can try to be happy again and try to rebuild myself.

    • I don’t know. A common theme with these relationships is that when they’re over, they’re hard to explain and people don’t understand. These manipulators are too crafty to leave any hard evidence, but they do leave the results of their actions, such as traumatized people with broken lives. They’re also very good at making the victim look like the crazy one or the bad one.

      Your goal of getting him out of your life and going on to rebuild yourself and be happy is a good one! Can you do this without proving anything to anyone? You may have to.

      Good luck to you.

      • Kato on said:

        When you said, “These manipulators are too crafty to leave any hard evidence . . .” I thought of my Mother who recently said of my daughter-in-law (who I am convinced has been manipulating my son since they met), “I can’t agree with you that she is manipulating him because I have never seen any evidence that she is doing that.” Until my son met his wife 5 years ago we enjoying a close and loving relationship. Shortly after meeting her he began calling me with nonsensical complaints from her and eventually became more and more curt and distant with me. He acknowledged this and promised to talk to me about it after their wedding, but he continued to put me off. My DIL made a comment to my sister that once they had a baby my son and I would be “talking all the time” (though I don’t know where she got that idea since I hardly talked to my son since she met him). Interestingly, when they announced that they were expecting several years ago, I did not see them for 5 months (and I lived 20 minutes away). When I asked my son why they had made 2 trips back east to see his wife’s family during those 5 months, yet were too busy to see me even once in the same 5 months, he became irate and accused me of “leaderboard nonsense” (he was referring to rankings of players in a competition, such as golf). I have not seen either my son or DIL now in over 2 years, I have never met my granddaughter, and they have moved and not told me where they now live. My Mother attributes this to something I must have done to my son in his long ago past and the fact that we are both stubborn. My son says he will talk to me on the phone (during designated hours), but not see me in person, as long as I don’t bring the past up or talk about anything that is not “topical.” If I don’t make him angry he may eventually elevate the relationship to a physical meeting, but the problem is I have no way of knowing what I may do or say that will anger him (or her?). For example, when they were engaged I invited her to call me “Mom” if she chose and that set off a ****storm involving the entire family. How dare I be so insensitive; she only has one mother and that mother would be hurt if she were to develop a relationship with me. My Mother’s, and entire family’s refusal to even consider that my DIL may be manipulating my son in his relationship with me has made me a little crazy over the past few years and has had a huge and negative impact on my relationships with them.

        • Kato, it’s heartbreaking that you’ve yet to see your granddaughter, and that your mother assumes what’s happened with your son is because of something you did; that only adds more pain and frustration, as you know. You’re right, you have no way of knowing what will anger your son (or DIL). If saying that she could call you “mom” — which would sound like a warm invitation to anyone rational — could snowball into a familial sh*tstorm, then she could take anything at all and twist it around to suit her purposes. Families should be a refuge, ideally, but for many of us they’re the source of our worst grief. I’m very sorry your family life is like it is. I hope that someday, somehow, things will change for the better.

  4. I’ve been manipulated from friends and at work for the past 10 years. The worst was that it happened over and over again, so I started questioning my own sanity. I never looked for therapy, but I am a great believer in self help books. Thank you for an excellent Blog and for your book references. It seems that certain people attract manipulators and I am just the type. It has been a long process to realize what is going on, but I am determined to help myself and try to help others by sharing your blog.

    • I understand…all too well. Your determination is the most important part of what will help you change things! Thank you for sharing this blog and book references. Best wishes!

  5. Heather on said:

    I found this website today and have been reading everything I can find on it. I am currently trying to pull myself out of a relationship that I have been in for almost a year. It started out so great and so romantic and slowly turned into me doing everything in my power to make this man happy again so that we could be happy again. Nothing is ever going to be good enough. It doesn’t matter what I do. And he keeps asking what is wrong with me while making excuses about his problems as his excuse for withdrawing affection. I never know what I am going to get from him from day to day. I am a very successful woman and was very happy and now I can’t concentrate on anything but how miserable and unsure I feel of everything in my world. It sounds so pathetic. He stole my joy. I am so sad and feel so lonely.

  6. This website has been invaluable. Heather’s story above sounds all too familiar. I started a relationship 10 months ago, with a guy who seemed perfect at the time….great fun to be with, attentive, loving….who swept me off my feet in a matter of weeks. Told me he had never met anyone like me; I was his soul mate and he wanted to marry me. 4 months into the relationship, my gut feeling was that something was wrong, and things went downhill from there.

    Here is a summary of the some of the things he has done: he went online dating within 4 months of dating.(I found out and he flatly denied it.); he told me in August, while on vacation, he had put spyware on my phone and visited my apartment while I was at work, and then joked that he hadn’t. (I found out there was spyware on my phone, but I will never know if he got into my flat..) I confronted him one time about trying to crack the passcode to my cellphone, while I was out for an hour, and he flatly denied it and stormed off saying he was highly insulted. Said it must have been my sister! Ridiculous…she wasn’t even there (and would never do such a thing).

    I have never cheated on him or given him cause to mistrust me. Close friends and family have yelled ‘run’ so many times, but somehow, I have stayed with him. He lives out of state. When he’s with me we have a great time together; when he goes home, he seems a like a different person at times….distant and cool. Always wants to know where I’m going and with whom. He lies about the smallest things…like saying he sent me flowers, but didn’t. He can look me in the eye and lie without blinking.

    Right now I’m feeling so many of the ‘signs you’re in a manipulative relationship’ above. The sad thing is I’m educated and in a good job with a great social circle, and though my gut instinct has been screaming for a long time to get out, my heart has always made the final call. Most importantly, I realise I cannot trust him, no matter how hard I try, and this is crucial in any relationship. Your website has helped me realise how bad the situation is; that I deserve a lot more than this and should get out asap. I honestly didn’t know that such people existed….and it’s taken me this long and the help of this website to realise it. Thank you so much…..wish me luck.

    • You know all you need to know; now the hard part comes, which is to act on it in a way that is in your best interests. That’s harder than it seems it should be, when you’re the one in it. I wish you the best of luck!

  7. Heather on said:

    Cat. I feel your pain. I haven’t gotten out. I tried to and I’m sucked back in now. Things seem relatively good now and I’m not ready to end things. I have to give it another chance. I really do love this man.

  8. I have grown up with a manipulative father who I have now finally severed contact with except for family gatherings. Now I’m reading this blog and realising I’ve been in a manipulative relationship with my sister also. Every sign you mentioned in your blog is true for me in this relationship. It’s so hard when it’s your own family members but I’m at a point where life is too short to be around people like this. My sister and I were in business together but I am now pulling out of that. My husband has also found work that will have us moving away. (We currently live just a few minutes apart.)

    I’m now on the road to working on myself so I am less likely to be a victim again in the future. Another great book is ‘In Sheep’s Clothing’.
    Thanks for your work.

  9. Chompoo on said:

    Hi after reading this site and having been having a trouble in my relationship I do want to find out if my boyfriend is a Psychopaths. We met 4 months ago and when we met he made me feel really special like the woman he has been looking for.I felt like we had such a strong connection and a soul connection. He behaved really sweet,a true gentleman and romatic.

    He has been married twice,had a failed marrige and has a son with one of his short term relationship (2 weeks). I accepted his past as it a past and he was honest with me since first time we met.

    After he saw few texts from guys that I was in touch with before I met him eventhough I haven’t been in touch with them since I got together with him.Until he started to check on my phone,emails,face book of the guys that I have been intouched with.And read my private conversation between myself and my best friend. Then he found out one message I said about one of my ex..he sent me a rude text and said that I would cheat on him or find a guy I like and cheat on him like how I did with my ex. (I did see another guy just before I finished with my ex) and he used this to claim that I would do it to him. Then he apologised to me of sending that rude text because he was really angry and fraustated of knowing that there were guys still after me when I am with him. And he felt that he needed to win me over them.

    Then I found out that he had used prostitute service and still be in touch with one of them as she is his tenant. I had a big discussion with him and set him the boundary to cut off the contact with her and I had 2 choices either swallow the unpleasant fact (found out he had used sex service few times before in the past by saying he was lonely and needed a female contact) or end the relationship.

    I chose to swollow the ugly fact and took his words that he used it just because he didn’t want to be involve emotionally with anyone at the time. I never com acrossed any guys whom I have realtionship with ever used/paid for sex. It was very hard for me to accept it but because I do want to be with him..I did accept his ugly secret.

    Then we met his ex who is now- he says his close friend- she is married and we 4 all met together (her husband,herself,my boy friend and myself). While my boyfriend was paying for our bill and entered his password..she said “Oh,you still use the same password?” In front of me and her husband. I felt akward and strange of her behaviour, it even made me a bit anxious of the purpose of her behaving disrespectful to me. I didn’t say anything to my boyfriend at that time..left him think and see if he would say anything.

    A week later,his ex phoned my boyfriend and asked if he could lend her some money because she needed to use for her shopping. I felt a lot more akward as why she feels so comfortable to just ring my boyfriend up and asks to borrow his money. Soon I found out that they have been in contact very often,she has only invited him to join her and her husband for the events and never mentioned about me. I had a conversation with him and told him that I am not happy at all of how she behaves disrespectful to me and how come she feels so comfortable to ring/meet my boyfriend whenever she wants and fails to recognise me as his girlfriend.

    He did have a conversation with her and she felt really apologetic (based on what he said) she didn’t meant to be rude to me but she has so much going on in her life and she forgot to think or made an effort and she would love to apologise to me in person. I felt it was real and I said to my boyfriend,don’t worry as long as she knows how to behaves and sees us as a couple not just you.

    Then I had come acrossed the texts between him and her ( I knew it is wrong to look into his privacy but I had a strong feeling of something is up between them) he and she have been in contact consistantly..every few days…either phone calls,texts or meeting up. They called each other nick names like how they were together and one text she sent him pornography links. I faced him and asked what is all about.

    It proves to me that the suspectious feeling I had about them is right that I never believed that they have a pure friendship. After a few argument about her,he still be in contact with her eventhough he knows that I would not be happy about it. He made me cut off all of my exs apart 2 of them as they are my friends. My exs and I have not been in touch on regaular basis and never have to keep each other update like how he does with his ex.

    He said she sent those links without thinking of anything more than just wanting to share with her friend. I felt it is so wrong for her to do that behide her husband and what was the purpose behide of sending those links to my boyfriend. It was just a few days before my boyfriend and I went on a date but we started to chat a week or so before it.

    It hurts me so much that he doesn’t see how rude she was and deliberated to me and he allowed her to do that by saying “she is stupid,she doesn’t think before she says things. She didn’t mean to do that to upset you or show you that she was once own me”

    He made me send the text to one of my friend whom used to fancy me and I set a clear boundary with him that it will never be more than friends between us. My boyfriend read the texts between me and my friend and demanded me to send him the text saying that “I never interested in him even though I am single. Please stop sending me inappropriated text ( my friend is Italian..so he always calls me bella,beautiful and princess-which I don’t like it)”

    I asked him to cut off his ex as it really made things worst for us,everytime after the argument about his ex…I feel that we are growing apart. He then said that I would cut my ex if I cut off Mark (my ex of 4 years ago-we don’t have any interest of each other more than just friends).

    Me : Why should I cut Mark?

    Him: Because he is rude to me. (They never met and Mark has been living abroad for 2 years..once in awhile we message/talk on Facebook) He never asked you about me.

    Me: What did Mark really do to you that why you want me to cut him off in turn of you cutting Celine off?

    Him: No,he didn’t do anything. But he is rude to me by not asking you about me when he chated with you on Facebook.

    I am emotionally tired of trying to explain to him about how his ex behaved inappropriated towards me. Everytime we have a row and the matter is on his side he had to brought something in the past that I did up to make me feel bad. He made me feel paranoia if he would do anything behide my back. I hate this feeling as it’s not me at all and I feel I can’t trust him yet don’t want to leave him.

    We are agreed to see the professional help..but I want to ask you if he is a Psychopaths and what should I do? I really need a help!

    Thank you for your time reading my (long) story:)

    • I’m sorry for all you are going through! I have no way to know if he’s a psychopath, but I’ll tell you this for sure: You DON”T need to make a diagnosis in order to make a decision. You say you can’t trust him and you’re paranoid, yet you don’t want to leave him. If you’re miserable, that’s all that matters. I know how hard it is, but only you can make up your mind about what is best for you.

      Is this relationship good for you? Do you feel loved? Do you feel happy? Do you feel trust? Or are you obsessed with it and agonizing over it and analyzing every word?

      I’m sorry, there is no easy answer. I feel for you and hope you will find your way.

  10. great information for everyone to read. very well put and very direct. some people don’t want to believe this, but the truth is, they are living a lie. thanks for sharing. great job!!!!!

  11. SusanM. on said:

    Brilliant, simply brilliant! Thank you. For months I have been feeling everything on this list. Instead of realising that, I have been analysing his behaviour and listening to all his excuses whilst he denied everything, put me on the defense and turned it all around to be my problem! Goodbye, assclown boyfriend!

    Thank you for making it very clear. This post is far more helpful than anything I have read anywhere.

  12. I read the above idk i feel like i might be is that kind of relationship sometimes i guess i dont know i always assumed manipulative ppl got something out of the deal…i dont see what he would get aside my company

  13. I’ve come to your site several times over the last few weeks – your list truly hits home on exactly how I feel, yet I can’t seem to garner the courage to breakup with him. Adding to my woes – we live & work together, and have the same friend group. I’m not so afraid to breakup, it’s the aftermath – physically moving out but having the guarantee of seeing him everyday. Also, when we’re together, I typically feel great – he can (and often does) do very sweet things, but at the same time when I’m alone in my car or somewhere else, I think of all these things that make me feel small – like I am a lesser person and not the best I can be. Honestly it feels like crap! I get so fed up with it and talk myself up to go home and breakup, but then I just can’t open my mouth. I’ve attempted a breakup once before (in July), but he begged me to try and somehow convinced me that I’m running away just when things are getting good and that I’m afraid of love. Somehow he made it seem like that was the case and I agreed to try/stay. As soon as I did though I realized how that was not the case at all, but he just made me seem like the crazy one. We’ve been together for 4 years, and I need out .

    • That’s a tough situation to deal with, and I’m sorry you’re in it. It seems you already have your answer — “I need out.” You just need to find a way to do that. Find someone you trust to help you, if at all possible. I wish you all the best.

  14. Alice Lister on said:

    Please, this is not for the public posting, only to give you feedback. I think you should offer such a section to collect information from those abused….


    Thanks again for such a great site. You put the online experts to shame. Their lingo becomes mind numbing and not helpful to understanding and putting your mind and heart back together.

    Thanks!

    • Hi, Alice. I do have a ‘section to collect information from those abused,’ and it’s right here, in the comments.

      When someone writes a comment and refuses to have it published, it deprives others of validation and learning. It also prevents me from responding.

      I don’t read those comments. Why? They tend to be *exceptionally* long, and if I can’t respond to you, and no one else can read them, what’s the point?

      You said your comment was to give me ‘feedback,’ but I scanned it and there is no feedback except for what I’ve posted above — it’s simply a very long accounting of the intricate details of your relationship.

      All the best to you, now and in the future. Thank you for your kind words about the website.

  15. MOEMENSI on said:

    Good Day
    I am married to my husband for 19 years we are together for 25 years i have been abuse for all this time He use to drink and beat me so bad every time he does it even now . i am not alowed to have friend or go out with anyone he even my daugther .My life revolf around what he say goes when we have a family crisis and we have to give money i am not alowed to give i need his permision everything i want to do he must be inform and deside is i can do it .when i need to go to visit my daugther i need to ask him and he will ask me the time i will be back and if that time has pats he will call and ask me why i am not home . He want me to tell him everything i want to do and i am always so afraid to tell him how i feel .And know he is not working he is angry wit me for not bringing my payslip and he want to control me in every way

    • My heart goes out to you. No one deserves to live with such oppression and fear. I commend you for your very difficult but worthwhile struggle to free yourself from this terrible situation! You are a brave woman. You must get whatever help you need to escape safely from this abuse. You have a right to live free of violence and threats, and you have the right to seek a safe place to live. I know your fears can immobilize you from acting on your own behalf and that your fears are justified, and that’s why you remain there. Please contact a domestic violence program for help. There are many people who are ready to help you. Best of luck to you.

  16. Denise on said:

    My sister just found this site and told me about it. Reading everybody’s pain validates my own pain and it is so sad.

    I have been in a relationship for 15 years. I am fortunate that I have never been physically abused, but the emotional abuse is bad enough. When I reached the point that nothing made me happy and that I had nothing to look forward too, I new I needed help, but it felt so hopeless. I started seeing a therapist and I started antidepressants. While this helped, it was still hard to find my way out. What made it even more important is that I have 2 adopted daughters and I fear for their well-being.
    I am very fortunate in that I have a family (3 brothers, their wives and a sister) who felt that they had to intervene. They managed to get me to my brother’s house in another state to start the process. This was no small task.
    That was 2 weeks ago. I am currently living with another brother while I make plans to get out on my own and have time with my children.

    This is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it must be done. I pray for the strength to continue. The siren is still there, but at least so far I have been able to resist it. Each day, I get a little more of myself back.

    Thank you for all you do. It is making a difference for me.

    • Hi, Denise. I’m sorry to hear about your very difficult situation. Don’t underestimate emotional abuse; it leaves deeper scars than physical abuse. You are very, very fortunate to have these wonderful people helping you. You’ll gain strength over time. It will fluctuate from one day to the next, but you’ll still be moving forward. I’m very happy the website is helping you! All the best to you and your children.

  17. Nicole on said:

    This website is extremely helpful to me, and I have been researching the topic of abusive relationships for quite some time. I definitely know that I have been victimized by my ex boyfriend, and I just recently moved away from the awful situation I was in where I lived with him.
    Believe me, I tried everything to fix the issues he had with me but nothing ever worked, I only lived in constant fear of his disapproval of me. I would over analyze the relationship ad nauseum and still have no clue what the crux of even the smallest issue was, and yet I would always end up blaming myself for falling short of whatever it is that he wanted.
    Even now, I am living apart from him and we are broken up but I still feel the confusion of not knowing why he was always so dissatisfied with me. I feel very emotionally damaged from this experience and I am not sure how long it will take for me to heal, all I do truly know is that I have begun this process simply by having the courage to take that step out of the door.

    • It takes a lot of courage to walk out that door! The confusion and hurt doesn’t end there, unfortunately. Give yourself time the time you need to heal. It’s a serious wounding. At this point, have faith that you will recover, and take one step at a time. I wish you all the best.

  18. Danny on said:

    I am great full I came across this site.

    I’v been in relationship for nearly 23months.
    Firstly when we were dating she was chatting with a lot of guys when travelling to and fro work.
    She would be ignoring me and saying the signal was bad or train went underground.
    Next she said she was Councelling her best friend’s Husband behind her back as his girlfriend left him. So when I said let us go meet him so that as a guy I might be able to help him. She refused saying its he will be upset. This went on for several months and we had a lot of fights due to that. Then she started twisting things saying we will go meet them next month. But it never came. Then she says it’s her human right not to tell him or me anything.
    And more fights. Then she comes up with saying that she will only talk, text if and when she wants to.
    Then she would start a fight and blame me for it.
    I am an open book and told her of my past.
    She told me a bit but withheld a lot.
    I took her to all my relations, friends and clients. Even to few weddings.
    She refused to take me to her friend, work friends and family weddings. Always twisting things so she doesn’t have to take me anywhere.
    I went for councelling due to her. But she refused to come with me saying its counceller playing with your head.
    This site has opened my eyes and i’v stopped communicating with her and moving on in my life.
    How she Manipulated me even after giving her my fullest attention. She has a lot of secrets and skeletons.
    Danny.

    • Hi, Danny. I’m so glad the site has helped you to figure out what was going on in your relationship. It’s amazing what we can get used to and accept as ‘normal.’ I’m happy you were able to break free and start moving forward, and I wish you all the best in the future.

  19. lakshmi on said:

    I almost got back with my husband after being so emotionally, financially and psycologically traumatized that I didn’t think I could make it on my own without him. I read this and realizesdit will never end. There is only more where that came from. I am physically ill right now thinking about all the lies and manipulations for ten years. He is so charming and convinces me of things and puts me on the defensive when I ask or talk about anything he doesn’t want to. I am an older sadder woman now with no more resources and no more time to have a family. It is so sad it feels hopeless. I can’t believe it.

    • Hi, Lakshmi. My heart goes out to you. I get a clear sense from your words of how much pain you’re in. I know it’s unbearable right now, but know that you’re not alone.
      There are many older women who have done very well after this terrible trauma, and many who are still in the thick of it, like you are. I hope you have some support from friends or family. It would be helpful to find a good therapist familiar with abusive relationships. Check with your local women’s services or domestic violence organization. I wish you all the best, and hope you’ll come back and update me on how you’re doing.

  20. Joanne on said:

    OMG!!!!! This website help me understand I am in a manipulative relationship… I been with him for 5 years now… Now we have a 11 month old son… I’m not a fan of broken families… I don’t want to be the reason my son don’t have both of his parents together… I said many times that is over, but still stayed… I guess I said it so many times that it goes in one ear out the other… I love him so so much… I can’t imagine my life without him… I just want him to see that I matter… Want him to know I do have feelings… Want him to know I have my own thoughts on our relationship… I have anger issues… I have been trying to not let him get to me.. But he knows how to get me so angry I yell, cry, and ask myself what I did wrong… I don’t want to be treated like this no more… But don’t know how to get him to prove he loves me or not… So it can be easier for me to leave… Or stay…

    • One thing to think about is if your son is better off having two parents together, even if his father is an emotionally abusive manipulator (he WILL do the same thing to him; I’ve heard it time and time again), and where there are screaming fights — or if he’d be better off in an environment free of the mental abuse. Same goes for you — is it worth what you’re subject to, and the toll I’m sure it’s having on you?

      Do you really have anger issues, Joanne, or are you simply reacting to the abuse, and then being told by him that you have anger issues? Manipulation is extremely stressful. Victims are made to suppress their emotions. It doesn’t work — the frustration builds, and they erupt periodically in rage and hostility. Because you are backed into an emotional corner does NOT mean you have anger issues.

      You love this man, but you recognize that he’s manipulative, he doesn’t care about your feelings, doesn’t see that you matter, doesn’t want to hear your thoughts about the relationship, and gets you to the point where you regularly yell, cry, and blame yourself for the problems…

      Here are the characteristics of a good man. Do they fit?

      A good man loves and respects his woman for who she is.
      He commits to the relationship fully.
      He protects his partner physically and emotionally.
      He takes responsibility for his actions and decisions.
      You can depend on him.
      He listens to you and cares about what you have to say.
      He is kind and gentle.
      Hi is predictable and consistent.
      He is willing to say “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me.”

      At the very least, please go to couples counseling. Best wishes.

  21. I have read and reread this artical, and I have clicked on all of the links listed in the artical. I can’t thank you enough for posting this and the comments from other victims.
    For awhile, once I realized I was in a relationship with a narcasistic, covert emotional manipulator, I thought I could play his game. I was happy knowinghe made time for me, I believed that I was special being the other woman. I finally figures out I couldn’t play the game, because to me love was real, to him it I head just a way to fill his time. I believe he did enjoy his time with me, but it was when it was convenient for him and on his terms. In the past I would walk away, just to be drawn back in. I finally knew I had to say it’s all or nothing wit him, when I gave him that ultimatum, all he said was take care. I said bye, and that was it. It’s been hard to not write, call or text, but when a friend said to me, no mother should be in a relationship they don’t want their daughter to be in. I can’t go back because I don’t want my daughters to ever be treated like I allowed. Another thing that I read that helped was, “keep your resltionship private, but don’t keep your partner a secret. There’s a difference between privacy and secrecy.” I no longer wanted to be a secret.

    Thanks again.

    • I’m so glad you like this post! I think it’s the most practical, helpful one out of all of them. Knowing this will help us to quickly figure things out in the future.

      What your friend said was wise. It makes sense.
      I, too, will never again be anyone’s “secret.” We learned our worth the hard way, but the important thing is that we know it now. Thank you for your comment, Nancy.

  22. Dawn on said:

    I stumbled across this somehow and have been reading everything. I believe my son is in a relationship with a female psychopath. Most of the flags are there and I don’t know how to help him see that. As he says, “but, I love her so much!” But then, I can also feel his pain as he says it. She has been both emotionally and physically abusive with him and it is now extending to their daughter. I have seen the aftermath of her physical abuse and have heard a lot of the emotional abuse, because she doesn’t care who is around when she is doing that. She has tried to play this game with my husband and I and has been hot and cold with us in allowing or not allowing to see our granddaughter. It is painful to see my granddaughter to be so conflicted about the love I know she feels for us and her momma telling her we are bad and might hurt her. We allowed them to live in our trailer on our property the last 4 1/2 years to try and help them get back on their feet after losing employment. It was an absolute nightmare the whole time, but we hung on because we didn’t want to see our granddaughter be homeless. The situation has only got worse and my son’s drinking is out of control. He’s lost 3 jobs due to alcohol related incidents since he has been with her. Our lives had been on hold all this time as they didn’t have a vehicle and we needed to get him to and from work. I had enough and told them they had to go as there had been zero progress this whole time and I could not take her covert emotional manipulation of me any longer. So, naturally she told us we would never see my son or granddaughter again. While I now feel so much stress lifted from them being gone I still worry about the impact this will have on my granddaughter. I guess my son is going to have to figure all this out himself. Is it less common for females to be psychopaths than males? I see most of the comments made have been about males.

    • This is heartbreaking. I’m sorry your son has fallen victim to this despicable woman, and that she’s having such a destructive effect on him and your whole family. What she’s doing with your granddaughter is reprehensible. You absolutely did the right thing by asking them to leave. You gave them a good chance, and nothing changed. I know you’re worried about your granddaughter, but this is not a situation you have control over whether they live on your property or somewhere else. This woman will behave horribly no matter where she lives. She has your son under her control, and he isn’t able to clearly see the terrible mess he’s in.

      No one knows how many female psychopaths there are, but they do exist. Her behavior is what counts, and there is something seriously wrong with her. It could very well be psychopathy. These people use children as pawns without any regard for their well being, just as she is doing. It’s heartbreaking.

      You might consider contacting a professional who deals with cult victims and their families. Some deal with “controlling” relationships, which tend to have the same dynamics as cults but are on a on a one-to-one basis. Here’s one I found through an internet search (I do not know anything about them beyond what’s on their website):

      Freedom of Mind Resource Center https://www.freedomofmind.com/ Steven A. Hassan, M.Ed., LMHC, NCC is available for consultations. Here’s his bio and number: https://www.freedomofmind.com/Services/ “There are things you can do to help a loved one who is in a controlling relationship or estranged from family or friends.” https://www.freedomofmind.com/Services/help3.php

      Best of luck to you, your husband, son, and granddaughter.

  23. milly on said:

    I have been in a relationship for a year now, and we have lived together (in his parents house) for the last seven months. Things were fine, he works and I am unemployed at the moment. The problem is that we are only okay when I have nothing else in my life other than him. I moved away from my whole family (80 miles away, in fact) and gave up friends and my education to be with him.

    Now, everytime I get a job we start fighting, like he wants me to only have him. I want to go back to education but the only way I can do this is by going back to my hometown and pick up where I left off.

    I told him how I felt, how things aren’t good anymore, and how I need to leave in order to sort my own life out – even though that doesn’t mean ending the relationship. However he began to cry, endlessly. He told me how he felt he was depressed, that he had anxiety and that he felt like he was a nobody and that was why he wasn’t happy with me going to school in order to be a somebody. He says he won’t move away from his family (even though I did that exact thing for him) and is almost guilting me into staying here with him and doing school online and ignoring my dream school.

    I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know how to tell him that I am going to leave because I really do love him, and I don’t want him to feel like I’m leaving. But equally, I feel like I’m being manipulated by his declaration of anxiety and depression – something that mysteriously vanished when I initially agreed to stay with him, and something that apparently he does not need treatment for. Hmmm.

    • Milly, he is absolutely manipulating you (whether he does it purposely or not) by making you feel guilty and responsible for his depression and anxiety, and by keeping you isolated from family and friends, and by keeping you from work and school and your goals and dreams.

      You do not exist to meet this man’s emotional needs. You also have needs. There is no rule anywhere that says in order to be in a relationship, you have to put aside all of your needs and goals and dreams and desires for the other person. That’s a formula for certain disaster.

      He wants COMPLETE CONTROL over you. You are not a doll or an object for him to manipulate to fulfill his needs — you are a person, an individual, who has her own needs, and he does not seem to care about meeting those, only his own!

      He wants to be the only thing in your life, and if you let him succeed, you will never be able to leave him because then you’ll lose “everything” if you do, and by then all you’ll be left with are regrets about wasted time and unfulfilled goals.

      If someone is in a relationship in order to have a source to fulfill their emotional needs it’s not really a relationship — it’s emotional vampirism.

      At best, this man is a neurotic emotional vampire. At worse, he is a psychopathic emotional vampire. Either way, he’s an emotional vampire who will drain you dry and not care one bit, as long as his own needs are being met.

      It’s extremely self-centered to expect someone else to be responsible for his happiness and for meeting his emotional needs (if that’s what he’s really seeking). Why? Most importantly, it’s an impossible job he’s given you! No one can ever be responsible for someone’s happiness and no one can ever succeed in filling a bottomless emotional pit. It’s also a heavy burden, and — ironically — it will make YOU unhappy, as it’s doing now.

      Such is the nature of vampirism — one is fed while the other one withers. And the hunger never abates, since the other is the source of the necessary nourishment.

      In addition, not having your own income is a recipe for disaster! It puts all the power in his hands, and he knows that — it’s why he doesn’t want you to work, as evidenced by the fights that ensue when you get a job. He wants you to be totally dependent upon him, and whatever the reason, it isn’t good. A mentally healthy person would not be doing this to you. He wants you to be unable to leave him. It’s no different than the old Chinese custom of binding women’s feet so they couldn’t run away. He wants to cripple you.

      In my opinion, you should run and not look back while you still can. There is nothing good in this for you. Yes, you can say you’re “in a relationship” but at what price? And also, if you NEED to be in a relationship, you shouldn’t be in one until you can work past that because it never brings anything good; all it does is make you vulnerable to manipulation. Please read about boundaries, and then develop some — it’ll be the best thing you’ll ever do. Until you do, there is no hope of a healthy relationship with anyone. I don’t believe there’s any hope of one with this particular person; he is not acting like a mentally healthy individual. Boundaries: Loving Again After a Pathological Relationship

      Here is a list of our basic human rights, because sometimes we need a reminder ~

      I have the right to have my needs and feelings be as important as anyone else’s.

      I have the right to experience and express my feelings, if I choose to do so.

      I have the right to not be responsible for the feelings of another.

      I have the right to express my opinions, if I choose to do so.

      I have the right to set my own priorities.

      I have the right to establish independence if I choose to.

      I have the right to decide how I spend my time.

      I have the right to choose my own lifestyle.

      I have the right to change my lifestyle, myself, my behaviors, my values, my life situation, and my mind.

      I have the right to make honest mistakes and to admit those mistakes without feeling humiliated.

      I have the right to self-fulfillment through my own talents and interests.

      I have the right to grow as a person and to accept new challenges.

      I have the right to choose who I spend my time with and who I share my body with.

      I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all my relationships.

      I have the right to be listened to respectfully.

      I have the right to ask for what I want assertively.

      I have the right to say “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know” without feeling or being humiliated.

      I have the right to say “No,” and to set limits and boundaries without feeling guilty.

      I have the right to set limits on how I will be treated in relationships.

      I have the right to expect my boundaries to be respected.

      I have the right to walk away from toxic or abusive relationships.

      I have the right to have these Basic Human Rights and to stand up for them.

      (List of rights from Serenity Online Therapy)

      “When we don’t have boundaries, we neglect who we are and what we want. As a result, we see the skewed image of ourselves reflected in the eyes of those to whom we give our power, and we mistake it for the truth.”
      ~ AB Admin

      I wish you all the best, Millie. Please let me know what happens. I understand that you love him, but when love comes with so high a price, it deserves some close examination.

      • Hi, Milly. I decided to turn our conversation into a blog post, and someone left a comment for you. I didn’t want you to miss it, so here it is ~

        “The P told me earlier on in the relationship that he was emotionally sensitive and that he cried. He wasn’t embarrassed to admit it he said but warned me that it is possible that i would see him cry! I saw him cry a flood of tears when he told me how lonely he was at home without me whilst I was out studying. Oh, the baby! I promptly gave up my studies. He also cried a flood of tears when I was going out to work. Poor baby! I gave up work. That was the beginning of the end for me!!!

        RUN Milly, RUN as fast and as far as you can and don’t look back. These people will crush you and watch you squirm delighting in your demise. He will beg you to come back, tell you he loves you. I went back 3 times… each time was worse than the one before. I believed him… the last time was the worst. He dragged me through the mud. He ruined my reputation. Put everyone against me. While I was trying to grasp what happened, he robbed me! Burgled my house! THIEF!

        I want to scream, scratch, slap and yell profanities at him but I know it is all pointless. Psychopaths have no empathy, no emotions and whatever I say or do won’t affect him one bit. This is where I am stuck. I am stuck being angry with no where to direct my anger to. It is frustration and invalidation all over again.

        When will this nightmare end! I am like a wounded animal. Anyone that approaches me, I bite!”

  24. Bella on said:

    The stories shared here are kind of heartbreaking… but very enlightening & helpful. Your blog site is unique in that it is so easy to read & learn about psychopathy/sociopathy. I was in a similar situation for the last 8 months. I’m a single, mid-age woman & he was a HS classmate that I crossed paths again last year. It was very “romantic” at first (Lovebomb!) but 2 months into our “relationship”, he started “breaking” me to give him my full attention, isolated me from all my friends, monitored all my activities, “Whatever about you interests me.” He gave me a phone & monitored all my calls & text msgs. The accusations never ended. He said he never trusted me, that I was still seeing or calling all my ex-‘s. Giving him my email & FB passwords did not pacify his suspicions. When I confronted him about his own lies, the arguments became more explosive. I’m glad he was from a far-off state, that we communicated only by phone & face time. He was a pathological liar. When confronted with evidence, he would cover it with another string of lies. He twisted everything I say & blamed me & my past for his emotional outbursts, then he would become so nice & would apologize profusely. His mood swings terrified me, making me shake in fear when answering his calls. I asked him several times that we part ways amicably but it was always met with more arguments & accusations. Finally, last June 2015, I made no contact. I said I have had enough. I was having health problems & who knows what else could happen if I stayed. I’m recovering. It’s not easy but if I can do it, so can anyone else who is still in a toxic relationship.

    • Hi, Bella. I’m sorry you went through this. I understand the disappointment, confusion, shock, and heartache that goes with it. He sounds like a real nut job, and I’m really glad that you don’t live near him. No contact is the way to go, because nothing else will to work (as he already proved and you already know). I hope he’s left you alone. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard from who had this happen with someone they knew years ago in high school! Stay strong; you’re doing a great job, and you’re so right when you say it’s not easy! I’m very glad you like the website and find it helpful. All the best to you.

  25. Yogeitha on said:

    I am married for 7 years & facing issues with manipulating husband and in-laws. I was earlier under impression that I am always not up to their expectations. Now, I have realized that its not me who is always wrong! The whole situation is either made up or misunderstood intentionally. I very well understand before these situations starts, however unable to stop them or do anything about it. No point in explaining because they don’t want to listen. Off-late my husband has started seeking sympathy from his friends and relatives and trying to proof me wrong. My husband suffers from OCD and does not accept the fact he is having this issue. With daily fights at home I am soo stressed and unable to conceive inspite of taking various infertility treatments. I want my husband to get treated with my hypnotherapist. How do I convene him to visit the doctor? I don’t want to break this relationship as I still have feeling towards him and want them to recover from whatever he is undergoing.

    • Hi, Yogeitha. I know it must be very difficult to deal with close family who are manipulative and who feel you’re not living up to their expectations. It must be especially disheartening to see your husband trying to prove you wrong by seeking sympathy from others. I’m sorry you are dealing with this. It sounds like there are a lot of serious issues to deal with, especially since you’re asking for help on a website about psychopaths. You’re having daily fights at home. Are you sure this is the relationship, and the home, you want to bring an innocent child into? I urge you to ask yourself these important questions. If possible, make an appointment with a professional therapist who can help you sort it out. Good luck to you. I wish you all the best.

  26. Broken on said:

    Hi, I read the article and all of the comments that people have left, and I feel like it’s divine intervention that I came upon this. I am 3 years out of an emotionally abusive relationship, but I am completely broken and live in fight-or-flight mode all the time. I have become a shell of myself… barely able to be in public with the level of anxiety I have, and haven’t been able to hold down a job for more than a couple of months since before I met him. I was in the relationship for 4 years (ages 19-23), and already had PTSD from a traumatic childhood that was just beginning to surface emotionally. He was 25 when we met, and articulated the most beautiful adoring words I didn’t think most women could ever dream of hearing from someone, so I was in deep with my naivety off the bat. I had never had more than 2 beers before we met, and before I knew it, he had me getting drunk or high with him every single day. Somehow he continued to study 10 hours a day and pull straight A’s through his Masters program, while I began to develop an addiction to alcohol that he would enable, yet fully blame me for, of course. He gave me “constructive criticism” on everything — from how I did my makeup and dressed, to my vocabulary. It got to the point where I didnt speak unless spoken to whenever we did interact with other people, because I was afraid he was going to humiliate me later by telling me what I had said/done wrong afterwards. I didn’t stop talking to him until earlier this year, when I was finally feeling like I could recognize that I was cringing every time he called, and believed enough in myself to know that is the same feeling I would get if my worst enemy called me. I am one year sober, but have trouble celebrating it, because of how damaged I still am. It has only been this week that I have self-identified as a victim of emotional abuse, so hopefully this will help me in getting somewhere with therapy, because it has been a dead end til now. Any feedback that you or any commentors may provide would be highly appreciated as far as where to go from here, etc. Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this. I’ve isolated myself too much to even have someone to talk to about my realizations.

    • I’m very sorry to hear of what you went through. No one deserves that. But I’m glad to hear this article helped you to realize what happened! Knowing what it is you experienced is the first step in healing from it. It should definitely help you get somewhere with therapy. Please make sure your therapist is an expert in trauma and abusive relationships, OK? If not, find one who is. That can make a world of difference. You can recover from this. I wish you all the best, the good and happy life you deserve. Best of luck to you.

  27. Broken on said:

    Thank you so much, admin. You are helping people probably more than you’ll ever know… I already feel a bit closer to victory than being a victim. I will definitely find a therapist who specializes in what you mentioned. Take care and thank you for imparting such detailed information on this often overlooked form of abuse. I hope many more people will find this article and be relieved of their confusion and guilt their psychopath has left them with.

    • I’m very happy to hear you feel a bit closer to being a victor now. You’ll be happy to know this article is consistently the most read one on this site every single day. Hundreds of people read it, so word is getting out. Best of luck finding a really good therapist. Please come back sometime and let me know how you’re doing xo

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