Learn the manipulator’s game, so they can’t play it with you.

Covert emotional manipulation tactics are underhanded methods of control.

Emotional manipulation methodically wears down your self-worth and self-confidence, and damages your trust in your own perceptions. It can make you unwittingly compromise your personal values, which leads to a loss of self-respect and a warped self-concept. With your defenses weakened or completely disarmed in this manner, you are left even more vulnerable to further manipulation.

A skilled emotional manipulator gets you to put your sense of self-worth and emotional well-being into their hands. Once you make that grave mistake, they methodically and continually chip away at your identity and self-esteem until there’s little left.

Don’t let a manipulator get the upper hand. Get the book and learn the tactics they use against you so you can avoid — or end — an abusive relationship, and prevent yourself from getting into another one.

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What Readers Say

“Impressive! Short, direct, and thought-provoking. I only wish I had read it years ago! Every young person should read this before dating!”

“It told me in a very concise format what I haven’t learned from two years of very expensive psychoanalysis AND a Master’s degree in Counseling. I’m not crazy! My intuition was not wrong.”

“WOW! Sit down before you read this book! A very enlightening read!”

“This short and direct work is worth your time. In many lives people get worked over without ever knowing it. Some of us are used by ‘friends’ over and over yet we don’t see it. This book points out a lot of things we should be very aware of in order for successful relationships. Well done.”

“Clear, concise, accurate portrayal of complex subject matter impacting many people. I appreciate the accessibility to the general public of a topic that is often overlooked, but impacts morale not only in romantic relationships, but in the family, at work and in myriad social situations.”

“This author nails it. Some examples were direct quotes from people I know, so I know I am not alone in having been manipulated. It is directly applicable to my life and gives excellent guidance for how to recognize and therefore avoid manipulations in the future. I am recommending it to a number of my friends.”

“I feel like I just had an epiphany. I can’t believe how much some of this information applies to my life.”

“Short and right to the point. This book provides instant clarity.”

“Eye opening for sure! This was like reading a textbook of my doubts, fears, and insecurities. I can finally be free from the bondage.”

“I did not realize how detrimental this type of abuse was until I experienced it myself. This book brought to light the true culprit of the issues and manipulation I went through in my past relationship. It has freed me from the emotional entanglement since reading and I finally feel like me again. Thank you!”

You can find the reviews above — and more — on Amazon

Comments are closed.


  1. Hilmar

    Thank you for making me feel sane again… it was creepy reading the above since it fits perfectly what I have been living with during the last 4 and 1/2 years. I am in a rather hopeless situation though, we managed to have 2 children during this period and that makes things very complicated since I cannot imagine facing my ex.

    There is one thing I would like to comment on, I am male and all the text above is based on the assumption that the abuser is male… I am not offended by this, it just seems that all examples that I’ve read on the internet assumes that the abuser is male :)

    Thanks again.

    1. Admin

      I’m glad you feel sane again. After living in a house of mirrors that distorted reality and twisted the truth, it can be difficult to regain equilibrium. Validation from others who have been through it helps that happen.

      As far as this blog being based on a male abuser/ female victim, I will say once again that I can only write about my experience. I’m not a mental health professional (and even most of them know nothing about any of this). This is a personal blog and it may not be perfectly suited for everyone, but even so, the truth comes through and connects with others who have experienced the same thing.

      Thank you for your comment. Good luck to you.

  2. Tamara

    Thank you so much!! Iam in it now and hurting. This helped a lot. My husband is a mastermind at this, it’s scary. Thanks for your help.

    1. Admin

      I hope you will find your way out, safely. You have to be determined to make it happen, even if you have no idea how to do that. Just be determined that you will find the way, and you will. Good luck.

    2. Marina

      Get out of there by any means.

  3. Lee.B

    This fits my life perfectly except its not my boyfriend its his mother she lies all the time and she needs to be the center of attention at all times she makes up reason to be mad at me and to cause distress in our lives!(bf && I) this really helped because for a while I thought I was crazy && I always wanted to try and fix our broken relationship or change myself so that she approved and left us alone!! I’m over it now && I realize how she really is

    1. Admin

      I don’t even know what to say…it’s a nightmare to imagine a boyfriend’s mother (or an in-law) as a psychopath, and then to think of the damage they *will* inflict.

      What is your plan? This woman could make your life (and relationship) hell. If you’re over it, that’s great…but is your boyfriend over it, too? What’s his take on her behaviour?

      Even if you have identified what she is, you can’t win. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN WIN (and “winning” with a psychopath means getting out of the situation) is getting the hell away from her. Unless your BF agrees with you, you’re in for a tough road.

      I wish you the best of luck in a tough situation. Let me know what happens.

      1. Admin

        Glad you’re free! I hope you stay that way. You and the rest of us.

  4. Jenny

    Thank you so much for this blog! I am so addicted to my psychopath significant other. I believe his mother is also a psychopath and temporarily things got better when he decided to cut ties with her but it was a short lived break. I moved away thinking that some geographical distance would make it easier to break the ties with my unhealthy relationship with him but he goes to great lengths with the positive reinforcement now which just keeps me hooked. I really believed things were different and I believed it was because I had in some way improved but very recently he employed every tactic listed above to manipulate me when I expressed my displeasure for a few of his actions. It’s hell and I am hoping if I read your blog everyday it will help give me the strength to walk away for good. I feel for his next victim when whatever I am supplying him with has to come from someone else. He has so many people fooled. Thanks again, you along with my best friend are helping me to regain my self-worth.

    1. Admin

      So glad to hear it helps to read this blog. I only hope you can walk away before he destroys you in one way or another; that’s the way the story always ends. But I understand what it’s like to be caught in that conflict going on within yourself, and how hard it is to walk away. It’s hard to see this now, but you’ll see very clearly at some point afterwards that you deserve a lot better in your life than a “relationship” based on manipulation. In fact, you’re not in a relationship at all, really.

      I recommend you read the article on cognitive dissonance, “A Painful Incredulity: Psychopathy and Cognitive Dissonance”

      “When one experiences cognitive dissonance, the rational knowledge about psychopathy doesn’t fully sink in on an emotional level. Consequently, the victim moves constantly back and forth between the idealized fantasy and the pathetic reality of the psychopath. This is a very confusing process and an emotionally draining one as well…”

      Also, watch “I am Fishead,” A documentary I have posted here: https://psychopathsandlove.com/i-amd-fishead/

      Good luck.

  5. can't leave a name

    my husband has been this. 10 years. i finally sought help, and that was ugly. things have seemed much better – and then, now – i just don’t know, different tricks are being tried. i can not tell if i’m going crazy, or if this is all reality and true. i have been told so many times my memory is wrong – i don’t know if it is really wrong or not. now, he is pointing fingers at my problems, which yes, i do have … but i fear it is an effort to validate himself and make it seem as though really all along it is my fault. i don’t know if this is true or not. talking with my parents – he has told them really ugly things, all the while affirming his love for me and how he has tried to help me with my problems and that all he thinks of me is how unworthy he is that i love someone like him. we have kids. blaming me for not being encouraging and loving enough. doesn’t accept that i forgave him for things but am unable to act like everything is perfect all at once. i can’t do that. and, now i can’t tell if it really is my fault or not.

    1. Admin

      After 10 years of the crazymaking you’ve described, I’m sure you are thoroughly confused and questioning your own sanity. Yet the voice of sanity rings true many times in your post:

      “i fear it is an effort to validate himself and make it seem as though really all along it is my fault.”
      “he has told (my parents) really ugly things, all the while affirming his love for me.”
      “blaming me for not being encouraging and loving enough”
      “doesn’t accept that i forgave him for things but am unable to act like everything is perfect all at once.”

      You’re unable to act like everything is perfect all at once? I wonder why! Emotional abuse is very damaging, just as physical abuse is. This creep has destroyed your self-respect and your self-esteem to the point that you no longer trust yourself or believe in yourself, and so you stay with him. If you DID believe in yourself, you’d never put up with such shit treatment.

      That’s what it’s all about! They destroy us to the point that we actually *stay* with a neurologically mis-wired, pathologically lying uber-asshole.

      Here’s an excerpt from my blog post “How to tell if you’re being manipulated.” Know that you don’t have to figure him out or figure anything out; just ask yourself if you notice the following things:

      Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. This is known as the “manipulative shift.” You will start feeling stressed at this point.
      Sometimes s/he gives you a lot of attention and love, and sometimes he gives you the cold shoulder for no reason. You’re left wondering what you’ve done wrong.
      Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation.
      Your relationship feels very complex, although you may not be sure why.
      You obsess about the relationship almost constantly.
      You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner; you feel you’re in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety.
      You feel confused about the relationship and frequently ask your partner what’s wrong. He becomes angry or frustrated and he consistently denies responsibility for any problems.
      You feel that you just don’t know how to make him happy.
      You may frequently feel angry and resentful toward your partner, yet be unable to express it. Communication feels restricted or even forbidden, causing feelings of extreme frustration and even hostility.
      You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship.
      Your emotions and moods are controlled by your partner’s words and actions.

      Sound familiar?

      Bottom line: Does your relationship with him make you miserable? Then get away from him. I realize you have children — that’s all the more reason to do so. Find a safe way to do it, and then go.

      I wish you all the best. Let me know how you do.

    2. listner

      thats what they do to you to get control

  6. can't leave a name

    All that sounds very familiar – happened on and off for 10 years. a couple of good years in the middle. when confronted, he was very angry. but then, we talked a lot and he promised to change. first time he admitted to the awful things he had been doing. honestly, this is all pretty new – the change – 3 months really. have had some really good times, but i am very nervous still. i want to give him the benefit of the doubt and do what i can to save the marriage and raise our children right. i really hope it does not come to a point where we will end up separating. so much healing has to happen, though, and it is very confusing to me at times if the healing is really happening, and he is really changing for good, or if this is another trick that will last for a while and then it will be all bad again.

  7. YouAreDeserving

    Great article! Interesting to look at the beast face to face! Like “Himlar”, I am the man in the relationship dealing with a wife that has the dysfunctions mentioned. For oh so long, I knew something just wasn’t right. Over the 20 yrs that we’ve been married I have been through every possible extreme you can imagine in this relationship. I actually stepped away for a short amount of time after our 2nd child, but decided to go back. Didn’t want my children to be influenced by her without my presence. 2 kids and 13 yrs later, Im still here. At least I now have a clear picture of what Im dealing with; which is what has brought me to your blog. I am still in the midst of this storm, but I am not delusional. I am learning how to best deal with her, all along knowing that this will end, and that there is a bright future in store. In God’s timing, which I see as being sooner rather than later, we will separate and it will be for the better. In the mean time, I just want to say that – knowing is half the battle – don’t deny your feelings because THEY ARE VALID – each of us deserves better – and keep striving until you get to the point where YOU KNOW you should be! – Find yourself! Find your identity! And realize you are, were and will be whole and AWESOME without her/him. Keep it moving. Life goes on! – Cut out ALL people in your life that have these tendencies… Dont know about you guys, but I have allowed some of these people to remain in my life. Lately, Ive been “unfriending”, deactivating accounts, and pulling away from people that are not worth my time. I’m choosing to be around people that are genuine, that are authentic and that build me up and not tear me down. Leave those “icky” friendships and relationships!

    1. Admin

      “Himlar?” Please enlighten me.

      You sound very strong for having been “in a relationship” with this kind of person for 20 years. I sure hope your daughters are strong, too.

      When you “stepped away for a short time” after the birth of your second child, you left your daughters with her, is that right? You left a mentally disordered woman alone with your two children shortly after she gave birth to your second child?

      And many years later, you’re still with her? And you’re giving others advice to de-friend, de-activate, de-whatever All the people in their lives who have these tendencies?


      I’m feeling that *icky* feeling right now.

    2. Marina

      Great post, ADMIN, please, validate such strong people for us, readers! I believe many sufferers are stuck for decades.

  8. ComfusedandAware

    My step father displays all these things, which I always noticed about him from day 1.. I ended up having a psychotic breakdown because of it, and was put in a mental hospital.

    My mom and I moved in with him cause my mom has some mental issues and can’t take care of us, so she depends on my step dad to take care us..

    We tried to move out, but my mom cried everyday because taking care of us was so hard. no we are back in with the step dad.

    He makes me feel very uncomfortable, and when I notice his mental abuse it makes me cringe.

    He says things to me like “love me” and “hold my hand” whever I refuse he says “well I hate you too.”

    also, my mom didn’t make supper one night so he gave her the silent treatment, ocacionally threatened to kill himelf, but refused to talk. he stopped going to work as “punishment”

    he has come up behind me and put his hands around my neck as if to strangle me,
    and I also caught him coming up behind me to put a plastic bag over my head..

    one of the most vivid things he ever said to me was
    “Your not my real son, like mike (my brother to whom he is actually related.”

    he has my mom, my sister, and my brother fooled.. I can’t make any of them “see” so I’m stuck here to endure it until I can move out.. (I’m 16)

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry to hear you are going through all of this. I don’t know what to say except that I am concerned for your safety, and for your emotional well-being. I don’t know where you live or what support or services are available. If you are seriously concerned for your life, you need to take some kind of action. Find an adult you can trust and take it from there, perhaps?

      I wish you all the best! Please let me know what happens.

  9. Emma

    Ah we’ll I wrote nice long message but didn’t go through as system errors

    1. Admin

      Sorry! I hope you’ll feel like writing something again. Copy it next time before sending; you just never know what will happen.

  10. Emma

    It was quite therapeutic just writing it down to be honest, I can relate to many of these issues. I always wonder why people become victims of this kind of thing, is it just the type of person you are and will always be, i come from good home and have a great family still not sure why I let it happen and wasted so many good years of my young adult life feeling so unhappy and trapped, now I’m 40 single and content but feel I will be alone forever

    1. Admin

      In hindsight, it sometimes seems that we “let it happen.” But manipulation is very powerful…and blaming yourself is probably one of the main things he wanted you to do.

      You asked “is it just the type of person you are and will always be?” Be careful with the “will always be” part. Nothing “will always be,” will it? We can change, just as everything else changes.

      What makes people “victims?” Is it some terrible, unchangeable weakness inside of us? No!

      *Predators are what turn people into victims.* And not because of our weaknesses, but because of our strengths — our ability to love and our ability to trust.

      Best Wishes

      1. Petal

        I especially liked your comment, “predators are what turn people into victims – not because their weaknesses but because of their strengths – the ability to love and the ability to trust”

        Very very good – yes.

        it takes emotional strength to step away from this type of person, and alot of head space of comparing their behaviour to a loving relationship, to note the vast (but sometimes at fragile times, subtle) differences.

        Well spoken xo

        1. Admin

          Thank you, Petal xo

  11. J. Hanes

    I have been with my husband for 30+ years. We have 5 daughters. I feel I have been manipulated and emotionally abused throughout our relationship. The problem is there are no scars I can show anybody. I have adapted and conditioned myself to respond accordingly to situations so that things will either not happen or smooth out quickly. There may be days, weeks, months in between episodes and or fights between him and I. I have tried all the arguments, and reasoning I know how to and nothing ever seems to work, or if it does then it won’t the next time around. After battling in one of these fights for minutes, sometimes hours, I have a tendency to shut down and not respond at all, or just cry. I feel I’m a strong person, but on the other hand I feel I’ve lost my mind and identity. I went to a counselor today to just talk it out to someone unbiased. Possibly get some strategy. She basically told me that everything I was saying about my husband was true about me, and that I should “grow some balls” and stand up for myself I guess. So I’m left with that. I am hashing over this new information and trying to decide if I want to “grow some balls” and see what the consequences will be. JLH

    1. Admin

      Although I am sorry to hear about the emotional abuse you have been experiencing, I feel ill-equipped to provide meaningful advice for your situation because of the length of time you’ve been in it and the fact that you have several daughters. There is no way they aren’t deeply affected by this. Your therapist sounds even more ill-equipped, and the advice to “grow some balls” sounds questionable for a few reasons. First, it seems potentially risky because you have no way to know how he will respond. Since “power and control” mean everything to a psychopath, who knows what will happen when he sees he’s losing those things? Second, the words “grow some balls” have a victim-blaming quality to them. Third, they show a complete lack of understanding about the type of abuser you’re dealing with and what you have been through and it’s effect on you. Fourth, what a totally unprofessional and un-empathetic thing to say to you.

      Please do not return to this dubious therapist and find another one immediately. Just because this one may not have been what you needed doesn’t mean they’re all bad — I had an excellent one. You need to plan for a safe way to get through this situation. A therapist should help you plan for several different outcomes in advance, I think. Or you could plan a safe way out and just leave quietly. If you are “losing your mind and your identity,” your daughters are probably doing the same.

      All the best to you.

  12. Jennifer Hanes

    Thank you for your response! I think that the therapist decided that I was just an unhappy housewife that wanted to come in and complain about her husband. Without knowing my husband or ever meeting him I guess she just assumed that. The problem is that I just needed to get ideas for fighting back. Ways to reason without making situations worse. I can’t talk to my children anymore because it just hurts them. I don’t really want to involve others that know him because I don’t want them to feel animosity toward him. So it would have been nice to have a shoulder to cry on.

    I don’t think he is a psychopath, not quite that bad. He is a passive/aggressive with paranoia traits and a controlling personality. I am mostly his victim since I am the closest to him. As long as I don’t rock the boat things are pretty good most of the time. Sometime life hands him something that sends him over the edge, and I usually get the crap because I’m available and he has a lot of stuff from our past to use against me. So if I don’t agree with his pity party I get all my mistakes put back in my face.

    I protect my children from him. I contradict what he says to them. The older ones have actually turned into fine young ladies. I am the peacemaker. I will purposely turn the outburst toward me to protect them, or take the blame for whatever they did.

    As far as “growing some balls” I am ready for the consequences. I have God on my side to protect me. If He wants me out of this relationship, He will make a way. If He wants me in it, He will give me what I need to prevail. I just need to remember to put my trust in Him.

    Again I thank you for being compassionate and understanding of my situation. You have given me some encouragement, which I had lost after the other therapist was through with me. Thank you!

    I won’t be going back to that therapist, or any other either. I guess it wasn’t a good idea since I can’t take my husband with me. He would be outraged if I even asked. He doesn’t see himself as having any problems. I appreciate you not automatically judging me without knowing me :)

    1. Admin

      I trust that you know what’s best for yourself in your situation. Don’t give up on therapy because you can’t take your husband with you, though. A good therapist can be a Godsend. I’m glad I was able to give you some encouragement and understanding, and I wish you and your family all the best.

  13. Ryan Burki

    Hi, this is weird because I’ve used everyone of these techniques naturally against my ex girlfriend to keep the relationship going. Does this make me a psychopath?

    1. Admin

      No. Lots of people are manipulative. You might want to ask yourself why you need to manipulate her in order to keep her around; don’t you have anything else to offer — or does she not think you do? Another question is, if she doesn’t like you enough to want to stay around, why keep her there by manipulating her? Either way, it doesn’t sound like a very good relationship if manipulation is necessary to keep it together. You know what I mean? Good luck to you.

  14. Geeta

    I am speechless to note that there are so many people who manipulate; so many victims with a sense of pleasant feeling that there is someone who understands all these and guides to deal with such situations.

    I am Geeta from India who happen to come across this website through search engine (Google). I am the victim of manipulation and I often realise it late and feel humiliated. I don’t know how to deal with such situations. I cannot hide my emotions, so I either shout back OR cry OR maintain complete silence until I digest the feeling of humiliation.

    How should I face and behave with such people?

    I will be really grateful to you for your help.

    Thank you,

    Yours truly,

    1. Admin

      Hi Geeta,

      I am sorry to hear you are the victim of manipulation. Ideally, you would leave the situation, stay away from the person who is doing this to you. If this is not possible for some reason, you’ve got to do something else. Can you buy an e-book on Amazon? I highly recommend the book, “who’s pulling your strings? How to break the cycle of manipulation and regain control of your life.”

      This is the best resource I’ve seen on the subject of manipulation, and it also includes a few chapters of how to deal with manipulative people. I hope it will help you! Please let us know.

      All the best to you.

      Here is the table of contents:

      Who�s Pulling Your Strings?
      1. An Overview of Manipulation
      2. Manipulation in Five Acts
      3. Are You Vulnerable to Manipulation?
      4. Your Buttons Are Showing
      5. Manipulators� Motives
      6. Who Are the Manipulators in Your Life?
      7. How Manipulation Works
      8. What Are Your Hooks?
      9. The Mechanics of Manipulation
      10. Are You in a Manipulative Relationship?
      11. The Impact of Manipulation
      12. Resistance Tactics
      13. How to Make Yourself a Hardened Target
      14. Final Curtain on Manipulation in Five Acts

  15. Geeta


    Thank you for your recommendation. Is this book available in printed form too?


    1. Admin

      Yes, it is available in printed form. Here’s the link:


      I hope it will help you. I wish you the best of luck!

  16. marie

    My psychopath ex used to tell me to look into his eyes when I was on the bed with him which I did not feel comfortable doing most of the time because I was in emotional pain from the hurt he was causing me. He would try to stare into my eyes for as long as he could and tell me not to look away and claimed he was strengthening our bond. I just couldn’t do it because even though I loved him (the fake him) I sensed danger. Now I know he was trying to hypnotise me. Thanks.

  17. marie

    My psychopath ex used to tell me to stare into his eyes when I was on the bed with him which I did not feel comfortable doing because of the emotional pain he was putting me through. He told me to do it without looking away and kept trying to make me do it, even though I loved him I did not feel safe in doing so. I know now he was trying to hypnotise me. Thanks.

  18. marie

    -He told me it would strengthen our bond

    1. Admin

      The psychopath would tell me what a “strong emotional bond” we had while looking deeply into my eyes. Yes, I was getting very sleepy…he may as well have been swinging a gold watch back and forth before my eyes. But now I see there was no bond, except for the psychopathic bond. I think that when we notice their efforts, those are the ones that failed. It’s the ones we didn’t notice that got us.

  19. Dorsey

    I’m currently dealing with someone indirectly displaying these emotionally manipulaive tactics. In particular, the 6 point list at the bottom. My current boyfriend ended on bad, somewhat ambiguous terms with his ex and it left them with some unresolved issues. He apparently sent her a friend request on Facebook some months before we dated and she only accepted the invite maybe six or so months later. Since then, she’s been contacting him passive-aggressively. She’ll send him a message to start small talk, and then soon after he replies, she’ll run along to do “laundry” or likewise. A few years ago, he felt guilty for calling her out on being manipulative and using people (even though its apparently quite correct) and it seems like she’s using this to jam herself back into his mind, creating unnecessary negativity in his life.

    It upsets me greatly to see someone I care about so much being mentally skewed by someone acting more like a melodramatic teenager than a grown woman who should long now have accepted her wrong-doings and either leave him alone completely or sincerely apologize. I’ve tried telling him straight up what she is doing, but it seems like he still feels guilty. He’s told me she’s been showing up in his dreams, I suppose a manifestation of those unresolved issues. The fact that he’s been so open to me about all of this says that he’s not considering getting back with her or interested, but it is certainly an issue. If anyone else has dealt with this or a very similar circumstance, I would appreciate feedback. How does one proceed in this situation?

    1. Admin

      Your boyfriend certainly sounds like he’s being manipulated by this ex! She’s even wormed her way into his dreams. He needs to decide whether he wants this to continue or not. If he doesn’t, then he needs to do something about it and stop letting her cause this low-level yet ongoing negativity and guilt.

      Sounds like he needs to clarify his boundaries and limits? He could De-friend her and ignore her, or simply be straightforward and tell her he doesn’t want to continue a relationship with her any longer. It’s ironic that he called her manipulative, and then felt so guilty (manipulated) that he ended up letting the manipulation continue!

  20. Angela

    Thanks for this article. I was with my ex husband for 8 years. I was convinced for most of that time that he was perfect and any problems we had were my fault. To complicate things, I fell in love with someone else half way through our relationship. That made it harder for me to blame anything on him. When I did start to see how manipulative and conniving he was, all of our issues would circle back to my feelings for another man, and I was firmly rooted in position as a terrible, selfish, dysfunctional person that needed to get her head on straight. He even convinced me that I was a cold, unloving mother that was “emotionally abusing” my son from a previous marriage. I finally left, and took all my guilt with me. I’m now with the other man. I finally talked to my son, who is now a teenager. I opened up to him about all the “emotional abuse” I had subjected him to as a child. He hugged me and told me that I couldn’t be more wrong. He told me I was a wonderful mother and that he couldn’t believe my ex had convinced me otherwise. He also admitted that he was relieved we got divorced. He said my ex stressed him out everyday, and he never felt comfortable outside his bedroom. I was stunned. TRUST your gut! I can’t believe how blind I was. My new relationship is amazing in contrast to my marriage, and I am also closer to my son than I ever could be before, and his grades have even shot through the roof. I can’t believe all the years I wasted beating myself up. I thought this divorce would destroy my son, but it was actually the very thing he needed. My ex’s family simply thinks I left him for another man, and I guess that makes it easy for them to hate me and feel sorry for him. I wish they could see the years of pain and guilt I endured. I’m so happy now that I’ve allowed myself to see the truth. I’m not blameless, but my marriage was doomed from the start, and that was not my fault. No wonder I fell in love with someone else. All I really wanted was to be loved for who I was, not for who I was supposed to be. My ex was constantly trying to mold me. It was like living in a pressure cooker. No one should ever have to feel like that. I thank God I found my way out. I also thank myself for having the courage to leave. I’m still working on forgiving myself, but I’m getting there.

    1. Admin

      You do have amazing courage! Is that applause you hear? Yes, it is.

      “I’m not blameless, but my marriage was doomed from the start, and that was not my fault. No wonder I fell in love with someone else. All I really wanted was to be loved for who I was, not for who I was supposed to be.” Good for you!

      Glad to hear you are no longer “living in a pressure cooker,” which is a good way to put it. And I’m happy that your son can now feel comfortable outside his bedroom! and that you two are closer than ever.

      I don’t think you need to work on forgiving yourself — instead, you may need to work on realizing you have nothing to forgive yourself for.

  21. kate

    Finding this website.. and I am crying! I have been in an on/off relationship with someone now who I can clearly see has these psychopathic tendencies. But I would not say his are deliberate, he is totally oblivious to the way that he manipulates and controls because it is so subtle. I think I am starting to understand that some who manipulate do out of their own fear, or it’s their own defence mechanism to protect themselves. I would say that the guy who manipulates me has been conditioned that way by his mother who serves her own manipulating behaviour on her children. My partner cannot see it though at all. He is a complete ‘victim’. Everything has always been my fault. Our relationship plays out in cycles where he treats me like a goddess, tells me i’m beautiful, that he can’t imagine his life without me etc.. and our relationship becomes very intense because I have huge neediness issues myself. Then he will start to withdraw, become secretive, withhold information from me, punish any form of emotion I display by being silent, or ignoring me, or then ultimately ending the relationship.. which has now happened more times than I can count.

    During this relationship I have become very unwell, I have internalised everything as my fault, I constantly feel ‘not good enough’ and rejected by him. I tell him I am sorry all the time. I say it is me, that its because of my issues and it allows him to believe that he is god, That he has done nothing wrong and in essence, allows him to believe he is justified in his treatment of me.

    I have self-harmed to quite a serious level… and still he uses that to make me feel guilty about the way it makes him feel! I fell pregnant with his child and he pretty much forced me to have a termination telling me I am unfit to be a mother, then ignoring me after I had he termination because I had told his sister what I had been through. All he can think about is the effect it all has on him.

    But where am I now.. I have been undergoing therapy for over a year and it is helping. But I make baby steps and constantly take several steps backwards. The hardest thing is keeping away from him. At the moment we are apart (he ended it because I commented that he had hurt my feelings by posting pictures of naked women on the internet) and said I was being ridiculous, and then turned it round to ‘all the crap I had put him through’.

    But right now I am in hell. I am back on medication for sleep and anxiety. The desire to contact him and re-engage in our relationship is so strong that I cannot function in normal daily life. All I can think of his him, wanting him, wanting him back and wanting him to love me again.

    I just pray that with the knowledge I am learning along with the continuing therapy, that in time me self-worth will grow enough in so far that I can walk away from this man for good. Even now I will defend him and say ‘its not his fault’, ‘he doesn’t mean it’ and believe naively that one day he will change.

    I urge anyone who detects they may be in a relationship with these people to GET OUT NOW. There are times over the last three years I have wished to be dead, because there just seems to be no way of escaping.

    I am very grateful in finding this site. Thank you.

    1. Admin

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      It doesn’t much matter why someone is like they are — the only thing that matters is how it effects us. There’s no need for a diagnosis. But whether he does it on purpose or not, this relationship has had disastrous consequences for you. I hear the anguish you are going through now, and my heart goes out to you. I hope you will stay strong, because the longer you stay away from him the more clearly you will see the insanity of it all. Keep going to therapy and working on your self-worth (which never went anywhere, how could it? you just can’t see it right now).

      Best wishes

  22. Brittney

    What if you know that this is happening to you, but you know you are also guilty of some of the actions as well? Does that mean that you are manipulative? Can’t bad relationships turn people with good motives into bad partners? I don’t know whether some of my actions have perpetuated some of these behaviors. I know the relationship isn’t heathy and I think I am finally at the point of breaking it off, except he is doing his best to make me feel guilty and unworthy. I feel like at first he was in love with me and I feel like now I am constantly trying to convince him that I’m worth it. It’s pretty sad when I write it out loud. I don’t know what happened to me. What us the best way to break it off, without him trying to make excuses and validate his bad actions?

    1. Admin

      There are plenty of other types of bad relationships other than those with a psychopath. In any relationship where you are not happy — or maybe even miserable — but in any case, not having your needs met or feeling manipulated or knowing the relationship is not “bringing out the best in you” — means the only sane thing to do is end it and move on. The best way to break it off is to be truthful. Don’t worry about his excuses and validations; just worry about yourself for a change. What does Brittney need and want in her life? Go for that. Let that be your guide. You ARE worth it, and you will find a man who appreciates you without you having to “prove” yourself. Good luck to you!

  23. Gina

    Do these types of people know they are mentally ill in any way, shape or form or is it just their normal behavior?

    1. Admin

      They do indeed know they’re very different, but they experience it as being superior, not “mentally ill.” Because of the internet, many of them know what they are. But they would never change it, because they like how they are. They see us as prey, as inferior, due to our “weaknesses,” such as the ability to love, to feel remorse, and to have a conscience that stops us from doing whatever it takes to get whatever we want. They are unable to understand the things we feel that they can’t feel (such as love); as Dr. Hare so eloquently put it, they know the words but not the music (so they can say the words we need to hear, but really have no clue as to what they’re saying except that it’ll work to dupe us).

      Life is entirely different for them. Their goals and motivations are so different from ours that they’re almost impossible to grasp at all — Life is a game. Playing the game means alleviating the pervasive boredom. Winning the game means someone else loses. Any tactic it takes to win is acceptable. And no, they don’t feel empty and forlorn at the end of the day; why would they? They’re living the life they’re wired to live. I wouldn’t call it a mental illness as much as I would call it a neurological difference that they are born with. But they do know right from wrong, so they are held accountable for their actions…in some places. In the UK, for example, psychopaths who commit crimes (and then who get diagnosed because of that) are sent to mental institutions, not to prison (but there’s not much difference). It’s a complicated thing.

      Of course the vast majority are not diagnosed because they are “sub-criminal” psychopaths, so they wreak havoc in relationships or on Wall Street or in government or in the military or as clergy or as surgeons or lawyers or law enforcement or as salespeople (the top professions that attract them because they offer either control over others and/or high stimulation).

      So to answer your question in a shortened form, yes, it’s just normal behavior for them. If there were a cure available for psychopathy tomorrow, not one psychopath would sign up. They think WE need the cure.

  24. May

    I was married to a man that was diagnosed narcissist with sociopathic tendancies for ten years I went through a lot of trauma over that even after I left. I got involved with another one about 2 yrs ago I recognized the signs almost immediately but the charm won me over again and again I finally got strong enough to just not care about his attempt to make me jealous and belittle me I knew from the get go not to ask him for love or commitment.

    1. Admin

      Wouldn’t it be wiser to be strong enough to leave this guy (you may have already done that; it’s not clear from your comment)instead of being “strong enough to just not care” that he belittles you and isn’t capable of love or commitment? Time spent with these types of people lowers our expectations because it lowers our self-esteem. We should expect better things, such as a man who is kind and loving and who builds us up instead of breaking us down.

  25. May

    Its so hard I know what he is but I keep lettin him back over and over again then asking myself Why again Why? So I guess I think if I don’t play those games he will get bored and move on to his other women I am too beat down emotionally to do anything else

    1. Admin

      You may be “beaten down,” but now because of it, you’re going to stay with the very one who did this to you! That’s the catch-22 with these situations. The very best thing that can happen is that he’ll move on. “Beaten down” means abused. It means your self-esteem has been lowered to the point where you’re accepting of this horrible abusive man and what he does to you. I know how confusing it is when you’re in it, but I hope you can gain some clarity and get yourself out. You’re worth much more than this.
      Good luck.

  26. mommablueeyes

    I am getting chills…this reading describes my relationship. God has been giving me doors to walk through….I have ignored….shame on me. I need to run fast with my angels He loaned to me. This is scary! My husband has verbally threatened my life. My father makes light of it and says “why are you afraid you will be with your Jesus.?” It disgusts me. I am afraid of divorce because then the kids will be left with him alone. He made a comment about 1.5 years ago that he doesn’t understand suicide but could understand taking the entire family out. I was so freaked out by the comment I wrote it on a prayer request at church….only to not do anythibg about it when the church Secretary called me concerned. He was being the nice persona so I chalked it up as a dumb statement that I overreacted to. He is in the military. Help me get out fast and safe! I am so scared and confused.

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry you’re in such a bad situation. You need to get some professional help and make plans to get out of there. Here are some places to start:

      Call the national domestic violence hotline for advice: 1-800-799-7233 http://www.thehotline.org/

      Read this blog post: Advice for dealing with a violent ex

      And also see the links in the sidebar under “Dealing with a Violent Partenr/ Ex”

      Local resource:

      24 Hour Hotline
      (412) 687-8005
      (877) 338-8255 (toll free number)

      Legal Advocacy
      (412) 355-7400

      Best of luck to you!

  27. Michelle

    I have been married for six years. I married this man after knowing him for two months, which is not a norm for me. I soon found out that I had made a mistake after he got me fired from a job by telling lies, and setting me up with some mail in my car. I overlooked it and stayed. In six years I have had no peace, but for a short amount of time. Everything is wonderful as long as I do and say the right things. He has no idea how to fight without it escalating to throwing me out, calling me names, taking things away from me. He talks behind my back and has his family convinced I am a alcoholic, drug attic, ect. He has violated my privacy in every way. I have written in journals since I was 12. He found them and read them and when fighting uses the information about my life hurts to hurt me still. He goes through my purse and takes things out, opens all my mail then throws it away. I have been kicked out more times then I can count, told how sick I am, lied to ect,,,,,,,,,. A lot has happened in the six years and too much to write here. Our kids were grown and gone when we met. I havea very close family and very much Iinvolved. He led me to believe he was too. I soon found out all the disfunction. I was hated from the beginning by his daughter that has the same traits he does. For a long time I kept the problems to myself and everybody just loved him. I felt like I was loosing my mind. The problems with him and his daughter, the love/hate relationship between them. He finally made her so mad one day that she called me and told me all about his lies and sneaky behavior. Things he did when he would be mad at me and go stay with her. I finally could not be in this alone so I shared with my kids and family what I had been going through. I developed anxiety and seem like a emottional wreck most of the time. He has hurt me deep down in my soul. He is very needey person and blames me for everything bad that has happened to him to include mistakes he made before I met him. It is very important to him what other people think of him. He is constantly talking behind my back to everyone that will listen, even to my own family members. My son and daughter are fed up and he is no longer welcome in their homes. They are very supportive, but want me to leave. They say I am not the same person. I am very emotional and easily set off. Writing is one of my loves and I find it hard to even put this together. I am constintly wondering what he is up to. I don’t have my mail coming here my things have been packed up and unpacked, moved out, moved back in. He is jelous of my friends and family. I was always such a strong person raised two kids on my own for 14 years. Both of them are educated loving wonderful kids. I have three beautiful grandchildren that adore me and I wonder, how in the hell did this happen to me. Why is it so hard to leave. I get so frustrated, because I know I have to. He is not physically abusive, but I have never met a anyone that is so sneaky and lies so much as him. I feel like I am becoming like him. I fight back with anger and words just like him and his daughter. This is a roller coaster from hell. He will say he is sorry he knows it is all his faught, I come back he promases not to react like that anymore and within a few days another blow up. I am fighting back and I know what I need to do. I have never been so sad in my life. I have so much to be thankful for and feel so ashamed that I stayed as long as I did. I feel like I have embarrassed my kids by the drama that I have got caught up in myself. I have been with the same company for six years, it was the job I got after I lost my previous job due to his lies, I have excelled and seem to hold it together and get done what I need to do. I have no energy left between the demands of my job and him. He sucks the life out of me. I feel emotionally and physically exhausted. I haven’t looked forward to christmas in six years, I can’t make any plans due to we may be fighting and he don’t show. I don’t care anymore,,,, I am fighting and after reading your blog know what I need to do. Thank you!!

    1. Admin

      Even after all this I know it won’t be easy, so I wish you the strength and determination it will take to get free. Best wishes to you.

  28. JSvictim

    This website is incredible. Wonderful information. It’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever been through and when I told a friend of mine what this whole mess turned out to be and read him the “Emotional Rape” article he just looked at me with a shell shocked, drop jawed look. Most people just don’t understand…..I don’t think I would have before I WENT through this.
    It’s been 11 months since we broke up, 6 months NC and I still can’t really process or understand it myself. Something in me is gone, like a missing limb……the whole world seems different…..I have never EVER been this hurt/ sad/ betrayed/ foolish/ etc, etc, etc in my life.

    1. Admin

      I understand and so do many others, JS. “The whole world seems different.” So true, because it *is* different. When you are betrayed so deeply, you question things like your faith in others and the world, and your own ability to see the truth of what’s going on. I’ve learned that no one who hasn’t been through this will ever understand. You know now that these people exist. This was outside of anything you ever expected, yet now you have to work it into your reality. You’re more resilient than you realize at the moment. Best wishes. Thank you much for your kind words about the website.

  29. JSvictim

    I truly do feel, and have said, I have this incredible sense of being in a trance, drugged in some kind of weird indescribable way. He KNEW I loved him and he KNEW that I “knew” SOMEthing was wrong. I had no idea how wrong……no ability to conceive of how wrong. Even 6 months after the break up I still only just began to really GET it and now…..all this time later, I see his face in my mind and just can’t put together that it was the same person that I loved who is this monster. I have to think way back……back to the times I saw him predator stare me and other people. I’d never seen a person do that before and at the time I didn’t know what it was, something I took notice of but had no frame of reference to interpret it. SO many red flags, it all seems so surreal now, literally like a dream turned nightmare.
    In my past (I’m a 54 year old who has certainly not led a sheltered life…..by ANY stretch of the imagination) a dysfunctional man/ relationship meant “he’s got an issue, your gonna need a tissue”! And I certainly have my own issues so it was very natural for me to blame myself, think that things could change, believe his promises of wanting things to change, etc. I had NO CLUE that it could all be a game and that he secretly saw me as no more than a little circus dog.
    I’m still filling in the blanks and it’s horrible to rethink my good memories of him/ us through a psychopathic lens. SO many “tells”………..”Someday JS, you will know how much I love you”. “JS, I don’t know how I can feel the way I feel about you and you can’t feel it”. So east to misinterpret covert lies .

    Quite honestly….I am shocked I haven’t died of a broken heart from this. Just so senselessly cruel.

    1. Admin

      Senselessly cruel; that’s the perfect way to describe it. You won’t die of your broken heart, although it feels surprising that you don’t. You said you had no frame of reference to interpret it, and that is the crux of the matter! It didn’t fit anywhere into our expectations of life. I understand your feelings of being drugged and in a trance, and of being unable to believe the same person you loved was a monster.

      “…I saw him (as a) predator stare at me and other people. I’d never seen a person do that before, and at the time I didn’t know what it was…” I saw this, too.

      “Someday JS, you will know how much I love you”. Mine said “It’s not that I don’t love you; it’s that you don’t believe that I do.” Right…

      None of us had any clue that we were “circus dogs” (well said!). The truth is we were circus dogs to them, but we are valuable and loved human beings otherwise. What means more? What we truly are, or what we are to someone whose brain is dysfunctional due to psychopathy?

  30. JSvictim

    My comments sometimes get rejected as spam?

    1. Admin

      Sorry, JS, I get over 1000+ spams per day and have to leave it up to an automated system…but I will try to rescue legitimate comments, as I have done with yours…

  31. JSvictim

    shoot! just lost a long response!!
    Anyhow, thanks for your reply, and your web site……..

    I keep thinking that maybe there is some mistake…….maybe I have misinterpreted something about him or maybe “we” don’t understand something about them. How could people really BE that cruel and not be considered dangerous enough to be taken off the streets like a murderer or rapist.
    I have a problem with the term “emotional rape” because, at least in my case, I consider my sexual involvement with him actual rape……..no different than him having drugged me. he deceived me and I took care of him sexually like a little circus dog (apparently). Nothing more than a free whore.
    I LOVED pleasing him, and that was pretty much a one way street, but i enjoyed making him feel good. to think that he was thinking of all of that completely differently than I was?????? And he KNEW it?? It’s so far beyond disgusting I can’t even find a word to describe how it makes me feel.

    1. Admin

      One of the last things mine said to me was “You love to please me.” True, I did. He made it into something negative was the fault of his mis-wired brain, but it was actually something very sweet. I make no apologies, because I was victimized by him. It wasn’t my fault I gave my love to a psychopathic manipulator. I could never have predicted such a thing. Either could you. Yes, it’s disgusting, but it’s not your fault. You were able to give love, but he was unable to understand love.

  32. JSvictim

    Quite honestly, I don’t know how resilient I am. If anything I felt and was SO much more resilient before this happened to me. I am surprised I haven’t died from a broken heart from this. It’s going on a year and I still go to sleep thinking about it, wake up and it’s the first thought I’m aware of. I feel like I’ve had a part of me ripped away. I loved him and our togetherness and in spite of the huge problems that were there from the beginning, I was INvested on every emotional level possible except things kept going wrong! I never suspected that the reason things kept going wrong was because he WANTED them to go wrong. Disgusting.

    1. Admin

      You are more resilient than you know right now. You’re still uncovering things, and that’s OK. The things he did were disgusting, without a doubt, and you are very angry, rightly so. But you are not disgusting. A part of you may have been ripped away, but you will heal. You will wake up thinking about other things.

  33. Marina Vigodsky

    To JSvictim: Yes, I also think they are dangerous, completely agree with your post. These are insightful words and exactly what this is. You are not angry, you are insightful. I got out 5 years ago.

  34. JSvictim

    Thanks guys…….It’s reasuring that it may someday be over and my life and heart will be healed. I do think I feel SLIGHTLY better. For the longest time I couldn’t let go because I just didn’t know. I’m sure he LOVED that. Once I found out some very important things, he slandered me, and a few more things came together through the grape vine. I told him EXACTLY what I thought of him and how disgustingly pathetic he is and said nope! Im done with that POS.

    I have an analogy about forgiving them……..If someone has AIDS, it may or may not be their fault that they contracted it, right? Same with a Spath…..who cares how they became monsters and low life losers, little fish in a little pond )cesspool. They know what they are, maybe not by name but they know they are not who you want them to be or think they are. They plow right ahead and trash whoever gets it next. So with AIDS…….if you knowingly go out and have unprotected sex without telling the other person……same thing. it might not be your fault you got it in the first place but it is your responsibility not to spread it any further…..I know……..Psychopath and responsibility don’t belong in the same sentence.

  35. JSvictim

    Thanks guys! :) i know I’m getting bettah…….

  36. JSvictim

    They are in the same category as child molesters and people who take advantage of the elderly. They are rapists and thieves who are too chicken sh*t to risk going to jail so they do it in this twisted covert bassakwards way.

    I have been thinking of some legal ways I could draw attention to what he is but I’m morally torn and don’t want anything more to come back on me. There is NOTHING!! They have themselves in an iron clad position.

  37. Tiara

    Married since 1.5 years.We both are well educated and working. Our marriage has not consummated. Yes, that’s true. When i try to advance or reason with my hubby he tells that he does not want to have kids till 2 years. But when I tell we can use contraceptives he says that he can just control his mind. But the fact is he has not made any advance by himself. He refuses counselling telling that everything is normal. I am just fed up of all such meaningless excuses . Then comes his denial – he never accepts the things he has said or done. When i try to discuss/confront with him about the issues ..he adds all fancy lies to the problem turning it into full blown yelling with bad, terrible, cussing words. He and his parents keep telling false things about me to my parents/ family members. Its lot of mental torture and i am going crazy because of his mind games.He never does anything he promises…it keeps postponing to tomorrow.. In all the fights we have had, he has never owned-up to his wrong-doing and alway turns it around and makes me feel like the bad guy or withdraws himself emotionally.He and his dad tell everyone that I get angry at all small things. He manipulates me a lot…says one thing then does another thing…now he has thrown me out of his house telling that i dont respect his parents. He said he wanted to move on and has no value to my tears since i was crying.Its been 3 months ..now after mediation by family members he is telling that he is ready to take me back . But there is no sorry feeling in him for the way he has behaved with me…i dont believe him anymore since he does all the sweet talk but his actions are fully opposite…he is telling that he is giving me a chance to live with him…..This was an arranged marriage…i have no love or trust in him..I’m emotionally exhausted….i just cant bear this anymore …..but am worried what to do since i am in an indian society.

    1. Admin

      I’m so sorry that you are so unhappy. I don’t know what to tell someone in an Indian society and arranged marriage. Up until the point I read that, I wanted to tell you to cut your losses and leave, but now I see that may not be possible. If family knew your marriage was not yet consummated, might that make a difference and help you to exit this relationship?

  38. JOHN

    sums up my cousin perfectly. for 3 years now I thought there was something wrong with me. He’s too obvious now that I just laugh whenever he starts pulling his games. I piss him off so much now. All he ever does now is give me the silent treatment, because nothing else works. Even the silent treatment doesn’t work. I just get up and leave the room, leaving him to brood in his silence.

    1. Admin

      Good for you! I’m glad you were able to figure it out and see it for what it is. It’ amazing how we sense something’s wrong…yet we think it’s US! Such crafty stuff. I hope you will plainly see any manipulators that come your way. Whenever you feel perplexed and wonder if it’s you who’s done something wrong, let that be a RED FLAG that alerts you to possible manipulation. Best wishes.

  39. Lisa

    Thank you so very much for this blog. It has given me validation when no one around sees the emotional abuse. For 28 years. Long ugly expensive divorce and he turned it around to make it look like I’m the one to blame. He had hookers and turned it around to allegations of adultery with circumstantial evidence, and as a dependent spouse in NC if that can be proven then alimony won’t be awarded most likely. And that’s just one of a hundred stories I could tell. We have 19 year old twin sons and it saddens me to think what they have learned from their role model. Their father fits the psychopath personality perfectly and I have the traits of the victim. He is extremely intelligent and it just made him that much more dangerous . Disempowered seems too weak a word to describe what he has done to me. Most people don’t really understand the psychology of a psychopath, I was certainly naive. So sure, it’s been manipulated to look like I’m the crazy one and the courts just expect the dependent to be able to get a job and carry on when you can barely think. Psychologists failed me. I can only say to anyone in this type of relationship get out ASAP. What energy you have get support. Staying will wear you out further, slowly, insidiously. IT’s a roller coaster and sometimes it may seem that the other has changed or improved…. Not. Thank you so much and keep up the great work!

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry to hear of this marital and legal nightmare you are going through. The ignorance of the courts and mental health professional never ceases to amaze me. All the best to you during this very difficult situation and beyond.

  40. Treacy

    I wanted your opinion on something.

    I have been reading the book Who’s Pulling your Strings and I find the book useful and enjoyable, but confusing because it mixes damaging covert manipulative active manipulation with mild manipulation, mixes psychopathy, narcissism and other deviant manipulative people with ways of relating in healthy relationships that are sometimes a bit well “manipulative” mind the inverted commas.

    From my point of view, asking for respect or a decent treatment not to play games or utter empty vague sentences or I would leave the relationship is not manipulative. It is my standing up for my rights and my right to be treated with consideration, honesty and respect. Requesting a decent behaviour and change of behaviour towards me or I will leave the relationship is just that, not manipulation. it is is upfront honesty.

    Should we not get mad a people who disrespect us, ask for respect or threaten to leave the relationship and disappear by the back door? Should we avoid any confrontation and request a decent treatment from anybody else? Why is this considered manipulation?

    My ex, a manipulator, did just that. Pointed to my “manipulation” when I told you to treat me with respect, not to play games or push buttons, what I expected from a man I am dating. Instead of saying no, I am not able to do that, he continued his stupid games.

    So, where is the line? Where do you see the line? Don’t we even have the right to demand respect and a decent treatment?

    Where is the line then?

    1. Admin

      I agree, the book covers all kinds of manipulation and manipulators. I found it opened my eyes to all the manipulation I was getting from many people, some of it benign, and some a lot worse. I especially liked the sections that talk about how a person reacts to intense manipulation — it helped me to understand my behavior. The author validates that intense manipulation will cause us to become emotionally unglued. That’s why so many victims end up looking like they’re the ones with the problem. P’s use that to their advantage.

      “From my point of view, asking for respect or a decent treatment not to play games or utter empty vague sentences or I would leave the relationship is not manipulative.” No, of course that’s not manipulative.

      ***When your ex said your demand was manipulative, it was just MORE MANIPULATION.*** It threw you off balance and made you question yourself. Amazing how they do that. Of course we get angry when we’re disrespected and we should speak up about it and leave if we’re dealing with someone who can’t understand or doesn’t care.

      We can demand all we want, but that doesn’t mean someone is going to stop manipulating. Our “demand” has to come with a consequence — for example, you said you would leave the relationship — and if the person doesn’t stop, then we need to do what we said we were going to do. If we don’t, then we will keep experiencing the same behavior, keep making demands, and keep getting frustrated. It’s all about boundaries. We tell someone what we will not tolerate, but that will not do any good if there isn’t a consequence that we will stick to.

      When we’re dealing with a P, they won’t stop manipulating because they can’t. They might try different ways of doing it, but they can’t stop because they’re not capable of much else. Turning the tables and saying you were manipulating him is just more manipulation on his part.

      Thanks for your comment.

      1. Treacy

        Thank you for your reply, you are always very helpful. Yes, I also thought he was projecting.

        I feel the same, as you say, but this book put in me in the doubt. Because some of the things described in the book are not manipulation, are, in the worst case scenario, demands or attempts to change or influence the other people’s behaviour for good in relation to us. Things you can use with your kids for ex or husband. Yes, of course we broke up. I find dangerous mixing how Ps, Ss, Machiavellian, narcissist, etc manipulate, which is very damaging and hidden and not based on love or respect, with upfront influential behaviour that is based on the contrary.

        Still, he found that some of my comments about what I expected from a man to behave with me, he especially, were manipulative and are also considered manipulative by this book. That is why I’ve asked you.

        I was upfront in my demands and what I wanted and expected, and I saw him manipulating me clearly (actively). In a way, he is not skilled enough to be a successful manipulator, because I could see him at a league in ways that he did not expect.

        At times I have wondered whether the dating literature out there for men is really narcissist and manipulative in the worst possible sense of the word. Could a non-manipulative person be using dating tips and books that are manipulative without being aware that they are just damaging manipulation?

        What separates the manipulator from the player or somebody who plays mind games in dating but not in the rest of his life? Where is the line, if there is any?

        1. Admin

          I think I understand now.

          You say, “he found that some of my comments about what I expected from a man to behave with me, he especially, were manipulative and are also considered manipulative by this book.” I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to in the book, but I can say that manipulation refers to making attempts at *indirectly* influencing someone else’s behavior or actions. It is always indirect, whether or not someone is intentionally doing it. So I am not sure how you being “upfront in your demands” is considered manipulative.

          We all have needs, and we have a right to leave a relationship if our needs are not being met, if we are not happy. No one’s needs are more important than our own (I’m not speaking of a child, of course). We have boundaries, things we will not tolerate (and it’s very good that you are thinking clearly enough to see your own), and it’s very healthy to speak up about these issues. From what I understand, you are not being manipulative since you are being direct, telling someone what you will not tolerate, and presenting a consequence.

          You may find the book “In Sheep’s Clothing,” by George Simon, more helpful. It deals specifically with P’s, N’s and other disordered manipulators.

          There’s plenty of dating advice out there that is actually manipulation, for both men and women. As one example, there’s a book for women called “The Rules,” and the whole book is about how to manipulate a man to marry you, even though the authors deny that. The worst example of manipulation are “players” who call themselves pick-up artists. Their whole “game” (as they call it) is to make a woman think they’re truly interested in her, but they really only want to have sex with her. The “men” who are involved in this are very aware that it is pure manipulation.

          But many people who read and apply dating advice and may not realize it’s manipulation. Not every manipulator does so with conscious intention. But it is still manipulation, which means influencing someone’s behavior in an indirect way.

          Being direct about your needs and feelings, and what you won’t tolerate, is the opposite of manipulation.

          I hope this helps.

          1. Treacy

            Super-helpful. Yes i always was direct about what i wanted. Sometimes he acted positively on my wishes to them call me manipulative. On the contrary he was a covert in his manipulation always . Your comments have been very enlightening to clarify things in my mind. Thank you.

            1. Admin

              I’m so glad I could help. Best wishes to you.

  41. Treacy

    Another question comes to my mind. Would these manipulators recognize themselves as such by reading this list of yours? I mean, do they have self-awarenessof them being cover manipulators or psychopaths or narcissists? Do they think that the covert tactics they use are the usual way in which healthy people relate? Thanks again.

    1. Admin

      Yes, many manipulators know they’re manipulative and do it purposely. They may not know they’re a “psychopath” or a “narcissist” (although with all the info on the internet, a lot of them do know), but they know they can con people. And they know they are very different from us. They would recognize the tactics on this list.

      No, they know that manipulation isn’t the way healthy people relate. And we aren’t even “healthy people” to them — we’re just a bunch of pathetic, emotional fools who are easy marks. Sad but true.

      By learning about manipulation and the people who do it, you lessen your chances of having your time wasted, which is much better spent in real relationships.
      Best wishes to you.

      1. Treacy

        Thanks a million again. Chilling! Well, less excusable then as if they have awareness, then they are evil on purpose. Best wishes.

  42. mike

    Wow, thanks for posting this. I cant tell you how many times ive thought about people like this. Thanks again, you made my day!

    1. Admin

      Hey, thanks. Glad I made your day!

  43. Marga

    I have endured four years of this behaviour. I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with – his opening “come on” line. Strangely, I sensed something artificial right from this line and boy was that gut feeling spot on. Four months of bliss and the remaining time a whole gamut of abuse, manipulation, lies. I lived an hours drive away and he wanted me to give up my son, who was still at college, sell up, give him money to clear his debts. However, because I did not want to walk away from my son I refused to do this saying he will have to wait until he goes to uni. The man is an alcoholic and began going to AA which I thought would alter him, but his alcoholism, whilst a huge problem, was not the real problem.

    Researching why he behaved so and why I kept going back brought me to the sociopath – my eyes were finally opened. We read in the paper about physical and sexual abuse constantly, yet this type of abuser is equally bad. It’s the precursor to the abuse turning physical and sexual. I was threatened with a punch in the face and avoided it by standing stock still. When challenged with this his response was “I wouldn’t have hit you. You were provoking me.”

    My reason for going back weekend after weekend was loneliness and an overpowering feeling of love for him. We did have fun times; lovely meals; walks, holidays; laughter yet the downside was the horrendous emotional manipulation. I saw him for the last time on Saturday. His face was contorted as he didn’t expect to see me. The mask was off. He denied seeing me in an email. Laughable!

    Actually, I would say laughter has helped clear the fog and slightly diminish the sadness within.

    This blog is brilliant. Thank you. I wouldn’t have found the strength to raise myself from the pit without people like you telling people like me what the hell is going on. I have non-stop researched for four days and now fully realise that I had a lucky escape. I have good friends and one in particular who has called and visited me every day for the past six weeks to stop me going back. I am thankful and recommend people should open up to a trustworthy person and ask them to help you get out. The loneliness and the love hormones keep us going back. It is chemical and social. No one should put up with this.
    Thanks again.

    1. Admin

      Thank you, Marga, for your comment. So many great and insightful points you have touched on. Best wishes to you. Stay strong.

  44. Vincent

    First they divided my mother and my father in Zaire. Where was my mother in that time ? I also remember that she was gone for longtimes in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. I also remember that my father and my mother dropped me @ places from friends of them many times. I also remember that my father dropped me @ the house of a family with there 3 son’s that where much older then me for weeks. Where was my mother ? My mother droped @ place of this lady with the wig,… This is where I broke all my front teeth on this glass table because I tried to escape her by running the stairs down,… I will never forget that time. Terrible ! And then when my mother came back one time to see US in Kinshasa she stayed with US for a short time and then when she was gone the local police was there with a warrant to put my father in jail because my mother told the police that she was abused and beated by my father during her short stay. I remember that my mother stayed with US in a separate bedroom and that he did not abuse her or beat her. We then had to leave everything behind and went to the Belgian embassy and where able to take the first flight back to the old Europe. I also rember that me and my brother where sitting @ the entrance of the plane and my father was sitting in the cockpit @ the place of the navigator because there was no place on the plane. We then lived for years in the attic of the boerenschuur in Oud Turnhout without heating, my father was staying in his dodge mobile home next to the boerenschuur and then after some time we moved to Turnhout. In Turnhout I was separated from my brother by my mother that took my brother back to Nigeria and I was not allowed to go with them because I was to old. I find this very strange because I was 16 in that time and I never been to Nigeria before. Then when I was finally 18 I was aloud to go to Eindhoven and so on,. Is this how they threat the children of expats in the Benelux by excluding them from the system and let other people making false allegations against them,. This is a act of organised old colonial racism and there economic colonial agenda !

    I forgive my father for neglecting US in Kinshasa @ the end and in Oud-Turnhout and Turnhout. I understand now he was completely lost without my mother,..I forgive him of not helping me financially because this is his revenge against my mother because he is frustrated,.
    I forgive my mother for neglecting me in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi perhaps she didn’t know
    and trusted these so called friends. I forgive my mother for entertaining and living for other people only.
    I also forgive her for putting me down and giving me a bad reputation all the time.
    I forgive my mother because I know the truth now.

    I also see now that my cowardly alcoholic sadistic stepfather is always hiding behind mij mother,..I also see now that when I try to say the truth or something bad about my stepfather then my mother always protect him like it is her child,…. This is how my cowardly stepfather puts me down and he enjoys it every day. And my mother then tries to take revenge in very strange ways,..She does this by bullying my cat and by other means. 2 cats died already because of this situation. This is working in a very very negative way on me and also on my mother.I can’t function normally in this cowardly situation anymore created by other people and I hold the discriminating municipality of Eindhoven fully responsible for there discriminating act of ignoring my case for years and making mistakes If anything very bad would happen soon because of this matter.
    I remember my mother to be a respectful lady the few first years of my life and then
    she started to change,.

    While we where suffering and while we are still suffering here in Eindhoven, the Netherlands some other people had lots of fun and are still having lots of fun,.

    Especially a small network of colonial benelux bimbos,.

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry. I hope you will be free from this bullying and manipulation very soon. Thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes to you.

  45. abuser

    i was looking for an article to abuse a girl , thank you for helping ;)

    1. Admin

      You’re a LOSER. And I hate to tell you this, but this article carries a curse — Whoever uses the information to harm others will have harm befall them in the form of a serious illness or death within one year’s time.

      1. abuser

        oh honey
        the innocent girl even dont know English to read your article
        i am so sorry for her….

        1. Admin

          Psychopaths manipulate people because they don’t have anything else going for them. What’s your excuse? Can’t you get laid without tricking someone?

          I forgot to tell you, part of the curse is that you’ll be limp as an overcooked noodle whenever you get near a girl. You will not be able to perform. It’s true, as you will find out. It will come to pass. UNLESS you do not use the tactics against anyone. If you don’t, then you’ll be fine.

          Now go do your homework, unless it’s already past your bedtime.

          1. abuser

            but i did it
            last night

            your instruction was very usefull i should appreciate you again
            and then if you believe i am psycho , instead of labeling and dictating me wht can i do or dont, why you didt help me ? in other words why you didnt help so many girls whom can be abused by me?
            i want to speak with you honestly (even you dont believe me)
            i am a polite man , i wasnt just a taker in relation , i sacrifice and give them too.
            you have a strong charachter , i can not abuse you
            why you dont accept my friendship?
            maybe you can help me and a world whom could be my future victims
            please be less pessimist about me

            1. Admin

              You didn’t do anything last night. And I don’t think you’re a psychopath — if you were, you wouldn’t need instructions on how to manipulate someone. There is hope for you.

              Only you can help yourself. What kind of a person do you want to be? You get to decide. Psychopaths don’t care when they hurt and use people, but you will care, and ultimately it will hurt you, too. You will end up without self-respect. Everyone loses.

              I trust you will give up this foolish idea of manipulating women. Don’t disappoint me.

  46. Jayson

    I cannot imagine living through this as long as some of you have commented. I only lived through this for a total of two months (3-4weeks of serious maniupulation). I am still feeling the effects periodically. I am not sure I ever would’ve survived as long as some of you have.

    I cannot believe how accurate most of the points above were. Scary thought.

    1. Admin

      It amazes me all the time. I lived through it for 8 months, and that was more than long enough to cause some serious harm. Every single one of the points on that list were things I experienced personally.

  47. Banderman

    Fairly sexist article. Most women exhibit the behaviors elucidated in the article; but the term ‘he, him’ is used with impunity. I guess we can call the article exactly what it is; emotional and intellectual manipulation.

    1. Admin

      Get thoroughly lost.

  48. Mary

    I came across this article because I was “googling” manipulative relationships because I am in a terrible one. 4 years ago I began a 2 year friendship where he complimented me everyday, at work, showed me loved, attention and affection. We started dating and within the month I was pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant I also discovered he was sleeping with someone else. Upon telling him I was pregnant he told me to wait for him because he wanted to “see where this other relationship was going”. The whole time still telling me how much he loves me, how special I am and how we are always going to be bonded through our child. Of course, I was very emotional due to all the hormones and couldn’t think right! This other person has been out of our lives for well over a year now. But my “boyfriend” is so manipulating. As I write this he has told me he is on a 2 week deployment with the army, in Germany. After checking FB and phone records…he’s in California. He lies about everything. It’s terrible and at the same time he says all the right things. Then even when I approach him with the truth he sticks by his lies…no matter what. I cannot believe I have a child with this person. Walking away is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and trust me I’ve tried so many times and yet every time I get sucked back in. He’s terrible and I know it. I’m crying so hard while I type this…I just wish someone could tell me HOW to walk away. He is 100% everything written in this article. How does someone become so cruel?

    1. Admin

      I’m sorry to hear of this terrible situation you’re involved in. The child makes it more challenging. Look at it this way, either you walk away now, or waste more years of your life and then walk away. He’s terrible and you know it, as you said. Find a good therapist that specializes in abusive relationships. All the best to you and the baby!

  49. David

    In my case its even more complex than that i am a man and that situation is happening to me it happened to her before with another man who is trying to come back but she started liking psychology (so obvious david…) and i ve noticed she took a liking to the power and she is doing to me what he did to her i even tried twice to escape and i find myself back again. all of those techniques happen all the time recently and i ve noticed since i tried to escape she regresses to the weak state where i have “control” but simply looks like she s playing dead to strike again as im a very naive guy because i like to live my life simply i failed to see and failed to know about these mind games sooner because now the world is much more complicated to me as i expected. as i tried to powerstruggle and regain control mimicking and mirroring those same techniques that riled her up and made her force me to avoid the situations stating that is what is ruining owr “relationship” because many sites and stuff generally say that the man MUST wear the pants in the relationship but i sincerely think a relationship should be a team and not a leader. am i wrong?! if so if you can tell me how to notice sooner and stop such behavior and if needed please teach me to be a leader in this matter (because others are so so much easyer…) thanks for reading.

    Sincerely a “cracked” man who is going to escape the genie lamp.

    1. David

      forgot to say something weirdest situation ever: i ended the relationship because she was giving me the silent maneuver as i was expressing how i felt and demanding answers only then getting a simple “i have nothing to say” reply and looking oblivious getting distracted by all things possible. i hated that and told her i had enough of that behaviour and im tired of fighting this fight alone but somehow she slithered back in and its not even decided if were back or not! CURSE YOU GENIE LAMP

      1. Admin

        Mmmm…don’t curse the genie lamp, just get away from this leech. You know all you need to know. You are the only one who can decide if you’re “back or not.”

    2. Admin

      It sounds like you’re already an expert in this matter, David. You know everything you need to know. What are you waiting for?

      1. David

        stupidly waiting for another wall to hit or even an ok from someone who had something similar like you. thank you really. but can you answer me on that last part? what is your opinion on how a relationship should be ?

        1. Admin

          My opinion is that a relationship should be the way you need it to be, with someone who wants the same thing. It’s simple, but we want to complicate it. I hope you find your way out of this fiasco and into a place of peace and happiness. It’s up to you, David.

      2. David

        though i dont consider myself an expert lol it ONLY sounds like it because i can see it from here in theory but face to face it seems like the stupidity comes back and i forget all about that and hold on to a sliver of hope that she can wake up… but nah i know now… got to be strong.

        1. Admin

          David, you ARE the expert in your own life. You know she’s not going to ‘wake up.’ You are the one who has to wake up. What can I do for you? Except to wish you all the best in this journey you’re on.

          1. David

            Thank you really you ve been a great help glad i found your blog you really inspired me with this last reply.

            watashi jiyuu da
            i am free

            (im portuguese learned japanese watching anime hehehe)

            1. Admin

              I’m not hear to tell you how to get along with a psychopath. There is no way to do that. You know what she is so the only answer is to listen to yourself and get out of the situation. Only then can you begin to move forward.

  50. Admin

    I’m glad to hear you’re going to start your own blog. That’s great. Looking forward to hearing your story.

  51. Seraphim

    This list is spot-on. The quality of information on this website is astounding! Thank you so much for all the hours of hard work you put in to help people like me.

    1. Admin

      You’re welcome, Seraphim. Actually, I really enjoy this. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.

    1. Admin

      You’re welcome!

  52. no name please

    I started crying when I read the first page of this web site. I left my husband almost 3 years ago. I literally packed up with our daughter and fled. It has been almost 3 years from my divorce and full custody of our daughter became official and I am still internally suffering with so many emotions, confusion and pain , even though to anyone who knows me, it looks like I am thriving and successfully rebuilding my life. I realize my ex husband really damaged me with all the control and lies and confusion and how about this? I found out I am his 5th wife and our child is not his only? I look forward to reading everything on this site. I appreciate that you encourage people like myself to seek help . I have been feeling that I need support but was not sure why, as if I should have been able to get over “this “already. The website straight away helped me to see that this feeling that I need help is appropriate and the right step I need to seek soon. I am not suffering like others who’s marriage failed but I am suffering because I was severely abused, secretly and invisibly. Thank you.

    1. Admin

      My heart goes out to you! I am so glad that the ‘message’ you got here is that seeking help is the right step. None of this is simply about a ‘relationship gone wrong’ — it’s about serious psychological trauma. Be sure to find a therapist who is an expert in trauma and abuse. All the best to you and your daughter.

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