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9 Kinds of Manipulative Behaviour You Might be Guilty Of

by Andrea M. Darcy

We all know when someone is using outright manipulation, like promising us money if we do what they want. But many forms of manipulative behaviour are far more subtle. 

Manipulative behaviours you might be using

Are you guilty of one or several of these 9 types of manipulative behaviour? 

1.You give vague answers so others don’t get upset.

Know what you want, but also know it will upset the other person? So don’t say no or yes? Remain vague? Leave people hanging? “I might come to the party, I’m not sure… we’ll see”. 

Yes, avoiding conflict might be in order to ‘protect’ the other person. But you are still manipulating. You are denying the other person the truth and the right to a response (which might not be what you think). 

2. You tend to agree with people if it makes things easier. 

Sometimes we really do need to just drop an unimportant subject and move on because there is limited time, or we don’t want to cry at work. 

But if you do this all the time? If you are always just agreeing with others? As it seems to much effort to disagree? It’s manipulative, and if it’s a personal relationship you are doing this it will lead to future problems. 

3. Or you say what they want to hear, even if you don’t believe it.

One step up from agreeing is then saying what you know someone wants you to say. This means you get what you want, even if it is just a quiet ride in the car or avoiding a fight.

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The moment we purposely do or say something to get something we want, we are using manipulative behaviour.

4. You think there is a difference between white lies and real lies.

White lies are often the grease of manipulation.

A key sign we are entering the realm of manipulative behaviour is that we know we are not telling the truth.

We sacrifice honesty to get what we want, whether that is approval, a job, or a peaceful night’s sleep.

5. You are always trying to think of how to make people like you. 

Are you making that cake for someone because you want to, and are enjoying the experience of baking? Or do you actually not like baking that much, but want to impress the other person and win their favour?

When we are doing things because we want to force a result, we are manipulating. 

6. You give to others because one day you might need their help in return.

This is the same as above. You are planning a result instead of acting from genuine impulse. 

If you hear your mind calculating, you are on your way to manipulating.

7. You don’t admit how you really feel until far after the fact.

If you know how you feel but hide it, then you are not being honest. And if you are hiding something in order to get a result that suits you better than the truth, it’s manipulation. 

8. You are always taking care of others.

Some of us really do take joy from being a good part of society. But be very honest with yourself.

Why are you helping others all the time? Do you want to make people think a certain way of you? Are you doing it for a result, in other words, manipulating? 

9. You put making others happiness before your own wellbeing.

This is a very common form of manipulation that is calledcodependency’.

Sure, we might seem an ‘angel’, the way we take care of others or our partner even if we ourselves are suffering. But unless it’s that we have a sick relative and really do need to take care of someone, what is our real motive?  

With codependency we use the other person to gain a sense of value. Despite our outward appearance of being a victim, we choose to stay in the relationship to gain self-esteem and an identity. 

When the other person starts to resent us doing everything for them, threatening our sense of worth that we have made them responsible for? A codependent person then manipulates further. We make them think nobody else could handle them but us, or we guard things like phone numbers and details that would allow them to be independent. 

But surely these behaviours are normal?

We live in a society that encourages us to manipulate for approval. Things like social media are all about manipulating others into thinking we have a perfect life. So manipulative behaviour is common.

But manipulative behaviours are neither normal nor healthy. Healthy would entail being yourself, being honest about your feelings and needs, and having enough self worth that you let other people think what they want to about you.

Looking for a great therapist in central London who can help you with manipulative behaviours? We connect you with top psychologists and psychotherapists. Not in London, or even the UK? Use our booking site for therapists across the UK or online therapy that works wherever you are

Andrea M. Darcy mental health expertAndrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and personal development teacher with training in person-centred counselling and coaching, as well a popular psychology writer. Follow her on Instagram for useful life tips @am_darcy


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Blog Topics: Relationships

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