20 signs of a manipulative man in a relationship, and how to behave with him

The better you know the behaviour of a manipulative male, the better you can protect yourself from unnecessary drama and heartbreak.

However, keep in mind that not all of these signs appear at the beginning of a relationship.

Manipulators tend to show their true colours when they know that you are emotionally attached to them.

That’s why it’s important to get to know the person well first and not show your involvement too quickly.

Who is a manipulator in a relationship?

A manipulator is a person who seeks to gain control or power over another person using dishonest and unhealthy means.

Unlike a healthy relationship where reciprocity and cooperation are present, the manipulator tries to use, control, and harass his partner.

He uses psychological pressure and deception to change a person’s behaviour or attitudes or provoke a strong emotional reaction, draining his energy and undermining his well-being.

Manipulators twist your thoughts, actions, and desires into something that better suits their vision of the world, transforming you into a person who serves their purposes.

You can learn to recognize signs of manipulation to stop this behaviour and protect yourself, your self-worth and your sanity.

How to recognize a manipulator in a relationship

1. Constantly lying

Before you ask him about a situation, he will be ready to lie to you.

If you catch him lying, he may express regret or embarrassment.

He’s just trying to lie to get rid of the original lie. His life is one big lie, as are his feelings for you.

 2. Too fast approaching

A manipulator can easily skip several stages in a traditional dating scheme. Such a man can immediately begin to share his secrets and weaknesses.

These tactics are used to make you feel special so that you can more easily reveal your secrets. Later, the man will use your weaknesses against you.

3. You meet on his territory

When you are on your property, be it your apartment or your favourite coffee shop, it gives you confidence, and you feel comfortable.

If a man always insists that you be in his space, he may create an imbalance of power in the relationship.

Since he is the owner of the house, this puts you at a disadvantage.

4. Makes you talk but tells you little

This tactic is often used in business relationships, but it can happen in personal relationships as well.

When a person wants to establish control, they may ask leading questions to talk about their thoughts and concerns as early as possible.

By keeping his hidden agenda in mind, the man may later use your answers to influence your decisions.

5. Misrepresents the facts

Manipulators are real professionals at distorting reality with lies or inventions to confuse you.

They may exaggerate events to appear more vulnerable.

At the same time, they will downplay their role in the conflict to arouse your empathy.

 6. Says or does something and then denies it

Manipulators are usually sophisticated liars. They may insist that the incident did not happen when it happened or, conversely, convince you that they said or did something that did not occur in reality.

This manipulation is used to make you question your sanity or memory.

When you become unsure about what happened, he can shift the problem onto you and make you feel responsible for the “misunderstanding.”

7. His actions do not match his words

The manipulator says what you want to hear, but his actions are a completely different story.

He promises to support you, and when you need it, he acts like your requests are entirely unreasonable.

The man says that he is thrilled with your communication, but all his actions show that you are more of a burden for him.

This is another way to undermine your belief in your sanity.

 8. Makes you feel guilty

Manipulation always starts with guilt. If a man can convince you to feel guilty about your actions (even if you haven’t done anything wrong), he will know that you are more willing to do what he says.

This strategy allows him to control your choices and influence your decisions.

If you start expressing your concern about the situation with your man, he will try to make you feel guilty. If you remain silent, he will accuse you of not sharing and keeping everything to yourself.

Whatever you do, and whatever problem occurs, it will be your fault.

 9. Downplays your concerns

Imagine having a rough day at work, and you want to share your feelings with a man.

Instead of listening to you properly, the manipulator will take the opportunity to raise his problems.

Its purpose is to devalue what you are experiencing so that you are forced to switch to it and direct your energy towards solving its problems.

10. Makes a victim of himself

A man who is used to manipulating emotions easily agrees to help you, but later, he may change plans or drag out the process to avoid an agreement.

He may act as if this has become an unbearable burden for him and play with your emotions to get out of the situation.

 11. He just “joked” when he was rude or wrong

Critical statements are easy to hide behind humour or sarcasm. A man can pretend to say a phrase as a joke, when in fact, he knew perfectly well that his statements upset you.

For example, he may tell an unpleasant story about you in front of others, putting you in an awkward situation. If you explain to him that you are unpleasant, he will tell you to relax because he was “just kidding.”

It is not he who is rude; it is you who are “too sensitive”.

12. Never takes responsibility

The manipulator will never accept responsibility for his mistakes. He will try to find a way to make you feel guilty for everything from a failed trip to a failed plan.

In the end, you will apologize even if it wasn’t your fault.

 13. Tries to outperform you

When you are in your best shape, the manipulator will find a way to distract attention from you.

When you have a tragedy or some trouble, he turns his attention to his problems so that they seem more serious and urgent.

14. Constantly criticizes you

Emotional manipulators can brush you off or humiliate you without a hint of joke or sarcasm. Their statements are intended to undermine your self-esteem.

The criticism such a man makes is designed to ridicule and devalue you. Remember that often in this way, he projects his complexes on you.

15. Uses your weaknesses and feelings against you

When a man knows your weaknesses, he can use them to hurt you.

He will comment or act in a way that makes you feel vulnerable or upset.

If you are upset, the manipulator will try to transfer the feeling of guilt to you, calling you unreasonable or inadequate.

 16. Gives ultimatums

During quarrels and disagreements, the manipulator will say dramatic phrases that will put you in a difficult position.

He will press on your weaknesses by making provocative statements to force you to apologize.

17. Can’t put himself in your shoes

The manipulator can say or do something that hurts you. When you try to explain to him how you feel, you are met with blank stares or irritation.

Such a man cannot see the situation from your side or understand why his actions affect you positively or negatively.

18. Satisfies the silence

He does not answer your calls, messages or other communication attempts. Instead of trying to resolve the conflict, it simply blocks itself out from you.

The manipulator uses silence to gain control over you and make you take responsibility for his behaviour.

For example, let’s say you forgot to grab his dry cleaning jacket on your way home. When a man finds out about this, he accuses you of not giving a damn about him, and “you always do that.”

When you try to explain the reason or promise to pick it up tomorrow, he leaves, forcing you to chase him. He may not speak to you for hours, days, or weeks.

According to psychologists, ignorance is considered one of the four signs of a doomed relationship, and research shows that playing silent is regarded as a form of psychological abuse.

19. Ascribes false emotions to you

He will reject your true feelings and attribute them to your emotions that most likely relate to him.

In psychology, this phenomenon is known as projection – a defence mechanism when a person attributes characteristics that he considers unacceptable to another person. The manipulator projects feelings of guilt and desire onto you because they are not ready to deal with their feelings on their own.

20. Doesn’t respect you

A healthy person understands basic concepts such as honesty and kindness. A toxic man does not fully understand what it means to respect another person.

He may not respect your need to spend time alone, with friends or family.

He doesn’t respect your boundaries, your career, or the desire to go to the bathroom without spectators. You can make an appointment for dinner at 20 o’clock, and he will appear an hour later.

If he constantly crosses your boundaries, is not ready to discuss his behaviour, and blames you for it, this relationship is hardly healthy and can turn abusive.

How to behave with a manipulative man

It may take a while before you realize that a man is manipulating you. These signs may not be as pronounced, and they often appear as the relationship develops.

If you feel like you are being manipulated, trust your intuition.

 Know your rights

When dealing with a manipulator, the first thing you need to do is know your rights and admit that they are being violated. Remember that you have the right to protect yourself.

You have the right to be treated with respect.

You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and desires.

You have the right to prioritize

You have the right to refuse without feeling guilty.

You have the right to get what you paid for.

You have the right to have a different opinion.

You have the right to take care of yourself and protect yourself from physical, psychological or emotional threats.

You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.

These basic human rights represent your boundaries.

 Don’t blame yourself

As the manipulator tries to exploit your weaknesses, you may feel inadequate or blame yourself for something.

It is important to remember that you are not the problem; you are manipulated into giving up your power and rights in this situation.

 Switch your attention to him

When you hear an unsubstantiated offer, try focusing on the manipulator by asking some leading questions.

For example:

  • Does that sound reasonable to you?
  • Do you think that what you want is fair?
  • Do I have the right to vote?
  • Are you asking me, or do you insist on this?
  • And what will I get from this?
  • Do you expect me to … (unsubstantiated offer)?

With these questions, you put the manipulator in front of an imaginary mirror so that he can see the true nature of his tricks. If he has even a grain of self-awareness, he will give up the demand and back down.

The pathological manipulator will ignore the questions and insist on his own. In this case, it is best to heed the above tips.

 Postpone the answer

In an unreasonable request, the manipulator often expects an immediate response to increase the pressure and control the situation.

Consider using the time to your advantage and distance yourself from their direct influence at times like these.

You can say, “I’ll think about it.”

Take time to weigh the pros and cons of the situation, contemplate a fairer arrangement, or refuse.

 Say “No” diplomatically but firmly

A diplomatic but confident refusal will help you push your way while maintaining a healthy relationship. Remember that you have the right to say no without feeling guilty.

 Fight back, calmly

A manipulator can also intimidate or harm another person.

It is important to know that manipulators choose those whom they consider weaker than themselves. If you remain passive and agree with everything, then you become easy prey for him.

However, remember that manipulators are cowardly at heart, and when you are firm and stand up for your rights, they back down.

Remember to protect yourself, arm yourself with witnesses or support from loved ones, and document inappropriate behaviour.

 Set boundaries

When the manipulator realizes that he is losing control, his tactics will become more desperate. During this time, you will have to make some difficult decisions.

If you don’t need to be around this person, consider eliminating them from your life.

If you live or work together, you will probably need professional help to deal with this situation.

You may need to reach out to a friend or family member to gain support and strengthen your boundaries.

Maintain a healthy distance and try to avoid any interaction with the person unless necessary.

Remember that the reasons for this behaviour are complex and deeply rooted. You don’t have to change or save this person.

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