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Does your partner exhibit manipulative behaviours? Here’s how to tell

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A healthy relationship would never leave you feeling emotionally drained, confused, or guilty.

Manipulative behaviour is a form of emotional abuse that involves using tactics to control or exploit another person.

Manipulators can be subtle, acting sweet and caring, but their underlying intention is far from genuine.

How can you tell if your partner exhibits manipulative behaviors? Let’s discuss some of the common traits to watch out for:


Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic in which manipulators make you doubt your perceptions, memories, or sanity. They distort your reality by denying their actions, blaming you for their problems, or making you feel like you’re overreacting.


Manipulators resort to lies to protect their own interests, avoid responsibility, or maintain control. They’ll tell exaggerated stories and outrightly fabricate details to suit their narrative.

Silent treatment

Another common manipulative tactic is the silent treatment, aimed at exerting control and causing emotional distress. Manipulators withhold communication and affection to punish or control. By ignoring your calls, texts, and emails, they put you in that position where you keep running back and begging for their attention.


This is a frequent tactic employed by manipulative people. They intentionally make you feel guilty, even for minor things, rarely owning up to their mistakes or wrongdoings. Manipulators play the victim card to shift blame and use guilt-tripping to manipulate you into doing what they want.

Passive aggression

Passive-aggressive behaviour is a subtle but damaging form of manipulation. Manipulators express anger or hostility indirectly, withdrawing their affection or making snide remarks to show their displeasure. They might use phrases like ‘It’s fine,’ especially when all is not well, just to indirectly show they’re upset with you.


Manipulators sometimes resort to fear or threats to control a person’s behaviour. They may use physical intimidation, verbal threats, or emotional blackmail to coerce you into compliance.

Signs that you may be in a manipulative relationship

  • You constantly feel drained, confused, or guilty.
  • You are constantly criticised or belittled.
  • Your partner has unreasonable demands and expectations.
  • Your partner tries to isolate you from your friends and family.
  • You feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells around your partner.

How to protect yourself

  • Recognise the signs of manipulative behaviour.
  • Set boundaries and communicate them clearly.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave that toxic relationship.


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