5 Ways to Spot and Disarm a Manipulator

Silent treatments, flattery, and more

Leo Saini
Leo Saini
Jun 29 · 5 min read
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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Most people that I’ve met are satisfied with what they have and realize that things won’t always go their way. It’s not that they aren’t ambitious, but they realize that winning and losing is a part of life.

However, there are some people out there who want everything to go their way. They want you to do as they say or they’d make your life a living hell. These are the manipulative people who lack empathy for your experience and will play mind games to punish you. The earlier you spot them, the safer it is.

Let’s discuss some common traits of a manipulative person along with the tips to disarm them.

1. They Might Try to Spend More Time With You

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Way back in the day, one of my flatmates didn’t like the other flatmate. He wanted her out of the flat. But to achieve that, he had to win mine and another flatmate’s support.

So this manipulator started inviting me to go to the gym with him. We also started eating food together at our favorite restaurant at least three times a week. He used to encourage me to play video games with him or watch a new Netflix series.

Throughout our time together, he’d constantly badmouth the other flatmate and try to convince me that we should get rid of her and kick her out. I knew he was trying to manipulate me, but I just wanted to see how low he could drop.

Anyway, it didn’t work out and he was the one who ended up leaving the flat. As you can probably imagine, he never called or texted me again. Heck, he didn’t even say “goodbye” before leaving.

Flattery, forced invitations and gifts, followed by selfish requests, are a big red flag — so watch out for these next time.

How to disarm them

Don’t accept every invitation and gift. Try to involve your trusted confidants in the meetings. If you feel like you’re being manipulated, make some excuse, and leave the situation. Be grateful for genuine compliments but be indifferent to fake ones.

2. They Might Question Your Sanity

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Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

“Are you kidding me?”

“Are you serious? Do you not see anything wrong with this?”

“Are you sure you don’t have some childhood trauma that’s making you act like this?”

Questioning the victim’s sanity, also known as gaslighting, is an age-old method used by manipulators. When you don’t meet their irrational demands, they might call you crazy.

And if you have low self-esteem, this whole thing is going to be emotional torture at its worst.

How to disarm them

Be assertive and stand your ground. If they ask: “Are you telling me that there’s nothing wrong with this?” You should respond with: “Yes, I believe my actions are justified. I stand by every word that I said. If you don’t like it, I can’t help it.”

3. They Might Present You With Several ‘Now or Never’ Situations

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Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

Ultimatums are one of the favorite tools of manipulative people. Especially if they’re someone you're dependant on.

It may be a romantic partner who’s supporting you financially and asks you to leave their house. It may be an employer who’s paying you a salary, or a family member that you really love.

It’s like they’re indirectly telling you: “Meet my demands, or I’ll cease doing a favor that you’re dependant on.”

They know it very well that you rely on them for money, social support, or employment — that’s why they’re showing you a dictatorial attitude.

How to disarm them

Be self-reliant. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you feel like someone you’re dependant on acts manipulative sometimes, take it as a red flag and start planning your freedom. Learn how to live your life without their help.

4. They Might Threaten to Harm You (Or Themselves)

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Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

This one’s self-explanatory, and probably the most difficult scenario out of all.

At this stage, the manipulator forgets about all the moral, social, and legal obligations and is prepared to do anything to have what they want from you.

You, on the other side, are bound to feel trapped and helpless.

How to disarm them

First and foremost, alert the authorities because you can’t handle things on your own at this stage. Change your routine and always let a confidant know where you’re going and how long will it take for you to return. Also, don’t forget to install security devices at your home.

5. Silent Treatments

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Photo by Gary Edmonstone on Unsplash

Childish and awkward, the silent treatment can be really challenging if you have to see the manipulator every day.

Yes, they’re going to pretend like you don’t exist. But that’s not it, they might even spread false rumors about you to ruin your social status. When this happens, even other people might start giving you the silent treatment.

If there’s a manipulator in your social circle who’s not talking to you because you didn't meet their demands, and if you eventually find some more people not talking to you, it’s because the manipulator has probably played some role in it.

How to disarm them

Try not to give them silent treatment in return. Be the bigger person and strike up a conversation about something random. And keep in touch with people who are close to the manipulator — you don’t want a whole clique turning against you.

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Leo Saini

Written by

Leo Saini

I blog on my personal website now @ www.LeoSaini.com

Men’s Reads

Wisdom for men from credible sources

Leo Saini

Written by

Leo Saini

I blog on my personal website now @ www.LeoSaini.com

Men’s Reads

Wisdom for men from credible sources

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