How to Manipulate a Manipulator in a Relationship

How to Manipulate a Manipulator in a Relationship

Manipulation is not an uncommon phenomenon in relationships. It can be subtle or more obvious, but it always involves one partner trying to control the other to get their way. Sometimes people manipulate others without even realizing it, and sometimes it’s a deliberate tactic to gain power and control. Whatever the reason, being in a relationship with a manipulator can be draining and disempowering. If you’re tired of being manipulated, then this article will teach you how to manipulate the manipulator and take back your power in the relationship.

Understanding Manipulation in Relationships

Manipulation is a form of control that one partner uses to get their needs met at the expense of the other partner’s needs. It’s usually done behind the scenes, so the other partner doesn’t even know it’s happening. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including guilt-tripping, gaslighting, emotional blackmail, lying, or using threats. If left unchecked, this behavior can lead to a toxic relationship, where one partner feels disempowered, frustrated, stressed, and resentful.

Identifying Manipulative Behaviors

The first step in manipulating a manipulator is to identify the behaviors they’re using to control you. Common manipulative behaviors include emotional manipulation, where they exaggerate their emotions to make you feel guilty or embarrassed; lying, where they withhold or fudge the truth to get their way; and passive-aggressive behavior, where they indirectly communicate their frustrations through actions like the silent treatment or sulking.

It’s important to recognize that manipulation can be very subtle, and it’s not always easy to identify. However, if you find yourself feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed after interactions with your partner, or if you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells around them, it’s possible that you’re being manipulated.

Common Manipulation Techniques

Another way manipulators exert control is through a variety of techniques. Some of these include always insisting on their way, saying things like, “it’s my way or the highway,” or placing blame on you for their problems. They may also use charm, flattery, or gifts to make you feel indebted to them or to distract you from their manipulative behavior. Understanding these techniques is key to recognizing when you’re being manipulated.

Manipulators may also try to isolate you from your friends and family, making it harder for you to seek support or validation outside of the relationship. They may try to control your finances, making it difficult for you to leave the relationship if you need to. By understanding these techniques, you can begin to take steps to protect yourself and regain control of your life.

The Impact of Manipulation on Relationships

It’s essential to understand the negative impact manipulation has on relationships. It erodes trust, damages communication, and weakens the bond between partners. It’s a surefire way to create a one-sided relationship, where one person is always in control. Over time, this can lead to resentment, anger, and sometimes even the end of the relationship.

Manipulation can also have a lasting impact on your self-esteem and self-worth. If you’ve been manipulated for a long time, you may begin to doubt your own perceptions and feel like you’re going crazy. You may also feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve better.

It’s important to remember that manipulation is never okay, and you deserve to be in a relationship where you feel respected, valued, and heard. If you’re in a manipulative relationship, it’s important to seek help and support from a trusted friend, family member, or professional.

Recognizing Your Own Vulnerabilities

To manipulate the manipulator, you must first understand your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Manipulators prey on these weaknesses and use them to their advantage. Below are some common vulnerabilities that manipulators exploit.

Emotional Triggers

Everyone has emotional triggers that can cause them to overreact or become overly emotional. Manipulators often use these triggers to yank your chain and make you do what they want. Understanding your emotional triggers and finding ways to control them empowers you and disempowers the manipulator.

For example, if you know that you tend to get defensive when someone criticizes your work, a manipulator might use this to their advantage by offering a backhanded compliment that includes a criticism. By recognizing this trigger, you can learn to take a step back and assess the situation before reacting emotionally.

Boundary Issues

It’s common for people to have boundary issues, especially if they’re prone to people-pleasing or have codependency issues. Manipulators will often push your boundaries and make you feel guilty for enforcing them. Recognizing your weak boundaries and learning to establish healthy ones is key to empowering yourself in the relationship.

For instance, if you’re a people-pleaser, you might have trouble saying “no” to requests from others, even if they’re unreasonable or inconvenient. A manipulator might take advantage of this by asking for favors that are far beyond what you’re comfortable with. By learning to establish healthy boundaries, you can protect your time and energy, and prevent yourself from being taken advantage of.

Codependency and Enabling

Codependency and enabling are common traits among people who are easily manipulated. Codependency is characterized by putting other people’s needs before your own, while enabling involves allowing the manipulator to continue their behavior without consequences. Recognizing these traits and working on them will help you build a more robust, independent sense of self.

For example, if you have a codependent relationship with someone, you might find yourself constantly putting their needs before your own, even if it’s to your detriment. A manipulator might use this to their advantage by asking for more and more, knowing that you’ll always say “yes.” By recognizing this pattern and working on establishing healthy boundaries, you can break free from the cycle of codependency and build a stronger sense of self.

Overall, recognizing your own vulnerabilities is key to protecting yourself from manipulators. By understanding your emotional triggers, boundary issues, and codependency tendencies, you can build a stronger sense of self and protect yourself from those who would seek to take advantage of you.

Building a Strong Foundation for Yourself

manipulation in a relationship

Manipulating a manipulator requires a solid foundation of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. These qualities are not always easy to develop, but with time and effort, you can cultivate them within yourself.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and control your emotions and the emotions of others. By developing emotional intelligence, you will be better able to communicate your needs and recognize when the manipulator is trying to push your buttons. Emotional intelligence involves being aware of your own emotions, understanding the emotions of others, and using that knowledge to navigate social situations effectively.

To develop emotional intelligence, you can start by paying attention to your own emotions. When you feel a strong emotion, take a moment to identify what you’re feeling and why. This will help you to better understand your own emotional responses. You can also practice active listening, which involves paying close attention to what others are saying and responding in a way that shows you understand their perspective.

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries involves recognizing your limits and enforcing them. It’s about saying “no” when you need to and standing up for yourself. Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially if you’re used to putting others’ needs before your own, but it’s essential for building a strong foundation for yourself and empowering yourself in the relationship.

To establish healthy boundaries, start by identifying your limits. What are you comfortable with, and what makes you uncomfortable? Once you’ve identified your limits, communicate them clearly to the manipulator. Let them know what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re not. Be firm in your boundaries, and don’t be afraid to enforce them if they’re crossed.

Cultivating Self-Confidence and Self-Worth

Self-confidence and self-worth are essential qualities for manipulating the manipulator. The manipulator will try to make you doubt yourself and your abilities, but with a strong sense of self, you’ll be better equipped to stand up to their tactics.

To cultivate self-confidence and self-worth, start by identifying your strengths and accomplishments. What are you good at, and what have you achieved? Focus on these positive aspects of yourself, and remind yourself of them often. You can also practice positive self-talk, which involves replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough,” try thinking “I am capable and deserving of success.”

Remember, building a strong foundation for yourself takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. By developing emotional intelligence, establishing healthy boundaries, and cultivating self-confidence and self-worth, you’ll be better equipped to handle manipulative situations and empower yourself in your relationships.

Strategies for Manipulating a Manipulator

Now that you understand manipulative behavior and have built a solid foundation for yourself, it’s time to deploy some strategies to manipulate the manipulator. Below are some strategies you can use.

Mirroring Their Behavior

One technique is to mirror the manipulator’s behavior. If they use passive-aggressive tactics, for example, use the same tactics back. By doing so, you’ll show them how it feels to be on the receiving end of such behavior, and it might make them stop or change their tactics.

Using Reverse Psychology

Another technique is to use reverse psychology. If the manipulator is always insisting on their way, try telling them that you don’t care what they do. Often, this will make them switch their stance because they’re so focused on being in control.

Employing the Art of Subtlety

The art of subtlety involves subtly manipulating the manipulator without them even realizing it. It could be anything from using humor to distract them from their manipulative tactics to setting small traps that expose their behavior.

Setting Traps and Exposing Their Tactics

Finally, you can set traps that expose the manipulator’s behavior. For example, if they’re always lying, you could set a trap where you pretend to know the truth and see if they come clean or continue to lie.


Manipulation is a prevalent issue in relationships, and it’s essential to know how to manipulate the manipulator to take back your power. By understanding manipulative behavior, recognizing your own vulnerabilities, building a strong foundation for yourself, and deploying various strategies, you can manipulate the manipulator and take control of your relationship.

I'm Alana Wade, a psychologist with over five years of experience working with relationships. I've dedicated my career to helping couples and families create lasting, meaningful connections.