Emotional manipulation

Emotional manipulation

The bonds that we build throughout our lives can encourage us to make the best of ourselves, but they can also wear us down by harming our emotional well-being. An example of this is the relationships affected by emotional manipulation strategies. Let's reflect on this topic.


  • 1 What is emotional manipulation?
  • 2 How is an emotional manipulator?
  • 3 How to know if we have a relationship with an emotional manipulator?
  • 4 The road to emotional autonomy

What is emotional manipulation?

From a psychological perspective, emotional manipulation it's all an art which entails not only hiding bad intentions or aggressive behaviors, but also the ability to identify the emotional vulnerabilities of the other, and then implement the best strategies in order to manage it.

So that the manipulator plays with the emotions of his victim with the sole objective of getting his way and that his wishes are fulfilled, establishing a hidden power relationship, being in many cases a clear act of psychological violence. Thus, the end result is to ensure that the other does not trust what he thinks, does or feels, deteriorating his image of emotional and intellectual competence.

Manipulating is knowing what to say and how to say it to favor and fulfill one's interests

However, it should be clarified that There are many types of emotional manipulation, both conscious and unconscious. From the one that we can carry out each of us when we require the other to think or do something as we consider to the one used by people who are in the position of victim, and the most dangerous, used by all types of abusers in a way repeated. The latter can have serious consequences on the victim's self-esteem.

How is an emotional manipulator?

As we have seen there are many ways to manipulate emotionally so I know they distinguish different profiles of manipulators with some characteristics in common distributed among all ages, social status, sex and culture.

Emotional manipulators are like chameleons, camouflage artists who they change their appearance depending on the environment they are in to get their victim and therefore, your desired goal without the rest of the people appreciating it.

They are usually very skilled people with words able to direct the conversations towards key points that generate in the other attitudes of submission or guilt. Even many of them have a large repertoire of social skills that they will use to enchant the person who will later be their victim.

These types of people also dominate nonverbal communication so sometimes only a small gesture or silence will be necessary to influence the other. But in what truly emotional manipulators have a mastery is in the detection of the Achilles heel of their victims, that is, they identify very easily what are the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the people around them.

Further, they have a constant need to feel admired and have great desire for power and that is how they establish their relationships, exercising the role of dominant person, although inside they are extremely insecure as affirmed by the American psychologist Susan Foward.

In fact, they are not always aware of their strategies since normally They learned from children how to use power to demand from others. Dangerous mechanism to establish links with others when used by habit because as Voltaire said the passion to dominate is the most terrible of all diseases of the human spirit.

How to know if we have a relationship with an emotional manipulator?

There are some alarm signals that indicate that we can be immersed in a relationship with an emotional manipulator. For example, if we feel constantly pressured to do or say something that we really did not want, we are afraid to express our opinion about what the other is going to think or demand from us without giving a choice. All these types of situations usually hide great manipulation strategies.

It is very important to stop and reflect on the relationships we are maintaining and what we feel when we are in the presence of the other. When the feelings that invade us are those related to fear, guilt, insecurity, shame or even disgust we can not let it go since we can probably be being manipulated.

If we are isolated, forced, devalued or disregarded, afraid to express ourselves and without emotional support from the other, it is convenient that we take action. Too our way of thinking may have changed or notice that sense of loss of identity because we have completely surrendered to the tricks of the manipulator. It is likely that it may take a long time until we realize it but it is never too late.

The road to emotional autonomy

When we act under the influence of an emotional manipulator our will and way of thinking are weakened So we are not focused on our personal power. To prevent them from manipulating us, we have to practice emotional self-defense in order to increase our personal resources and set limits.

For this it is important to listen to our emotions and lose the fear of the anger of the other, to be rejected and not to please others. Otherwise we will continue immersed in the relationship of power and control established by an emotional manipulator. Having peace at any price is not the solution when we are losing ourselves.

It is convenient to take distance and observe what you are living to clarify what you want and start setting limits. A good exercise is to reflect through questions like Does it benefit me to please the other and give up what I am? Is it necessary to please to feel loved? Am I doing what I really want or am I just getting carried away? What are my needs? The answers can be the first step to regain power over ourselves and get out, added to a support network and even in some cases to help professional depending on the severity of the established link. But the important thing is to realize and start moving forward.

Let us not forget that an emotional manipulator craves the power it expresses towards the outside but forgets that as Seneca said, the most powerful person is the one who owns herself. So if we recover our personal power and trust and believe in ourselves, we will prevent being victims of emotional manipulation.