The Types Of Manipulative Behavior You Should Be Aware Of! (And How To Fight Them)

Last Update on March 17, 2022 : Published on March 19, 2022

At some point in life, we’ve all been a victim of manipulation – some subtle, some not-so-subtle – but manipulation nonetheless. I mean, let’s go back to our childhood where we’ve all used “fake crying” to get what we want. That was us using one of the many manipulation tactics – no matter how harmless they were.

However, as adults, the cuteness factor isn’t there. As adults, it can be plain manipulation tactics to control or influence others to get what you want.

Manipulation is a behavior that can be defined as someone using under-handed tactics to influence others’ emotions to get what they want – whether an outcome or a reaction. Manipulative behavior can be disguised as love and affection, however, when you are under manipulation, you feel no autonomy, meaning your boundaries are non-existent.

To spot subtle manipulation, you need to be aware of the types of manipulative behaviors which we’ll be talking about in this blog. If you are being emotionally, physically, or verbally abused, then you should seek professional help, immediately. Your well-being isn’t to be neglected.

What Are Manipulative Behaviors?

Manipulativ- Behaviors

Manipulative behaviors can include a lot of flattery, barely-concealed threats, guilt trips, and actions meant to put you down. Manipulators thrive on displaying conflicting behaviors and can alternate between being affectionate and caring to cold and aggressive.

Manipulators, regardless of their type, love to influence others to act out their wants and needs. Identifying a manipulator is important. Manipulators are subtle and their actions are hidden behind a curtain of affection and charm.

Their actions and behaviors confuse you to a point where you start to believe you’re at fault. Please keep in mind that manipulative behavior is not okay and if you’re a victim of manipulation, reach out for help.

Let’s take a look at the types of manipulative behaviors, shall we?

Also Read: Signs of Emotional Manipulation: 5 Ways to Stop Emotional Manipulation

Types Of Manipulative Behaviors



One of the most common types of manipulative behaviors is gaslighting. This type of behavior can be defined as a form of manipulation tactic that is toxic and dismissive of one’s emotions and experiences. When a manipulative person uses gaslighting, they dismiss your experiences and make you question your reality.

You can fight this manipulative tactic by using phrases such as:

  • “I don’t think we seem to remember the same things”
  • “If you continue this, I’ll not engage with you further”
  • “I heard you but that wasn’t my experience”
  • “I don’t think we can agree on this”

Remember, if everything fails, you can walk away from the conversation. Your words and experiences matter and are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2.The Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is another manipulative tactic that includes the manipulator not speaking with you. This treatment is done to gain control and power over you. You are made to believe that you’re at fault and deserve the treatment. The silent treatment need not happen in in-person communication either. Not responding to texts or emails also constitutes manipulation.

Keep in mind that not all silence is manipulation. Many people need time and space to construct a response. However, if you do find yourself at the end of the silent treatment, you can try to set boundaries and define your expectations with phrases such as:

  • “I understand you’re upset so let’s talk when we’re both willing to have a conversation”
  • “I will give you space and check-in later to see if you’re okay with a conversation”

3.Guilt Trips

Guilt-tripping is also a common type of manipulative behavior that is done to make you feel ashamed about something that wasn’t your fault in the first place. Guilt trips can include reminding you of how much the manipulator has sacrificed for you, making you feel guilty about your actions.

In such cases, you feel like you need to pay a debt. If you feel like this then you are being manipulated. Even if the other person doesn’t realize their tactic, you can still call them out on it or walk away from the situation.

4.Excessive Compliments

Another example of manipulative behavior can be giving excessive compliments. While I agree that compliments can put a smile on your face and boost your confidence, how do you know if the praise you’re getting is genuine and not a manipulative tactic? Well, you can spot manipulative behavior by noticing exaggeration. If the compliments you receive are making you uncomfortable like,

  • “I’m so grateful for your help. Without you, I can’t imagine what my life would be like”

Then watch out! With excessive flattery, a manipulator can hide ill intentions and can be a way to boost your ego to curry favors. While it is harmless, it can be irritating. You can use phrases like,

  • “When you say/do this, I feel uncomfortable”

5.Love Bombing

Grand gestures of love are always appreciated but not when it’s manipulative behavior. Love bombing is a form of strategic manipulation to make you fall in love with the other person, quickly. This feeling is when you believe you’ve found the right person in just a few weeks. When someone uses this manipulative behavior, they buy you expensive gifts and pay a lot of attention to you.

Love bombing in relationships can leave long-lasting scars so you need to spot the signs early on to save yourself the heartbreak. Set boundaries with your new partner early in the relationship to avoid manipulation.


Manipulators never admit their faults and this can come as projection, another type of manipulative behavior. Projection can be referred to as a defense mechanism to avoid responsibility and negative actions by projecting them onto another.

To avoid this manipulation tactic, you can start by avoiding projecting your compassionate behavior onto others. Avoid engaging in such situations and remember, you can always walk away if you feel yourself getting affected.

7.Changing Subjects

Another type of manipulative behavior is switching topics. While this may look harmless and innocent, manipulators use this tactic to avoid being accountable. They don’t want to accept accountability so they’ll change subjects to re-route the topic of discussion. This kind of manipulative behavior can go on if you let it.

To stop this, you can always bring the conversation back to the relevant topic. You can also try to be the “broken record” and bring up the topic until you’re heard. Continue to talk and state facts and avoid giving in to the distractions the other offers. You can use phrases like,

  • “I’m not talking about that. Let’s focus on this issue first”

8.Jokes At Your Expense

When the jokes are made to hide ill intention, then it can be a type of manipulative behavior that shouldn’t be dismissed. Manipulators like to make jokes, use name-calling, or barely disguised smear campaigns to get away with their actions. When the jokes are made at your expense, it’s not okay.

To stop this manipulative behavior, you need to speak up when you feel like you’re being made fun of. It’s never fun when it comes at the expense of your self-esteem and self-worth. Speak up and walk away from the situation.

I hope this article helped you understand the types of manipulative behavior and how to fight them. If you need professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to BetteHelp’s professionals or write to us at You can also leave us a message on our social media.

If you found this article helpful, do share it with your friends and family and comment your thoughts in the section below!

Take care!

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About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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