Manipulators are sly. They tend to sugar coat their manipulation so it looks like love. You could be thinking you’re the happiest woman in world, but you’re actually slowly falling into that pit of despair caused by manipulation and abuse. Watch out for these signs to escape a manipulative relationship in time.

1. “But I love you so much!” is his favorite excuse

Every time he does something that pisses you off, he quickly justifies it with this excuse and makes you forget about it. Be careful if this is a constant thing. Jealousy, ignoring your wishes and needs just because he loves you so much? He could just be covering his bullshit behavior.

2. “I want to take care of you” as well

I want to take care of you, so I’ll keep you locked up at home while I go off to work. This is truly useful if you’re sick, depressed or pregnant. But if he insists you stay home when you said you need to get out or you have to work, this could be something else. The difference between caring and manipulation here is—your choice.

3. You’re his whole world – he can’t live without you

He can’t possibly live without you, putting pressure on you to stay when you actually want to leave. This is not romantic. This is creepy. This is a perfect way for emotion manipulators to manipulate you into staying by threatening suicide if you leave. Another manipulation is pulling you away from your loved ones, just so he can have you for himself and control you to fit his needs.

4. He spoils you with gifts you don’t need

We all love to be spoiled and surprised with small signs of affection, but if he’s bringing you down with his gifts or using them as weapons, that’s no longer cute. If he’s buying you things to replace something you already own—your clothes, makeup, furniture etc.—he’s trying to change you into something you’re not.


Man waiting on street with a bouquet of flowers

5. He tells you when you’ve had too much to drink

The moment you start having fun with your friends, he becomes all worried about you having a nasty hangover tomorrow, telling you to slow down. Yeah, I think I know how much alcohol I can handle, thanks Dad. He could be doing this just because he’s not having as much as fun as you do and he’s simply jealous.

6. He flipped because he HAD to see you

You canceled your date or you’re running late because you were held up at work and he turns all Hulk mode. His instant apology is “I just had to see you, I miss you so much”, but if he has no understanding that you have a life besides him, maybe it’s better to have a life completely without him.

7. Suggesting things “For your own good”

You should wear your hair like this, eat this, drink that, exercise more, wear this. All of this for you own good. He cares so much about you that he knows the right way you should live your life. But you did it on your own for so long—why change anything if you’re happy the way you are now?

8. “It’s other people I don’t trust”

Having someone to care about you and love you is truly amazing, but having someone hovering over you ALL the time because “it’s other people he doesn’t trust”—that’s disturbing. You can’t remember the last time you went out alone. You can’t remember when you spent the night with your friends WITHOUT him. You can’t remember the last time you were truly alone and could dedicate your spare time completely to yourself. Maybe it’s time to leave.

See also: 7 Sentences Psychopaths and Manipulators Use to Break You In a Relationship

9. He becomes super sweet after arguments

After arguments, he brings you flowers, coffee and breakfast into bed. He buys you chocolate and sends random love texts. He knows he’s the one who fucked up, he knows it’s his fault and he’s not risking losing you. But after a while, you have another fight and things just go right back into the circle of him screwing up and making up for it, but never really doing anything to change.

10. If you love me, you will…

This phrase is a classic start of manipulation. Since when do you have to do something you don’t want to in order to prove your love? Have sex, change your hair, go to the game…? People who truly love you won’t manipulate you because what they want with you is a healthy relationship with two equal partners—not one submissive and the other dominant. This might seem innocent and sweet, but a little bit of manipulation goes a long way.