Although it is everywhere around us, emotional manipulation is difficult to spot.
This is especially the case with romantic relationships.
Even if you have doubts that your partner is an emotional manipulator, something like this is hard to accept.
Sometimes, manipulators are perfect in the beginning, but show their true face only when they are sure that you are emotionally invested in them.
But the first step in protecting yourself from manipulation is knowing how to recognize it.
Therefore, if you think that your boyfriend is emotionally manipulating you, here are 5 warning signs he really is.
1. He blackmails you
Emotional blackmail is one of the most powerful forms of emotional manipulation.
Not every manipulator will use the same type of blackmail but they will all make you feel like you’ve been backed into a corner and like you have no options.
Your partner knows that you have a strong conscience and by emotionally blackmailing you, he counts on your fear and guilt and on your sense of obligation in order to manipulate you.
He may be threatening to leave you if you don’t do something he wants or he can even threaten to do something harmful to himself if you abandon him, but the point is the same—you become his hostage and he puts you under the pressure of obeying him.
If you are dealing with this type of manipulator, the most important thing for you to do is not to give into his demands, because that would only encourage him to continue with his blackmail.
2. He plays the victim
Another thing that most manipulators do is take on the role of the victim.
No matter the situation and no matter who caused it, a successful manipulator will always somehow find a way to present himself as a victim.
He will rarely take responsibility for his words and actions and will always try to put all the blame on you. According to him, he behaves perfectly and you are the bad guy who is constantly ruining the relationship between the two of you.
Even if he sometimes admits that he said or did something wrong, he will try to convince you that you were the one who led him to behave in that manner, so everything is basically your fault.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that this guy never actually apologizes for anything he has done. Instead, he will constantly try to justify himself and will try to make you feel guilty about everything wrong in your relationship.
3. He is passive-aggressive
Passive-aggressive behavior is never direct, so when you are dealing with a manipulator, it is one of the hardest things to spot.
When you are involved with a passive-aggressive partner, he will rarely tell you what is really bothering him.
Instead, if he is angry at you, he will give you the silent treatment and will deliberately ignore you, or he will just become grumpy and cold toward you, expecting you to magically know what is wrong.
You may think that your partner just doesn’t know how to verbalize his emotions very well but he is actually doing this to punish you for what he considers you did wrong.
In this way, he manipulates you and you become afraid of doing or saying anything that might bother him because you want to avoid his potential passive-aggressive treatment.
4. He brings out your insecurities
If your partner is manipulative, his first target will be your self-esteem.
Your manipulator can’t allow for you to feel strong and confident because then you wouldn’t allow him to manipulate you. So, he uses your fears and insecurities to make you a suitable victim of his manipulation.
A skilled emotional manipulator will recognize your insecurities and he will bring them up whenever he needs to put you down. He will imply that he is above you, by patronizing and belittling you.
Of course, all of this is subtle in the beginning. This guy will insult you and try to present it as a joke or will convince you that he is just giving you advice for your own good.
But before you know it, he will really convince you that you are good for nothing and that he is actually doing you a favor by being with you. An emotional manipulator does this because he is afraid that you will see his true intentions and leave him, so he wants to lower your self-esteem to the bare minimum.
Consequently, you end up thinking that no other guy would ever want you and you continue being in a relationship with this manipulator,
5. He gaslights you
Gaslighting is one of the most successful forms of manipulation every skilled manipulator uses.
By gaslighting you, your manipulator plays with your mind and confuses you, causing you to doubt your own sanity. If your boyfriend uses this technique of emotional manipulation, he will always twist his and your words and will try to present reality different from what it actually is.
This guy will not always directly lie to you, but he will exaggerate and he will deny he has said something, trying to convince you that you are imagining things.
With time, this behavior of his wears you out, so you start to doubt your perception of reality and you end up believing everything this guy says. Therefore, you become the perfect candidate for further manipulation.