If you have a significant other, it’s normal to have a difference of opinion on occasion. It’s also a given that you both will use gentle persuasion to get your lover to have a change of heart. But even when you are trying your best to be persuasive, it still stays within the perimeters of love and respect.

The manipulative mate couldn’t care less about your opinions and will use anything in their power to control you. According to an article published by the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, manipulative and toxic relationships are often a sign of a narcissistic personality.

Red Flags That You’re Being Manipulated

Having meaningful conversations about differences of opinion support a healthy relationship. If one partner is a manipulator, the results are damaging to the other’s entire well-being. Here are 12 red flags that will show you the difference between gentle persuasion and cruel manipulation.

1. They Stay on Their Turf

If you are a sports fan, you’ve probably heard of the home-court advantage. It’s the psychological boost of confidence you feel when you are playing on your turf. Manipulators are the same way; they seem to work their best when you are on their territory.

Those who use persuasion don’t mind where they are discussing issues. Be aware when someone insists that you be at their place or in their office before you can have a meaningful conversation. They are hoping that you feel at a disadvantage when you’re in their space.

2. They Use Your Words Against You

Another classic tool of manipulative people is that they are masters at twisting the truth. Manipulators are excellent listeners, but not because they care about what you’re saying. They hang on to each phrase to figure out their next move.

When you least expect it, they will take your words and conversation out of context to use against you. They will put a little slant it in to make you look foolish or like a liar. If the ruse works, you may end up agreeing with them.

3. They Move Too Quickly in a Relationship

When someone is gently persuasive and wants a closer relationship with you, they don’t mind taking the time. Whether or not you believe in love at first sight, successful relationships aren’t built overnight. However, a manipulator with a hidden agenda works at warp speed to get in your good graces.

Are they a bit too touchy-feely before you even know them well? Perhaps they’ve already declared you both to be a couple before you’ve even considered it. Are they making big plans while you’re wondering about a second date?

4. They Twist the Facts for Their Advantage

Persuasive people don’t have to lie to make a point. However, manipulators thrive on twisting facts and conversations to make their opinions seem credible. They also aren’t above lying to secretly make you look like the bad guy and make them out to be the saint.

For example, suppose you plan an outing with your friends, and the manipulator isn’t happy about it. He may twist one of your friends’ words or concoct a reason why you shouldn’t go on your adventure. They may also exaggerate the facts to make them seem worse, so you’ll always side with them.

5. They Try to Outsmart You

Someone once said that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Education, experiences, and talents were meant to be used as gifts and never as weapons to hurt people. Many manipulative people try to use their experiences and credentials to overpower or demean others.

It creates a toxic relationship that can make simple conversations seem like a battle. Does your significant other try to act intellectually superior to you? When they are trying to force their opinions, they may try to use their education as leverage.

Instead, those who use persuasion value your intellect, experience, and skill. They appeal fairly to your intelligence to decide on a personal or professional relationship. Manipulators pull out all stops to make their methods better than yours.

6. They Constantly Criticize You

A true lover brings out the best in you and offers sincere praise for your accomplishments. When you’re with them, you feel loved, worthy, and appreciated. If you are being manipulated, your self-esteem may burn out quickly due to the toxic environment. Manipulative people gain attention to themselves by belittling those around them, mainly their significant others.

It’s normal for a couple to argue and spew out a few criticisms. Some of the gripes may be false, but others legitimate. A manipulator is quick to criticize everything you do and speak. The plan is to eventually break you down until you feel too stupid and unworthy to say “no.”

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7. They Try to Make You Feel Guilty

Nobody is above using a few guilt tactics to get their point across to another person. However, people who are easily guilted into doing things they don’t want can be targets for manipulators. These toxic personalities are virtual travel agents for guilt trips.

If your lover is using persuasion, they will highlight the positive aspects of their opinions. Manipulators depend heavily on guilt and goading. They usually have good memories and can use any past mistake against you so you wouldn’t dare speak up for yourself.

8. They Don’t Validate Your Concerns or Feelings

Someone who loves you and cares about your well-being will be empathetic to your feelings. Even if your perception is a bit off, nobody has a right to tell you how to feel or think about things. A true lover will validate your feelings as important and worthy to be heard.

Don’t expect such well-deserved courtesy from a manipulative mate. No matter your emotions or how passionate you feel about a subject, they’ll completely disregard you. They will spout off a scripted list of reasons why your feelings are unrealistic, petty, selfish, and worthless.

9. They Make Backhanded Compliments and Jokes

Shakespeare wisely penned that many truths are said in jest. Toxic and manipulative people have the skewed idea that you can negate an insult by saying, “just kidding.” They don’t care that they are the only one who’s laughing.

“Hey, I thought you said you lost weight. Just kidding.” These tormenting personalities use backhanded compliments. What may seem like a compliment at first is a disguised insult. If you are dealing with such manipulative abuse, understand that it’s cruel and has nothing to do with your sense of humor.

10. They Often Play the Martyr’s Card

A martyr is one of the four personality archetypes explained by an article published in the Journal of the Society of General Systems Research. Unfortunately, manipulative people are talented actors when it comes to persecution. The only difference is that they are pretending, and they’re only out for their benefit.

They know how to make the long, sad expressions and speak in a somber, long-suffering tone. How could you decide something on your own after all they’ve done for you? They’ve committed to memory any small deed of kindness they’ve ever offered you, plus some. They know how to turn the tables to make you look like you are taking advantage of their generous and loving nature.

Like most actors, manipulators do their best performances before a crowd. They can quickly tweak the conversation to make you look bad in front of friends or family. These award-winning acts are also meant to garner more support of them and less for you.

11. They’re Always Better

In every group of family, friends, or coworkers, just about everyone has that irritating person who is a “one-upper.” No matter what you’ve done or seen, they have done or seen better. If anyone is daring enough to mention an accomplishment, look out for the volley of “better than” statements.

It’s even worse in a toxic relationship when your lover is trying to manipulate you. They will often try to minimize any of your skills or achievements so you will back down. After all, they think that they are better at everything, including running your life.

12. They Engage in Gaslighting

This term was coined from an iconic movie starring Ingrid Bergman. According to the story, her character’s husband was a manipulator and tried to make her think she was losing her mind. He would do little things like leaving the gaslights on downstairs and convince her that she forgot to turn them off.

This eponymic trick is still a favorite of manipulative people. They may try to put words in your mouth or make you seem unbalanced in front of others. The whole time, they act with false sympathy as they continue to erode your confidence and independence.

Final Thoughts on The Difference Between Persuasion and Manipulation

When your person is using persuasion, you may change your mind and feel good about it later. However, subtle manipulation can use verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, and you may not even realize it. If you are in a toxic relationship with a manipulative person, your next independent decision may be to walk out the door.