When you first meet someone, it can be difficult to tell if they are manipulative. Unfortunately, their selfishness frequently goes unnoticed until you have become too involved in their lives to simply cut and run. Once they've gotten close to you, these Machiavellian schemers will go to any length to keep you around, all for the purpose of using you in some way. The worst part about being trapped in a manipulative friendship is that it makes you doubt the sincerity of others, which can lead to constant second-guessing of other relationships.
If you have a “friend” who exhibits the following characteristics, you should try to get rid of them as soon as possible.
1. They pretend to be innocent
Manipulators have a way of twisting the truth in order to portray themselves as the victim. I once had a “friend” who would make me feel bad for not spotting him five dollars to buy a pack of cigarettes—despite the fact that I despise smoking. Looking back, I realize I was being used at the time. He made me feel bad for not lending him money to support a disgusting habit, when in reality he was the bad friend for even asking for the money in the first place.
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2. They engage in foolish behavior
Manipulative people will drain the energy of everyone around them by seeking assistance from their friends, only to go ahead and do whatever they want anyway. When their friends call them out on it, they'll have excuse after excuse ready. “It's my life; I'll do whatever I want,” or “Leave me to make my own mistakes.” It's perfectly fine if that's how they want to live, but they shouldn't seek advice if they don't want to hear the truth. It is a waste of the other person's time and energy, and it can undermine their trust in the value of the advice they provide.
3. They justify their actions
Manipulative people, in addition to not listening to their friends' advice, make their negative behavior appear to be the only option. They make it appear as if they made the correct decision, even though you know better from an objective standpoint. They frequently seek to “win” arguments rather than reach an agreement with the opposing party. The implication here is that they weren't really paying attention to what you had to say. They were just waiting for you to finish so they could respond, no matter how sound your advice was.
4. They frequently change the subject
Because manipulative people are only concerned with themselves, they will eventually steer conversation toward their own needs at any opportunity. They'll do this especially if they know they're wrong but don't want to admit it. Instead of validating the other person's point of view, they will simply change the subject to something insignificant or otherwise unrelated to the previous topic. This allows them to avoid the truth in a roundabout way that goes unnoticed by others.
5. They tell half-truths, for example
Manipulative people have a tendency to twist the truth to their advantage. They'll frequently conceal information that they know will expose them as liars, as if doing so is somehow preferable to telling the truth outright. Manipulators treat every interaction as if it were a court of law, where what they say could be used against them. They can honestly say, “I never said that,” if they act in this manner. Yes, technically you never said that, but the way you skirted the truth wasn't quite right.
6. They make you feel guilty
Manipulative people, in addition to claiming innocence, make others feel guilty. There may be times in your relationship when you simply don't have the time or energy to deal with certain situations, and the manipulative person will make you feel as if you're “not there for him.” They may even persuade you to put your own well-being on hold so that they have someone to complain to and seek advice from (advice which they may not heed, anyway).
7. They make fun of others
Manipulators are inherently rude and abrasive. All true friends can feel at ease poking fun at each other innocuously, but manipulative people go way overboard with the jabs and insults. In social situations, they do this to subtly undermine others and establish a sense of dominance. Manipulators never got over their high-school mentality, where it was “cool” to make fun of others and make them feel small with nothing more than their words.
8. They are bullies to others
Bullies are manipulative people. This extends beyond insults and frequently includes alienation and the spread of rumors. This is, once again, childish behavior, but it is frequently displayed by immature, manipulative adults. Some of the more “adult” ways to bully include ignoring certain people in a group, not allowing them to express their opinions, or leaving them behind. Manipulators will use these techniques to gain control. In reality, these people are extremely self-conscious and have low self-esteem, and they will harm others in order to feel better about themselves.
9. They minimize their actions
Manipulators make it appear as if their words and actions are “not that big of a deal.” Surprisingly, it is usually them who make a big deal out of things. That is, until they hear something they don't agree with and decide to turn the tables on the other party. They clearly show no empathy for those who have spent valuable time and energy attempting to assist them, instead blaming everyone else. They are aware that they have a problem, but they make it appear as if the world is out to get them rather than the other way around.
10. They place blame on others
As previously stated, manipulators constantly shift blame. They float through life without taking responsibility for their actions. They either deny doing anything wrong outright, or they have an explanation to make their actions seem reasonable given the circumstances. Manipulative people simply do not follow any code of ethics, and when it catches up with them, they will point the finger at anyone but themselves.
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