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7 Most Common Manipulation Tactics Used by Highly Toxic People

Note from the writers at Detangle Love:

Finding out you’re being manipulated isn’t exactly the best feeling in the world. But at the same time, it’s not something you should tolerate. If you feel like this is happening to you, seek help. Sometimes, talking to a friend makes all the difference. If you’re embarrassed, you shouldn’t be. But a therapist can also help you through this difficult time.

Photo by Marko Aliaksandr at Shutterstock

Have you ever been a victim of these manipulation tactics?

Toxic people like narcissists and those with antisocial traits engage in manipulative behaviors in relationships that ultimately demean, exploit, and hurt their friends and loved ones.

These people live in a different reality where they’re never to blame for anything going on around them. They deflect responsibility with their diversionary and manipulative tactics. But worst of all, they make a victim out of you.

This is why we thought it was time to take a closer look at some of their tactics. We’ll identify the toxic behavior and the person behind that manipulative behavior. When you know what you’re dealing with, you can defend yourself and refuse to be a silent victim.

We can call them out on their manipulation and leave them to their web of lies. Here are 7 manipulation tactics to watch out for!

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39 Responses

      1. Suzanne! You don’t have to let this happen! I let it happen for 28 years! You can do this, get out! Mine ended after he tried to kill me. Don’t let that happen to you. Not saying it will, never thought my Ex would try to kill me, but he did. Get out now before it continues to get worse and worse.

        1. This is true not only in marriage and intimate relationships, but family members and work environment! These toxic animals are everywhere, and take up most of the leadership positions in society!

        2. Thank you for your support of Suzanne! Domestic violence is very sad. Many women are killed every year by boyfriends or husbands. You are a great role model as a survivor of abuse. May God bless you and I hope you find that special someone who will love and respect you. You should be cherished.

      2. I know how you feel with this regard however, I am compelled to accentuate the’s a growth process for both people in the relationship and the victim tends to grow much wiser while the narcissist walks away looking for another victim and not growing and learning. Is not growing and learning a part of a healthy life?

        We all have good and bad traits some of which are buried so deep in the subconscious constantly running like a macro in a computer. Accentuate the positive and let go of any of the negative as much as possible

  1. I am a “recovering” narcissist and read articles like this daily as part of my therapy and it really hits home. I would advise more people to do the same and please keep them coming it is very eye-opening and humbling for sure, thank you.

    1. A recovering narcissists ? Interesting. So there is hope. What made you “wake up” and decide to change

  2. I’m stuck with this almost exact same person! We have 2 young kids so I’m in this hell for a few more years until the kids no longer need constant care. Each day is a roller coaster of drama and fighting it was years of sadness until I realized what was happening quit drinking and got my head on straight to realize exactly what it was I’d gotten myself trapped in. Reading articles like this have been really helpful in understanding my situation and realizing all the pitfalls to avoid in day to day life.

    1. Take your children and get out. All of you will be better off away from the toxic behavior. You wouldn’t allow your children to be near poison and a toxic person is poison.

      1. I agree! I should have left earlier. My kids don’t understand why I didn’t get out earlier, even though they were little. It was not easy as I was not working (my ex controlled me to the point he would let me feel like I was abandoning my children if I worked), I was not seeing my friends anymore and all my family was in another country! However, I regret every day my decision to stay longer. You might not see it, but children feel and sense everything. For real.

    2. Please talk to your kids everyday. I made the mistake of thinking I was the only one she was affecting with her attitude. Don’t turn them away from her, just let them know you are there for anything they want to talk about. Don’t mention mom but say, just between me and you.

  3. I think some of those techniques have been used on me (not all of them, though). In my case, I have made some big mistakes which have affected her and our kids. so those have been her justifications for this behavior. I have not, and may never be, completely forgiven for these. We’re devout Catholics, so divorce is not an option. So we’re basically at an impasse indefinitely.

    1. I’ve had all of those tactics used on me, also grew up catholic so divorce is my last option. Early in relationship I’d go out with friends, sometimes girlfriends to get away from her manipulative attitude. It helped my sanity to get away but of course now she uses that to turn an argument into a fight and confuse the issue at hand. I held on by keeping her away from friends it helped to a degree, but the fact that i made big efforts to keep her away from what I enjoyed took a toll on me. I stopped caring about her tantrums and things turned around a bit. I’d hope that someday she’d get it, but it seems like no hope. She is a great caring person, great to talk to and enjoy a good time, but the second she feels anger or jealousy she turns on me. I’m old already so I decided she is part of me, just like my arm or leg, so I do whatever I can to “behave” and I ignore her completely when she has moods. I think I can finish this way, what a life. I’ve always thought I was protecting my kids from her but lately I’m realizing she screwed them up too. I had to work, not sure what went on when I wasn’t there, kids seem to be affected. Hope to help them heal wish me luck.

    2. Every word spoken I have experience and I’m separated and yet still he tries to use control but it’s not happening, not is it worth my happiness

  4. All of these remind me of the current Democratic Party and the Biden administration!

  5. Thаnk you for sharing your info. I truly appгeciate yoᥙr effortѕ and I am waiting for your fᥙrther post
    thanks once again.

  6. Hі there! This post coᥙld not be written any better!
    Reading this poѕt rеminds me of my old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forwarɗ this page to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a gоod read. Thanks for

    1. This helped me tremendously I opened the portal to someone’s childhood trauma and the manipulation behind it was so chaotic but this really brought so much clarity but I’m at peace and my discernment is elevated for the future

  7. Although these are ALL references to a true narcissist, everyone is guilty of these traits at some time or another. It seems to be shaming in itself if you buy into all the rhetoric! I know so many people in this mode right now and border “fight or flight” every day because society is in general is being bombarded with the mental health scenarios ongoing’s.

  8. I went to this with someone who I thought were a friend. Everything you said it is her. She is a composer liar, dramatic, sneaky, and more just a hot mess is what she is. I had to leave my church on the account of her. I bought her to my church which I had been there for some years. She came and destroyed friendships, kept chaos with members in the church , she called most of the members at the church and told lies on me, she ruined my character. The Pastor went against me for her. Talking about the church folks. It’s more but I rather not say anymore. ASHAME!!!!

  9. Unfortunately, almost all the pics stereotype the male as the aggressor, when there are plenty of women who do the same thing. Let’s be fair please.

  10. Everyone has problems and challenges in acting correctly and being responsible in relationships. The key is, that both people recognize they are imperfect humans and both are trying to improve.

    The problem with a TOXIC personality is that they do not acknowledge they have a problem and they have no desire to improve.

    So any one of these 7 manipulative tactics would be the RELATIONSHIP ENDER for me if the person is not willing to change (and they usually aren’t if they are “toxic”). I do NOT play games with relationships anymore, I stopped playing games in my 30s. When I recognize a toxic person, that’s it, everything is over, I never communicate with them again. Period. END. [Or, if I have to because they are family or coworkers I set boundaries and keep my distance].

    Look up “Toxic People by DE Navarro” and you’ll find a good article on it along with this one.

  11. I did not fall into this type of toxic relationship but was used by my first ex wife unknowingly to leave her home and try to forget issues she had with some guys raping her which she never told me about. It played on her mind in a way that later made her run around with more guys which ended the short marriage. I never saw it coming, just wanted her. Many years later we met again on Facebook, had many long conversations and some about our marriage. She told me about her rapes and other issues, how it all caused her to be unstable and that we had a toxic marriage. I guess toxic refers to her having manipulated me to marry her and be used in hopes of things working out. She didn’t care if she hurt me, used me and then left. Now I have a better understanding of toxic.

  12. I was with a man who claimed to “love” me for years! It wasn’t until we had been married for several years that our marriage seemed to change. The minute I went back to work. I had stayed home for several years raising our kids. But I soon learned that it seemed to be alright for him to be friendly toward young women, but it wasn’t alright for me to be friends with any male coworkers. He didn’t want me to have a glass of wine with my neighbor and good friend (a married woman), he disapproved of me having an alcoholic drink at a bar (even though I was with him). He could drink, though! He wanted to pick the people for me to hang around with. With our friends, if I was having a good time, laughing and talking, he would very loudly say, he was getting tired and ready to leave. But the worst thing, was what he told me over the years we were together…”No other man will ever want you!” I believed him! After my husband died (we were married over 40 years…the last 5 years I was his caregiver!).
    Then three years after his death I met a male RN. He claimed his failed marriage was his fault and he’d had several relationships, but none seemed to work out…blah, blah, blah! Told me he was blessed, he was God fearing, etc. I liked him a lot, but after several months of a hot/cold relationship, and being told he really didn’t need a woman in his life because there was really nothing a woman could offer him, it came out that he had a (very nice “lady”) friend whom he was thinking about opening his heart to! She had told him, her husband cheated on her, however, they stayed together because they had 3 children (teens) and her husband has a terminal disease. I told my friend to be careful with his heart, because if one spouse cheats and then the other cheats, one is no better than the other! Then I became the bad person…I hurt “her feelings” and he was extremely protective of her! I told him, he was a good prospect…great job, nice home, great lifestyle. His kids raised and doing very nicely!
    Told him, he should talk to someone else before doing anything! I became an even worse person…I was judging her, I had no idea of what she had been thru, etc, etc! Needless to say, I was the very bad one! I felt sorry for him and those kids! I did hope he eventually finds happiness! But they never see what they don’t want to! Just saying!

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