Emotional manipulation tactics you should be careful of

Emotional manipulation tactics can slowly deteriorate your mental health. (Image via Freepik/ Freepik)
Emotional manipulation tactics can slowly deteriorate your mental health. (Image via Freepik)

Emotional manipulation tactics are used as a way to seek control. Unfortunately, sometimes we are under the influence of this control and can't see it.

It's important to recognize and become aware of the various types of tactics people use. This recognition helps you protect yourself from the potential harm a relationship may cause you.

While emotional manipulation is often talked about in the context of romantic relationships, any person can engage in it. The more uncommon contexts include friendships and the workplace. By recognizing tactics, you also protect others who may be subject to these.


Six common emotional manipulation tactics

Emotional manipulation tactics get missed. (Image via Pexels/Odonata Wellnesscenter)
Emotional manipulation tactics get missed. (Image via Pexels/Odonata Wellnesscenter)

While physical abuse is apparent, emotional abuse is insidious in nature. Some of these techniques are intentional, i.e. the person sets up a trap for you to fall in.

However, at times, people can engage in these tactics unintentionally, especially if they have learned them in their own homes. Irrespective of the intention, emotional manipulation tactics have the potential to harm you.

Here are six common ones you should be aware of:

#1 Moving goalposts

Imagine that you are playing soccer, but every time you try to hit a goal, the goalpost automatically shifts its position.

That can be an infuriating experience and make you feel like you lose every time. A person with narcissism is likely to change their expectations or standards and make you feel that you are not doing well.


#2 Love bombing

Love bombing is one of the common emotional manipulation techniques. (Image via Pexels/Markus Winkler)
Love bombing is one of the common emotional manipulation techniques. (Image via Pexels/Markus Winkler)

Love bombing is one of the most common manipulation techniques. A person suddenly fills you with love, care and attention, but the only motive behind these behaviors is to establish control.


#3 Passive-aggression

Emotional manipulation is not always overt and direct, as it can take the form of passive-aggressive behavior at times. The manipulator will throw criticism at you in a subtle fashion. They may poke at your feelings or make sarcastic comments about your behavior.


#4 Lying or denial

Emotional manipulation techniques are common. (Image via Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)
Emotional manipulation techniques are common. (Image via Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)

Most manipulators deny lies at face value. It means that even if you show them evidence of their lies, they may deny it. That's often because they don't want to take accountability or responsibility for their actions.


#5 Breadcrumbing

You may have noticed that a lot of individuals who live with manipulators continue to stay in the relationship.

As an outsider, you may be able to see the negative effects, but the victim falls into the trap of breadcrumbing, where the manipulator intermittently provides small gestures of affection, making you stick around for the breadcrumbs.


#6 Gaslighting

Gaslighting patterns are frequently recognized in pop culture and social media. It's also one of the most harmful emotional manipulation tactics.

In this case, a person frequently makes you question your emotions, thoughts and beliefs. As a victim, you will always feel guilty for expressing your emotions.


A lot of us continue to live in emotionally abusive relationships; there can be multiple reasons for that. However, one thing that significantly separates abusive relationships from non-abusive ones is a sense of safety.

Do you feel safe when the person employs various emotional manipulation tactics? It can be tough to move away from relationships, but we need to leave them when necessary. Emotional manipulation tactics should not dictate your mental health.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Bhargav
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