A psychologist has revealed the six traits she believes all emotional manipulators have in common.
Dr Carmen Harra, American author of Committed: Finding Love and Loyalty Through the Seven Archetypes, told FEMAIL: ‘In terms of love relationships, being with a devious partner is like being led on a leash: You won’t get too far before you get pulled back in.
‘Manipulation is characterised by skilful – and often deceitful – influence over a person’s thoughts and actions,’ she explained.
The expert suggested that if your partner exhibits the following six tendencies, ‘you should heed the warning signs for your own sake’…
A psychologist has revealed the six traits she believes all emotional manipulators have in common
They prey on empathetic individuals
The expert said: ‘When you first meet them, a manipulator will be on their best behaviour, which is likely to make you fall head over heels for them.
‘After you’ve developed genuine feelings, they’ll begin to exert a powerful hold over you, but it won’t be a gentle or loving hold – it’ll be a domineering, exploitative, and abusive grip.
‘A manipulator may offer a faint trace of loyalty so that you continue the relationship, but their attachment to you will prove to be an illusion.
‘You’re more susceptible to come under the control of a manipulator if you’re an authentically kind and caring individual.’
They are their partner’s every dream – at first
Dr Carmen said: ‘A manipulator comes across as irresistibly charming in the beginning. Beneath this façade, they employ Machiavellian tactics to get his way.
‘A manipulator has two faces: the public side that appears to be the epitome of a perfect partner and the private side that only the poor individuals who have crossed into their personal space encounter.
‘You can expect a manipulator to act outrageously indignant the moment you accuse them of being anything close to what they really are. As months or years pass, the layers of pretence peel away to reveal his true nature.’
They love power
The psychologist explained: ‘A manipulator’s first and foremost love is not you, but power: They must reign over all circumstances around them so that they can manoeuvre them to their benefit.
‘For example, they may coax you into moving away from your family by constantly pointing out all the flaws they have.
‘Sure, you may not always get along with your mother or you might butt heads with your sister, but that’s no reason to abandon your loved ones.
‘Yet this is exactly what a controller wants: To estrange you from the people who love you and could potentially point out that your partner is dangerous.
‘A manipulator must remain in control because the moment they feel the slightest slip in power, they’ll either lash out or terminate the relationship.’
They make you question your reality
Dr Carmen said: ‘Manipulators are known to use sneaky, sly techniques that most people don’t discern as red flags.
‘A manipulator will call you a manipulator, and they are so persuasive that they’ll make you believe it. They’ll have you convinced that there’s something wrong with you, never with them.
‘One indicator of deception at play is that you have trouble differentiating reality from imagination: when are they lying, and when are they telling the truth? When do they mean what they say, and when are they putting on an act?
‘If you’re dating a manipulator, you might never be able to tell which is which. In time, these kinds of psychological games will end up taking a serious mental and emotional toll on you.’
They have an underdeveloped conscience
Dr Carmen said: ‘Simply put, a manipulator wants you to be whatever they want, whenever they want. They have little problem lying to, cheating on, or stealing from their partner; psychologically, a manipulator does not feel adequate remorse for their actions.
‘Their lack of consideration allows them to treat people as objects, not human beings worthy of respect and compassion.
‘A manipulator doesn’t necessarily think that everything revolves around them (as does a narcissist), but rather that nothing is off limits.
‘Because their conscience is underdeveloped, a manipulator feels no moral compunction to play fair or treat others as their equal. What to you or me seems wrong seems perfectly fine to a schemer, so long as it helps them get their way.’
They invoke conflictual emotions
‘”But how will I know I’m dating a manipulator?”, you might ask. Your emotions will betray the truth, as they always do, but you must allow them to reveal (a sometimes harsh) reality without making excuses for your partner,’ suggested the expert.
‘Cognitive dissonance is the state of having thoughts or beliefs that are inconsistent with decisions – when knowing and doing are opposite. Our mind creates dissonance when the truth is too unpleasant to face.
‘You might know cigarettes cause cancer, but that doesn’t stop you from lighting one. Similarly, you might instinctively know your partner shouldn’t be treating you a certain way or doing certain things to you, yet you remain in the same situation.
‘Applying cognitive dissonance to your relationship with a manipulator may help you “lie” to yourself, but it won’t change what you feel: You’ll still feel something is terribly wrong.
‘If your partner frequently makes you feel anxious, belittled, hopeless, frustrated, or depressed, know that they are most likely a manipulator.
‘Pay attention to the emotions your significant other invokes in you and know that your feelings are never wrong; they are superior sources of truth. Remember: people lie, but your intuition doesn’t.
‘Even people who have manipulative tendencies are capable of self-improvement, but they must want to change and undertake the necessary efforts.
‘Cutting off contact with a manipulator is the best way to regain normality and reclaim your power.
‘If your partner displays these tell-tale signs of manipulation, I encourage you to walk away now, with your sanity and happiness still intact,’ concluded the psychologist.