6 Red Flags That Your Partner is Manipulative

6 Red Flags That Your Partner is Manipulative

Maggie Chiang https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/07/12/science/12COERCIVE/12COERCIVE...


I believe everyone has a responsibility to look out for others, regardless of gender. However, as a female, I feel unequipped to speak on specific issues facing male victims of abuse, and far more experienced to discuss the issues facing women, because of the experiences of myself and other female friends. Hence, throughout this article, although I stay gender neutral throughout you may see a slight bias towards female experience.

In the news, you will often hear of disgustingly horrific abuse cases that don’t bear thinking about, and while these are important to document and do raise awareness, I think it is important to detail the smaller, more nuanced signs of abuse and manipulation. As I have aged, I have become more aware of the smaller things that, in isolation, make a partner a bit of an idiot but combined make their actions highly questionable.

I am not an expert and have no qualifications in these subjects, but I think it is important to explain what I know, in the hope it might help someone see the signs of a potentially harmful relationship. Here are six red flags that suggest someone may not have your best interests at heart when in a relationship.


#1 Manipulative language

This seems extremely obvious, but this kind of manipulation can be ignored so easily, especially when you have feelings for the perpetrator. There a number of ways people can use words to manipulate, but the subtler ones include: retelling situations to adopt their point of view, often ensuring this new perspective emotionally affects you; asking questions that they already know your reaction to, only to then ridicule you for that response. If these subtle signs start appearing regularly, perhaps you should rethink the type of person you are seeing, and whether they truly care for you or not.


#2 Playing the Victim

This ties in with the use of manipulative language, but when a significant other tries to make a situation about themselves, how much you hurt them or otherwise, it should be a warning to you. For example, if they are verbally abusive to you, and then when you stand up for yourself, they tell you that they are upset because YOU hurt them with something they said – watch out. If you feel as though someone is attempting to guilt trip over something that you are certain doesn’t involve you; this is yet another sign of manipulation.


#3 Only being nice for sexual gratification

When someone is being a considerate human being while they believe that they will receive sexual gratification through you but then becomes aggravated and aggressive when you reject their advances – this is a major sign that this person does not have your best interests at heart. It may seem obvious to some, but I think it is important to remind people that regardless of how far you travelled to get there, how drunk you are, how drunk they are, how they dress and what they said to you: if someone rejects your sexual advances, you smile, say okay and walk the away.


#4 Slut shaming

If a partner makes you change what you wear because they do not like how much skin you are showing or what others will think, either give them a lesson on rape culture and respect or get out of that relationship ASAP. Similarly, I am a firm believer in women sticking up for women, so if someone you are seeing starts to shame other girls for what they are doing, and comparing them to you – maybe think twice. If someone doesn’t have the decency to respect women as human beings, do you really think they will change their perspective for you? You deserve more than that, and you shouldn’t be compromising beliefs of self-love and female companionship for a man, ever.


#5 Provoking guilt

This is slightly more general than playing victim, but if someone tries to make you feel guilty for something that has nothing to do with you, RUN! You are not responsible for your partners actions, misfortunes or mistakes. You are not obligated to change the way your partner lives, especially if it puts your physical and/or mental health at risk. And you certainly don’t have to ‘fix’ your partner because they have repeatedly told you of how awful they feel and how it somehow all relates back you. I understand that when you are in love with someone, you want to help them in every conceivable way – but just be aware of what is genuine and what is contrived to stir up feelings of guilt within you. You don’t own anyone anything.


#6 Angry outbursts

This is potentially the most physical form of abuse discussed in this article. If someone is aggressive towards you; regardless of whether this is a first-time thing, if they have consumed alcohol or if they promise they didn’t mean it, you have no obligation to stay in contact with that person. Aggressive behaviour (either verbal or physical) is a sure sign that someone is manipulative and has the ability to abuse you. They do not deserve the love that you may have for them and they certainly don’t deserve any of your time.

2018, for me, was the year of becoming more confident in myself and importantly, the women around me. As a result, I have learned so much about how to deal with and overcome harmful situations. Domestic violence and abuse is a horribly complex situation, both on an individual level and on a grander scale. As stated above, I am no expert and I am aware that these six issues are only a handful of ways someone can cause harm and manipulation. I think it is important, however, for young people to speak up when they feel something is wrong, and be open about thoughts and experiences they have; in the hope for a future free from domestic violence and manipulation.



If you have been affected by anything in this article, please look at these resources:




University of Aberdeen Student Support: 01224 273935 or [email protected]

Your Student Resident Team within Halls: Nightline listening services from 8pm-8am: 01224272829

University Counselling Service: 01224272139 and [email protected]

Chaplaincy: [email protected] or 01224 272137

Samaritans: www.samaritans.org or 08457909090