Subtle Signs You’re Dating A Manipulator You Need To Beware Of

A manipulator gets what they want from you through several sneaky methods that you probably don’t even notice. Often, they’ll take aim at your emotions and mental health to try and coerce you into doing what they want. Manipulators can be tricky to spot—to the point where you could be dating one and not even realize it! Fortunately, there are a few things to look out for. Here are the subtle signs you’re dating a manipulator.

  1. They provoke you on purpose. Provoking you on purpose just to get a reaction out of you is a form of manipulative behavior. Often, a toxic partner or date will do this to achieve a desired reaction so they can use that reaction as ammunition for their own agenda. For example, they might purposely do something to make you mad so they can accuse you of always being mad.
  2. They cry to get a reaction out of you. It’s okay to cry. And it’s okay to voice how you’re feeling to your partner. But there’s a difference between genuinely crying and crying specifically to make your partner feel guilty. A manipulative partner might also guilt you in other ways, such as saying emotionally loaded things or making exaggerated claims like, “You’re ruining my life.” Manipulative partners might also whine, just like children, until they get their way.
  3. They make you question your sanity. Otherwise known as gaslighting, making you question your sanity is another form of manipulative behavior. A classic example is when someone you’ve been dating for a long time tells you that you’re getting too attached too quickly and need to calm down, as though you’ve only been dating for a few weeks.
  4. They never apologize. There will come a time when your partner needs to apologize for their actions. Refusing to admit that they’re wrong or say sorry is another sign that the person you’re dating is manipulative. They might avoid taking the blame to make you feel like the guilty one, when in reality, it’s them.
  5. They make threats. Threats are not the way to get what you want in a healthy relationship. But a manipulative person might use threats as one of their most powerful tools to get their way. One of the most common threats is threatening to leave unless your partner does what you want. Note that this is different from setting healthy boundaries and responding accordingly when they’re crossed. These kinds of threats demand unreasonable things and promise harsh consequences if their demands aren’t met.
  6. They pick on your insecurities. You should be able to share your insecurities with your partner—without fear that they’ll use them against you. Picking on your insecurities is like hitting you where it hurts. An example would be your partner making a comment about your weight in the heat of the moment if you’ve expressed in the past that you’re insecure about it. Or your partner telling you to wear something they like, claiming your choice makes you look too big or small. Since this can cause a lot of emotional pain, it’s not okay.
  7. They’re coercive and forceful until they get what they want. Forcing someone to do what you want is also not okay, and a form of bullying. According to Very Well Mind, If the person you’re dating intimidates or harasses you until you give them what they want, that’s definitely a sign of manipulation.
  8. They make you believe you need them. Sometimes, a manipulative partner will make you feel like you need them. That way, they don’t have to treat you properly to make you stay with them—they set it up so you feel like you can’t leave. They might do this by constantly niggling at your self-esteem with critical comments to make you feel worthless. Or outwardly putting you down any chance they get.
  9. They punish you by withholding things of value. Another common form of manipulation to look out for is withholding things of value from you. A classic example is the silent treatment. A manipulative person uses this method to punish their partner, or until they get what they want from them. In reality, a healthy relationship shouldn’t feature two partners punishing each other. It’s not a parent-child relationship.
  10. They hide the truth from you so they’re at an advantage. Purposely keeping you in the dark about things gives your partner a position of power over you. Knowledge definitely is power, so this technique keeps you from making the best decisions. It might also make you more dependent on your partner.
  11. It feels like you’re walking on eggshells. Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells in your relationship? Like your partner gets irritated easily or is prone to temper tantrums? Then there’s a chance they’re manipulating you, even if they don’t know it. By making you fear their reaction, they’re subtly coercing you to act how they want you to act. A relationship might go through tense times, but you should never feel like your partner is a landmine that you’re about to step on.


Vanessa Locampo is an Aussie writer who’s equally obsessed with YA fiction and pasta. Her time is divided between writing all the things, reading all the things, listening to Queen, and bopping her cat on the nose. She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and has written for sites including and Discovering Montana, and currently works as an editor at Glam. You can keep up with her on Instagram @vanessaellewrites.