How to Recognize Manipulative Family Members and Deal Wisely With Them

Manipulative family members are those individuals in a family that play on other people’s emotions, by using blackmail, guilt trips, or other means to exert control on their subject under the pretense of having their best interest at heart.

Sadly, a lot of us have manipulative family members, colleagues, friends, or even lovers in our lives. They are always trying to pressure us into doing things for them or for their benefit using awful measures without minding that such may affect us in many negative ways.

The main issue with having to deal with manipulative people is that most of the time, you don’t even know you are being manipulated, and instead, you think that something is wrong with you. Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in relationships such as these; it is sadly more common than most people would care to admit.

Friends, Colleagues, And Even Family Members Can Be Manipulators

Manipulation has been seen as a form of influence that is neither coercion nor rational persuasion. What differentiates this type of influence from most others is that most often, manipulation entails moral limitations.

The ingredients that you may get to find whenever manipulation happen include things like exaggerating the advantage of something while undermining the disadvantage, making people feel guilty for wanting what they want or not wanting what you want, drive someone into an emotional state so that they do things they wouldn’t have previously done, and getting people to doubt their judgment among other things.

This unhealthy psychological strategy is a trait of people who are either incapable or feel incapable of functioning within a normal and rational interaction setting. They want to get things and things are done without following the right processes or even give room for someone to turn them down or give them a reason why another perspective may be better.

Often seen as a character disorder, it could be as a result of the manipulator’s past experiences, immaturity, or something entirely different. One thing that is certain is that manipulative people are not willing to take responsibility, so they find ways of using people and getting them to take responsibility for them including through manipulation.

It is not only friends or colleagues that manipulate us. It happens most of the time in relationships between spouses, and also among family members.

Family Manipulation Tactics: How To Identify Manipulative Family Members

Manipulative Family Members
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If you have had any reason to believe that some members of your family have been manipulating you, the sad news is that it is probably true. The even sadder news is that because most times people who manipulate are very skillful at it, you might not even know early enough. If you have any reason to suspect you are being controlled or used, here are some easy ways of knowing:

1. Do they make you feel guilty about their problems?

Manipulative family members almost always have a way of making you feel guilty about their problems and how bad things are for them. By the end of a conversation with them, you feel bad about yourself, thinking you have done something to make their situation, whatever it may be, worse than it should be.

In the actual sense, a manipulator does not take the blame. Instead, they gaslight you and get you into a situation of feeling guilty or defensive. When anything doesn’t go well for a manipulator, it has to be the fault of another person as they don’t take responsibility.

2. How do they ask for favours?

When most people ask for a favour or they have a request to make, they start off by making a small request and then they make a big request subsequently. Manipulators do this differently; they start off by making a large request so that when you turn them down, they can make a smaller request, thereby blackmailing you into helping them out.

For example, your manipulative family member might ask for a very large amount of money, knowing you would turn him down. When that happens, he will reduce it to the main amount he has on mind, so that you would be compelled to give.

3. Do they attach strings to every good deed?

The manipulative family member or even friend has no problem doing favours for you. Sometimes, they go out of their way to act all nice and supportive, but if you look close enough, there are always strings attached somewhere.

Whatever kindness a manipulative person does, he expects one to reciprocate and when you do not do that, they make you feel like you are an ingrate. They sacrifice all for you, but you are not willing to do a small favor for them in return. They exploit the expectations of reciprocity.

4. Manipulative family members can make you doubt the reality

People who are manipulative are also very good when it comes to lying. They have the power of making you doubt the reality of things happening. When things happen, they can insist such didn’t, or when they say or didn’t say something, they can make you believe otherwise. Because of how skillful they are in this, they will make you doubt yourself and reality, and believe what they are pushing.

5. They rationalize their behaviors

Manipulators are almost always on the path to making one wrong decision or another. When they behave in a negative way or make decisions that do not align with right thinking, they are always eager to rationalize such behaviors and make one believe that is the only choice they have.

They always try to be “objective” when rationalizing their behaviours. When it comes to argument, they are only interested in winning and not necessarily getting the facts out and straight. In a situation that they are unable to rationalize their behaviours or they make serious mistakes, they insist it is their life; they have to make mistakes to learn.

You Need To Run From Manipulative Family Members

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When you have manipulative family members, it becomes harder to flee from them since you are most likely almost always to share the same space with them. But then, if there is a way of keeping them a little farther from yourself, that will help.

It may often seem as though their manipulative tendencies is only to get you to do something for them or to get something from you but it is more than that. They often try to have you selfishly in their powers in order to control your feelings and emotions. But more than just controlling you, the actions and inactions of the manipulator has a way of affecting you physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even financially and in many other ways.

In general, when you are being manipulated for a long time, the effect on you may include things like:
  • Mental and emotional stress
  • Almost constant fatigue that may soon start affecting your physical health
  • Poor physical looks
  • The feeling of helplessness and shame
  • It can diminish your self-confidence
  • They cause you anxiety and depression
  • Self-doubt and frustration arising from always questioning your reality.

How To Deal With Manipulative Family Members

Manipulative Family Members
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Getting yourself free from the bondage of manipulative family members may not be as easy as it will be when someone is not a family member with who you have to share a space. However, you can still break free and live above their irrational tendencies. The first mistake most people make when dealing with manipulators is to try to beat them at it, which is not possible since they have mastered it. Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take:

1. Ignore them as much as you can

Two things are more likely to happen when you get cornered by manipulative people; they make you to either get defensive or try to correct them. Both of these are the very wrong approaches you would want to take. Attempting to defend yourself will only put you at their mercy and correcting them is an effort in futility since they are not wrong- they are just being manipulative.

Also, when you try to correct them, you will only start more drama that you do not need because a manipulative person will never admit to being wrong. At best, they would try to rationalize their behavior and make you seem insensitive.

2. Find a way of distancing yourself from them emotionally

Manipulative family members feed on your emotional attachment to them. They know of this attachment and that is what they exploit by making you feel indebted to them always. You can continue to care about them and show them the necessary love as a family member, but you have to also find a way of maintaining your distance.

3. Learn how to say no to them

You begin to break free from manipulative people the moment you stop allowing yourself to be controlled by their antics. The moment you start telling them no, you will always get them off balance and soon, they would know their manipulative ways no longer work with you. When you always agree with them, they become even more powerful.

4. Learn not to react

You take back the power from manipulative people and throw them off balance when you master how not to react to their antics. This will pull them back and get them to try to find other means to manipulate you, which may even include emotional blackmail. Still, try not to react by getting angry or showing them that you are sad when they want you to be.

5. Take time out to think before you decide

What you will find out to be the most effective way of dealing with manipulative family members is to never be too fast to agree to their requests. No matter the discussion you are having with manipulators, never be in a rush to make a decision because, with every request, a manipulative person tries to control you.

However, when you always delay taking decisions, you will be able to have a clear head to think things through and avoid falling in their traps. No matter how they try to get you to make a decision, never rush.

6. Believe in yourself some more

The more you doubt yourself, the easier it is for manipulative people to control you. You will need to believe yourself more so that even when they try to get you to doubt things you know are true in order to manipulate you, you will still have your stand.

7. Get angry but avoid the blame game

You are mostly encouraged not to give manipulative family members the satisfaction of a reaction as earlier stated, however, there will be moments you’ll need to use your discretion. There will be times when you will need to get angry at them when they are wrong; suppressing your anger in order not to offend them, does not benefit you as they use that as a means of manipulating you. Do not be in a haste to get angry, and do not dwell on it for so long.

Beyond anger, do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of the blame game; you will never win unless you are also a manipulative individual.

How Do You Know You Are Winning And That They Are Losing Control of You?

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The moment you start holding your grounds against manipulative people and you stop allowing them to manipulate you, there are signs that will become evident to you.

1. The person gets angry before he changes

When manipulators realize they can no longer control you, there is the possibility that they get mad at first and start acting even worse towards you. However, they may later turn around and change their behaviours if they are able to realize their errors and are willing to change.

2. They become worse than ever

Once they can no longer manipulate you, they become a worse version of their previous self and probably get verbally abusive. They become more forceful to get you back into their grip. The possibility of this type of manipulator changing is very little.

3. Manipulative family members may get physical

In the last bid to reclaim “control” of you, some manipulative family members, including spouses, may get worse than they were, and get verbally abusive, before they get physical with you. The idea is that they want to control you by any means and once they have lost manipulating you emotionally, they resort to physical attacks to gain control back.

If you are dealing with such people and things start to get out of control, you’ll need to physically distance yourself from them. In some cases, you may need a restraining order against them for the sake of your protection.

Joanne Lawrence
Joanne Lawrence
Joanne Lawrence is an experienced journalist and lifestyle blogger based in London, United Kingdom


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