Last week I talked about how Emotional Manipulators (EM\’s) make you doubt yourself, make you feel confused, and even a little crazy yourself. The result is you depend a little more on the EM and that is the whole point. Emotional Manipulators use all sorts of tactics to control you. To dominate you. So they can be and do whatever they want. The trouble is, when they succeed, they diminish you to the point where you are no longer the strong, vibrant person you once were. It\’s an insidious process that can leave you devastated.

That\’s why it\’s important to identify EM\’s and protect yourself emotionally.

An EM can play the victim role so expertly, you would never suspect he has the upper hand in your relationship. He\’s the one who needles you to get his way, and when you politely refuse, he blows up. Has a hissy fit. Then dissolves into the poor guy who never gets what he deserves. Doesn\’t understand why you\’re against him. Poor fellow just can\’t catch a break.

He\’s always got it worse than you do, too. If you have a headache and need a little tender loving care, he has a brain tumor and needs attention more than you do. He pretends to be weak so you will always have to be the strong one and take care of him. Do what he wants. That\’s how he gets you under his control.

Another control tactic is to enlist friends or family members to take his side. An EM can appear charming enough to win someone over—and use that new found loyalty to drive a wedge between you and your friend. He can even charm you in the process. EM\’s are not above telling lies—very convincingly—to turn your friend against you. That\’s how they divide and conquer to gain control over you.

Sometimes, EM\’s just yell louder and louder until you give up. You try to make a point they don\’t want to hear, using rational conversation, and they yell over you so you can\’t even speak. They behave like the bullies they are through intimidation and being so intransigent that they tire you out. They continue to throw their weight around until they get their way. And you let them have it out of sheer exhaustion.

Not all Emotional Manipulators use all these tactics, but many employ a combination, varying their techniques to throw you off. Sometimes, an EM will reappear as the charming guy you knew and loved, just to keep you on the hook. Until you begin to feel too comfortable and outside of his control. Then he\’ll twist your words, confound and confuse you until you are under his thumb once again.

As you can see, dealing with EM\’s is a difficult task and can be dangerous for your mental health. It\’s important to stand up for yourself and enlist the help of a counselor when you need it. Next week I\’ll talk about how to set boundaries and stand firm against emotional manipulators.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: