A poster with the text 're lationship manipulation revealed : red flags you need to know '

Relationship Manipulation Revealed: Nine Red Flags You Need to Know

Are you in a new relationship or recently ended a relationship and wondered, “Something is off, but I just don’t know exactly what it is?” For some of us, the relationship feels as if we were thrown into an emotional grinder.

Our guts ripped to shreds. And our confidence torn to pieces.

If you want to understand signs of danger in a past or present romantic relationship, this article is for you. As a life coach for business owners, I want to save you from a miserable romantic affair. That’s, why we will decode red flags or signs that you may have been emotionally manipulated.

First, let’s define manipulation. This is important because many of us throw this word around without proper context or use.

There is nothing wrong with manipulation. Every form of com munition should be a win-win scenario. The issue is whether others' behavior is harmful to you and/or the relationship.


Is it or was it really manipulation?

As a life coach, I prioritize teaching my clients the power of their words. We use words to express our needs and get our needs met. And every form of communication involves some form of manipulation.

For example, if you want to be treated well by others, you would do your best to treat others well in kind. Moreover, you would say or do things that would receive a positive reaction from others. This is manipulative behavior where you are aware how your actions and words impact others.

There is nothing wrong with manipulation. Every form of com munition should be a win-win scenario. The issue is whether others’ behavior is harmful to you and/or the relationship. 

Next, let’s discuss malignant manipulation and how it impacts your self-worth and confidence.

Malignant Manipulation

If someone is manipulating you or others in a win-lose situation, that is called malignant manipulation. There are serious consequences with this type of behavior. Self-serving and preoccupied narcissists are famous for this kind of behavior.

Traits of a malignant narcissist 

  • Takes advantage of others to get their needs at the expense of others’ safety and security
  • Resistant to feedback or any form of criticism 
  • Deflects or ignores how their own inappropriate actions

Malignant manipulation from a narcissist erodes trust, decreases the integrity of the relationship dynamic and breeds resentment.

That being said, in this next section we will discuss signs that strongly indicate you are or were in a malignant manipulative relationship.

If your gut is telling you they are treating you poorly, believe it. Your body knows before your mind that something is wrong with the relationship.

Signs you are in a malignantly manipulative relationship


You are just making things up again! It really isn’t a problem.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where the malignant manipulator distorts or denies reality to make the other person question their own perceptions, memories, or sanity. They may try to convince you that your feelings or experiences are invalid or exaggerated.

This is a common tactic with those who have a narcissistic personality disorder, low social conscious or has psychopathic tendencies.


If you loved me, then you wouldn’t need to spend time with anyone else but me!

Malignant manipulators are predators that often try to isolate their victims from friends, family, or other support systems. By cutting off your connections with others, they increase their control over you and limit your access to alternative perspectives. 

The isolation begins by trying to keep you focused on them at all times or by criticizing your friends, family or others who have a positive influence over your life.

Emotional Dumping

I know I have been talking about this with you every day for the past week, but I feel alone and I need someone to share my painful feelings with.

When you are with someone who has poor or no boundaries, it is easy to unload or dump your emotions on them. This is where you just talk endlessly to someone without care or concern for their feelings. 

In the depths of my sexual addiction, I just wanted to talk to anyone with a pulse. No matter how much I talked, it did not help me or them. I wasn’t really interested in healing or their advice – I just wanted to unload some of the internal shame that felt too heavy to bear alone.

Excessive blaming, criticism or belittling

I would have a better career and life if it weren’t for you!

Malignant manipulators frequently criticize and demean their victims, undermining their self-esteem and confidence. 

They may constantly point out flaws, mock achievements, or engage in name-calling to keep you feeling inadequate and reliant on their validation. It may start out initially as suggestions, tips or input and then as trust is gained, launches into a full barrage of disparaging and demeaning comments.

Unpredictable mood swings

l love you and our life together! *the next day* I just wish you would die!

Malignant manipulators can display extreme mood swings or unpredictable behavior, keeping you on edge and uncertain of how they will react. This volatility makes it easier for them to control and manipulate your behavior. 

To be fair, some people may suffer from bipolar disorder and need medication to regulate their emotions, but others have learned to wield their emotions as a bludgeon against fragile egos.

Control and power dynamics

There will be hell to pay if you don’t come home by 9pm tonight!

Malignant manipulators seek to exert control and power over others. They may use various tactics like imposing strict rules, making decisions without consulting you, or exerting dominance to maintain their influence. 

A malignant manipulator may say their control is for ‘your good,’ but it is clear over time they were only invested in their own self-motivated interests. Constant control eventually by this type of manipulator erodes your confidence in your ability to make decisions and informed choices.

Comparing you to a parent of former lover

My (mother or past lover) never asks me to clean up after diner.
It is impossible to please your lover because, in their mind, the only image of perfection is that of their parent or former flame.
A malignant manipulator enjoys playing reverse limbo with your emotions. Constantly raising the bar of expectations until you inevitably cannot reach their idea of perfection. 

Threats of physical violence

I swear to God I will throw this at your head if you don’t turn off your phone!
At first, your current or old lover showed nothing but hugs and kisses. Then slowly, this manipulator drops the mask and shows you their real personality. The next moment, his or her eyes flash with anger and joy the moment they see fear in your eyes.
Please, do not try to dismiss repeat threats of violence. If you fear for your safety, please contact the Domestic Violence Hotline.

Broken promises

Give me the freedom to be me! You know that I am a free bird and go where my spirit guides me.
A malignant narcissist forgets promises as easily as they change their underwear. You cannot depend on anything but them making sure their needs are met. If you dare hold them accountable, this type of emotional manipulator will find ways to blame you for their lack of character.

The image below is a summary of red flags or signs you are in a manipulative relationship. In the next section, we will discuss what to do if you identify one or more of these red flags or signs.

A poster with the text 're lationship manipulation revealed : red flags you need to know '
Signs you are in a emotional manipulative relationship

What to do if you notice these red flags?

Congrats to you for being open to possibility that you are or were in an unhealthy relationship! Your honesty will help you to examine how the relationship impacted your self-worth and confidence.

Calling a malignant narcissist “sick,” does not help them or you. People with a dangerous personality do not understand how their behavior negatively impacts others. 

Your best bet is to create emotional, then financial and then physical distance from someone who shows a consistent pattern of malignant tendencies.

A malignant narcissist is completely unaware of how their behavior impacts others. And if they are confronted, they have a tendency to become more defensive and/or double-down on their inappropriate behavior.

Next, I will share my final thoughts on how to deal with a malignant manipulator and how you can heal from their abusive behavior.

Final Thoughts

If you suspect you being a victim of malignant manipulation, consider seeking support from trusted friends, family, or life coach like myself who can provide guidance and help you navigate the situation.

In the meanwhile, please work to create or maintain a self-care routine. This will help you to see things positively and objectively and guard yourself from harmful people in the future.

Dig deeper: Click here to listen to this episode from my podcast about toxic relationships or press the play button below.



The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material in this article or website is to be a substitute for professional medical and/or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read from me or anyone else online.

Also, this article is not designed to diagnose or treat you or anyone with a suspected mental health illness. Please, if you need help, seek appropriate help from a lawyer, health care provider or law enforcement officer.