Recognising covert manipulation: Warning signs to watch out for
From blame shifting to isolating, here are a few ways by which covert manipulation takes place.
Covert manipulation happens when one person has a lot of understanding about the character and personality of the other person. This makes them have a lot of control over the way they think, the way they behave and the way they react. Covert emotional manipulation can be extremely dangerous as it wears down self-trust and self-worth. "These signs can be hard to detect because they are coated with love bombing and manipulation - also - the behaviors are subtle. Off the bat if anyone did this, you’d be like bye, but they get you at first by showing love, attention, and patience then boom," wrote Therapist Alyssa Lia Mancao as she explained how covert manipulation works and how we can recognise it.
ALSO READ: What is emotional manipulation?
Emotional blackmail: Covert manipulation comes in the form of emotional blackmailing. It can happen in various ways – from knowing the way we feel about them and hence threatening to hurt themselves, or withholding affection to punish us. This will enable them to get closer to manipulating us.
Isolating: Covert manipulation often uses the 'us against the world' mentality. This makes us isolate ourselves from the ones we are close to – friends, families and the support system we have. Then, once we are alone, it becomes easier for them to manipulate us with the threat of leaving us and making us more alone if we do not abide by what they say.
Selective truth telling: We are not able to make informed decisions because we are not exposed to the complete truth. We are told of the part of the stories which makes them come off as the victim or the good person. This makes us want to have more affection or pity towards them, without knowing the entire story.
Blame shifting: Often changing the conversation and blaming external factors for the things that they are responsible for – this makes us feel exhausted and confused and give up on the argument.