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How to Stop Being Manipulative and Start a Healthy Relationship?

Many of us have various behavior issues that can destroy our relationships and make people avoid us. However, many times, we ourselves do not know that we have toxic behavior signs which push people away from our lives. 

Read on to know what toxic behavior is and if you are emotionally manipulative. We are going to also look at tips that will help you to stop your manipulative ways.

Manipulative Behavior in Relationships: Causes and Effects

manipulative behavior in relationships: causes and effects

People in a relationship use manipulative behavior to get what they want and to not suffer the consequences for their actions. It is a way for them to show dominance over their partner and use them as they wish. People use manipulation for selfish interests and to change their partner and make them do things as they wish1.

People generally learn these ways in childhoodwhen they see their parents manipulate them or others to get what they want. In some cases, emotional manipulation can also be the result of mental health conditions, attachment issues, or something learned from past relationships.

Your manipulative ways can cause stress and hurt to the people you love. It can make your partner feel insecure and worthless, and slowly deteriorate your relationship.

31 Tips on How to Stop Being Manipulative in a Relationship

Using manipulation in a relationship can not only cause stress and a feeling of worthlessness in your partner, but it can also result in an end to your relationship. Below are some tips that will help you to fix your toxic behavior so you can have a healthy and happy relationship.

1. Try to understand the root cause

If you feel that you are being manipulative in a relationship, start by trying to find the root cause of this behavior. There can be a lot of reasons why you might be behaving this way, including your past relationships, your friends, interpersonal conflict, etc. You can stop being manipulative only when you find the real reason behind why you act this way.

2. Recognize that your actions are not justified

Many people keep trying to manipulate others because they do not think manipulative tactics are inapt. You can stop the manipulation only when you accept that your actions are not right and they are destroying your close relationships.

3. Try to stop your manipulative behavior as it arises

Understand that many people are not even aware that they are being manipulative, and most people learn manipulative behaviors from their surroundings or past relationships.

The important thing to do is to acknowledge that you are acting manipulative and take baby steps towards controlling it whenever you notice it. Remember, old habits take time to change, so do not expect to see overnight changes in yourself. Have enough self-respect for yourself to change for the relationships that matter in your life2.

4. Keep your promises

keep your promises

A manipulative individual does not keep their promises. Perhaps they meant to keep the promise when they said it but now changed their mind or they never even intended to keep the promise, which is worse. No matter what the reason behind not keeping the promise, doing this frequently shows you use fake promises to achieve what you want.

So to stop being manipulative try your best to keep the promises you make to your loved ones.

5. Stop creating rifts between people you love

A manipulative individual wants everyone to like them and for this they can go to any lengths. If you are someone who creates rifts between friends so they turn against each other and start liking you instead then it is manipulation, which needs to be stopped immediately. 

6. Be honest with yourself

Being honest will help you resist the urge to lie and manipulate your partner. Also, make it a point to be truthful with yourself. If you do not like something in your partner’s behavior, instead of accepting everything, be transparent and let them know how you feel. This will ensure there are no misunderstandings and bad blood later.

7. Consider how your toxic behavior will impact others

A manipulative person often lacks enough self-awareness to understand how their actions will make others feel. If you are manipulative, you would think that you can get what you want, even if your actions hurt the other person. But it is not right to assume people will be happy with whatever you do or say. 

So to have a healthy relationship with people around you, make it a point to respect others and take action only after you make sure that your behavior will not hurt them.

8. Do not assume what others want

Different people have different needs, and you can only understand them once you talk to them. Manipulative people usually use their own emotions to determine what the other person is feeling, thus disregarding the other person’s emotions. 

So instead of assuming things ask people how they feel and make them feel comfortable, so they can speak what they feel.

9. Do not try to control other people’s emotions

Understand you cannot control how other people feel or react based on how you want them to respond. It is manipulation if you try to change others and expect them to react in only a particular way. 

If your behavior hurts someone, they have a right to show their emotions, and you should respect it. So do not make them feel bad for feeling and acting differently than you expect.

10. Understand that you will not always get what you want

A manipulative person is not in the habit of understanding that a “no” means “no.” They are so used to getting their way that even if someone says no to them once, they still keep trying to make it a ‘yes’. They will use manipulation to get what they want. 

So if you want to learn how to stop being a manipulator, start by fighting your urge to find another way even after someone says ‘no.’ Tell yourself that it is essential to respect other people’s boundaries.

11. Try not to be a perfectionist

Manipulative people are usually perfectionists who want to control everything around them. It might seem like your perfectionism is a positive thing, but in reality, it is a limitation that does not let you live your life on your own terms.

Perfectionists are always at their wits' ends, making sure everything is perfect. To enjoy life and to stop being manipulative, try to be relaxed and be more carefree, so people enjoy your company.

Use this tool to check whether he actually is who he says he is
Whether you're married or have just started seeing someone, infidelity rates are on the rise and have increased over 40% in the last 20 years, so you have all the right to be worried.

Perhaps you want to know if he's texting other women behind your back? Or whether he has active Tinder or dating profile? Or worse yet, whether he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool will do just that and pull up any hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more to hopefully help put your doubts to rest.

12. Stay away from the negative people

Lots of us have learned manipulation from the people around us. This behavior can get ingrained so much in our brains that it becomes a habit, and before we know it, we learn to manipulate others for our benefit. 

To unlearn this behavior start by surrounding yourself with positive people and try to learn good things from them.

13. Control your fears

The urge to control everything around you stems from your fear that anything will go amiss when you stop looking out for it. It is important to understand that all of us fear things going wary and throwing us off guard, which makes us feel we need a greater sense of control resulting in manipulative behavior.

Here, you need to understand that it is not unusual to have fears, but you should not let these fears be in charge of you. 

14. Do not play the victim card

One of the most common manipulative tactics used by people is to play the victim card to gain the sympathy of others. Sure, you must have endured many hardships in your life, but constantly telling others about it is a manipulation you might be doing to get the things you want.

It does not mean you should stop sharing your feelings with others but discuss your problems only with your close friends, and do not use your hardships to take advantage of others. Instead of focusing on the negative things in your life, make it a point to concentrate on the positive3.

15. Work on your self-esteem

Manipulative people usually have low self-esteem. Because of this low self-esteem, they think they are unlovable and thus have to look for ways to control people. So if you think you have manipulative behavior, start by trying to gain enough confidence in yourself, and you will notice other things start falling into place.

To build your confidence, start by reminding yourself about your positive attributes, write daily affirmations, and avoid people that bring you down. As your confidence starts increasing, you will not have to look for ways to control people as you will start feeling that people love you for who you are.

16. Stop explaining your point of view

A manipulative person wants everyone to understand their point of view, and for it, they keep explaining their way of thinking repeatedly. However, if you want to stop trying to manipulate others, try to see things from others’ perspectives and try to understand where they are coming from. 

17. Manage your anxiety

People often become manipulative because they suffer from anxiety disorders, which makes them want to control people and situations around them. While it can be difficult to keep a positive attitude throughout the day, start by trying to have a positive outlook on life by incorporating grounding practices into your life, like doing yoga and exercise.

18. Do not blame others for the problems in your life

do not blame others for the problems in your life

Blaming others for the things not right in your life is a manipulation tactic. Understand that you cannot blame others and make them feel guilty for your hardships. The truth is only you are responsible for your actions, and you cannot escape every situation by guilt-tripping others. Doing this will never turn you into a mature and self-sufficient human.

So instead of making people feel bad for things they are not even responsible for, try being accountable and dealing with them yourself.

19. Show kindness to others

Manipulative people often take advantage of the kindness that others show to them. They ignore the nice things that others do for them and pretend that being treated nicely is something that they deserve

Manipulators need to recognize that not everything is about them. It’s important to try to return the favors they receive from others. If you think you tend to be manipulative, understand that you cannot always get what you want and that you should show gratitude for the things you get in life.

20. Do nice things for others without expectations

Doing nice things for others is great, but if you are doing it only because you want others to do the same for you, you’re trying to manipulate them. Manipulative people always want others to behave in a certain way, which can destroy relationships.

It is nice when people respond to your kindness, but you should not do an act of kindness only with this expectation. Not only will you feel bad if those expectations aren’t met, but your heart will also not be in the right place while doing something for others.

21. Take responsibility for your own actions

A manipulative person is often not able to take responsibility for their actions and handle things in a mature way

However, you need to understand that taking responsibility for your own thoughts and actions can be empowering and will make you conscious of the situation around you. Recognize that you can only control how you feel and have no expectations over how others react.

22. Learn the art of effective communication

Strong relationships have partners who can communicate clearly and effectively with each other. Having an open communication with your romantic partner can reduce manipulative behavior and ensure that you both know exactly how the other one feels. 

Instead of using manipulation tactics on your partner, tell them exactly how you feel and what you expect from them4.

23. Know that you cannot always be right

You can stop being manipulative by getting rid of your urge to always be someone who knows the answers to all the questions and is always right. It is essential to understand that you can’t always be perfect, and trying to be perfect will only affect your mental peace negatively. 

Recognize that the urge to always be right has a part in making you manipulative as you try to control people to prove yourself right.

24. Give your partner their personal space

Manipulative people cannot respect other people’s boundaries and have a hard time giving them their much-desired personal space. Forcing people to spend all their time with you is unhealthy and can be both annoying and suffocating.

Wanting to spend every waking moment with your partner is not love but jail, and not allowing them to spend time with their friends or alone will only make them resent you.

25. Stop overreacting

Things cannot always go your way, and there are times when you cannot control events. 

In such situations, work on your urge to create drama and rather accept things as they are. Adjust as the situation demands and learn to go with the flow. Doing this will help you avoid conflict and ensure a good relationship with your partner.

26. Learn to trust others

One of the main reasons behind your manipulation could be that you do not trust the people around you to make decisions or handle important tasks. It might be the reason why you manipulate others so you can micromanage and control things. 

However, you need to learn to trust others to make the right decision based on their capabilities.

Learn to delegate tasks and give your opinion only when asked. Doing this will help you build trust and have more free time on your hands.

27. Listen to others

listen to others

To stop being manipulative, you need to take into account others’ opinions as well. 

Accept that no matter how smart or experienced you are, there will always be someone smarter and more experienced than you. Therefore, it is crucial that you also take into account others’ opinions and listen to them as they speak. Doing this will help you grow and learn new things.

28. Overcome jealousy

Many times manipulative behavior can be the result of insecurity and jealousy. If you do not practice self-love and believe that you are not worthy of love, you will doubt every action of your partner in the relationship. 

To get rid of your insecurity and jealousy, trust your partner and be confident that people can love you for who you are, and you don’t have to control them. Successful relationships require two partners who trust each other.

29. Trust your journey

While learning how to stop being manipulative, you might be tempted to fall into your own trap to convince people to take your side. But try to stick to your goals and do not lose your confidence easily. 

You might be so used to manipulation that it might be difficult for you to live without it. However, leaving behind your manipulative nature will require time and practice, so be patient and keep working on yourself.

30. Don’t lie

Lying is an example of manipulative behavior. If you frequently lie or hide the truth, you might be trying to manipulate and control the people around you. 

Yes, oftentimes you can indeed get what you want through lying, but it is not the right way to do things and will only negatively affect your relationships. So if you want to get rid of your manipulative behavior, slowly break your habit of lying.

31. Get professional help

Even if, after trying, you are still not able to control your manipulative tendencies, then it is time to seek some professional help. A counselor will help you gain insight into your manipulative behavior. They can help you address underlying issues and teach you important skills which can help you build healthy relationships. 


What causes a person to be manipulative?

A manipulative behavior can be the result of various disorders, family history, a behavior learned from past relationships or people around. It is a defense mechanism for some people to get what they want through their manipulative tactics rather than clearly expressing what they want5.

Can a manipulative person change?

Yes, a manipulative person can change but only if they want to change. Start working on your toxic behavior as soon as you spot it. Ask for help from friends and family and slowly take baby steps to control their urge to always have things your way. Changing behavior takes time, but it is possible to do so.

Is being manipulative a mental disorder?

While not always, in some cases, manipulation can result from underlying personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. Therapy and working with a professional counselor can help you overcome this and move towards healthier relationships.

Can you be manipulative without knowing it?

Yes, one can be manipulative without knowing it. Many people are a little manipulative in one way or the other; however, sometimes, in our attempts to control a situation, this behavior grows a lot in some people without them being aware of what they are doing.


Manipulation is a toxic behavior pattern, and many people use it subconsciously. However, it does not mean that this behavior cannot be changed. Just look out for the signs of a manipulative individual, and if you find yourself to be manipulative, take conscious steps to stop it.

Do you think you are manipulative? Have you ever come across someone you think was manipulative? Were they aware of their toxic behavior and how it affected their relationship with others? Let us know in the comments. 

Remember, a manipulative individual can destroy their relationships. If you think you have this trait, use the tips given in this article to learn how to stop being manipulative. 

Utilize this tool to verify if he's truly who he claims to be
Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.

5 Sources:
  1. Barnhill, AN. 2014. “What Is Manipulation?” in Coons & Weber 2014: 51–72. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199338207.003.0003
  2. Bub, K., & Lommen, M. J. J. 2017. The role of guilt in posttraumatic stress disorder. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8(1). doi: 10.1080/20008198.2017.1407202
  3. Ngoc, N. N., Tuan, N. P., & Takahashi, Y. 2020. A Meta-Analytic Investigation of the Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Manipulation. SAGE Open, 10(4).
  4. Gass, G. Z., & Nichols, W. C. 1988. Gaslighting: A marital syndrome. Contemporary Family Therapy, 10(1), 3-16. doi: 10.1007/BF00922429
  5. Virzi, J. 2018. 5 things people with borderline personality disorder do that get mistaken for ‘manipulation.’ Retrieved from

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