What does emotional manipulation look like

8 Signs To Look For

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • What Is Emotional Manipulation?
  • Signs of Emotional Manipulation
  • Dealing with Emotional Manipulation
  • Support and Resources

What Is Emotional Manipulation?

Emotional manipulation occurs when a manipulative person seeks power over someone else and employs dishonest or exploitive strategies to gain it. Unlike people in healthy relationships, which demonstrate reciprocity and cooperation, an emotional manipulator looks to use, control, or even victimize someone else.

Almost everyone can be a little bit manipulative from time to time. Sometimes a person is having a bad day. Sometimes they’ve fallen into bad habits and poor communication. In these cases, calling someone out on their bad behavior may be enough to put a stop to it,

However, some people are habitually or pathologically manipulative and must be handled with care.  A person who habitually engages in emotional manipulation is said to be Machiavellian. This term comes from Niccolò Machiavelli, the author of a 16th century book called The Prince, which advocates for political leaders to use manipulative tactics.

Signs of Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation can have many different contexts and styles, but here are eight classic strategies that emotionally manipulative people use: 

Passive Aggression

In passive aggression, the manipulator doesn’t voice negative feelings toward or problems with a person. Instead, they find indirect ways to express their anger and undermine the other person. 

Emotional manipulators will often agree to a project or action, then start looking for passive-aggressive ways to let the other person know they don’t really want to be doing it. Specific passive-aggressive techniques employed by emotional manipulators include:

  • Sullenness or cynicism
  • Intentional mistakes and procrastination
  • Complaints about being underappreciated or somehow cheated out of something
  • Resentment and covert opposition

Social and Emotional Bullying

Bullies don’t always use physical violence. Constant criticism, raised voices, and threats are forms of emotional bullying. Social bullying can take the form of rumor spreading or deliberate exclusion.

Bullying can also take the forms of intellectual and bureaucratic bullying. In intellectual bullying, someone tries to claim the role of subject matter expert, making another person feel inadequate and dependent on them for information. Bureaucratic bullying is the use of red tape — laws, procedures, or paperwork — to either overwhelm someone or subvert their goals.


Another strategy used by emotionally manipulative people is the distortion of facts, relative importance, or other information needed to accurately assess a situation. 

In some cases, the manipulator will simply lie or pretend ignorance about a matter. 

A more subtle form of distortion is gaslighting, a tactic in which a manipulator instills self-doubt in someone else, making them question their own rights, motivations, or abilities. Gaslighting is a frequent problem in the workplace.

Guilt and Sympathy

Many people are highly susceptible to guilt and will even go so far as to punish themselves in response to perceived sins.

Emotionally manipulative people prey on this vulnerability. They are apt to play the victim or remind you of past favors, instilling a sense of obligation or sympathy that makes them more likely to get what they want.


The easiest example of this kind of emotional manipulation is the silent treatment, when someone punishes you by ignoring you. 

However, there are more insidious forms of withdrawal as well. When someone from whom you expect a certain affirmation or intimacy deliberately withholds it, that creates a power imbalance and can make you crave the return to approval or closeness.


Sometimes a manipulative person will draw a comparison between you and someone else in order to goad you. They may use a specific person to make you feel insecure or try to establish a sense that “everyone else” is doing whatever they want you to do. They may even recruit others to pressure you into a certain emotion or action.

Manipulation of Circumstance

This strategy is common in business negotiations. It may be as simple as someone insisting you meet them in their home or office, where they feel most powerful. Or they may create a constraint, such as a deadline, in a way designed to pressure you into an ill-considered decision.

Overwhelming and Unearned Closeness

An emotional manipulator may try to bind you to them through manufactured vulnerability or an artificially accelerated relationship. Showering a new acquaintance with praise and affection, also called “love-bombing,” is a common tactic of emotional manipulation often seen in cults.

Dealing with Emotional Manipulation

Emotional manipulation from a family member, coworker, or trusted friend can have major consequences for your quality of life. If you experience regular and distressing emotional manipulation from another person, your relationship with that person may be abusive.

It is very difficult for abusers to stop abusive behavior, and most forms of therapy available to abusive people, including anger management therapy, has not been shown to have a significant impact on ending their abusive behaviors. The only reliable way to stop being abused by someone is to leave the situation and end the relationship.

If you face occasional emotional manipulation at work or at home and cannot leave the situation, the following actions may help to counter emotionally manipulative tactics in the moment:

  • Avoid people who engage in love-bombing
  • Assert yourself and your boundaries out loud, even if it feels rude to do so
  • Speak to others about the emotional manipulation and get their validation
  • Take your time instead of being rushed into decisions you may regret

Support and Resources

Depending on the source and type of emotional manipulation, you may benefit from professional counseling or a support group.  

If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, there are organizations that can help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

15+ Signs of Emotion Manipulation

Emotional manipulators often use mind games to seize power in a relationship.

The ultimate goal is to use that power to control the other person.

A healthy relationship is based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. This is true of personal relationships, as well as professional ones.

Sometimes, people seek to exploit these elements of a relationship in order to benefit themselves in some way.

The signs of emotional manipulation can be subtle. They’re often hard to identify, especially when they’re happening to you.

That doesn’t mean that it’s your fault — no one deserves to be manipulated.

You can learn to recognize the manipulation and stop it. You can also learn to protect your self-esteem and sanity, too.

We’ll review common forms of emotional manipulation, how to recognize them, and what you can do next.

Being in your home turf, whether it’s your actual home or just a favorite coffee shop, can be empowering.

If the other individuals always insists on meeting in their realm, they may be trying to create an imbalance of power.

They claim ownership of that space, which leaves you at a disadvantage.

For example:

  • “Walk over to my office when you can. I’m far too busy to trek over to you.”
  • “You know how far of a drive that is for me. Come over here tonight.”

Emotional manipulators may skip a few steps in the traditional get-to-know-you phase. They “share” their darkest secrets and vulnerabilities.

What they’re really doing, however, is trying to make you feel special so that you divulge your secrets. They can use these sensitivities against you later.

For example:

  • “I feel like we’re just connecting on a really deep level. I’ve never had this happen before.”
  • “I’ve never had someone share their vision with me like you have. We’re really meant to be in this together.”

This is a popular tactic with some business relationships, but it can happen in personal ones, too.

When one person wants to establish control, they may ask probing questions so that you share your thoughts and concerns early.

With their hidden agenda in mind, they can then use your answers to manipulate your decisions.

For example:

  • “Gosh, I never heard good things about that company. What was your experience?”
  • “Well you’re just going to have to explain to me why you’re mad at me again.”

Emotional manipulators are masters at altering reality with lies, fibs, or misstatements in order to confuse you.

They may exaggerate events to make themselves seem more vulnerable.

They may also understate their role in a conflict in order to gain your sympathy.

For example:

  • “I asked a question about the project and she came at me, yelling about how I never did anything to help her, but you know I do, right?”
  • “I cried all night and didn’t sleep a wink.

If someone overwhelms you with statistics, jargon, or facts when you ask a question, you may be experiencing a type of emotional manipulation.

Some manipulators presume to be the expert, and they impose their “knowledge” on you. This is particularly common in financial or sales situations.

For example:

  • “You’re new to this, so I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
  • “I know these are a lot of numbers for you, so I’ll go through this again slowly.”

Also, in the business setting, emotional manipulators may try to weigh you down with paperwork, red tape, procedures, or anything that can get in your way.

This is a particular possibility if you express scrutiny or ask questions that draw their flaws or weaknesses into question.

For example:

  • “This will be way too difficult for you. I’d just stop now and save yourself the effort.”
  • “You don’t have any idea the headache you’re creating for yourself.”

If you ask questions or make a suggestion, an emotional manipulator will likely respond in an aggressive manner or try to draw you into an argument.

This strategy allows them to control your choices and influence your decisions.

They may also use the situation to make you feel guilty for expressing your concerns in the first place.

For example:

  • “I don’t understand why you don’t just trust me.”
  • “You know I’m just an anxious person. I can’t help it I want to know where you are at all times.”

If you have a bad day, an emotional manipulator may take the opportunity to bring up their own issues.

The goal is to invalidate what you’re experiencing so that you’re forced to focus on them and exert your emotional energy on their problems.

For example:

  • “You think that’s bad? You don’t have to deal with a cube-mate who talks on the phone all the time.”
  • “Be thankful you have a brother. I’ve felt alone all my life.”

Someone who manipulates people’s emotions may eagerly agree to help with something but then turn around and drag their feet or look for ways to avoid their agreement.

They may act like it’s ended up being a huge burden, and they’ll seek to exploit your emotions in order to get out of it.

For example:

  • “I know you need this from me. This is just a lot, and I’m already overwhelmed.”
  • “This is harder than it looks. I don’t think you knew that when you asked me.”

Critical remarks may be disguised as humor or sarcasm. They may pretend they’re saying something in jest, when what they’re really trying to do is plant a seed of doubt.

For example:

  • “Geez, you look exhausted!”
  • “Well if you’d get up from your desk some and walk around, you wouldn’t get out of breath so easily.”

Emotional manipulators will never accept responsibility for their errors.

They will, however, try to find a way to make you feel guilty for everything. from a fight to a failed project.

You may end up apologizing, even if they’re the one at fault.

For example:

  • “I only did it because I love you so much.
  • “If you hadn’t gone to your kid’s awards program, you could have finished the project the right way.”

When you’re elated, they find a reason to take the spotlight away from you. This can also happen in the negative sense.

When you’ve had a tragedy or setback, an emotional manipulator may try to make their problems seem worse or more pressing.

For example:

  • “Your pay increase is great, but did you see someone else got a full promotion?”
  • “I’m sorry your grandfather passed. I lost both of my grandparents in two weeks, so at least it’s not that bad.”

Emotional manipulators may dismiss or degrade you without the pretense of jest or sarcasm. Their comments are designed to chip away at your self-esteem.

They’re meant to ridicule and marginalize you. Often, the manipulator is projecting their own insecurities.

For example:

  • “Don’t you think that dress is a little revealing for a client meeting? I guess that’s one way to get the account.
  • “All you do is eat.”

When they know your weak spots, they can use them to wound you. They may make comments and take actions that are meant to leave you feeling vulnerable and upset.

For example:

  • “You said you’d never want your kids to grow up in a broken home. Look what you’re doing to them now.”
  • “This is a tough audience. I’d be nervous if I was you.”

If you’re upset, someone who is manipulating you may try to make you feel guilty for your feelings.

They may accuse you of being unreasonable or not being adequately invested.

For example:

  • “If you really loved me, you’d never question me.”
  • “I couldn’t take that job. I wouldn’t want to be away from my kids so much.”

During a disagreement or fight, a manipulative person will make dramatic statements that are meant to put you in a difficult spot.

They’ll target emotional weaknesses with inflammatory statements in order to elicit an apology.

For example:

  • “If you leave me, I don’t deserve to live.”
  • “If you can’t be here this weekend, I think it shows your level of dedication to this office.”

A passive-aggressive person may sidestep confrontation. They use people around you, such as friends, to communicate with you instead.

They may also talk behind your back to co-workers.

For example:

  • “I’d talk about this, but I know you’re so busy.”
  • “I thought it was better if you heard it from someone else, not me since we’re so close.”

They don’t respond to your calls, emails, direct messages, or any other form of communication.

They use the silence to gain control and make you feel responsible for their behavior.

This technique is meant to make you question your memory of events.

When you no longer feel certain about what happened, they can pinpoint the problem on you, making you feel responsible for the misunderstanding.

For example:

  • “I never said that. You’re imagining things again.”
  • “I wouldn’t commit to that. You know I’m far too busy.”

Manipulative individuals often have a reaction opposite of the person they’re manipulating.

This is especially true in emotionally charged situations. That’s so they can use your reaction as a way to make you feel too sensitive.

You then gauge your reaction based on theirs, and decide you were out of line.

For example:

  • “You saw that everyone else was calm. You just got too upset.”
  • “I didn’t want to say anything, but you seemed a little out of control.”

Gaslighting is a manipulative method with which people try to make you believe that you can no longer trust your own instincts or experience.

They make you believe things that did happen are a figment of your imagination. You lose a sense of reality.

For example:

  • “Everyone knows that’s not how this works.”
  • “I wasn’t late. You just forgot what time I said I’d be there.

It may take time to realize someone is emotionally manipulating you. The signs are subtle, and they often evolve over time.

But if you think you’re being treated in this way, trust your instincts.

Apologize for your part, then move on. You likely won’t get an apology, but you don’t have to dwell on it either. Own up to what you know you did as a matter of fact, and then say nothing of the other accusations.

Don’t try to beat them. Two people shouldn’t play this game. Instead, learn to recognize the strategies so you can properly prepare your responses.

Set boundaries. When a manipulative person realizes they’re losing control, their tactics may grow more desperate. This is the time for you to make some difficult decisions.

If you don’t have to be near that person, consider cutting them out of your life entirely.

If you live with them or work together closely, you’ll need to learn techniques for managing them.

You may find it helpful to speak to a therapist or counselor about how to handle the situation.

You could also recruit a trusted friend or family member to help you identify the behavior and enforce boundaries.

No one deserves to have another individual treat them in this manner.

Emotional manipulation may not leave physical scars, but it can still have a long-lasting effect. You can heal from this, and you can grow from it, too.

A therapist or counselor can help you recognize patterns that are dangerous. They can then help you learn ways to confront the behavior and hopefully stop it.

If you’re in the United States, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

This 24/7 confidential hotline connects you with trained advocates who can provide resources and tools to help get you to safety.

how to recognize emotional abuse at work and learn to resist it - Knife

Overture: why these manipulations

The word "manipulation" comes from the Latin manipulus. The root manus is heard in it - "hand". The original meaning - an action based on sleight of hand - referred, for example, to puppeteers who, through clever tricks, made the puppets dance. And only then the word had another, figurative meaning - trick, machination. People are usually unhappy if they discover they have been manipulated. It is believed that they, as if by invisible threads, did not lead to the result that they themselves would have desired. nine0007

That is, manipulation is a technology of power, it is not applied to good friends, well, at least if they want these friends to remain kind.
See also

How refusal of violence in speech helps to solve problems in relations with others and oneself mood. A 2017 study at the University of Manchester Business School found that working for an aggressive manipulator - and such guys usually show psychopathic and narcissistic traits - threatens with health problems. Employees who were unlucky with their boss showed low levels of job satisfaction and a high risk of developing depression. Meanwhile, it cannot be said that a disgusting boss is such a rarity: SuperJob statistics show that 55% of 3,000 respondents are familiar with situations where management spoils the mood, is rude, insults and humiliates. nine0007

If manipulation is such a common thing, there must be some other, tangible benefit to it, since this affects the efficiency of work negatively. And that benefit for the toxic boss is a sense of power.

If I can lead people by the nose and give them trouble, I am strong, I control them. If I want, I emotionally blackmail, if I want, I force them to do the work that they were not going to do, if I want, I frustrate other people's plans.

At the same time, the other side, the victim, is also a kind of accomplice in what is happening. After all, this is a game for two. If we succumb to the signals of the aggressor and in response to them change our opinions, goals, habits, then the round has taken place. Sociologist Sergey Kara-Murza, author of the book Manipulation of Consciousness, writes: “Manipulation is not violence, but temptation. ” Although, if he saw your boss and got acquainted with his methods, perhaps he would change his mind. nine0007

Like the notes

Psychotherapist Aina Gromova spoke about the notes of manipulation - the vulnerabilities of employees, which are so convenient to put pressure on a bad boss. Each person has a couple of such Achilles' heels. Well, this list will allow the aggressor bosses to expand their musical repertoire.

Before: fear

What it looks like

Intimidation. The phrase "There are no irreplaceable people." Hints that you are about to fail, and the price of a mistake is high. An eloquent demonstration of the fact that you are unlikely to be tolerated in any other job. Well, if only you are demoted... Although no... It still won't work. nine0007

Frequent criticism and nagging will add depth to the experience, especially if the employee is not particularly confident. The note of fear works best on people with increased anxiety.

Re: sense of duty

What it looks like

Urgent alarm, emergency call, message in the messenger in the middle of vacation and phrases like “If not us, then who?”. Here the boss is free to withdraw himself, and "we" ... that is, you are doing work that at the moment is more like the feat of Alexander Matrosov. This is a particularly responsible task that no one in the world can handle. And only you, only now (nothing that it's already three in the morning) are heroically covering the embrasure. nine0007

It is recommended to use on responsible people with perfectionistic inclinations and an excellent student syndrome. They then pull a wild load, and those around them get a clear image: what workaholism looks like with a human face.

Mi: guilt

What it looks like

Any misstep, thanks to the reaction of the authorities, acquires the features of a catastrophe that forever changed the world.

The employee is hinted at situations in which he did not shine, at conflicts, next to which he stood next to or, God forbid, participated. If reality loses its usual shape, this is gaslighting: the manipulator talks about non-existent things so convincingly that it begins to seem like the truth. nine0004

Sometimes it seems to a person that he hears an insulting, sarcastic, too personal comment from the boss. Seemed again! The comment is normal, but the employee himself is too vulnerable, has lost his sense of humor and, in general, somehow reacts painfully to everything. Here, many hang out, begin to doubt their reactions.

Tested on people with a pathological sense of guilt, those who, instead of saying: "I will not tolerate comments about my dog" - or, in a businesslike roll up of their sleeves: "Ok, I could have made a mistake, where to correct it?" - they panic and tear their hair out. nine0007

Fa: pride

What it looks like

special role and special position. With such guys, you can alternate between flattery and a disappointed look. For example, a person was about to leave the office at seven o’clock in the evening, and the boss shook his head disapprovingly: “Well, well, I didn’t expect this from you ...” And that’s it - the ashamed worker turns on the computer again so as not to shame the Russian lands ... that is his glorious reputation. nine0007

Blows to self-esteem are especially painful for people who strive for high results, dream of achievements and want to be the best. They perceive the loss not as a game of chance, but as a personal insult, which makes it possible to stomp on a heightened sense of self ... “Remember, my dear, last year they failed the tender ...”

Sol: curiosity

What it looks like


The manipulator can initiate into the secrets of the Madrid court, creating a trusting atmosphere, intrigue, promise to shed light on the darkest corners of business. And then suddenly make a mysterious look, leave the phrase unfinished, evade a direct answer . ..

Having nevertheless issued some special information to an employee, you can mark him as being chosen or blame him for leaks.

Curiosity can be played on if the goal is to create a toxic atmosphere in the company. Gossip about employees is a great way to turn a work team into a branch of a serpentarium.

Works on people with a research streak who get into trouble: first, the boss buys their loyalty with information, and then pretends to be a fool and introduces elements of confusion: “In fact, everything was wrong ... Your business trip was not planned in January and not in Kaluga ... " nine0007

A: pity

What it looks like

The wolf represents a sheep. The victim game is designed in such a way as to arouse sympathy and guilt in the worker: “If you don’t help me, I don’t even know what to do ...”, “No one cares about my problems.” The "poor me" tactic can be very powerful, to the point of threatening to kill yourself. But in the end, all the sufferers go home, and the compassionate employee spends the night on the report.

The technique works with empathic people prone to altruism. nine0007

C: sexual provocation

What it looks like

Appropriate or inappropriate seduction. The manipulator may use charm, flattery, or openly demonstrate sexual interest, and with it an unbuttoned shirt.

A typical tactic for harassers is to pretend that their inappropriate behavior is completely normal, and to grab secretaries by the knees is a common everyday concern.

In this case, the answer “no”, which the victim mumbles, is not taken as an answer, and the aggressor shows rare persistence. Another common trick is to make it clear that the employee is indebted to his boss, because he helped his career so much, and how he can influence it in the future - wow!

Used on people who feel they have to be nice and accommodating, especially in front of their superiors.

Koda: what a victim of manipulation can do

Attorney, senior partner at the Zheleznikov & Partners Bar Association Roman Shcherbinin says that it is difficult to count on the law in this case. For example, if we are talking about sexual harassment, then it makes more sense to appeal to public censure, and not to lawyers. Such disputes have not yet been transferred to the status of labor torts, and from the point of view of the law, this is not a violation. nine0007

And if, for example, your boss forces you to work after hours, then, according to Roman, "it's your good will." Refusal to do some work on Sunday cannot be grounds for dismissal. If the boss becomes satanic, the lawyer recommends writing a complaint to the State Labor Inspectorate, and this institution will deal with violations. “But I can say that in Russia, unlike foreign jurisdictions, this is not common,” Roman concludes sadly.

And psychotherapist Aina Gromova suggests to be wary if some elements of the corporate culture suddenly begin to spread to you, bypassing the rest of the company members:

“When you come to work, you immediately notice how they work here. If the whole office is delayed after the end of the working day, this is their unspoken order. You can refuse to work under such conditions or accept them. But if suddenly only you receive night calls, while everyone else does not sacrifice sleep, this means that something special is expected from your figure.

As a response to manipulation, there are two response options. The first is to ignore and act in accordance with the aggressor's expectations. So you report that this is normal practice for you. The second option is to set boundaries, to make it clear that such an attitude is unacceptable. nine0007

Understanding one's limits begins with the ability to answer one's own questions: who am I, why and why am I doing something.

Such a view allows you to independently evaluate yourself at work, see successes and failures. If you have a clear view of yourself as a specialist and your position, then it will be extremely difficult to manipulate you. A psychologically mature person, after analyzing the situation, can recognize various elements of influence, see where they are trying to vent anger on you, where they are climbing into your personal space, where they are giving unsolicited advice. If you find yourself constantly in the zone of other people's manipulations, you may need to work hard on your boundaries. nine0007

You don't have to listen to comments about your appearance, personal life, or feel total guilt for a minor oversight.

Analyze the claims of the authorities: the boss has the right to evaluate the results of work, reward you or withdraw financial compensation.

But if a person allows himself personal attacks, then he manifests himself as a toxic leader. In any case, the behavior of the authorities is not the end of the story. It is up to you how to react to it. As long as you are in the manipulation zone, then the ball is on your side of the field and you must give the correct answer. nine0007

This answer will be an expression of your disagreement to play by the rules of the manipulator. And the main thing here will be the ability to say no. Without apologizing, without suffering, without falling into guilt, without finding a hundred thousand excuses. “No, this doesn’t suit me”, “No, I’m not ready”, “No, I don’t tolerate such a tone towards myself.” This useful skill will allow you not to fall for flattery, aggression, or other attacks of the attacker.

Emotional swing: what is it, signs, how to fight

If one partner first showers the other with gifts, and then does not answer the phone for days on end, it is possible that he is emotionally rocking him. We tell you why it is dangerous and how to counter it.

  • What is
  • Features
  • Causes
  • How to fight

The material was commented on by:

Elmira Gereeva, co-founder of the School of Emotional Intelligence and Psychotherapy, practicing psychologist; nine0182

Olya Osokina, founder of the AIBY wellness platform, winner of the Stevie Awards.

Advertising on RBC www.adv. rbc.ru

What is an emotional swing

An emotional swing is a generally accepted description of the psychological state of a person who experiences extreme mood swings. They can be caused by both external phenomena and internal problems.

Most often this term is used to describe the manipulative technique used in abusive relationships. There is also the term "closer - further". Such techniques are often used by pickup adherents. To create an emotional swing, one of the partners first forms an attachment, and then abruptly changes the attitude to the opposite - from deliberate coldness to rigidity. Then the manipulator repeats the cycle again, causing his partner to become addicted to bright positive emotions. nine0007

An example is a situation where a partner communicates warmly every day, supports, sends messages and gifts. But after a period of cloudless romance, he suddenly interrupts communication - stops answering calls, blocks contacts. At the same time, the manipulator can accompany his actions with comments that humiliate and devalue the partner. After some time, communication suddenly resumes in a positive way. In this case, the victim goes through an emotional shake-up, perhaps blaming himself for the failed romance, and then again receives a dose of positive emotions. nine0007

© pexels

Regardless of who or what was the cause, the constant swings of emotions from absolute happiness to apathy can lead to serious consequences for the psyche. It is important to recognize them in time and build protection.

Olya Osokina, founder of AIBY

“Symptoms of emotional swings, that is, mood swings, can be present in anyone, regardless of gender and age.

There are many reasons for their occurrence:

  • repressed emotions, especially when the person does not notice them;
  • stress causing an inappropriate response to any stimulus;
  • physiological problems such as hyperthyroidism, adrenal wasting, microbiota disturbance, chronic diseases;
  • perfectionism, a symptom of an impostor, low self-esteem - everything that does not allow a person to accept himself as he is, and forces him to conduct an internal dialogue with insulting phrases towards himself. nine0172

It is extremely difficult to get rid of such psychological problems as psychotraumas, especially childhood ones, chronic stress, unlived experiences. It is important not to engage in self-diagnosis, but to seek help from a specialist who must determine the root cause of sudden mood swings and correct them.

Emotional swings can also be present in relationships. This is a special kind of manipulation, when one person creates conditions for another, under which the second will experience the strongest range of feelings. For example, at first he courts him in every possible way, and then abruptly cuts off the connection, without explaining the reasons for the breakup. At the same time, the one who remained abandoned begins to experience diametrically different feelings: confusion, loss, guilt, believing that he caused the separation. And when the object of love returns, bringing with it a whirlwind of positive emotions, the partner's feelings towards him grow stronger. Time passes, and closeness is again replaced by remoteness. nine0007

Such manipulative influences can occur consciously if a relationship is built by a person with narcissistic traits. Thus, he in every possible way creates the conditions for being an object of desire, confirming his superiority over the other.

Signs of an emotional swing

Love bombing, "sugar show"

A technique that helps form attachment. It was described by the Israeli psychologist Sam Vaknin. Behavior in which the manipulator tries with all his might to evoke strong positive emotions in his partner, to fall in love with himself. Loud confessions and promises, regular communication are used. nine0007

Change in behavior pattern

This is not necessarily a direct distance, but already the first call that may raise the question: “What did I do wrong?” For example, your partner calls you every morning at a certain time to say hello. Suddenly, one morning he “forgets” to do it, then again and again, without explanation. The question naturally arises as to where such cooling came from.

Promising but not concrete hints

For example, a partner dreamily states how nice it would be to spend the summer abroad together. Then it turns out that this was not an invitation, but rather an unfulfilled desire. Thus, in a man in love, he causes the illusion that the relationship will last a long time, it's time to make plans. nine0007

© unsplash


Everyone has fears in relationships and in life. The manipulator will try to make you feel these feelings in order to make you feel safe later. For example, if you are afraid of heights, your partner will lead you to a restaurant on the top floor, convincing you that next to him you have nothing to be afraid of.

Low self-esteem

"You're plump, but I still love you" is a prime example of this technique. The partner emphasizes those features in which you are not sure to convince that no one but him will want to be with you. Thus, you develop the feeling that only this manipulator can be around, because he puts up with your shortcomings. nine0007

Olya Osokina, founder of AIBY

“A partner can rock the emotional swing with certain phrases.

“You are nobody without me”, “With your excess weight, nobody needs you” — people with a victim complex, who have no internal support, lack the ability to adequately evaluate themselves, be independent and self-reliant, are subject to such suggestions.

“You will remain a beggar without me, how will you look into the eyes of your parents?”, “No one will hire a divorced woman with a child.” The manipulator is always looking for reasons to blame and seeks to act on trigger points that cause emotional pain. For example, the fear of social condemnation or the fear of losing a socially approved role. nine0007

“My ex took my car to the car wash every week, you don’t love me at all if you do it once a month”, “Don’t distract me from watching the news and then whine because I yelled at you” - typical examples of devaluation of actions and experiences.

If possible, you should avoid those who use you to drain their negative emotions, heal unresolved traumas and develop a sense of their own superiority. It is important to be responsible for your emotional state, to form a healthy independence and adequate self-esteem. nine0007

Causes of emotional swings

People who swing their partners on emotional swings most often have narcissistic personality disorder. Studies have shown that men suffer from it more often, but in general the difference between the sexes is so small that gender cannot be considered the main characteristic of a narcissist [1].

Narcissistic people: who they are and how to deal with them

The reasons that may cause such behavior are also not completely clear. Most likely, the development of such a disorder is influenced by a complex of factors: childhood trauma, genetic predisposition, and neurobiological features [2]. nine0007

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People use the emotional swing for several reasons.

  • Narcissism , that is, the desire to look desirable and important in someone's eyes, to make someone dependent on oneself.
  • Desire to dominate . After an emotional buildup, a person becomes addicted, loses his will and cannot end the relationship. This is exactly what a manipulator needs.
  • The desire to play with the feelings of another person, to feel the power, to get what you want. nine0172
  • Warm up feelings . It is far from always that people arrange emotional swings consciously or with the aim of harming or offending. Someone simply does not know how else to ignite a spark in a relationship, is not ready for mutual respect and respect for personal boundaries.

Elmira Gereeva, co-founder of the School of Emotional Intelligence and Psychotherapy, practicing psychologist

“If we are talking only about emotional swings in relationships between people, then not everyone can fall for this hook. If people with approximately the same data during the experiment are put in a position where they will be tried to be manipulated, not everyone will succumb to manipulation. nine0007

Who usually likes to cause such a storm of emotions in a relationship? These are indeed people with narcissism. They do everything they can to engage those around them in their drama and experiences, both positively and negatively. Some people will try to stay away from narcissists, while others will be fascinated by them and begin to idolize them. For the first type of people, such a person is less destructive, there is practically no dialogue with them. And people of the second type, feeling the impact, jump into these emotions with their heads, for them daffodils become a drug. nine0007

Narcissists are very fond of being in control and controlling people they can influence because it is a great way for them to assert themselves. After all, under this mask hides a very insecure person. They like to make their partners feel guilty, while masking the constant need for someone else's attention and recognition.

Many people live under the illusion that they understand others. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Having fallen in love with a narcissist, his control and tyranny, a person begins to interpret these qualities as positive. He thinks that the partner does not control, but cares that he is not a tyrant, but a fair sage. Sometimes the victims of narcissists reach the point of absurdity in their judgments, completely forgetting about self-esteem. nine0007

How to deal with emotional swings

It can be easy to recognize the emotional swing technique. Much harder not to succumb to it. Here are some suggestions.

  • Ending a relationship is the most radical way.
  • Do not allow yourself to be manipulated.
  • Designate personal boundaries so as not to be in a relationship as a follower.
  • Take care of your psychological well-being. Relationships should be comfortable. nine0172

Elmira Gereeva, co-founder of the School of Emotional Intelligence and Psychotherapy, practicing psychologist

“There is always an opportunity to get out of a relationship, but because of a lack of self-confidence, a person interprets the situation as a dead end. You need to get off the emotional swing before you get seasick. It is important to realize that it is impossible to feel comfortable where comfort is not expected by definition. It is not surprising that a person experiences anxiety, suffering and pain, because emotional swings are impossible without these emotions.

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