Manipulative Relationships – Here Is How to Spot the Red Flags

It’s known that most people will use a form of manipulation at some point in their lives to get what they want. In many cases, manipulation is harmless, as the other person can see what the manipulator is up to and why they’re doing whatever it is. When it comes to romantic relationships, there are red flags that should be spotted to avoid dangerous consequences.

Hand controls the woman's marionette. Manipulation concept

Protecting Yourself From Manipulative Relationships

In the dating world, manipulation and mind games are common. It’s not easy to always feel confident that someone has your best interests in mind or that they choose to love you because you’re a good match for them and not because you’ve become their prey.

There are three kinds of manipulation when it comes to romantic relationships, according to a relationship coach, Lily Walford. Here are the three manipulative tactics that people use and the red flags that you should be watching out for.


Guilt-tripping in relationships is far too common. You might choose to have a night out with your friends that was planned ahead of time, but your partner may tell you that they’re anxious or depressed and tell you that you need to stay home. If you bring up how the plans have been made already, they may use guilt by questioning your feelings about them or even threatening to hurt themselves.


This is a powerful emotion and also a commonly used manipulative tactic as it is a painful feeling of distress. Your partner may make you feel shame by mocking your opinions or actions either in private or in front of others.


When it comes to narcissists, this is one of their most favored tactics. They’ll want you to trust them because they supposedly know what’s best for you. This tactic relies on you not trusting in yourself, and it makes you doubt your judgment.

How to Spot the Warning Signs

Guy woman at a woman with her covering her ears
Lily gave the following advice on how to spot the warning signs of a manipulative relationship and what to do.

  • Pay attention to your initial reactions
  • Ask yourself whether they’re trying to influence you toward a specific outcome
  • Keep in mind that losing your partner’s favorable opinion of you isn’t a loss if they don’t respect you or your boundaries
  • If you can do so in a safe manner, let them know that you’ve noticed their manipulative ways
  • Let them know that you don’t feel safe, and make sure to leave the relationship as soon as possible