Skip to content

5 Red Flags Your Partner is Manipulating You, Therapists Say

These are the warning signs you need to be watching out for.

While we want our romantic relationships to stand the test of time, we can't manipulate our significant others into staying with us or otherwise behaving differently. That doesn't mean some people won't try to do so, however. It's not always easy to tell that your partner is working against you for their own wants and needs—especially because they'll often stop at nothing to convince you they have only good intentions, making you doubt yourself in the process. Talking to therapists, we got some insight into the red flags that you should be keeping an eye out for. Read on for five signs your partner is manipulating you.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Red Flags About the Emojis Your Partner Is Texting, According to Therapists.

They try to shame you for different things.

couple wearing pajamas, hugging with happiness and love, reconcile partner while getting sulk, sitting in cozy living room at home, cute posing in Lifestyle Concept

Playfully teasing your partner is one thing—but if you find that your significant other is always shaming you for various behaviors, it could be a sign that they're attempting to control you, according to Jennifer Kelman, LCSW, a family therapist and relationship expert working with JustAnswer.

"If you are shamed enough, then you might try and change and contort yourself to fit with the mold they are wanting," Kelman explains. "This is a dangerous red flag because the person being shamed may begin to question themselves and lose trust in what they know to be true of themselves."

They compare you to others.

couple arguing on the sofa in the living room.

Constant comparison is also a major red flag. As Kaytee Gillis, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and writer, tells Best Life, many manipulative partners will outwardly compare their S.O. to other people—even their ex.

"This is often done to try to make you feel like you do not measure up or to try to make you work harder to give them something they want," Gillis says.

They always need to know what you're doing.

Happy young couple working from home, using digital tablet

We all want to feel like we're a part of our partner's life, and that may include asking them questions about their day. But there's a clear difference between doing that and displaying controlling behavior, according to Lisa Lawless, PhD, a clinical psychotherapist and founder of Holistic Wisdom.

"When your partner needs to know an incredible amount of details about where you are going and who you are with and becomes upset by not having that information or even going so far as to tell you what you may or may not do, it is a form of manipulation," Lawless says. "Ultimately, it is a way to assert power and maintain dominance over a partner."

For more relationship advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

They are always blaming everyone else.

Couple with relationship difficulties

While it's never easy for anyone to own up to the things they've done wrong, you should be wary if your partner is always trying to place the blame on others.

"Instead of just saying 'OK you're right, I didn't handle that as well as I could have,' many people who are manipulative will instead try to justify their behaviors and may even try to convince you that they are right and someone else is wrong," Gillis says.

This also displays a refusal on their part to take responsibility for anything, according to Kelman.

"It is easier to lie or blame than it is to look inward and take responsibility," she explains. "The purpose of lying and blaming is to mislead and cause one to question themselves."

They bring other people into your arguments.

Mental health therapist looking at man pointing and blaming woman. Couple is with instructor sitting in living room at home. They are arguing during meeting.

Every couple fights, but a manipulative partner may try to make every argument seem like your fault through "triangulation," according to Gillis.

"This is when someone brings in others to the argument in an attempt to get them on their 'side' to help prove that they are right," she shares, noting that they may try to get friends and family, or even couples therapists and independent third parties, to back them up.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more