Affective Manipulation: What It Is And How To Defend Yourself

Affective manipulation is something that in our daily life we ​​find ourselves experiencing much more often than one might think. In fact, every day it can happen to us in a more or less conscious way and in every area of ​​our life, to be victims and sometimes even responsible. Often the one who tends to do this is an individual who has a narcissistic personality (an individual with an exaggerated sense of grandeur, a need for flattery and a lack of empathy). But sometimes it is also possible to find it in those with a weak and submissive personality who, through different attitudes, can still manipulate the other, using their own alleged weakness and fragility. Sometimes those who tend to manipulate have a manifestly manipulative, arrogant, aggressive and critical behavior. While others tend to hide it artfully, thus making any possible defense even more difficult for the other. Who is he who tends to fall victim to it? For the most part he is an individual with a dependent personality. A person who is generally inclined to depend on and cling to the other as a source of love and indispensable support. People in need of affection and validation, who are willing to do anything in order not to lose the person of reference, and who are unfortunately “experts” in choosing individuals who are not capable of giving.

Manipulative strategies

The affective manipulator can be a partner, a family member, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague, a boss. It is an individual (it can be a man or a woman) who establishes a kind of perverse game in relating to the other. By leveraging the victim’s weakness and need for affection and validation, he criticizes him, blames him, attacks him, in order to obtain satisfaction of his requests. He can use various strategies: guilt, victimization and lying. Through the sense of guilt the manipulator can make his victim feel he is wrong, and perceive the need to repair, behaving as the manipulator would like. Through victimization, the manipulator lets the other perceive his own weakness, his being in need of help. And in this way it creates the condition for him to care for him / her, and naturally be led to respond to her requests.
By lying, the manipulator misrepresents situations in his favor, ending up confusing his intended victim. And confusion is one of the predominant sensations experienced by those who come into contact with an affective manipulator. He feels he does not understand the best direction to take, what is right to do, especially for fear of receiving criticism and reprisals from the other. Fear of judgment and a profound sense of weakness are very strong in those who allow themselves to be manipulated, and this is precisely the weak point that the manipulator makes use of in “choosing his victim”.

How to defend yourself from affective manipulation

Assuming that the person who easily falls victim to it has a fragile personality, in need of affection, is little aware of their needs, and has low self-esteem, it follows that the solution lies precisely in these aspects. The real solution should not be sought in the manipulator who is unlikely to change his attitude, but lies in the individual who allows himself to be manipulated who needs to:

• Learn to recognize what he is experiencing and to trust himself more,

• Learn to listen more to their emotions, their ideas as worthy of value, and as the only and true compass to understand which is the right way to take,

• Understand what his real needs are and take care of them,

• Learn to love each other more, demand the right respect and set clear boundaries that the other cannot invade.

Let us always remember that concretely the manipulator can be anyone:

• An individual who treats us badly, who does not care about our needs and our feelings to the point of redefining us to his liking every day. Who neglects us, leads us to gradually lose our personal dimension, leading us to believe that his decisions and ideas are also ours

• An individual who criticizes, blames or plays the victim and uses his alleged weakness, his complaints and fragility to take responsibility and get what he wants from us.

All these aspects often escape those who fall at the mercy of a manipulator. What the victim only partially grasps but often does not listen for fear of suffering, for fear of being alone, for fear of facing the situation, is the pain that this condition entails. A continuous pain and a progressive lowering of one’s self-esteem, and of one’s sense of self-efficacy. A pain that can only be broken by taking the situation in hand, ceasing to play the role of the victim, no longer allowing the other to do what he does. One step at a time, acquiring greater strength and confidence in oneself, seeking and finding love for oneself, starting every day to take care of one’s own needs and personal dimension. A dimension to be proud of and to invest in.

To remember in order to cope with an emotional dependence

Find yourself and you will no longer be at the mercy of those who want to manipulate you, only those who are not clear about their individuality can risk merging with the other and falling victim to them. Who knows what he wants, who he is, what direction he wants to take and above all believes in himself cannot do it. So the solution is not the change of the other but your change, your greater awareness and the acquisition of a greater sense of personal self-efficacy.



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A physics student passionate about everything. Photographer and cryptoartist at, author of “The Red Ant”