10 Feelings Manipulators Love to Play on

Manipulators, whether they know it or not, play on people's fears, doubts, and wishes. But their meanest method is playing on the higher feelings: love, gratitude, duty, and hope.

However, you shouldn't become senseless and unsympathetic when trying to avoid manipulations.

Bright Side is here to share with you some of the most common tricks used by manipulators, as well as ways to stand up to them and protect your own interests.


A person feeling guilty will do all it takes to compensate for the damage done by them. And that is exactly what the manipulator, imposing the feeling of guilt, needs.

  • Are you really that guilty? And aren't you taking on too much by feeling responsible for another person's emotional state? His reaction is his choice. Even if you did something wrong, apologize sincerely, but never let the manipulator control you.

Fear of losing face

A manipulator can provoke you not only for profit but also to amuse their ego, feel their power, or just have some fun. Victims are usually insecure people because their fear of losing face is the strongest.

  • First, think whether you really need it. And don't fall for provocative statements – you are not stronger than you are, you are not almighty. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. You shouldn't put yourself at risk for the sake of preserving some dubious image.

A sense of duty

A sense of duty is most commonly and most successfully abused by close relatives and friends. And they are the type of manipulators that can spoil your life the most.

  • It's important to understand the limits of your abilities. You do have to help, but that doesn't automatically mean that you have to suffer and give up on your own needs. Of course, it's hard to turn down a close person. However, it is possible to find middle ground and help your friend or relative without hurting your own interests.

Fear of being rejected

By constantly blackmailing their partner, a manipulator gets lots of benefits for a promise to stay with them and love them back. They abuse their victim's fear of being rejected.

  • Even if love can be bought, it can only be bought with love, not for any kind of material goods or endless services. It's important to learn to respect yourself. Never forget that you deserve selfless love and friendship.

A sense of gratitude

A sense of gratitude can be abused endlessly with reminders about one service you've done for that person every time you need something from them. And many manipulators, consciously or not, use this.

  • If it's inconvenient for you to fulfill someone's request, you don't have to do it. Find a way to pay your friend back that is comfortable for you, and don't fall for unfair manipulations.


These sly dogs play on other peoples' kindness and compassion. They are usually not doing any worse than others, but they play on your feelings so masterfully that you become willing to help the unhappy fellow.

  • Compliment the manipulator. If they try to shift their work to you, claiming they're suffering from it, tell them that such a talented person like them can do it much better than you, and you believe in them. Say it sincerely, and you will not only prevent manipulations but also make a good impression.

Fear of loneliness

Many people stay with a rude person they don't love but just tolerate because they are afraid to become completely lonely. The manipulator lowers their victim's self-esteem, making it harder for them to escape the fear of loneliness and break free.

  • Believe in yourself, respect yourself, and love yourself. That is the only way you can assess other people's attitude to you and avoid falling into the trap of fear of loneliness.


Shame is an agonizing sense of inferiority and incorrectness of your actions. A person is usually willing to do all it takes to avoid this feeling, and that, of course, is masterfully abused by manipulators.

  • If someone is diligently trying to shame you, you'd better start worrying. Because if you've made a mistake, you can apologize and correct it. And, of course, you shouldn't feel shame for not meeting someone's expectation. Your shame is only good for your manipulators to control you.


Hope manipulations. The liar promises the moon to you and claims they will change their behavior in no time. But all they want are momentary benefits that the victim, touched by their good intentions, can give them.

  • Don't believe their words. Look at their real actions. Set concrete deadlines, and make certain demands. Don't let hollow hopes change your thoughts and plans.


How do vanity manipulations work? A basic example is the fable of the fox and the crow. It might seem like an innocent compliment, but what the manipulator really wants is not to please you.

  • Before agreeing to the flatterer's request, evaluate your own interests, abilities, and wishes. And a nice "You're the only one capable of performing this task" can be answered with "Thank you, it's a pleasure for me to hear that you think so. However, I have other plans."
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for Bright Side
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