16 Manipulation Quotes From Experts to Help You Avoid Being Controlled

Emotional manipulators use gaslighting and other shifty techniques to get what they want from you. Peruse these manipulation quotes so you can recognize this behavior quickly, and stop it in its tracks.

If you’ve ever been emotionally manipulated—and really, who hasn’t at some point or another?—then it’s likely your experience left you searching for answers. In fact, psychoanalyst Robin Stern, PhD, co-founder and Associate Director for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, tells The Healthy that sheer confusion is one of the hallmark signs that someone’s just taken you for a ride.

Adds Amelia Kelley, PhD, therapist, author, and expert on emotional abuse and manipulation: “Emotional manipulation is abuse, and it isn’t harmless. It causes a great deal of distress and harm for the victim.” Kelley continues, “It can cause insecurities, self-doubt, isolation from others outside the relationship and make it more likely the abuser will progress into more severe forms of abuse and control.”

Feel the need to learn more about emotional manipulation? Click that link immediately to the left—we’ve got you.

How to deal with emotional manipulation

The only way to deal with someone who is trying to manipulate your emotions is to stop them in their tracks. This starts by being honest about what is happening. “Name it,” Kelley says, suggesting you might ask: “Are you trying to make me feel guilty?” Or “Why are you trying to make me feel a certain way?”

The next step is to establish your personal boundaries and enforce them with clear, direct communication. Kind people often resist this for fear of being “rude” or “causing a scene,” but many manipulators will use your good nature against you. “Remember that the goal is not to convince them you are right or make them see it your way, but rather just to make your message known,” Kelley says.

Something else that can help you deal with these distressing situations? Reading quotes from experts about emotional manipulation. These authorities’ thoughts can help you recognize manipulation, avoid it, and find comfort when it’s impacted your life.

Manipulation quotes

Lies come in many disguises

Criss Jami Manipulation QuoteThe Healthy

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.” —Criss Jami, American philosopher and author of Killosophy

Another example of emotional manipulation is gaslighting, so wise up with these gaslighting phrases.

People pleasers are vulnerable to manipulation

“If you are an approval addict, your behavior is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.” —Harriet B. Braiker, PhD, psychologist, and author of Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How To Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life

You read that right: An “approval addict” is synonymous with the idea of a people pleaser.

Watch what they do, not what they say

“If you feel confused because someone tells you that they love you, but they don’t act like they do, judge them by their actions alone. You will have your answer.” —Adelyn Birch, author of 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics: How Manipulators Take Control In Personal Relationships

Strong emotions aren’t always truth

“Manipulators count on strong emotions—such as guilt, fear, love, and shame—to prevent us from thinking clearly and seeing what they’re up to. That’s exactly how they get away with it.” —Adelyn Birch, author of 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics: How Manipulators Take Control In Personal Relationships

Emotional manipulation is contagious

Dorothy Mccoy Manipulation QuoteThe Healthy

“Manipulation is a contagious disease, much more dangerous than the flu because it can endure for a lifetime.” —Dorothy McCoy, PhD, therapist, and author

Stop keeping score

“If they can no longer score on you, then they can no longer manipulate you.” —Dorothy McCoy, PhD, therapist, and author of The Manipulative Man

Manipulation is always about taking, not giving

“Manipulative people do not consider the other person’s point of view; they will take at the expense of others.” —Richard Malthouse, ‎EdD, professor, and author

They draw you in quickly

“Some people pretend to be the beach, but they are actually quicksand.” —Steve Maraboli, behavioral scientist, counselor, and author

This can be part of “love bombing,” and it’s a major red flag.

Beware the smear campaign

Steve Maraboli Manipulation QuoteThe Healthy

“When they can no longer control or manipulate you, they smear you.” —Steve Maraboli, behavioral scientist, counselor, and author of Unapologetically You

Smear campaigns can be devastating. Here’s how to tell the difference between clinical depression and sadness.

You can be the victor, not the victim

“No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You are not a victim, you are a victor. You have a history of victory.” —Steve Maraboli, behavioral scientist, counselor, and author of Unapologetically You

In addition to these manipulation quotes, let these boundaries quotes inspire you to take action.

Lies founded in desire become believable

“Often enough the manipulator approaches, stimulates, or even creates a powerful wish or a strong desire in the target’s mind.” —Sapir Handelman, PhD, professor and author of Thought Manipulation

The more someone protests, the more careful you should be

“The success of the manipulation depends on the level of conviction and force of the denial.” —Tess Binder, author of Emotional Manipulation Tactics

Manipulation can feel isolating; these gaslighting memes will help you feel a little less alone.

Guard your ambition

Keith Campbell Manipulation QuoteThe Healthy

“When ambition gets out of hand we are vulnerable to manipulation by others.” —Keith Campbell, PhD, social psychologist, ethics professor and author

Ambition taken too far can also turn into being a perfectionist.

Manipulators hate boundaries

“Toxic people make you think you’re holding a grudge when you’re really holding a boundary.” —Mel Robins, motivational speaker

You don’t need them, actually

“A ‘Svengali’ is more than just someone who is manipulative. It’s somebody who makes you think you need him in order to accomplish anything.” —Ann Beattie, novelist

Pure love doesn’t come with conditions

“No love is conditional. If love is conditional, it’s emotional manipulation masquerading as love.” —Donald Miller, author of Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, MS, is an award-winning journalist, author, and ghostwriter who for nearly two decades has covered health, fitness, parenting, relationships, and other wellness and lifestyle topics for major outlets, including Reader’s Digest, O, The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health, and many more. Charlotte has made appearances with television news outlets such as CBS, NBC, and FOX. She is a certified group fitness instructor in Denver, where she lives with her husband and their five children.