10 Manipulative Behaviors That Are Not Actually Love

Recognizing a manipulative relationship can be a complex task, often filled with uncertainty and doubt. While you may struggle to label your situation as toxic, persistent feelings of unease and doubt when interacting with your partner can serve as a warning sign.

It’s important to remember that in the realm of dating, there are individuals who genuinely love you, those who harbor negative feelings towards you, and those who seek to control you. When manipulative behaviors come into play, it’s easy to become blinded by affection and loyalty, making it difficult to see the reality of your situation.

Here are 10 manipulative behaviors that are often mistaken for love

Jealousy and Possessiveness

While a little jealousy is normal in relationships, excessive jealousy is not healthy. If your partner is overly possessive, constantly checking up on you, or gets upset when you spend time with others, this is a sign of control, not love.


Gaslighting is a highly insidious form of psychological manipulation that aims to make you question your own sanity, perception, or memories. This tactic involves the manipulator denying things they’ve clearly said or done and insisting that you’re “misremembering” or overreacting.

If your partner frequently resorts to such behavior, it’s likely that you’re being gaslighted. This is a serious red flag, indicating a toxic relationship dynamic that can deeply affect your mental health.

Constant Criticism

Constructive criticism is necessary for growth, but constant, harsh criticism that makes you feel inadequate or inferior is a form of emotional abuse. Love should boost your self-esteem, not tear it down.

Isolation from Friends and Family

If your partner insists on spending all your time together and discourages you from seeing friends and family, they’re trying to control and isolate you. In a healthy relationship, both partners should have their own separate social lives.


Manipulators are adept at using guilt as a weapon to achieve their goals, turning even the most innocent situations into opportunities for blame. When your partner consistently makes you feel guilty for your actions, particularly when you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s a clear sign of manipulation. This kind of behavior is a red flag, indicating an unhealthy dynamic that can be emotionally draining and damaging.

Threats and Ultimatums

Threatening behaviors, such as threatening to leave, self-harm, or inflicting punishment if you don’t comply with their demands, are clear indicators of manipulation. This is a coercive tactic used to control and instill fear.

Love, in contrast, should be about respect, understanding, and freedom, not about feeling like you’re in a hostage situation. Such threats are not a sign of love but a sign of a person trying to manipulate and control.

Playing the Victim

Manipulators often resort to playing the victim as a way to gain sympathy and exert control in a relationship. This tactic involves constantly blaming others, including their partners, for their own shortcomings and never accepting responsibility for their actions.

Such behavior is a major red flag, indicative of a manipulative personality. It’s crucial to recognize this pattern, as love involves accountability and mutual respect, not constant blame-shifting.

Withholding Affection

Withholding love, attention, or affection as a means of punishment is a manipulative tactic that no one should endure in a relationship. It’s a toxic behavior that uses emotional deprivation to control and dominate.

Genuine love is consistent, unconditional, and not dependent on one’s actions or performance. Love isn’t a reward to be earned or a privilege to be revoked, but mutual respect and care that should be consistently present in a healthy relationship.

Controlling Behavior

Exerting control over aspects of your life, such as your appearance, finances, or daily activities, is another sign of manipulative behavior. It’s a way of asserting dominance and reducing your personal autonomy.

A loving partner, on the other hand, will respect your individuality and independence. They will support your choices and encourage your personal growth, rather than try to control or limit you.

Ignoring Boundaries

Disrespecting or disregarding your personal boundaries, or making you feel guilty for setting them, is not an act of love but a form of manipulation. In a healthy relationship, each partner should respect and uphold the other’s boundaries without question. They are integral to maintaining individuality, personal comfort, and mutual respect in the relationship.

Love, should make you feel safe, respected, and cherished. If you recognize any of these behaviors in your relationship, it may be time to reevaluate. Don’t confuse control and manipulation with love. You deserve to be truly loved and respected.

Final thought

It’s crucial to understand that love is about mutual respect, understanding, and care. It’s not about control or dominance. If you feel like you’re being manipulated in your relationship, it’s important to seek help and support. Love should bring happiness and peace, not anxiety and fear. And remember, you’re worthy of a love that adds to your life, not one that subtracts from it.

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