Emotionally Manipulative Boyfriend: 22 Signs and Reasons to Walk Away

Having a manipulative boyfriend is one of the worst feelings in the world. But how do you spot the signs and red flags early on in the relationship?

emotionally manipulative boyfriend

Maybe you’re thinking you’d never have to deal with an emotionally manipulative boyfriend… don’t be so sure of yourself.

When you date someone who emotionally manipulates you into doing what they want, it’s almost impossible to know for sure, and slowly, it can also lead to emotional *and mental* damage. You’ll do yourself a huge favor by learning to spot the red flags early on.

You might think that it’s impossible to spot the signs of someone being manipulative, but there are obvious indicators that you’ll be able to spot even on your first date. Once you do spot them, don’t even think for a second before walking away for good!

[Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

What’s the definition of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend?

By definition, an emotionally manipulative boyfriend is a guy who will gaslight you and control you into doing what he wants.

It doesn’t matter if he hurts you in the process, as all he cares about is his own gain. It won’t be evident at first, as his manipulation will be masked in the most subtle ways under the guise of love and care.

It might be in the form of excessive affection, gift-giving, or basically, everything you’ve ever wanted in a guy. How could you resist something so dreamy and too good to be true? [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 signs you manipulate the people in your life]

But the minute you’re hooked in the relationship, that’s the time he reveals his manipulation tactics. Even when you want to leave the relationship, it’s not easy because you feel stuck. You’re staying because you feel like you don’t have a choice.

You can’t breathe around him, but at the same time, you also can’t breathe without him. It’s the worst paradox of how having an emotionally manipulative boyfriend feels.

[Read: Psychological manipulation: 16 signs & tactics real manipulators use]

How to tell you have an emotionally manipulative boyfriend

Out of all the types of boyfriends you can have, a manipulative boyfriend falls under one of the worst kinds. If you don’t want to experience the trauma that comes with it, you need to learn the signs of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend.

Don’t worry; we got you covered in this aspect! Here are the obvious signs you need to watch out before you give him your heart. [Read: 23 subtle signs of a controlling and manipulative boyfriend most girls don’t notice]

1. You feel something is off

When you spend time together, you don’t feel good about yourself. You’re always watching what you say, and it’s like you’re walking on eggshells.

There’s just something off about the relationship even when you just started dating, and you can’t quite pinpoint what it is.

Don’t ignore this, as it’s one of the huge signs of a manipulative boyfriend. This means that he can’t be trusted *so don’t give him your heart*. He either scolds you or makes you feel guilty about everything *even when it’s his fault*. That’s emotional manipulation at its finest. [Read: Early warning signs of a possessive man you never want to overlook]

2. You doubt yourself

An emotionally manipulative boyfriend will bring out your worst, and that’s precisely why it feels so bad. Listen, if anyone can make you doubt your own thoughts and feelings, he’s mindf*cked you pretty well. You know who you are, what you like, what you dislike, but he’s trying to play around with your feelings.

He’s bringing out your insecurities and flaws and make you hate yourself, instead of making you feel loved and secure. He makes it’s pretty easy to doubt yourself, no matter what situation you’re in.

3. You want what he wants

How could you possibly want the same things he does? But that’s what happens when someone is the master of manipulation tactics. He will control you to the point where you provide his needs and wants in the relationship *without caring about yours in any way*.

Of course, it’s normal in a relationship for two people to blend their lives together. But, when you put your needs and wants to the side, only catering to his needs, that’s where things go wrong.

Sacrifice? Compromise? Selflessness? A manipulative boyfriend doesn’t know these things, nor is he capable. [Read: How to handle controlling behavior in a relationship and turn it around]

4. You’re responsible for his feelings

When he’s feeling sad, angry, or stressed, you’re the reason why. If he had a bad day at work, that’s because of you. He’s incapable of saying sorry or being held accountable for his mistakes, so he always blames you in the process. You’re the reason for all of his negative feelings.

He doesn’t have to control them; instead, he points the finger at you. This is one of the signs of a manipulative boyfriend you really need to be wary of.

5. He uses the line, “if you really loved me…”

This is such a classic manipulative line that boys love to use. It’s an old-school tactic of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend to make you feel guilty about doing something you don’t want to do. For example, “if you really loved me, you’d move in with me” or “if you really loved me, you’d rub my feet.”

He’ll guilt you to do things, even if you just don’t want to do it in the first place. This is also why when you tell him that he’s wrong, he’ll use guilt instead of apologizing directly and changing his behavior. Screwed up, isn’t it? [Read: Gaslighting – 16 signs your lover is messing with your mind]

6. He plays the victim

This is one of the classic signs of a manipulative boyfriend that they love to use. Playing the victim always earns things in their favor, without admitting their fault. If you find yourself always being blamed for everything and having to apologize, something is wrong.

He’s not taking responsibility for his actions; rather, he’s putting everything on you. If he cheated on you and still managed to play the victim, making you doubt your own accusations, he’s definitely manipulating you and thinks he can easily trample on you and get his way.

If he did something that hurt you and he managed to make you blame yourself for everything, that’s playing the victim. [Read: 16 abusive relationship signs of a devious lover]

7. You’re playing in his court

Your relationship is a game, and everything favors his rules and terms – never yours. In other words, anything he does with you is in places where he feels most comfortable. You aren’t traveling together to new destinations or trying out new things.

He only does things with you that allow him to gain control. The word compromise isn’t in his dictionary, so he’s incapable of meeting you halfway, even if he tried.

8. You feel like you’re overreacting

But you’re not. While he’s playing the cool and collected card, you’re showing genuine emotion. He’ll tell you that you’re overreacting, making you feel like you can’t trust yourself. Maybe he repeatedly says, “you’re being too dramatic” or “stop being so sensitive.”

That’s real gaslighting, right there. The fact that he chooses to attack your weaknesses instead of validating your emotions just proves that you have an emotionally manipulative boyfriend.

This is his way of being defensive towards an accusation that’s most probably accurate *but he’ll never admit this to your face*.

9. He emotionally blackmails you

Maybe you planned on going out with your friends tonight, but he’s suddenly not feeling well, and has asked you to stay home *or else he’ll die*. It can even be more dramatic, where he threatens self-harm or suicide. The line between control and love can often be blurred that expert manipulators will use control to mask as love.

Maybe you think he’s just being a hypochondriac or protective, but in reality, he’s already controlling you. He loves using your own guilt against you to get what he wants. [Read: 18 signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]

10. He “intellectually” bullies you

A manipulator, a good one, isn’t going to come ill-prepared. No way. If anything, intellectually he’s going to hit you with facts and statistics to make his point seem stronger. He’ll prove to be smarter and more intellectual to you *in all the wrong ways*, and the worst part is that you’ll believe him every time.

As you don’t know those facts, he’s showing his power over you, making himself appear more intelligent and reliable. It’s such bullsh*t, we know, but that’s a classic manipulation move.

11. He gaslights you

Now, this is a really messed up form of an emotionally sick game of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend. Gaslighting is when someone does shady things behind your back, but will then make up lies, leave information out, and make you believe you you’ve got it all wrong.

You’ll literally feel like you’re going insane, that everything is your fault, and that you’re out of control. Victims of gaslighting often blame themselves even when it’s the other person who’s really at fault. [Read: 16 signs your lover is clearly gaslighting you]

12. Everything is a joke

Whatever he says, whether it’s hurtful or offensive, it’s always just a joke. He doesn’t think what he says is upsetting or hurtful; it was just a joke. If anything, you’re the one who comes off as sensitive or overreacting, all because you got offended by a joke.

Even if his joke is beyond disrespectful and appropriate, he’ll claim that you should lighten up and not take everything so seriously. However, if you say something similar to him, you’re extremely hurtful and must apologize. It’s only him that should be able to do this, not you.

It’s one of the overlooked signs of a manipulative boyfriend, just because it’s supposed to pass off as a sense of humor, even if it’s already borderline disrespect. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship & shut it down for good]

13. His exes were all crazy

You know the guys that all claim their exes were the crazy ones, not them? In their version of the story, it’s never their fault *even if it was them who cheated on their exes*. Listen, if any guy tells you his exes were all crazy, you run away. You run far away.

This is one of the huge signs of a manipulative boyfriend that something isn’t right with him. It’s an obvious red flag you should never tolerate, even on the first date. If this is a fresh relationship and he tells you this, end it. His exes aren’t all crazy. He’s crazy.

14. The silent treatment

This is such a basic, yet effective, way to emotionally manipulate people. If you disagree or do something against his wishes, he’ll give you the silent treatment. He won’t return your calls or texts. If you’re fighting in person, he won’t say a word about your argument and will leave you to be tortured with silence.

Eventually, after you beg him, he’ll accept your apology because he won. An emotionally manipulative boyfriend won’t care about anything except winning the argument each time. He’s incapable of saying sorry, remember? [Read: Silent treatment abuse: How to take a stand & get back in control]

15. He’s all about ultimatums

Your life with him is a giant ultimatum. There’s no discussion or conversations when you need to make a decision. Instead, he gives you an ultimatum. “If you don’t come with me, I’m breaking up with you.”

You’re basically receiving a threat every time you do something he doesn’t want you to do. You’re not entitled to your personal life if it doesn’t involve him. [Read: The early warning signs that scream he’s a bad boyfriend]

16. He’s always has it worse

Maybe you just lost your job, but he had a hard day at work, so you need to comfort him instead of worrying about yourself. When it comes to manipulators, you can never have a worse or better day than him. He needs to be in the center of the spotlight at all times.

It’s always about him, so even if you had a really great day, maybe you had a promotion or something amazing happened, he’ll never be okay with you taking the spotlight. He just has to be the center of attention each time. [Read: Devious signs of manipulative behavior you should never ignore]

17. He gets vulnerable too quickly

The reason why he seems so smitten from the start, rather than the typical guy that takes some time to warm up to you, is to get you to trust him immediately. Once he successfully wins your trust, that’s when the real manipulation begins.

So if you notice him saying he loves you way too fast, giving you your favorite gifts, buying you coffee, and indulging in exaggerated displays of love, he’s trying to control you. It’s a classic move of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend that can easily be masked as love, and that’s what is so terrifying about this. [Read: What is love bombing and the early signs of this sneaky manipulation]

18. He uses your past against you

You’ll feel weak and attacked in every argument because he loves to use your weaknesses and past against you. If you open up about something personal, he’ll use that when the timing is right. Perhaps he brings up your abandonment issues or your relationship with your parents when he clearly knows that’s a personal matter.

This is one of the signs of a manipulative boyfriend that’s just plain heartless and cold. He doesn’t feel guilty about using your weaknesses against you if it means having an edge over you. [Read: 17 relationship red flags that most people completely ignore]

19. He makes you feel sorry for even speaking

If it took a lot of courage and bravery to open up about an issue that’s been bothering you for quite some time, then he’ll also make you feel sorry for bringing up those issues.

He’ll suggest that you never trust him or that he is the way he is because of his anxiety. Guilt is their favorite emotion to use against you, which is why this is such a powerful manipulation tactic.

20. He acts like a martyr

He’ll do everything in his power to seek control in the relationship, and one of the ways is to be a martyr. Maybe you asked him for a favor, and he made it evident that it was such a burden to him at the moment, but he did it anyway. He wants to gain your sympathy and guilt that you made him do it *even when he willingly agreed to in the first place*.

Even with such a small favor, he’ll twist this and make it out to be something else entirely. He might even use this favor against you someday, at the right time. [Read: How do narcissists hook you – Learn to dodge their toxic bait]

21. He calls you names jokingly

Maybe he calls you a bitch or slut, but it’s only a joke. He’s just playing around; you don’t have to act so seriously and stiff all the time – at least, that’s what he always tells you, right? This is one of the classic signs of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend you need to watch out for.

It’s classic disrespect when your boyfriend calls you names, and that should never be the norm, ever. He’s just manipulating you to get what he wants. [Read: 15 BIG red flags in a relationship you should never explain away]

22. You’re losing yourself

You want to be sure that you’re being emotionally manipulated? It’s when you’re on the verge of losing yourself. You feel like you’re on the brink of insanity. One minute he adores you; the next minute he can’t stand you.

In the relationship, you end up compromising your entire belief system, all because that’s what he wants. He can’t stand the idea that you have a different belief than him, so he changes you *drastically*.

[Read: How to focus on yourself in a relationship & avoid losing yourself]

How do you deal with an emotionally manipulative boyfriend?

No questions asked; run away as fast as you can. Before they can even give you a chance to be stuck in their devious tricks, walk away from the relationship. [Read: How to break up with someone you love: When it’s hard but right]

The tendency is that most women end up thinking they can change their manipulative boyfriend into someone better *which rarely happens*.  It’s never your responsibility to change, fix, and especially save him. The more you stay for his potential, the more out of control you’ll feel.

Manipulation is in his nature, and that’s not something you can fix on your own. If someone is manipulative, they’ll leave you with the kind of trauma that takes months or even years to recover from. [Read: 19 signs of emotional damage and ways to get past them]

Being in this kind of relationship isn’t a joke, and the earlier you spot the signs, the better it is for your sanity and mental health. We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again – you can never change a manipulative boyfriend, ever.  So just walk away and find someone who really deserves you *you’ll thank us later*.

[Read: Emotional manipulation and 14 ways people mess with your mind]

So, who is an emotionally manipulative boyfriend?

He’s the one who’ll make you feel like the worst version of yourself and like you’re out of touch with who you are.

He’ll make you blame yourself and question everything you’ve ever known, all because he’s incapable of apologizing and wants to control you in every manner.

Whether it’s gaslighting or passive-aggressiveness, manipulation is still manipulation.

After reading these signs of an emotionally manipulative boyfriend, what do you think? If you see most of these signs in your date, we urge you to run away as quickly as possible and don’t ever look back.

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