Have you ever come across manipulative people who pretend to be nice? I have.
I once had a friend that was the sweetest, kindest person you could ever want to meet. She’d had a terrible childhood. Her mother had died of brain cancer when she was young and she had nursed her until her death. Her father was abusive so she left home at an early age. But she never complained about any of it.
She was helpful and caring and funny, and over time, we became best friends. The problem was, I didn’t know that she was just pretending to be nice. In fact, it turned out she was one of the most manipulative people I’d ever come across in my life.
Our friendship ended when I found out that everything she’d told me about her life was a lie. Her mother was still very much alive. Her father never laid a hand on her and she left home in her late twenties. After I confronted her with the truth, she threw a kitchen knife at me. She flew into a rage screaming, “Everyone leaves me!”
So how did I get so sucked in by this person? Why did my so-called ‘friend’ pretend to be sweet and kind? What is it about a manipulative person who pretends to be nice? How can they fool others so easily?
I thought about her behavior for a long time. In the end, I identified six key factors; six traits and behaviors of manipulative people who pretend to be nice so that they can take advantage of you.
6 traits and behaviors of manipulative people who pretend to be nice
They play the victim
This is certainly the case with my friend. Actually, she became so synonymous with lying that we called her BS Sally. Every single thing out of her mouth was a blatant lie. And I believed her.
The thing was, my other friends certainly didn’t. They tried to tell me, but I didn’t listen. I couldn’t believe someone would lie about such important stuff. You see, my mum had also died of cancer. What sort of person lies about stuff like that?
I’ll tell you. A person that wants to control you. A person that needs you to feel sorry for them. A person that doesn’t have a personality, so instead, they need something else to draw people closer to them. Having multiple sob stories and playing the victim is one way of doing it.
This is a classic technique from manipulative people who pretend to be nice. Love-bombing is where a person bombards you with love and affection within a very short time.
They will declare their undying love within days or weeks. They might shower you with expensive gifts, tell you that you are their soul mate and that they can’t live without you.
They’ll make you feel like you are living in a fairy-tale and that you’ve met the person of your dreams. But this whirlwind romance can’t last. The moment you show interest in something other than them they’ll fly into a rage and it’s all over.
‘I was only joking’
Has someone ever said a hurtful or rude comment about you and when you’ve reacted told you it was ‘just a joke’? They’ve then made out that you are over-reacting and have no sense of humor?
An ex-boyfriend of mine would do that all the time. He would say things that were just on the edge of being nasty. Then, when I would accuse him of saying rude things to me, he’d moan that I was being too sensitive and I should ‘chill out’.
This is their ‘get away with bad behavior’ card. Don’t let them play it. You will have a gut feeling whether their nasty comments are real and intended or not. And don’t forget, you can always ask them to stop if it upsets you.
Anyone who loves their partner will not want to intentionally hurt them.
They use your weaknesses against you
Ever had a work colleague that you confided in about a project or an aspect of your work you were worried about? They offered to help you or they gave you advice on how to proceed? Then you find out they went behind your back and told your supervisor you were struggling?
When you confronted them about it, they told you that they’d done it because they were worried about you? That’s some devious tactics right there. Do you berate them or thank them? It depends on their motives and the outcome of their discussion with your boss.
However, if they really did have your best interests at heart, they should have approached you first with their suggestions.
They make you feel guilty
One effective tactic of a manipulator is to make you feel guilty for not helping or believing them. I once had a housemate who always paid his share of the rent late. I ended up paying his share so we were not late paying it to the landlord. He would then owe it to me.
I would have to ask him for the money several times over the course of the next few weeks until it got to the following month when the next lot of rent was due. He would accuse me of ‘harassing’ him all the time. He would never offer me the rent money. I always had to chase him up on it.
It would always end in him storming out, slamming doors, him getting aggressive and angry. He would make me feel as if I was in the wrong for bringing up the subject in the first place. This is what manipulative people who pretend to be nice do.
They pretend to like the same things you do
One way a manipulator can get inside your head is to pretend to have the same interests as you do. They’ll do their research on you first. They’ll look through your social media posts and see which movies, books, or bands you love.
Then they’ll let slip that they share the same interests as you do and an instant connection is formed. This is because we love talking about the things we love. We feel connected to those who share our passions. And manipulators know this, so they use it against us.
It can be easy to get sucked in by the behaviors of manipulative people who pretend to be nice. Hopefully, by being aware of the above traits we can be on our guard against those who want to control and take advantage of us.
Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.