Manipulation can be subtle. Trust your gut.

How to Deal With a Manipulative Acquaintance

by Elise Wile

Eve may have been the first person to have been manipulated, but she certainly wasn't the last. Manipulative people are everywhere, and they come from all walks of life. Unlike the serpent in the garden, they aren't always physically obvious. Learning to protect yourself from a manipulative person's selfish mechanizations is essential if you don't want to be taken advantage of. Awareness and a firm stance can help keep such self-serving individuals at a safe distance.

1. Know Your Manipulators

Manipulators come in many flavors. Watch out for narcissistic people, parasitic individuals and people who are emotionally unstable, says former FBI agent Joe Navarro in a January 2013 article in "Psychology Today." These personalities are prone to manipulation and are comfortable using people for their own purposes. While emotionally unstable people may not be as calculating as narcissists and parasites, you will nevertheless find yourself at such a person's every whim if he is in your circle of acquaintances. When you realize that some people are either calculating enough to deliberately use you or display behaviors that they cannot seem to control, you will feel more comfortable saying no to their self-centered requests.

2. Trust Your Gut

You're prone to being manipulated by an acquaintance if you ignore the gut feelings you get when you're around the person. For example, if you feel as though your cousin's friend is being a little too generous with the compliments, it is possible that she is buttering you up so that you'll be amenable to joining her multi-level marketing business. When you feel as though a person is being a bit too flattering, insistent or generous, pay attention. Keeping your guard up around an acquaintance who makes you feel uneasy will help you to resist her manipulations.

3. Set Boundaries

When a person repeatedly attempts to manipulate you, you need to set boundaries. Essentially, boundaries are lines that you draw between you and another person, says the counseling department at Johnson State College. If your neighbor initiates a conversation about how beautiful your lawn is and you know she's about to ask to borrow your lawnmower, don't feel bad about saying no. Say something like, "I have a personal policy of not lending out tools and equipment. Perhaps you'd like the name of the guy who does my parent's lawn?" Remember that you are always within your rights to say no, even when a manipulative person has done something nice for you in an attempt to induce guilt should she think you might decline a future request.

4. Keep Your Word

Once you've set boundaries with a manipulative person, enforce them. After you've declined an acquaintance's request for your phone number, resist the urge to give in, even after he's offered to buy you a drink or insinuated that you must not trust him. If saying no doesn't work the first time, say it again until it does or remove yourself from the situation or person. Keep in mind that many manipulators like to wear down their victims, so you'll need to stay strong and keep a safe distance.

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