10 Sneaky Signs Your Ex Is Manipulating Your Emotions

You suspect your ex is manipulating you. Forget that. You know your ex is definitely manipulating, but don’t know how they’re doing it. I’ll tell you exactly how your ex is manipulating you.

Most exes are good people. Sometimes they eh… you know, try to manipulate you into getting back together. But that mostly out of desperation. But there are some really sneaky manipulative exes who can mess up with your emotions so bad hat you don’t know which side is up or down.

I have written so much about how “no contact” as a strategy to get an ex back is often a desperate and sneaky attempt to play on someone’s fear of rejection and/or abandonment and get them back into a relationship that they walked away from, and often for a good reason (reasons).

But this is not the only way a manipulative ex ex can try to manipulate or control you. Here are a few more signs your ex is desperate and trying to manipulate you by playing on your emotions.

1. Negating

Despite you telling your ex that you’re no longer together, they act like the relationship never ended or as if nothing has changed. Your ex is not only in denial, this is your ex manipulating you into voiding the break-up. They think you made a mistake ending the relationship, and want you also to think you made a mistake. It is the “if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” or “If you don’t acknowledge it, it never happened” mind-bending technique.

2. Gaslighting

Your ex is telling you things that make you question yourself and your reality. For example, they tell you a different version of the break-up that paints them in a better light than you remember and insist that if they said or did anything to hurt you, it was because you did or said something that made them hurt you. Every time you talk to them, you feel like you must be imagining things because your reality is not reality.

3. Grand promises

Your ex is promising you a “too good to be true” relationship if you take them back (e.g. be more open, spend more time with you, take you to romantic getaways, make dramatic life changes, and even proposes to you). If it’s too good to be true, see it it for what it is – too good to be true.

4. Excessive apologizing

Your ex apologizes a little too much, and when they don’t not get the response they hoped for, they stop contacting you, act out angrily or tell you to get over it already. The ‘apologies’ are not really an apology. Your ex is manipulating you. They are convinced that an apology will get you back, and keep adding things they apologize for because the last apology didn’t work, so they come up with what they think will do the trick this time around.

5. Quick fixes

Your ex acts like they had an epiphany and overnight woke up a whole new (changed) man or woman. The new quick fix is “I read about about attachment styles, now we can get back together”. Don’t fall it.

Change takes months and even years, and some people never change at all. Any big-bang theory style changes are just that – a snake oil salesman’s miracle cure.

6. Guilting

Your ex’s so called “changes” are conditional. They say “I’ll change but you have to promise me…” . Some exes even say “I’ll change but I don’t want to waste my time changing if we are not getting back together.”

The conditions sound bad all on their own. But what your ex is really wants you to know is that they’re “sacrificing” to make those changes for you. Guilt is a very powerful emotion and manipulators know that, and use it with no mercy.

7. Baiting

Your ex creates situations or drama to baiting you into contacting them. For example, they send you a text saying they have something important to tell you or something they need from you. They could have easily said it in the text, but no. They want you to contact them to find out the important thing they want to tell you or need from you.

See this for what it is, your ex trying to manipulate you into contacting them. Most people if they have something important to tell you just come out right and tell you what it is. If they are making you work to hear what they have to say, it is not important.

8. Power playing

Your ex reaching out and disappearing when you respond, and then reaching out again is all about power-pay. For example, they say they want to return your stuff. Then when you say, “Okay, let’s do it”, they don’t respond back. Weeks later, they reach out again asking to come pick up their stuff and drop off yours. You respond to say that’s fine by you, when would they like to come over? No response. Sometimes it is I want “my stuff” back, you keep it, and then back to them wanting it back.

Remember, the one who has the power calls the shots. Don’t let your ex manipulate you. if you have their stuff, drop it off . If they want to drop off yours, that up to them. No games.

9. Coercion

If your ex sounds more like a therapist than an ex trying to make a relationship work, it is because they have figured out that “getting into your head” is the only way they can make you take them back. For example, they talk about your depression, anxiety, attachment avoidance, fear of rejection/abandonment etc., like they they know you better than you know yourself, and pretend to be your “emotional support” all the while pursuing their own selfish agenda.

This is one of the sneakiest and most manipulative tactic because it works. Once they get you into thinking you are “damaged goods” no one else can appreciate, wants or can deal with, they have you (against your will).

10. Threats

Your ex is threatening to “move on” if you do not make up your mind and take them back. They even tell you no one will love you more than they love you, predict all kinds of doom for you without them in your life and make it look like your happiness depends on them. Take it as a threat, “I’ll make your life miserable” if you don’t take me back, and they will.

Don’t give your ex the license to manipulate you again and again

Manipulators have an agenda when they deal with others, and take advantage of those who are inexperienced to see through their games.

You have the upper hand here– and the opportunity to take the relationship the direction you want it to. Don’t fall for the manipulation. Falling for your ex’s manipulation only gives your ex a heightened sense of superiority and a license to do it again, and again.

If your ex’s attempts at manipulation is something out of character, that is, they were never manipulative or controlling in the relationship, or generally not a drama queen or someone who is addicted to emotional stress, then they’re just acting that way out of hurt or desperation. If you still care about them and believe that there could be a future for the two of you, then make them work to prove themselves over a period of time that they are worth giving another chance. If they act consistent in ways that show you they truly have changed, and that the change is permanent, then give them a chance.

But if your ex’s attitude, words, actions and behaviour are just a continuation of their manipulative and controlling nature, it’s  best to walk away now than later. You only have yourself to blame if you go back to the same exact relationship that you walked away from, or should have walked away from a long time ago.


10 Silly Mind Games Your Ex Is Playing To Get You Back

10 Most Confusing Ex’s Behaviours And Misread Signals

10 Signs Your Ex Is A Loser (How to Spot A Loser)

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  1. says: Kassie

    My ex is very manipulative, and he will be the first to tell you that he manipulates people to get his way and get away with it. I ended the relationship and every other day he comes up with some new way to get my attention and make me want to talk to him. I told him he is obsessed with me and he needs to leave me alone but he wont.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      If you really want him to leave you alone then don’t take the bait and pay him attention or talk to him.

  2. says: Samuel

    This is probably the most spot on and insightful writing I have ever read on a manipulative ex (in my case girlfriend). Thank you for this – genius! The sad thing about this is for me, even though I see it so clearly now, there’s still a part of me that loves her and that really believed I was special when I was just like everybody else … lol.

    1. says: Yangki Akiteng

      And you probably were “special” and she genuinely loved you back. It’s just that their way of loving and caring can be destructive to you personally and to the relationship, especially if they have been that way for a very long time and manipulation is the only way they know how to love or care about someone (or engage the world at large).

  3. says: Patti

    #9 for sure.

    It took me a long time for me to admit – even with my wise friends’ warnings and upon reading this article – that my ex has been one such person. I only have myself to blame for giving him a license to take advantage of giving him – multiple – 2nd chances. Now I have come closer to knowing just what kind of self-respect I need to attract the right man, but most importantly, being aware of how to better myself to be the right partner. Your blog has been such a blessing when getting through my hard times!

  4. says: Sonja

    I am so glad I read this article it has shown me how anyone’s ex csn manipulate you without you even knowing it. Thank you so much for the infromation its much appreciated.

  5. says: Aaron

    I know what you mean. When it comes to dealing with emotions women are the “stronger” gender (no insult intended to the men). But you’re right, I have to show her I can be a man and an adult.

    1. There are emotionally strong women— and emotionally strong men. Gender doesn’t determine “emotional strength”. There is a lot that goes into the making of an “emotionally strong” person.

      You’ll do just fine, Aaron. Love your attitude.

  6. says: Aaron

    Wow! I think I’ve done all of the above. I’m desperate because I’m scared she will move on without me. But after reading this, it’s time to regroup. Thank you for the wake up call.

    1. Good for you! It especially doesn’t look good for a guy to come across as desperate. Our society conditions us to look at men as the “stronger” gender and seeing a man “act like a woman” (no insult intended) doesn’t “feel right” for most women.

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