Thought Catalog Agency

5 Relationship Habits That Are Low-Key Manipulative

Some manipulation is obvious, especially in today’s psychology-minded social landscape. By now, we all know how to spot gaslighting, for instance. But what about covert manipulation? It can start out sounding so reasonable. A partner has a small request that’ll make your relationship “healthier,” but is it really? Or is it just a way to manipulate you into giving up all your power to your partner? Look for these tactics of covert, low-key manipulation–your relationship might be in trouble.

Justifying every purchase.

The beginning of most financial abuse starts with a partner insisting you justify everything you buy, even when it’s with your own money. It could be something as simple as a quick run to Target and you find yourself explaining why you bought toilet paper. We’re all adults here. While big purchases that affect both of you makes sense to discuss, your partner should trust that you can handle small purchases just fine, thanks.

Checking in multiple times each day.

There’s no good reason why your partner should be keeping tabs on you. You’re at work–why should you check in? They might use an excuse like they just love you and want to keep in touch, but do they freak out when you don’t get back to them right away? Without trust, you have nothing.

Resorting to the silent treatment during fights.

Some partners will insist they do this because they need to “cool down,” but there’s a difference between communicating that you need a bit of space for a moment and suddenly going completely silent. Purposefully not responding to you isn’t “cooling down,” it’s a way to manipulate you into giving in.

Having family fight their battles for them.

You’re having a fight about something–which is totally normal, by the way–then suddenly you get a call or text from your partner’s mom telling you that you should cut her darling child some slack. Of course, when you bring this up to a manipulative partner, they’ll say something like, “What? I’m not allowed to talk to my family anymore?” Talking to their family isn’t the problem. Running to mom and having her fight their battles definitely is, though.

Asking for permission for everything.

A manipulative partner will distort what it means to be in a partnership. Rather than working together, they’ll make you feel like you aren’t allowed to make decisions for yourself. And it’s never the same when you look at the relationship in reverse. They’re not coming to you for permission for anything. Remember, this is your partner, not your parent.