7 Stages of A Relationship With A Manipulator
Relationship aspects

7 Stages of A Relationship With A Manipulator

Manipulators or psychological vampires fool others into a trap of toxic relationships and slam it long before victims realize they have been trapped. Luckily enough, psychologists eagerly share the scenarios of these relationships.

As a rule, all manipulators, be it bosses, friends, relatives, or partners, act according to the same scenario. Here is how it looks from a victim’s standpoint.

Manipulative scenarios

Infatuation and euphoria  

At the first stage, a manipulator is maximally attentive and charming: he pays a woman elaborate compliments, courts her like in a fairy-tale, promises eternal love, makes common plans, and doesn’t forget to promise more and more.

A victim, at this stage of a relationship, behaves like a child who has waited for a miracle and finally got it. A woman wants to believe that a partner will really give her the things she has always lacked: love, care, understanding, trust, emotional intimacy, and warmth. She feels a queen, and her man seems Prince Charming to her. A relationship with him reminds a fairy-tale.

A woman carves this feeling of euphoria in her mind, the feeling of being loved; this is exactly what she is trying to bring back later getting lost in manipulator’s nets. However, no matter how hard she tries, she won’t be happy with this man again.

Mystery or revelation   

At the second stage, a victim happily shares her happiness with the surrounding world: passionate posts in social networks, stories about her wonderful man that relatives and friends have to listen to. She introduces him to her closest ones who also start admiring him. Yet, there are some people who notice “bad signs” in this ideal relationship and try to warn a victim. But “Prince Charming” will quickly notice it and do everything possible to put her at odds with such a “wise” observer.

A vague feeling that something is wrong    

This stage starts subtly: a man writes less, ignores the messages, is late for the dates, or cancels them because he is tired. His glance and voice show he is irritated and indifferent. A woman feels something is wrong. Nevertheless, due to the fact that she is already dependent on him, she can’t understand what exactly is wrong and believes these are temporary difficulties.

 To hurt a wound

A manipulator is deliberately hitting the woman’s weakest points. He becomes hysterical, gets offended, and manipulates her feeling of guilt.

She is desperately trying to correct something, satisfy all whims of her predator, adjust her world outlook to his needs. At first, she feels despair and desolation, later on – a passionate desire to bring back a fairy tale she lived in at the first stage of a relationship. That’s why she starts following the monster instead of running away from him.


Once a manipulator makes sure that a victim is irreversibly hooked, he leaves her. He can go away without any explanations, become instantly cold, betray her, or reject her in any other way he considers proper and more painful. A woman blames herself for such changes and begs him to stay with her at any cost. At this stage, addiction develops, i.e., a deep emotional connection to a person which is very hard to get rid of.


A manipulator intentionally ignores a victim who finds solitude unbearable. For this reason, a woman is ready for everything to return a previous relationship and gets even more attached to a man. She can’t get help from close people since she has already convinced them he is a wonderful person. To make matters worse, a predator may independently communicate with the woman’s relatives and friends pretending he has been undeservingly hurt.

Since a victim gets no support and has nobody to ask for help, she risks giving up and sinking into severe depression.

Forever hooked

At the final stage of a relationship, a manipulator appears again. He either behaves normally, as if nothing has happened, or repents of his behavior and confesses that he loves the victim only. Why not start everything from scratch?

For the first couple of days, he may behave as previously. A woman starts believing that finally, everything will be fine, but then the matters are getting worse: former stages would repeat in a more perverted form. There are several options for a woman to stick to 1) become an emotional slave; 2) suffer from the severest depression; 3) quitting a toxic relationship with a psychotherapist’s help.

The majority of victims understand they’ve been trapped only at the final scenario stages; others may fail to recognize it at all. That’s why the skill at recognizing manipulators and withstand them is vitally necessary.   

Why do we become dependent on manipulators?

Reason #1 Childhood emotional traumas

Provided a person hasn’t received enough warmth and love in childhood, “an inner child” will be constantly trying to get them in real life and subconsciously looking for this option in a relationship with a beloved man or woman resembling their father or mother.

Say, a girl’s father was strict and not emotional. If a woman meets such a man, she will become a girl looking for her “father’s” approval. If the latter rejects her, she will experience a childhood trauma once again, which will be much more acute than in the case of a typical breakup of a couple.

Curiously enough, the problem may arise even if a father loved her daughter too much. In this case, a grown-up woman becomes infantile so that when a father rejects a grown-up daughter, she doesn’t want to grow older. Preserving her illusions about male princes, she is easy prey for a manipulator. If a girl has had no father, she may fantasize about his potential image, which also makes her experience a rejection trauma.    

Reason #2 Weak personality

All people are born unique, and one’s personality is to be developed and strengthened. Otherwise, a personality may easily be distorted if assessed by others. Psychologically literate parents support their child’s personality first helping it to develop, and later on, they let a child separate and develop independently, without their support. If this process flows naturally and correctly, there grows up a mature and confident person.

If the process gets distorted, a grown-up personality is constantly looking for outside support. They are looking for reliable people, confident, charismatic, strong. Yet, such people don’t want to work on the things their parents haven’t completed; they prefer spending time with those who have the same values. 

For manipulators, people with a weak personality are excellent victims. They pretend to offer support which implies co-dependence.

Typical features of a not stable personality are:

·        dependence on others’ opinion;

·        the absence of one’s own set of values;

·        inability to say “no” without feeling guilty;

·        unfulfilled potential in professional and/or personal sphere;

·        the absence of stable hobbies and interests.

Reason #3 Absence of other happiness sources

Quite often, a woman considers her man as the only sense of life. Usually, it sounds like “I will die without him, I need only him, I can’t imagine how I would live without him.” Essentially, she has no other sources of happiness to support her if he leaves. In other words, she makes another person responsible for her happiness. She has no true friends, favorite job or hobby, belief in herself, and a happy future. She only hopes that a fairy prince will appear to solve all her problems.

These are ideal conditions for a manipulator to appear and take control of the victim’s life. He gets the rights to her property, life, and feelings; so that when he rejects her, the whole world of potential victim starts crashing down.

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