You Need to Know How to Set Boundaries for a Manipulator

Are you being manipulated in a relationship or friendship? Learn how to set limits and maintain your integrity.
You Need to Know How to Set Boundaries for a Manipulator
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

During our lives, many of us have been taken advantage of by a manipulator.

However, instead of shaming yourself or trying to hide it, you need to understand some things.

First, you should understand that a manipulator isn’t able to recognize these dynamics, tactics, or devices. He or she is usually unaware of his or her toxic influence.

At first, you may not see it coming.

Perhaps it’s because you’re young. Or, perhaps it’s because we don’t have much life experience to know the profile of a manipulator.

However, after this first lesson, you need to be able to incorporate all of the data. This means each action, word, and gesture. This is done to identify new behaviors and know how to set boundaries.

At the same time, you can’t forget that this kind of experience always happens for a reason: to learn. This way, you become more capable of overcoming new obstacles in the future and learning how to set better, healthier boundaries.

The Process of Repeated Manipulation


There are many people that fall time and time again on the same obstacle: they consciously let themselves get manipulated. They fall into the same kind of relationship repeatedly.

Why does this happen? What psychological explanation is behind these dynamics?

People who let themselves be manipulated constantly need positive reinforcement.

Manipulators do this. They’re loving in the beginning. They flatter and give a lot of positive reinforcement to get what they want.

Something like this is very attractive for someone who needs to feel praised.

At the same time, another aspect explains this voluntary surrender to manipulation. Essentially, they don’t really know how to feel loved or respected.

Sometimes, there are people who have never had a strong and decent bond with anyone, not even on a family level.

They feel “hungry” for love. From there, they are able to accept any “substitute,” despite the very terrible side effects.

The Breaking Point

Before becoming sad addicts to these double-edged, calculating, and false relationships, we need to do something. We need to get rid of the edge of manipulation that keeps us tied to certain people.

There is always a “last straw,” a breaking point. In other words, everyone needs to find the limit that no one should go past.

No one should:

  • Make you believe that you aren’t capable, are inept, or that you don’t deserve the goals you set.
  • Violate your personal rights. These include your right to have a voice, opinion, the ability to act and to decide for yourself.
  • Attack or make light of our values, ideas, or beliefs.
  • Make you feel that you are inferior.
  • Have authority over you.
  • Touch a single thread in the magnificent fabric of your self-esteem.

Reflect on every aspect we listed here. This is because each one of them is a straw that breaks any camel’s back when talking about your patience.

Then, you need to encourage yourself to react appropriately.

Don’t Let Manipulation Happen Again

The art of manipulation is very common. However, just because it’s common doesn’t make it allowable.

Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is habitual. It seeks to influence your way of acting or other people’s emotions for the manipulator’s own good.

This can be found in relationships, friendships, in familial relationships and in the work place.

We need to be able to identify these mechanisms and react to them. Doing this isn’t even a selfish or excessive act. Instead, it’s an act of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

We say a “selfish or excessive act” because it’s very common for the person to try to set limits. However, in the eyes of the manipulator, they could be seen with suspicion or a lack of confidence.

As a result, it’s common for them to say things like “Of course I want what’s best for you. Oh, how little do you trust me!”

A Healthy “NO” in Time

This is, without a doubt, the first principle we need to add to our day to day lives: a “no” in time helps us prevent more problems later on.

If something doesn’t please you or is uncomfortable, you need to say it out loud. This way, other people know exactly where your limits are.

Do what is Right and Good for You

You should never give in to what doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t matter that your partner, brother, or father is the one that’s asking us to do something that goes against your principles or values.

If you don’t feel comfortable or it bothers you, don’t do it.

Don’t Be an Easy Target for a Manipulator

It’s possible that for a period of your life you were what is known as an “easy target.”

You may have been a person who was easily manipulated. Or, you were a person who said “yes” when you wanted to say “no” and vice versa.

This has to stop. You need to put strength in your mind, courage in your heart, and dignity in your self-esteem.

No one deserves to be manipulated. No one deserves to be treated with toxic love and ulterior motives.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.