Diversion Tactics Used by Manipulative People (6)

    Post 21 of 195

    Here is the last in the series of diversion tactics used by manipulative people to distract others from their own malignant behaviours.


    Narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths and other malignant toxic people often begin a relationship with you by being charming, polite, attentive and kind. This is known as hoovering. After a while, boundaries begin to be tested. Little jokes with a jag, childlike huffs over something they accuse you of doing, not keeping promises or commitments. They are seeing which boundaries they can cross. The more they get away with the further it goes until they fly into abusive rages over anything they want to just to control you.

    When you try to break away the hoovering begins again. They show false remorse, maybe put up apologies on social media for you (and others) to read. They make false promises of change only to get you back. Then boundary testing begins again until the abuse is worse than it was before. In a narcissist’s mind the abuse is not only a punishment for trying to break away but for coming back as well.

    When you feel you are being hoovered back into something, if you feel you are being emotionally blackmailed with false remorse and guilt, reinforce your boundaries. You are not responsible for how they claim to feel or how they behave. They are.


    “I don’t understand…” is the most common phrase used in this tactic. When you’re trying to make a point, ask a question or draw attention to a particular behaviour, toxic people often feign confusion. The more examples you give, the more you try to explain the more confused they appear to be. It is an insidious and passive way of gaslighting and bullying you into giving up. They want you to accept how they behave or give them what they want. “Oh, I thought you agreed…”, or, “Sure you said…”, “What is it…?”, are other common phrases.

    They are not taking any responsibility for anything and leaving you to do all the work. This leaves you feeling invalidated and frustrated. Remember to keep yourself grounded and keep your boundaries. If someone is genuinely confused by what you’re saying they will acknowledge their confusion it but still respect and validate your experience.


    Ultimately toxic manipulative people want control over you. They want to control your friendship group, choices, and reality. They will use any tactic they can to micromanage every aspect of your life, even if it involves pretending to have a heart attack on the floor in front of you or an outright threat. The most powerful weapon they have is to manipulate your emotions and sense of reality. They will try to isolate you, have you believe that others agree with them, make you afraid to think or do anything before seeking their approval.

    Abusive people will create chaos out of nothing to keep you feeling unbalanced and insecure. You get attacked for their perceived slights. They punish you by withdrawing, only to put you back on that pedestal if you try to break away. They will gaslight and confuse you, rewrite your history and often accuse you of doing the very things to them that they’re guilty of.  The more power they have over how you feel the less likely you will feel comfortable enough to trust yourself. You may never really get to know them as they don’t really know themselves.

    Awareness is a very powerful thing to have. When you are aware of your own experiences, thoughts and feelings it is easier to stay grounded and manage boundaries. When you are aware of the different tactics they use to erode your confidence and self-esteem the more you can regain control over your life.

    Lastly remember, manipulative people don’t respond to compassion, reason or empathy. They do however respond to consequences. Learn how to not only communicate but reinforce your boundaries, they only win when you give in and accept their behaviour. If you are or have been in an unhealthy toxic relationship try to keep a good healthy social support network outside of their influence. Seek support from mental health professionals like counsellors and psychotherapists. Above all keep yourself safe.

    This article was written by sentientcounselling