Manipulative people who pretend to be nice are classic love bombers. They are often charming, popular, and well-liked by various people.
Taking a step back and objectively evaluating these people can be challenging. Nobody wants to be the one person skeptical of the popular guy or gal, which will have you questioning your own judgment.
That’s why it’s important to recognize behaviors common among manipulative people who pretend to be nice.
It’s worth noting that some of these are more manipulative and intentional than others. We’re all guilty of using kindness to get the upper hand over people – even people we genuinely like.
Still, it’s important to recognize these behaviors in yourself and others so everyone involved can make different choices that lead to healthier, more honest relationships.
8 Things Manipulative People Who Pretend To Be Nice Do
#1. Love Bombing
Love bombing is when someone showers you with love and affection soon after meeting you. It can happen in a romantic context but also in friendships. In fact, love bombing is a classic manipulative tactic used by cults to get potential members to feel special and wanted.
Manipulative people who only pretend to be nice will make you feel like the most important person in the world early in a relationship.
Logically, it doesn’t make sense. This person barely knows you. Why would they think so highly of you so soon and want to spend all their time around you?
The answer is – manipulation.
Love bombing is a fast way to destroy a person’s defense systems. You are less likely to be suspicious of someone who acts like you’re the greatest thing in the world. This is especially true if you’ve been feeling lonely previously. The attention feels good, and manipulators will use that against you.
As soon as your attention goes elsewhere, love bombers become angry and possessive. Or, if they are using you for something, they will disappear the second they have gotten what they want.
This phenomenon is known as love bombing then ghosting, which hurts like hell.
Interested in learning more about love bombing? This video has some great insights:
#2. They pretend to like to same things as you (even if they don’t)
This manipulation tactic goes hand in hand with love bombing.
At its core, manipulation is about finding ways to gain a person’s trust and then using that to the manipulator’s advantage.
An effective way to do that is to pretend to like the same things as another person, and it helps manipulators get inside your head.
Having similar likes, goals, and desires creates chemistry. Manipulators know that.
That’s why it’s important to be wary of people you’ve only met who seem to have everything in common with you.
Don’t be so fast to reveal your unique likes and quirks to people. It’s hard because we all like talking about things we find interesting. But let it be a two-way street. Ask people to share some of their own interests and be on the lookout for people who dodge such questions and try to refocus everything back onto you.
#3. They play the victim.
No matter who is at fault, these people will play the victim. The problem is they are exceptionally good at it. They can find a way to make themselves appear wronged in nearly every scenario. This allows them to maintain the facade of a nice person in any situation.
Let’s say, for example, you confront a friend who arrived an hour late for dinner with you. Instead of apologizing, your friend immediately acts offended. She launches into an elaborate story about how difficult her week has been, making you feel guilty for being upset at being made to wait an hour.
She flips it around so that you seem like the insensitive one.
This is a classic manipulation technique used to avoid taking personal responsibility. It makes the person on the receiving think twice about calling them out in the future, which gives the manipulator more power in the relationship.
#4. They make you feel guilty.
Manipulative people masquerading as friends will often spend the first few weeks of the relationship acting very helpful and present in your life. Gradually, however, the roles will change.
They will start to need you for things.
Can you pick them up from the airport? There’s nobody else who can do it!
I’m sick. Can you help me with this project, so I don’t lose my job?
If you push back, they will guilt you into doing things you might not want to do. They do this by weaponizing your relationship.
“I thought we were friends and could depend on you.”
What ends up happening, however, is they start to need you more but rarely (if ever) return the favor. When you’re the one in need of a friend, a ride, or extra support at work, they are nowhere to be found.
This is a form of manipulation that will gradually worsen if you don’t put a stop to it early.
Related Post: How to Disarm a Master Manipulator
#5 They use your weaknesses against you.
Master manipulators know how to use your weaknesses against you. They are equally skilled at extracting your weaknesses from you in conversation.
This might look like pretending to want to help you with a problem or being a shoulder to lean on.
As you open up to them, you start to notice they use your weaknesses against you to get what they want from you.
Let’s say a newcomer in your life wants to help you build confidence, something you struggle with.
They seem friendly and genuine.
However, a month later, they use your lack of confidence against you. They pursue an opportunity you’re interested in, knowing you don’t have the confidence to stand up to them.
Or maybe they want you to attend a party with them, and you don’t want to go. To guilt you, they say something like, “Well, honestly, I think this will be a good confidence builder for you. You need to put yourself out there more!”
They don’t care if this function helps you build confidence; they just want someone to go with them. Chances are, once they’ve warmed up to the party, they ditch you. If you try to speak up about it, they will question your confidence, claiming that is why you feel bothered.
#6 They are strategically nice.
I refer to these types as “sometimesy” people. Sometimes they are there for you, and sometimes they support you when you’re going through a difficult time.
But not always.
Manipulative people who pretend to be nice instinctively turn up the charm when they know they’ll need something from you in the immediate future.
Because they often laid the groundwork early in the relationship, they know which buttons to push. If they know you are an avid baker, they might be overly complimentary about your contribution to the work potluck. Hell, they might even make a show of telling everyone how incredible those double chocolate muffins tasted.
Do you also notice they might try to cozy up soon after and ask a favor?
If someone’s kindness seems to come in waves, and those waves often align with favors, there is a good chance their behavior is smoke and mirrors.
#7. They gossip with you.
Here’s the thing. We shouldn’t like to gossip, but we do.
It’s not that we’re all innately cruel, but gossip is one way we build intimacy with other people. Is it a healthy way? No. But we’re all guilty of it.
Manipulators know that. It’s why someone pretending to be a friend might come to us with hot gossip about a mutual person.
Gossip also titillates our prefrontal cortex. It’s why talking about people feels weirdly good sometimes, even if it’s not malicious. Unfortunately, this is especially true of salacious gossip, which is evident in the popularity of tabloids and celebrity gossip.
So gossiping is a way that manipulators can try to bond with you.
Rest assured, they are probably gossiping about you to others. It is another way they can use your weaknesses against you, this time behind your back.
#8 They make fake plans with you.
Have you ever run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time and they act overly enthused to see you?
Hi! How have you been? Oh my gosh, it’s been forever! I’m so glad to see you!
Even if you’re just friendly acquaintances, they make running into you seem like a huge deal. This can feel awkward, but you go along with it. And you know what? It does feel nice to chat with them. Why? Because they’ve artificially inflated the energy of running into you.
Not everyone who does this is trying to be manipulative, and sometimes it results from meeting a perceived expectation from the other person.
The problem comes in the next part. This person is so happy to see you that they say you should make plans to get together. In fact, they’re going to send you a text this weekend to coordinate.
They never do. Maybe you’re relieved, or you were looking forward to hanging out and now feel ghosted.
What’s worse is the next time you bump into each other, this person has some elaborate story about why they didn’t text and feign being bummed you haven’t hung out yet.
Do they mean it? Are they just saving face? Being fake?
Don’t take it to heart if you’re on the receiving end of this behavior. If you catch yourself doing this, stop. It’s OK to bump into someone, exchange pleasantries, and tell them it was good to see them before walking away. There’s no need for theatrics.
What to do if you’re involved with a manipulative person who pretends to be nice
First, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault. It is okay to be disappointed in people and decide to distance yourself from them.
If you’re around someone who exhibits any of these traits there are a few things you can do.
If you’re close with them, try having an honest discussion about their behavior. Sometimes people engage in manipulative behavior without realizing it. You may find they are receptive and willing to work on their behavior.
It’s also possible that they are not receptive, in which case, you must make a decision about the future of your relationship.
Either way, it’s important to protect yourself. By recognizing the patterns of manipulative behavior, you are better equipped to do just that!