In this post, we will go over some key characteristics of a manipulator, how a manipulator works, and why they feel the need to do it. In our next blog post, we will talk about how to spot a manipulator and what to do about it.

Some people are highly skilled at manipulation. They learn it early on. It isn’t uncommon for a manipulator to be unaware of their hurtful behavior; many fail to see the fault in themselves.

A manipulator feels that his/her own needs come first while the feelings and needs of others appear insignificant or don’t matter at all. They don’t take into consideration how they treat the ones around them and don’t care who they hurt in order to get what they want.

Manipulators often come across as charmers so that people will like them and open up. A manipulator can then use that person’s fears and vulnerabilities in order to get what they want.

Even though it may appear that the manipulator is strong and in control, there is usually insecurity under the facade. The tendency to exploit others is a sign of an unhealthy personality. People who manipulate others have trouble maintaining interpersonal relationships.

In order to get what they want, manipulators will use many different tactics:

  • Splitting: the manipulator will try to put people at odds with each other in order to gain control.
  • Guilt trips: the manipulator will suggest that the other person doesn’t care enough, doesn’t spend enough time with them, or cares more about work, friends, or the kids than about them.
  • Play the victim: the manipulator dwells on something that happened in the past. Then later, they will say that they acted out because they never got over that previous emotional experience.
  • Denial: when confronted about a problem, they act as though they have no idea what you’re talking about or pretend that they’ve done absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. When caught, manipulators typically have excuses ready to rationalize their actions.
  • Rationalize: they have a clear purpose in mind when seeking to justify themselves–they want to take the blame off of them and put it on someone else. They use this tactic only when they know full well they’ve done something, or plan to do something, most everyone would regard as wrong.

There are many different motivations behind someone who manipulates. They may feel the need to gain control of something, feel that they have to advance their own causes, or need to hold power over their relationships. Sometimes a manipulator needs to feel powerful over others in order to increase their own self-esteem (which is typically low).

If you feel threatened by someone who is manipulating you, distance yourself from them ASAP. In order to deal with the emotional trauma left by a manipulator, seeing a therapist would be beneficial. You can contact Reka by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook.

photo credit: Marco40134 via photopin cc