What is a manipulative person? The short answer is that it is someone who influences, coerces and dominates others for their own personal benefit without any consideration of any damage to those they are taking advantage of.
You would think that they would be easy to spot, but, like many things in human interactions, there are complications.
A major factor is that a manipulative person will typically hide their true nature at the start of a relationship. A manipulator can make the victim feel that the victim feel that they have just met the ideal partner, whether it's an intimate relationship, sports coaching, personal development work, politics, a business arrangement and so on. The victim believes that this new person in their lives can help them fulfil their needs and wants. This amazing person is caring, friendly, helpful and is interested in having a relationship of some sort. For the victim, what's not to like?
They believe this new person in their life has their best interests at heart. If the manipulator can install these ideas in the mind of the victim, it becomes very difficult for the victim to see that the manipulator is actually taking advantage of them.
Another important skill of the manipulators is to lead the victim to believe that they're making their own decisions. As long as the mind control tactics are invisible to the victim, they remain completely unaware of the psychological pressures and forces being applied by the manipulator.
So let's have a quick look at some of the techniques used by a manipulative person.
They make you feel special straightaway. There are lots of compliments and praise, making you feel intelligent and special. They make you feel very good about yourself. They tell you how much they like you the way you are. The difficulty for the victim is that once a person is feeling very strong emotions, their ability to rationalize and make good decisions disappears. This makes them vulnerable to the influence of the manipulators.
Manipulators are good at impression management. What does this mean? It means that they know how to tell a story to influence the way people think about certain things or ideas.
They talk about themselves in such a way that you come to believe that they are a good catch. They put spin on a business idea that makes you want to invest money because you believe you have found a winner. They expound on the benefits of this thing that they have so that you feel it makes sense to buy it.
And what allows them to do this? They are often fantastic liars. They are professional liars. They actually make a living by telling lies. They may have a job or profession, but at the core of what they do are lies and deceit.
How come they're such good liars? Well, many of these types have no emotions. Yes, there are people on this planet who don't have emotions. They are cold and calculating. They never feel bad about anything they do. This means they can steal, rape, abuse, bankrupt, destroy, torture and even kill, and never feel bad about anything they do.
They will put you on an emotional rollercoaster. Life is one crisis after the next. They use fear and guilt to control you.
They blame you if anything goes wrong. They themselves are never wrong.
What kind of people do this?
By definition these people's relationships are based on coercion and exploitation. That is, they are driven to control and dominate others. Power, money and sex are used by these people to manipulate and control others. Having said that, the combination of these things varies among individuals. Some have little or no interest in sex and some are obsessed with it. Either way, sex is used to maintain control over people. In the same way, some of these types are more interested in money than others. Both sex and money are used to increase their power in any situation. Power is at the top of the pyramid, so to speak. Power is the most important motivator with sex and money used to augment power.
It's important to keep in mind that is no stereotypical manipulative person. You can have somebody who works to be a politician, a banker, or a lawyer because they want the power that this position brings. By the same token, the couch potato who has never worked a day in his life can also be a psychopathic manipulator. These people are happy to manipulate a wife or a girlfriend or a mother into bringing them food, drink and video games, and even drugs, on a regular basis.
You may be thinking? "No, no, no, the person in my life can't possibly be a psychopath or a narcissist!" Many people have an idea of what a psychopath is and the people around them don't fit that description. However, the idea that many people have of what a psychopath is, is often wrong.
The reality is that if you're dealing with a psychopath or a narcissist, then you really should be aware of it. Dealing with a psychopath is not like dealing with a normal person. It's a different ballpark altogether.
If you are dealing with a psychopath, there are some things you need to keep in mind:
You will read lots about setting boundaries, telling them that they are upsetting you, giving into them every now and then to make them feel good about themselves, using their tactics against them and so on.
I'm going to suggest that all these things are a waste of time. They are much better at destroying your boundaries then you will ever be at putting them in place. As for telling them that their actions upset you, the reason they do those actions is to upset you. They already know! These people are more sly and devious than you will ever be. As soon as you try using their tactics against them, they will spot it and they will turn the tables on you.
One of the ways they will do this is by playing the victim. They can be brilliant at this. Even though they don't have emotions themselves, they are masters at manipulating yours. You go to them to complain about some behaviour, after a confusing conversation you end up apologizing to them for you're doing this very behaviour. Then you walk away thinking, "what the hell happened there?"
There really is no dealing with these types of people. You are better off out of the relationship. Yes, I know. This may seem like an impossibility. Just remember that other people have left abusive relationships like this and people will leave such relationships in the future. You can, too!
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?