The Manipulative Personality

manipulative-personalityManipulators attempt to indirectly control or influence the actions and behavior of others. Instead of being direct with their methods, the manipulator uses underhanded tactics to force their will. Because they are subtle, the manipulative personality easily goes undetected and overlooked, and the person or people being manipulated don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late. Or not at all. They may believe that they are obligated to do what the manipulator wishes, and feel guilty if they don’t. The manipulative personality may be a family member, friend, or colleague.

With experience or learning, the manipulative personality is much easier to recognize. But many people learn through hard experience what manipulative behavior looks like, and it doesn’t have to be that way. The safest way to learn about the manipulative personality is from a distance, from those who have studied these personalities.

Experts agree that there are three main types of manipulative personality:

  • The Narcissist — The Narcissist is the ultimate manipulator. They are egotistic, self-absorbed and feel entitled to nearly everything they desire. They lack empathy and consideration for others, so they will easily manipulate to their own gain. They think it is their right to have others do what they say.
  • The Needy — The Needy person is the most difficult type of manipulator to let go of. They are experts at making you feel sorry for them, and making you feel like you are the only person that can help them. Some Needy personalities don’t realize that they are manipulative. They have learned to depend on others for their needs, and simply don’t know how to get along without help. They may cry or become offended when accused of manipulation. Those that realize they are manipulative may become passive-aggressive in their attempts to regain control.
  • The Martyr — This type of personality will give you everything — but at a price. They will do you favors, give you special attention, and be overly considerate, but they expect much in return. Their giving is tied to their desire to be considered a “good person” or be considered important to another person. They “cash in” on the favors they’ve done for you to get you to comply with their wishes. Common phrases heard from the Martyr include, “After all I’ve done for you” and “I would do it for you.”

The most common methods of manipulation are flattery, guilt-tripping, repetition, assumption, confrontation, and gaslighting: a way of twisting information in such a way that the person being manipulated begins to doubt their own perceptions and memory.

The best way to deal with a manipulative personality is to acknowledge their ways outright and respond calmly, and even turn their own tactics against them. The manipulator is counting on you to be surprised, confused, and overreact to them, so don’t be. If they say “After all that I’ve done for you!” reply “I’m very grateful for all that you’ve done. Why do you think I’m not? That’s not very nice of you.”

Once the manipulator realizes that they can’t affect you in the way that they want, and can’t influence your thoughts or actions, they will move on. And even if they don’t — you’re safe. Manipulation is all about control, and once you figure out the manipulative personality, they are no longer in control.

Do you have any experience with manipulative personalities? Do you have tips for how to deal with manipulation?

See also:

53 thoughts on “The Manipulative Personality

  1. Mira,

    Indeed, those two can be related. It’s amazing how many people say their mothers were manipulative. How did/do you deal with her?

    And my Polish friend says the same about her mother. Seriously, you guys are either the same person or had really similar personalities and upbringing; you are too alike.

  2. My mother is Needy in a way she wants people to feel sorry for her. No matter what kind of a problem you might have (or had) in your life, her problems are worse than yours.

    She expects me to comfort her, but I can’t be there 24/7, and even if I could, it wouldn’t make her happy. I just can’t make my mother happy.

    On the other hand, she is the Martyr in a way she’ll do everything for you (without asking anything in return)… but should you forget to give what she wants in return – and she wants attention and she wants you to feel sorry for her – should you forget to do it, she’ll get pretty angry. “After all that I’ve done for you!” etc.

    The main problem is, she was the only person who raised me, so she shaped me in ways that didn’t really prepare me for the real world. She often accused me – even when I was as little as 4 or 5 years old – of torturing her and being evil to her, and she constantly accuses me of not loving her. So I was raised with this feeling of guilt, and I was raised to believe I was a bad person, which didn’t help me at all in real life. I sometimes believe aspie traits I mentioned before are not genetic or natural, but that I was raised that way. I know it sounds ridiculous (you can’t really induce autism) , but if I ever had a risk factor for developing any of it, it was sure made stronger.

    It’s amazing how many people say their mothers were manipulative. How did/do you deal with her?

    Well, the first time I actually realized her behavior is not ok was when I moved out. So I didn’t really deal with it; I grew up thinking it’s how things just are. Now I am trying to build my self confidence, but the guilt is still strong.

    Seriously, you guys are either the same person or had really similar personalities and upbringing; you are too alike.

    It could be just a coincidence. I have no idea how parents are in Poland, but they might be similar (in a way of being possessive) like parents, especially mothers, are in my culture, so that also might be a reason behind some of the similarities.

  3. Mira,

    “She often accused me – even when I was as little as 4 or 5 years old – of torturing her and being evil to her, and she constantly accuses me of not loving her.”

    Wow, that’s terrible. You’d have to be very into the martyr complex to think like that. You sure there isn’t a bit of the narcissist in there?

    I can definitely see how having a mother so stifling and manipulative could cause one to develop traits related to Asperger’s.

    You know, the love attachment styles are directly linked to how you related to your caregivers as a child — actually, they were discovered via child attachment. The way you describe the dynamic between yourself and your mother sounds just like the sort of situation a person with an anxious love style is supposed have had with their caregiver, in theory.

    “It could be just a coincidence.”

    I just realized both of your fathers died, when you were the same age too, I believe. You two have to be the same person. You just have to be. You even have the same writing style.

  4. Wow, that’s terrible. You’d have to be very into the martyr complex to think like that. You sure there isn’t a bit of the narcissist in there?

    I don’t think she fits the description of a narcissist. She is extremely compassionate and empathetic… Even if you don’t feel sorry for her.

    I can definitely see how having a mother so stifling and manipulative could cause one to develop traits related to Asperger’s.

    Well, some of it wasn’t subtle at all. She taught me how to behave, and because she sees me as an egocentric person who likes to dominates, she did her best to tone that down. So she encouraged me to speak less and to “let others say what they want” and to suppress my own needs to suit others, because “it’s not all about me”. The problem is, I was never even an extrovert, let alone this careless egoistic person she, for some reason, thought I was.

    I honestly don’t know why she sees me like this. I sometimes thing she might be the one who has problems (such as aspie traits), and she just socialized me the same way. Her sister doesn’t seem to be like this.

    I just realized both of your fathers died, when you were the same age too, I believe. You two have to be the same person. You just have to be. You even have the same writing style.

    Ok, now it’s getting creepy.

  5. Many of my personality flaws are unique only to me. I don’t see any of them in my parents at all.I can be needy, but I have learned to channel that neediness into writing and other healthy outlets:-)

  6. Mira,

    “she sees me as an egocentric person who likes to dominate”


    What?!? You — dominant?

    That is one of the most bizarre comments ever. If anything, you never really stick up for yourself, even when you should.

    “Ok, now it’s getting creepy.”

    The only thing that is different is that you two aren’t born in the same month. But who knows? She could be faking it, and is really born on the same day as you…

    Hi madamesiamese.

    Lol at channeling your neediness into other outlets. I wonder how that works out for you. 🙂

  7. What?!? You — dominant?

    Well, she’s one of those people who can’t judge others or read others. I understand that NOW, but it was difficult to understand when I was a child.

    That is one of the most bizarre comments ever. If anything, you never really stick up for yourself, even when you should.

    Indeed. I guess if you’re raised to believe you’re selfish and dominant, you constantly try to improve by becoming less outspoken and selfish – and if you started as a shy introvert, you become even more shy. So yes, I guess you can say I was socialized in a strange way that made me only more vulnerable and with social phobia. However, I am not sure if it’s all due to socialization, or if I already had some of it.

    The only thing that is different is that you two aren’t born in the same month. But who knows? She could be faking it, and is really born on the same day as you…

    You mean, we’re both born in 1981? How strange. Well, I was born on June 1.

  8. madamesiamese,

    That’s good to hear then!


    “Well, she’s one of those people who can’t judge others or read others.”

    She doesn’t sound so empathic!

    “You mean, we’re both born in 1981? How strange.”

    Actually, no… she was born a year or two later, I believe. Maybe you two aren’t the same person. Maybe.

  9. Good gracious, how many martyrs do I know and usually they are someone’s mother. It’s enough to drive you batty LOL.

  10. Eugenia,

    It does seem that some mothers adopt the martyr attitude… I wonder if it’s the stress of being a mother that pushes them toward it.

  11. this hit me hard. i have a father that was abusive and now a mother that is manipulative. dad is out of the picture. and i hope to leave to our abuse shelter tonight. im 18. i want to live my life without being knocked down by my mom all the time. it is really a hard to notice abuse. she also plays the victim role. alot.

  12. Like the other ppl on here, i have a manipulative mother as well. Mira’s comments sound very similar to my experiences. i’m born in june too, and my mother often makes subtle comments that gemini’s are “selfish”. its very funny that she’s the only one that has these negative views of me. last year i finally realized that she was manipulating me (i’m 28) so i’ve dealt w/ her behavior for a long time. today (on mothers day) it reached a boiling point. i was at the grocery store and called her to see if she needed anything and she said “yes i want chicken, if you get that for me it would be a great help for me and a great mothers day gift”. i told her that she doesnt need to say “a great mothers day gift” b/c i frequently pick up groceries for her, so its no big deal and also i already gave her a mothers day gift ($200 cash). it turned into a huge agruement. please help, am i wrong?

  13. Hi nat,

    ‘Mira’s comments sound very similar to my experiences. i’m born in june too, and my mother often makes subtle comments that gemini’s are “selfish”.’


    Lol. 😉

    I don’t see what was so bad about her mother’s day comment, although yes, it could be seen as slightly guilt-tripping. I wouldn’t get extremely mad about such a comment though — you have to pick your battles. Some manipulative people are easily hurt so if they feel like you’re picking on them, it won’t help.

  14. I’m 54 and my mother is still playing the martyr. We moved from New York to Arizona because I came down with RA. I was an unplanned pregnancy and I believe my immune system went downhill because I was fed, diapered, yet never held. Growing up, the minute I said something or did something she didn’t like she went into ” I’m not talking to you” mode for several days. When I don’t put on a “show” for family events, she stops talking to me. She has been telling me what a burden I was to raise my entire life. Every time saw a plane in the sky she wanted to be on it because she hated Arizona. I moved out 33 years ago and she still makes me feel guilty and shamed. I rarely talk to her and I’m her only child. We live in the same city and she has turned other family members against me. Truly toxic!

  15. Wow, so many martyr mothers… I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t something about motherhood that induces martyrdom/subtle manipulation. Being a mother you do have to sacrifice a lot of what you want for your child(ren). Maybe that causes resentment in some.

    Anyway, dogzrule, I wish you the best of luck!

  16. Thanks for the reply…going out dancing with my girlfriends tonight and it should be a blast! No more guilt or shame….done with her!

  17. I am dealing with a very difficult mother at the moment. I am an only child and my parents always provided me with the best education, but it came with a disclaimer that I take care of them once I started working. I am fine with that. But the problem is that my parents were incredibly bad with money and lived beyond their means! My dad passed away quite suddenly a few years ago with leaving my mother with financial stability. My mother works and has her own business. I am now married and after my dad passed away stepped into take care of her. But I cannot anymore, not because I don’t want to, but because my mother is becoming more and more demanding and emotionally reliant on me. If something goes wrong with a client she calls me moaning about how she doesn’t want to work and she is compelled to work. She says things like, ” you know how horrible it is when you have to go to work knowing there is no alternative”. Or she calls me saying she is depressed and doesn’t know why she needs to live at all, since has nothing to look forward to. O A week ago she called me up saying she wanted to buy a house. She lives in a rented house. The house is not only discounted because of its location (the sellers indicated that potential buyers have been reluctant to buy the house at their initial asking price because of the location of the house) but is over her budget. She says she wants to buy the house and expects me to chip in, when she runs out of money for everyday living. When I told her I don’t understand why she wants to buy a house that is not only beyond her budget but is already selling at a discount she screamed at me telling me that she would not look for a house elsewhere because this house was close to her work place. I think it is a flimsy excuse and I am afraid that if she buys this house, I will have to chip in for something that I don’t want to. I screamed back and then put the phone down. Two days later she called me calling me she is in depression for the past two days and was in a car accident. For some reason I couldn’t be sympathetic to her. I then asked her about the car accident she told me it was a bump and nothing more! Now I think that is manipulation! I am so fed up with her. I live within my means, I am planning for a future and I am willing to look after my mother. My initial idea was to buy her a house but within my budget and make the mortgage payment. But if she is not willing to change, I am slowly starting to resent her and not willing to have anything to do with her. I am now really in a bad mood and my whole weekend was ruined because of this. What should I do?

  18. Hi Mary, I meant to reply earlier:

    I think you should do what you can. You idea to buy her a house that you can afford sounds more than reasonable to me — who can be angry that someone bought them a house? Don’t give into her demands that put an unnecessary burden on you and that are excessive. She is your mother and it’s nice that you look out for her, but you can’t turn cartwheels and fall on your head to please someone else.

  19. I have been trying to find an accurate description of my mother for quite some time now and “martyr” fits her to a tee. I connected with the other women’s stories on here immensely. My sister and I have suffered from her syndrome for a long time, but unfortunately she moreso than I lately because I live 1,000 miles away. I won’t get into the millions of long, drawn out examples of stories that my mother has put us both through but the words “I would do it for you” and “You have no idea the sacrifices I’ve made for you” and “You just don’t appreciate me” are terms I’ve heard more times than I care to count. My mom has 6 sisters and 4 brothers and all of her sisters seem to magnify her “martyr-dome” (is that a word?? lol). Even her current therapist seems to entertain her delusions. My sister and I both had not spoken to her for almost 10 months after she acted inappropriately at my wedding. The thing is, my life without her in it is seriously happy. I’m less stressed, less irritable, less angry and more optimistic. However, the guilt is THERE. A LOT. And my family (her sisters) like to remind me frequently of how “petty” I am. I did decide to send her an e-mail, but we haven’t spoken otherwise since. My sister has started to call her again. Here’s my new problem: now that I know I’m not alone and I know there is a name for her disorder, how do I handle her? Advice on this is hard to find. I would like to have some sort of relationship with her but I just don’t know if it’s healthy for me. AND I don’t want my sister taking the heat from her or from the rest of our family since I’m not there for them to gang up on. What’s the best way to deal with mom’s passive-aggressive comments and cross-bearing attitude? I wish I didn’t care, but I do and I can’t turn off the guilt. Add the empathy I feel for my sis, and I need to do SoMeTHiNg…. Advice??

  20. Shawna,
    A good therapist will help you cope with your mother. I feel your pain, my mother is also a manipulative personality. Therapy can help you with your anger issues and how to cope with her should you start talking to her again. I have a small child and I don’t want my anger towards my parents to affect how I raise her and would advise anyone with children who deal with this type of parent to do the same. Good luck to you.

  21. My mother is a cross between a narcissi and a martyr. She has gas lighting down to a science. I still believe in some sick way she loves me but I know she does not like me. Even as a child I have known this and as a child I of course had to go along with her control but once I became and independent adult it has been worse. She spends every moment of her life when she is with me undermining and trying to destroy my confidence. Because I choose to life my life on my terms we have a tumultuous relationship that grows more and more distant every day. I can be doing well and be happy and she finds a way to destroy it. She is not happy unless I am unhappy. She tells me all the time that she does not think I have been happy for a long time she in reality the only time I am unhappy is when I am in her company or have to talk to her. Even when I call out of obligation and let her do all the talking so that I do not give her and opportunity to undermine me she will find a way. My grown son now lives near her and I am happy for him to have a relationship with his grandmother but now she tries to use anything she can about him to prove she knows more and I am a bad mother. My son and I have a great relationship and I totally accept his having his own life which drives her crazy. She wants nothing more than to drive a wedge between us and therefore actually looks for anything she can to tell me that will make me feel left out. I do not tell him any of this as I would never want him to fell in the middle it is his grandmother and our problems have nothing to do with him. He has told me he knows what she is like and he just lets her go and ignores her. I have struggled for years to try and make this relationship with my mother work but have finally accepted that it never will unless I am willing to give up all of myself and I am just not willing to do that. She is unhappy and has been her whole life. She looks at the world claiming to be such a devote Christian but spends all her time jealous of everyone else. She always sees what others have and feels others have more and better and as a result is unhappy. This is now her cross to bear and I am stepping back. I can not cut her off as she is old and she is my mother but I will attempt to have as little contact with her as possible and when I do I will try to ignore the ugliness she throws in my direction.

  22. my mother is very manipulative! I hate it because I dont have many close friends and i now dont even like being around my mom. I used to be very quiet and aside to myself, but i have matured a lot n am about to get my own place and job and cut ties to my mom but she never lets me make my own decisions, and questions them endlessly when I do. most of all i feel she s trying to live through me. she wants me to do things her way…she wants me to drive a ar she likes, live in an area she likes, work at a place she likes, dress how she likes, …everything. she also complains to me a lot about how she’d like to loose weight. as a woman I understand how beauty is so important, but shes in her 50s, how come she hasn’t realized yet she has to take control instead of complaining to ppl all the time? she always says “I used to be skinny”. sometimes i feel like i’m more mature than her, which is annoying because I effectively have no adults to look up to for guidance. I constantly feel like i’m facing the world alone and have no idea what the outcome of anything i do will be and it’s scary. and I hate even the thought of asking my mom for help because it will her “HER way” it won’t be nice advice, it’ll be her persuading me into fear of doing it her way or no other way. I fear since she was able to manipulate me so much in the past she thinks she can always get it her way. every decision she has manipulated me into i’ve regretted. i confronted her the other day saying i felt like when I was around her she was just constantly manipulating me. she got upset and said i give off the vibe i’d be happier if she just never talked to me. thats not ture, but i’m almost 20 and i dont need my mom as much and I need to go out and do my own thing for once. it’s extremely hard to cut ties with her becaue she has weaseled so deep into my life.

  23. cc,

    You should do your own thing. She is your mother; you should always respect and it’s fine to keep a relationship with her, but you have to set your boundaries if you feel uncomfortable with the way she treats you.

  24. I dont know if my mom is a narcissist or what, but she sure is manipulative. Mom is on oxygen 24/7 for emphysema, she smoked for 65 years (she’s 87). She moved in with me after her last husband died because she couldnt afford her home and besides it was so hoarded up it was unliveable. So my husband and I went into debt to remodel our home to accommodate her. She has a living room, bedroom, kitchenette and bath all on ground level. We downsized and live crammed upstairs. When she moved in she brought her 3 cats and her smoking habits. She’s destroyed the whole apartment with her filth. She never cleans anything, wont even pick up a wrapper from food if it drops, and there are piles of dirty clothes soaked in cat pee all over her room. I tried for the first few months to do the cleaning but she would follow me around wringing her hands, in tears, “i’ll just overdose on my pills and go to sleep,” and the like or say “I dont know why you clean down here, I’ll just go right back in and mess it up.” Or she would sit and watch me clean and make remarks about how fat I am, whatever, just trying to get a negative reaction out of me. However, I dont play her games. The down side to this is, depending on her mood, she will up the ante and get more and more outrageous, thinking that eventually I will react in a negative way. So, she was a smoker when she moved in, but she really needed to quit, not just for her own health, but I have asthma and smoking is against my religion, too. I was thrilled when she finally quit and I didnt have to worry about her burning the place down. She actually wore out our garage door going in and out to smoke. Last summer she started in with her manipulative behavior and it escalated to the point that she was smoking again, hooked up to her oxymizer! Well, she was told in no uncertain terms to put that smoke out and not bring it into the house again, and her reaction was to really fly off the handle. The next thing I know, the cops are here to investigate an anonymous report of elder abuse! And here comes my mom from downstairs, she has shaved all the hair off of her head and put on some old filthy clothes, she’s creeping along and just acting like she’s dying. She tells the cops we keep her in the basement because she’s crazy and we shave her head! Because we are a cult! The outcome was that I ended up in the ER with extreme nervous collapse. So she won in the end anyway. Today she decides to let me know shes back on the nicotine lozenges because her cardiologist and her PCP say its “good for my depression,” which I know is a lie, but Im sure the intended manipulation here is she is wanting me to come unstrung, react in a negative way, which will give her the perceived permission to smoke again. Im so sick of this rollercoaster and the lies and manipulation tactics! Today she said, would you rather I just took an overdose and died? Of course, to get a negative response. We are dealing with funeral arrangements for our business partner who committed suicide last week, and she knows this is a sensitive issue for us right now. I just took a lorazepam and went up to bed. I cant take this anymore. When we are in public she tells people Im the most wonderful daughter in the world, but in private she never misses an opportunity to tell me how fat and ugly i am, how horrible she is treated and my favorite “used.” Yes, i guess she is being used. She gets free rent, all utilities paid, free cable TV, I pay the registration on her car and the insurance, home owners insurance groceries, everything. She gives me $200 a month, which doesnt even cover the gas and electricity. Sorry for the rant.

  25. um wow…. nothing has ever explained my mother so well. I think she’s a bit of all of the categories.
    After our most recent drama, which I won’t bother detailing I have FINALLY learnt that things are never going to change. My Mother has a serious lack of insight and empathy… Although sees herself as very empathetic. Everything is about her. I now understand (after almost 35 years) that there is no point arguing, defending myself or constantly justifying myself. There is also no point in attempting to resolve any of the issues.
    I’m going to take some time out and then when I feel ready and have thought about what I am and am not willing to put up with I will communicate with her again but it will be much less frequently and I will have clear boundaries.
    I don’t hate her. I think understanding that she doesn’t have any insight into her behaviour and accepting that it’s not going to change is going to prepare me for dealing with her in the future.

  26. My mother, sisters, and daughter are straight up manipulative narcissistic bitches whom I gladly have nothing else to do with.

  27. I came across this post when I started searching for traits of people who are manipulative, selfish, evil, arrogant and stubborn. All these names given to me by my husband….repeatedly.
    Yes, I am needy to an extent that I need constant support and encouragement when I am feeling down and depressed. And more so in recent times when I am chasing my dreams and not doing a great job at it.
    I have also been called inconsiderate and insensitive towards others.
    What I fail to understand is I have not heard this from anyone. In fact, I have heard the opposite things, all my friends and family.

  28. My life experience taught me to be not vulnerable, you basically have to be a tactical, Machiavellian jerk when it is necessary. I know people who are too nice, kind, and warm. They get taken like a sucker almost every time because they can’t say no and tell some people to get lost. They will give the shirt off their backs to others until they have none. That is not very smart. It would benefit these nice people to learn things about politics, sales, public relations, propaganda, manipulation, psychology, sociology techniques. Life is like a big poker game in all things, don’t show everyone your cards unless it fits your plans. Being Machiavellian is not a sin, but a virtue. Going on with life like a chameleon is just tactical smarts.

  29. Oh, also remember this. Manipulators will target your personality buttons like empathy, kindness, and conscientiousness and push your buttons. You have to imagine that all your dealings with people are going to be possibly like backstage stage sword fights and have your defences up accordingly. You block their attacks and counter attack their own emotional buttons. This is applicable to business, work, school, social, etc. Everyone has weaknesses they know about or not. Everyone and everything can be used as leverage. If you have no leverage, knowledge, or strong will, you have no power or influence.

  30. My boyfriend is definitely a martyr and emotional manipulator! We’ve only been together about four months and he’s pushed things on with us incredibly quickly all the way to the stage we’ve met each other’s kids already which will make it harder to get out. I’ve realised I have one of those personalities that wants to please people & will do most things to avoid confrontation – until I’m pushed to the point where I won’t be pushed any further. I’m at that point now.

    I never feel quite good enough in his eyes and if I miss out one little detail in anything I do or say, that will be the detail he picks up on & makes a big thing about. It’s exhausting dealing with his constant, subtle criticisms and if I question him on them he either gets “upset” and behaves like a victim or talks so loudly at me I can’t get a word in edgeways. He needs constant support & encouragement which I give but it never seems to be enough. I have to constantly justify things I do – he’s very insecure & hates it when I even get a text from a friend & have to respond to it! He says he wants to make me happy & does things for me without me expecting or asking him to do them (booking a physio appointment for me when I had an injury) – but then goes on & on about how much he’s done for me and how disappointed he is that I can’t be as supportive to him. I express my gratitude again & again till I’m blue in the face but it’s never enough.

    On the other hand – when he’s happy & loving – I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else – he tells me how beautiful I am (although I should do some exercise to tone up) and how much he loves being with me (but it’s never enough time for him) and what a wonderful person I am. And each time we have a big argument about something he’s got upset with he comes on even stronger afterwards – it’s almost like we have to go backwards before going further forwards. It’s emotionally exhausting & I feel like I’m tip toeing around him all the time to avoid “setting him off”.

    I’ve been aware for a while that he’s this type of personality and thought I could handle it as am pretty emotionally strong myself – but even for me it’s too draining. If we didn’t have an expensive holiday booked in a few weeks time I’d end it sooner, but am planning to call it a day after the holiday. Unless you have a very tough skin, relationships with these people will drain all the positivity out of you & make you feel worthless! I’m glad I can see him for who he is & have the strength to know I have to get out sooner rather than later!

  31. Yeah i have a childhood friend,who is still my classmate..and i considered her very manipulative..i realized this when we were hostel was so suffocating that i left hostel..the best way to handle them is by showing that you are a confident lad..and your wish doesn’t bother them as they have their own ideas…i m happy now…and she dont or best say.she can’t dominate me anymore:)

  32. Wow, Jade, I feel like I could have written your post word for word. Our experiences sound very similar.

    I´m 30 now and have been quite angry with my mother for more than a decade but I could not figure out the deep reasons why. She left (totally checked out, really) when I was 17, so I had abandonment issues, but it was more than that. She is extremely manipulative and spent much of my childhood complaining about how hard she had it with her life and also telling us frequently how good, empathetic and self-sacrificing she was (and how terrible her coworkers, marriage, job, friends and family were, especially my actually very loving father and all the burden these things and people put on her). She seems to take pleasure in being burdened. As a kid, I could not see and actually thought she was a victim instead of a person who would not take responsibility for herself. She was a very unhappy person and did not take any actions to make her situation better.

    My guilt over my anger towards her was so strong and my confusion/pain carried into adulthood. I could not understand why I was so uncomfortable, angry and sad around her. I could not understand why I did not trust her and really thought something was wrong with me and my intuition.

    I am going to therapy now and reading alot about martyr complexes and narcissistic manipulation tactics and these things seem to fit quite well. My mother is judgmental and indirectly quite mean behind our backs, is very gossipy, consistently abuses and patronizes my father (because he deserves it – as she has been trying to convince us since we were girls), controls all of us through withdrawal and guilt tripping and basically acts like a tyrant (because we owe her for her sacrifices and she´s so fragile she must be taken care of). She certainly has the appearance of a kind ear, but now I see that she does this so she can feel better about herself for not making others´ mistakes and so she will have something to gossip about. If you tell her about your problems, she will listen only enough to get the gist, will faux sympathize and then talk about you with others while exaggerating for the worse the information you gave her nearly beyond recognition – and judging you while she´s at it – but it´s all in you best interest of course, she just wants to help. If you are happy in your life, watch out, because the green eyed monster will emerge, but always indrectly… “Oh that´s so nice you are in a healthy relationship, you know how your father is, I never had that chance. He just had no emotional capacity…” Irresponsibility, projection… thank God I can now see these things for what they are. She also has more psychosomatic symptoms than I can count, but that´s a whole other can of worms.

    As you can see, I am still very angry, but I really hope I can come to a place where I can have a passable relationship with her – one in which I can maintain my emotional safety in her presence. One of my big goals from therapy (besides undoing the bizarre messages from my childhood and not becoming her) is to find a way to interact with her in which I can feel like I am being true to myself. It´s very scary to recognize the depth of your Mom´s problems and how they affected you, but I really think it´s necessary in order to get out of her shadow and make a life you want built on your values.

  33. Marissa, my mom is exactly like yours. I won’t even go into details since those. You posted are exactly the same.

    Now that I have children I realize looking back that I have just made it through and I’m not quite sure how. I resent the fact that she doesn’t call my children if they are hospitalized or even on their birthdays. I don’t want to feel resentment or angry towards her but I don’t know how to stop.

    This is going to sound truly awful and I am sorry but if you ever had a mom like mine you would understand… Sometimes in my past and sometimes in my present I wish she would just pass away so I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore.

  34. Thank you for making this article. I have just yesterday realized that my mother is manipulative. I am 20 years old and am supposed to have gone away for school by now. My father is sick so my mother needed to find a nurse to take care of him. She claims that she didn’t find anyone, which I find strange. I know she didn’t want me to go away for school so far away(four hours) so I am pretty positive that she is lying to me about this and trying to get me to stay home. I confronted her about it last night and she was doing classic manipulative things. Last night I was crying so much realizing what my mother is. I always thought I could trust her, that she was the one person who would never hurt me, but look what she did. She’s the needy/martyr type.

  35. My mother seems be a combination of the three. Lucky me! She has a number of kids but none of us really want to spend much time with her given her personality. She agrees or promises something, then you find out later that she lied. She’ll say or promise whatever to get what she wants. Then when you call her on it, she gets angry and acts like the victim. She is great at using emotional blackmail to manipulate her children.

    In the previous year, I was having issues finding consistent work and I also had some health concerns, so I couldn’t work full time. So to save money on rent, I reluctantly agreed to move out together to a 2-bedroom apartment with my mother. However, in order for it to work, I told her we won’t fit all of our stuff comfortable unless we both downsize, to which she agreed. Also since we were splitting the rent, I stated I am of course entitled to half the space. When we moved in, I find out she only downsized some old clothing and nothing else. Then when I called her up on it, she acted like the victim and told me what do you expect me to do throw out my stuff? In my head I thought, then you shouldn’t have made the agreement if you don’t intend to follow through. So basically most of her things dominate the shared space. But what could I do at this point, we both signed a 1 year lease. Most of my things are just mostly in my room. The kitchen and living room are dominated by her.

    She kept on buying stuff in bulk despite the fact she is already taking more than half of the space. I started to hate the kitchen and cooking, since it felt cramped and my things barely have any room, this includes the fridge. When we moved in she told me don’t put things on top of the fridge it’s bad luck/messy. Next thing you know, she’s got stuff all over the top of the fridge.

    Worst of all is her inconsideration, she does things like wash dishes early in the morning. Despite the fact, my room’s door is close to the kitchen and I told her not to do so as it wakes me up. She watches TV loudly, then when I tell her to turn it down, she tells me to close my door so I don’t hear it and to buy earplugs. To which I responded, my door was closed until I came out. One night it was till 10 pm and the next night at 11 pm. I found it hard to sleep or enjoy spending time in my room, which is next to the living room, when her noise is so loud.

    Now I told her that when the lease is up, I will be moving out. This shouldn’t really come us a surprise given the disrespect. Now she’s acting like she doesn’t understand why and even told me you just have to tell me the problems. This statement made me so angry. I have been constantly complaining about her behaviour so many times, but my complaints are ignored and/or responded in such a rude manner. She acts like she is paying the entire rent, when we’ve been splitting it in half. It is totally inconsiderate. So I told her I keep telling you what the issues are and you keep ignoring it.

    I told her recently the sink is full of your dishes, its hard to use it clean it up. To which she responded annoyed, “what’s your problem?” I was so pissed off! I don’t want to be rude since she is my mother. But this behaviour is totally unacceptable.

    When I was living on my own before, I limited my interactions/meets with her since she is too opinionated and likes to shove her opinion down your throat and makes it seem like your an idiot if you disagree. As though, you are a child and have to do it her way not a grown woman who is entitled her life the way she wants to. She still does this, no wonder she is unpopular with her children. Then when people tell her to shut it basically, she says ” what? I’m not entitled to my opinion. ” You obviously can have an opinion but don’t shove it down other peoples throat.

    In the past, I also agreed to lend her money, which I had to borrow from my own credit since I didn’t have the money. I didn’t want to lend it to her either, but she pestered me day-by-day until I gave in. I told her I didn’t have money to lend her but she knew I had credit. After sometime, she told me I am claiming bankruptcy and you are one of my creditors the bankruptcy firm says I don’t have to pay you. I was so angry. She made me borrow money I don’t even have then she expects to leave me holding the bag? I even had student loans at the time. This is such selfishness, I can’t stomach. Afterwards, I guess after being criticized by the family, she eventually paid me back. But with then she said you are lucky I even bothered to pay you back. This was many years ago, but wanted to show what kind of person she is.

    Now I have to put up with all the drama and guilt trips till the move. I gave her a lot of notice, as I want her prepared. I take a look at my life, she was never a good mother to me growing up. I can’t remember her being supportive or attentive to my needs. She never wants to take responsibility for the difficulties we encountered as a big family, saying things like you’d dad wanted it. Duh! if you see you are struggling financially already, why have more kids? Don’t just try to play the victim like you didn’t have a say on anything.

    As a child, I learned that her love is conditional. I was rarely her favourite. My sisters mostly took turns with that role and only got it by doing her favours like making her coffee so many times in a day. I remember after declining making her coffee a number of times, I got punished for it. I had a messed up childhood, which lead to self esteem issues and some anti-social personality.

    Sorry for the long post, had a lot to vent.

  36. I am going through a divorce and have seen my ex manipulate my son from age 2 to 4. From the age of 3 she instinctively used my son’s fear of spiders to control him saying the spiders will eat him if he did not do something such as eat all his food. He use to instinctively freeze up and cry. I use to ask her to stop using such controlling behaviours but she used them more. She has constantly reads about people management and control as she is based in HR.

    Since we separated in November 2013 she has taken my son and not allowed contact other then weekly at a contact centre. I have see my son make negative comments towards me saying that l am a bad dad, and that l use to always shout at him when he was 3 and that l will not bring him back if he comes out with me. I have also had unsupervised contact but now my son refuses to see me outside of the centre because his mum has spent 9 months since separating drilling into him that l am a bad dad. I see the damage she has caused to my son who is now 5. I try to build up a positive relationship with my son which is then damaged further by his mum. Cafcass are involved in my case now is there anything l can do legally to stop the mother emotionally harming my son further? She comes across as both needy and a narcissist. She is self absorbed and tries to make people feel sorry for her. I have seen her manipulate everyone around her. It took me some time to see through her.

  37. I have lived with all three personalities close to me for as long as I can remember. It was recommended to me by a friend that I attend an Al-anon meeting and this has truly changed my life. For the first time ever I feel as though the fog has been lifted and I can see situations as they are in reality not as they are through the skewed views of a person who was raised in a family where this type of thing is the ‘norm’.

    Whilst my parents are not alcoholics they are both adult children of alcoholics and have a very specific set of behaviours which suggest they have been effected by the disease. I have found that many people who have been raised by someone with an addiction/ addictive personality have similar behaviours.

    If you want to commit to making some serious changes and overcome this cyclic pain I totally recommend contacting your local Al-anon family group. Al-anon is a worldwide fellowship.

  38. It is so odd to read articles like these… I am pretty sure my mother is in the Martyr side. I have lost count of how many times she has told me that nothing I “have” is really mine and all belongs to her, since she bought it.
    She always gives me and my brothers stuff, but it’s come to the point that I fear gaining things because I know she will later just use these to justify how horribly ungrateful each of us is. She is always threatening to kick us out of home, to send us away, to stop educating, clothing and feeding us… it’s scary.
    Trying to call her out for it, thought… *shakes head* I tried to tell her once that I was tired of threats. She was just offended, asking me if I hated her, saying I was hurting her like that… and the next day I was met with a barrage of insults and threats. Enemy in my house, ungrateful, spoiled, attention seeker. Not going to pay your school, you have turned my unconditional love into pure hatred like that, you will pay…

    Hell, the most frustrating thing is how brother defends her, too. He has told me she once put a knife on his mouth because he ate yogurt he wasn’t supposed to eat and yet, he can still tell me that this is fine because she didn’t actually cut him! On my side I was once threatened to be stabbed with metal cutting wires while being beaten with a shoe because the dog had eaten it. And when I told her that I had been scared she brushed it off saying that it was only to scare me so I shouldn’t be so sensitive and complain so much.

    For the longest of whiles I believed it when she said this was normal for every family. I believed her when she said how ungrateful, horrible I was and how I was lazy and looking for attention. I believed it all and it’s now crystallized on me.

    And yet, even while realizing that this is not healthy, I can’t help but to feel like the very simple fact I am the one narrating it invalidates what I am saying. Like I am naturally lying and only mother can ever tell the truth.
    I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how to fight it. But I am trying, even if I can’t grow to anywhere while she is there, cutting my wings enough so I can’t leave, ever.

    And the thing I hate the most… I have tried suicide before. I still can’t get out of my head the first words she said to me after bursting in my room while I was thinking over whether to jump or not.
    “Are you crazy? I don’t have money for your funeral!”
    And she just treated it as something to annoy her. Screamed so much.

    And left to cry over how little I loved her.

    It sort of hurts and yet, I can’t feel like any of this pain is valid.

  39. Karenin,
    Your mother sounds like mine. I have had a very difficult relationship with her. I would suggest to you that counseling would be very helpful for your sanity, self esteem and to learn new ways to cope with your mother. If you choose to be in a relationship with her you will find the tools through a qualified counselor. I will no longer allow my mom to talk to me like that. The only reason I do talk with her and I feel she has calmed down her behaviors is because I had her only grandchild. Her behavior was so disturbing to me while my daughter was an infant, that I cut her off for several months and she learned quickly that she will have consequences for her behavior. (I have had a rocky relationship with my family in general, my sister is the same way and my father was an alcoholic. I did not speak to them for several years until I learned my father was dying.) She still makes inappropriate statements however I call her on it and throw things back in her face that she did. I would also recommend counseling if you have children in the future, you want to be the best mother both mentally and emotionally for your child.
    Good luck to you, it’s a rough road but you can do it. You have good insight, many like your brother do not. That’s the first step.

  40. You could have your abusive mother arrested and charged with child abuse if you have audio and video recordings. It all depends on how your own personality is. I have a mixed personality blend of the Dark Triad (psychopathy, narcissism, machiavellianism). I would not have been as lenient, being more ruthless and vindictive. That is how I operated in work, business, and politics activities in the past. People will take advantage of you if they don’t respect you or fear you. Be a hard ass or take it up the ass.

  41. Omg, I just broke up with my “alleged” best friend. Im so sick
    of her controlling everything. I dont think she will go away that
    easily. She has already been by my house and I did not answer
    the door. She is “chronically late” whenever we make plans to
    go anyplace. She always wants me to ride with her, so I go to
    her house and wait until she decides we go. A week ago, was
    my breaking point. I waited for (6) hours for her to get ready.
    she makes up all these little crisis that in book are trivial, and
    could wait until she got back. For example: her cat pooped in
    her shoe! So wear another pair, or clean it out and lets go.
    the list goes on and on. She recently invited my husband and I
    to go to the coast with them and some of their friends.
    Well we arrived and they had not even left yet, so here we are
    with their friends that weve never met. Luckily, they were very
    nice, and welcomed us into their camp. My friend didnt show
    up until the next afternoon. She said she found black mold under
    her kitchen sink. My thought is, it was there already, deal with it
    when you get back. There was no black mold! It was just
    another attempt at controlling when they left. Anyway, I told her
    Do not ask me or invite me to go or do anything together again.
    naturally, she tried to make me feel guilty, and twisted it around
    with a sad tone to her voice. Shes usually loud and obnoxious.
    oh, and knows everything. I told het to just save it for someone
    else, cuz ive had it. She makes me furious. Noone can even talk
    without her interupting, about something that she feels just cant
    wait. Usually nothing related to the conversation. Only to turn
    the focus back to her greatness. I dont know why ive put up
    with her for 15 years. Im not perfect, I realize that. But I always
    wondered why im her only friend. I started feeling guilty, and
    bad the other day, but I dont want to keep doing this. Oh, she
    did tell me that I had an attitude stick up my ass and I should
    remove it. I replied: “I will happily remove my attitude stick, as
    soon as you remove youre, know-it-all stick, and you think youre
    always right stick” from youre ass.

  42. I was recently engaged to a man that I was blindly entering into a horrible relationship with. We were together a total of eight months. I have children of my own that are from 23 to 10. I was with someone who had four of his own all under age 6. We moved in together too quickly at my fault I know so before you judge read the name again. I fell in love with the thoughtfulness of this man. He brought flowers to me on his lunch breaks or what I thought were his lunch breaks. He’d even say I just want a kiss from you and drop by. I began to feel smothered early on but didn’t have the heart to say. Finally after a couple months I talked to him about the way I felt. No matter where I was or what I was doing he wanted to be there, at ALL TIMES. I explained that I felt as if I were losing my own identity. As if I weren’t entitled to do the things I liked to anymore because I had to consider both of us at all times. I do realize there is a requirement time for bonding and nurturing the relationship but this was more than that. He wanted my complete attention at all times. I saw some competition beginning to develop for my time between himself and my children. We had previous discussions about what I needed from him and what I thought he needed from me. I explained that the best way to show that if he respected me he could help nurture the relationship between my children and I. I also explained that I was willing to do the same. I did this for him and tried on numerous to exhibit what I thought was the right thing and nurture his relationship with his children. It didn’t seem that was what he wanted at all. When I would say things like “you know, you could take your girls to the park or a picnic ” it almost wore him out thinking of the idea. We all have been there. At the “am I capable of handling all these children alone?” However for him it was as if it were utter agony. There was no real interest in building the relationship between himself and his children. I began doing everything. He lost his job and I was feeling more overwhelmed than I had ever felt before. I had lost me in the process of trying to repair something that was never there in the first place. I believe he loves them but I believe he is in alot of pain himself and doesn’t know where to go to begin the healing process. We talked about a month before the relationship ended. I told him I didn’t know if I had what’s needed for this to work. I was trying to let go without hurting him. I dug my own hole because he consciously made an effort to not be so needy but it was troubling him to do so. This was evident because he’d pace back and forth then say “I’m fine. Everything’s fine.” This began to worry me because I didn’t know where the line was. The clear line in the sand that was screaming “one more step.” I got an interesting text message with a recording of him asking his ex to have sex with him. He denied the intentions he had were to have sex with her. I felt he wasn’t being forthcoming with all the truth. I told him “until you are able to admit the truth and own your mistakes you are captive to your own lies.” I also told him “you have to tell the truth and be willing to accept the end result no matter what that might be.” He confessed everything. From trying to engage in sex with her to trying to obtain oral favors. He then stated when she didn’t do what he wanted he yelled at her to get out of his car. I was in shock. He began crying and saying “I need help.” “There’s something wrong with me.” I felt no pity on him just anger. I saw him for what he truly is. A manipulator. He managed to make me believe he loved me by paying attention to everything I said and attending to my every need. Such lengths as the children were starving for attention from him. I loved the person I thought he was. Sincere, respectful, genuine and loving. The problem was I was the only one he felt this way toward. There was no room in his eyes for anyone else regardless of who they were. I was trapped in a maze of confusion. How can you love me like that but not your children became the nagging, begging for truth question that plagued my mind. I had to pull back to see the whole picture. I was a scapegoat for him. A way to keep his mind off all the responsibilities he had but felt too overwhelming to overcome. I got played for a fantasy, a get out of jail free card. People coming from divorce is never easy and the responsibility you take on when you do so should never be negated by your own downfalls. Do the best you can. Be the best you can because in the long run you want to be truthful when it comes time to say “I did my best. I gave all of me, 100%.” Too much is at stake to protect from the lasting effect divorce has on children to begin with. Make sure you are on steady ground before inviting someone into your garden. As for me. I’m going to stay in my own for a while.

  43. My step sister is a scary manipulator, i fear she will kill someone under her care in the future.

    She can’t admit she’s wrong, if you show her evidence that shes wrong she’ll scream and shout, if you tell her what shes doing she resorts to crying and running away. This includes for small things like asking her if she locked the house up before we left.

    I’ve contemplated recording some of what she does and showing a professional. She’s 1 year from becoming a doctor and she hates people, she’s coming up for 30 this year and i was praying she’d grow out if it but she’s gotten worse.

    I’m scared she’ll convince my mom to move into an old folks home and sell her house. She might even try to kill my mother, just to make some money from the will. She acts sweet and caring when she wants something from someone but will abuse them or backstab them any other time.

    She has a great memory, so she passes tests and gets help from her partner who is currently a surgeon. Meaning she will most likely be a Dr by next year. He has left her many times as she trashes the house they live in and lets her animals pee/poo inside the house. She even caused a fire at their old house and tried to blame him. He took her back as she was probably acting up and threatning to kill herself, which she has done the last fee times her kicked her out.

    She admits shes only becoming a Dr to get the pay. She has killed animals in the past, neglects, starves them.

    One case 5 years ago when she was 25 years old, she wanted a new dog, we already had an old dog (she bought it behind our backs then got bored and neglected a week later) so our mother said no. So one day she brings home a new puppy and says shes just looking after it for a friend, we’re all sus about it as she refuses to say which friend and starts screaming and crying when we ask. 2 months later, puppy is infested with fleas, never gets fed, poops and pees all over the house, she has never bought it food, i have, as i didn’t want it to starve. Dad loses it and says it can’t stay, so she says it has to stay as her so called friend that she still hasn’t named won’t take it back. We ask her who her friend is and she runs off and cries. Dad tells her we have a dog already, her old dog which she lost all interest in after week of having it, 10 years ago. She screams yelling out the you all hate me dramatic give me what i want or you’ll pay line. Mom cries and gives in but dad stands tall and says the dog goes. (Please remember shes doing this and shes an adult). So that same day she lets the old family dog out for a run around the street, alone. We all went looking for it and she told us to stop wasting our time. The dog was found, dead, hit by a car a few roads down. She didn’t cry, she smiled and said “Looks like my puppy is staying”.

    My mother thinks this is just how girls act, she tells us my sister is too busy to act like a normal human and so she has let her act up since she was young. She’s never had a job, except for the pract shes currently doing and has a huge issue with respecting others. My father isn’t her father and he thinks she’s a sociopath and is scared she will try to manipulate mom to change her will. She borrows money from mom and tries to hide it from everyone, never paying her back.

    She’s tried to seperate our family many times, attacking various people accusing them of stealing from mom, which is what she actually does.

    My two youngest brothers have cut all ties with her. They’re scared she’ll try to attack their families or frame them for something. My oldest brother is a FIFO and still lives with my mother and father, he can’t be around her for too long as he hates acting nice to her, but does it to keep mom happy. Dad is a pilot and isn’t always home to keep mom safe and i live far, far away, in Hongkong worried for my family.

    She is insane, scary and i hope none of you live in Vancouver as she’s going to be a Dr.

  44. I have a step daughter that is 47 that is a major manipulator with her naive father. Very frustrating watching her use him and him being oblivious. When this happens it’s continual and the manipulator never becomes an adult that can function on their own. She has had 3 marriages, has been fired 3 times, was vacant in her sons life, has two degrees her Father has paid for and works at McDonald’s now like she did when she was 17. Her dad is now paying for a 3rd new car for her because she broke up with her boyfriend that was paying it (she said he was too needy LOL). Thank you for the article, it is the definition of her …i was looking for some advice on how to handle a manipulative person for my husband but I know it will fall on deaf ears maybe advice for me …she has distanced, blocked, erased family etc from her life which I am sure also plays into my husband feeling sorry for her …no witnesses huh. Right now she is living 2 hours away and Dad is trying to get her to move back because he says there are better job opportunities where we live …it has helped with her being away and I know it will not make a bit of difference in respect to a better job since it is always all talk …thanks for allowing me to vent and hope this post is directed to the right audience..

  45. The Needy. Spot on. My soon-to-be ex fits this description to a, “t”…the further I get from him, the more I see…and, hindsight is always 20/20…I also am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he suffers from Dependent Personality Disorder because in the last 8 months while we were seperated (still had to share a house because of financial reasons), he has found two women he has wanted to marry. The first one caught on quickly and broke it off. Boy, did she save herself from a lifetime of heartache and headache! The current one also has a personality disorder and they’re moving forward with their plans to marry. The saddest things in all of this are: 1) I, as an attentive, caring wife, brought these things to his attention, but, his need is so great, he will not acknowledge them, and, 2) he is neglecting our children severely; putting his needs, his girlfriend’s needs, and, her children’s needs ahead of his theirs.
    It is sickening and disgusting at best. And, watching my children’s hearts break a little more each day as they are hit smack in the face with their dad’s true character? Heartbreaking. All I can do is watch and love them.
    What an asshole.

  46. Maybe all humans have varying degrees of manipulative and unconscious selfishness in them, but that these labels start to apply only when certain types of selfishness becomes more extreme compared to the “norm”? For example many mothers have a bit of the martyr manipulative traits in various degrees, but many of them do so not because they are genuinely evil, but because they do not even realize it themselves. Introspection is simply not something that is generally taught in the education systems of our current age, an age of a great emphasis on science and intellectual understanding, but completely lacking in wisdom.

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