Why Are People Manipulative? Unveiling the Dark Side

As human beings, we coexist and interact with one another. We communicate, exchange ideas and build relationships. However, we’ve all encountered manipulative people in our lives, and it can be difficult to deal with their behavior. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why people are manipulative, and unveil the dark side of this behavior.

The Psychology Behind Manipulation

Manipulation is a tactic that can be used to control others for personal gain. It can occur in various forms, particularly in relationships, workplace, and politics. Research in psychology has identified a few reasons that may explain why people manipulate others.

Personality Traits

Some people are naturally inclined to manipulate others because of their personality traits. Psychologists have identified certain personality traits known as the “Dark Triad.” These traits include narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Individuals with these traits may be more likely to engage in manipulative behavior.


People may manipulate others to achieve specific outcomes. They may do this to gain power, control, or resources. Alternatively, they may feel that they have no other way of achieving their goals.

Low Self-Esteem

Individuals with low self-esteem may engage in manipulative behavior as a way of coping with their feelings. They may use manipulation to boost their self-esteem or to feel more powerful.

The Effects of being Manipulative

Manipulation can have a significant impact on the lives of both the manipulator and the manipulated. It can result in some serious consequences, including:

Damage to Relationships

Manipulators often create an unbalanced relationship dynamic that can damage trust, communication, and love between people. Manipulators often make the people close to them feel like they are walking on eggshells and cause them to feel anxiety and stress.

Loss of Self-Esteem

Being manipulated can be a demoralizing experience. It can erode a person’s self-esteem, making them feel like they are no longer in control of their lives. This kind of behavior can lead to depression, anxiety, and a general sense of unhappiness.

Obsession with Control

Manipulators focus on control and power over others. The idea of letting go of control is inconceivable to people with manipulative tendencies. This creates an obsession with control that can be harmful to both the manipulator and the manipulated.

How to Spot a Manipulator

Identifying a manipulator can be a challenge, but there are some common behaviors that can be telltale signs of manipulation. Some of these behaviors are:

Too Charming

Manipulators are often quick to impress people and charm them. This behavior is a way to gain trust and form a relationship with someone, making it easier to manipulate them later.

Victim Mentality

Manipulators often present themselves as victims, which makes it easy for them to shift the blame onto others when things go wrong. They may use guilt, pity or sympathy to gain the upper hand and manipulate others.


Manipulators often invalidate the feelings of others, making them feel that their concerns are unimportant. They may use tactics like gaslighting, where they try to convince someone that they are crazy or are remembering things incorrectly.

How to Deal with Manipulators

Dealing with manipulators can be a challenging and frustrating experience. However, there are some strategies that can help, including:

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential strategy for dealing with manipulators. It’s essential to let them know what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable to you. If necessary, you may need to disengage from the relationship entirely.

Being Observant

Being observant and aware of the manipulator’s behavior is another way to deal with them. If you are aware of their tactics and how they operate, you can anticipate their moves and prepare yourself to deal with them.

Staying Calm

Staying calm and unemotional when dealing with manipulators can help you avoid getting drawn into their drama. Remember that manipulators thrive on emotional responses, and by staying calm, you can take away their power.


Manipulation is a tactic used by people for personal gain. The psychology behind manipulation reveals that it is often used by individuals with specific personality traits, motivations and low self-esteem. Being manipulative can have some serious consequences that can harm relationships, self-esteem and cause an obsession with control. Identifying manipulators and dealing with them can be a challenge, but strategies such as setting boundaries, being observant and staying calm can help.

  • What is manipulation? Manipulation is a tactic used by individuals to gain control over other people or situations for personal gain.
  • Why do people manipulate? People manipulate others for various reasons, including personality traits, motivations and low self-esteem.
  • How can I spot a manipulator? Some common behaviors that can be telltale signs of manipulation include too charming, victim mentality and invalidation.
  • What are the effects of being manipulated? Being manipulated can result in some serious consequences, including damage to relationships, loss of self-esteem and an obsession with control.
  • How can I deal with manipulators? Strategies such as setting boundaries, being observant and staying calm can help in dealing with manipulators.


  • Alford, C. F. (2018). Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy: An overview of the dark triad. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 43(4), 4-9.
  • Davies, M. F. (2004). Manipulation in close relationships: Five personality factors in action. Journal of Personality Assessment, 83(2), 120-128.
  • van der Linden, S. (2019). When people with low self-esteem overhear negative comments: The roles of activation and inhibition. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2219.

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