Ten Ways to Spot a Manipulator a Mile Away

Breguet Manipulator

Oh, don’t we all find ourselves caught in a web prepared by some manipulator, sometimes?

It can be so hard to extricate ourselves. I am sure we would love if they wore beepers, so we could walk far around them.

In a way, they do.

I would love to share about this, in hope of sparing someone out there, if possible. Following are a few of the many signs of a controller/manipulator personality:

  1. They usually do not have their own lives under control. You know the ones–3 times the size they should be, scream at their children lots, talk too loudly, abuse substances, have barely a pathway through their overly-stuffed home, etc.
  2. They do not delegate well, and want to be the only one able to do the job right. We wish!–Because they volunteer too much and think they are good managers, even assume bogus titles to prove it, right? They are prideful and want you to think they know everything.
  3. They ignore you, flatter you, change the subject, or know someone ELSE it applies to, but don’t self-apply good teaching; usually can’t get the Spritual application of it.
  4. They gossip and gripe. Gr-r-r!
  5. They want special privileges and unnatural private time. A lot.
  6. They are resistant to, or even terrified of, proper authority, proper control.
  7. They are long on doctrine, short on loving understanding; they try to confuse the mind.
  8. They can become quite angry.
  9. They often have been deeply wounded in the past and may be driven by avoiding further hurt.
  10. They always, always have the person they manipulate, or “own”, foremost in thought and speech.

Okay, this is the short list. There is more, but the big thing to remember is that these people feel so insecure, it is sad. They do what they do to feel more secure, usually, to try to keep everything under control and at arm’s length, to avoid pain.

Note: Just because you have a PhD in blogging, need to lose 70 pounds, like me a lot, and send me personal notes of encouragement, it does NOT mean you’re trying to manipulate me!!! Just don’t google my phone number, call me, and rant at me for an hour, and we’ll be fine! 🙂

Oh, and the mother/child relationship is different. You are supposed to devote lots to your children, cherish them, think of them always, manage their little lives, etc. Most manipulators, although they should, do not do this.

Just remember one day, when they’re grown, you will have to let go of your children. Manipulators usually do not do that, either.

To see these concepts in action in the Bible, read about the lives of King Saul and Prince Absalom, in 1 Samuel 9 through 2 Samuel 19. David’s reaction to both was mostly good.

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Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

19 thoughts on “Ten Ways to Spot a Manipulator a Mile Away

  1. I happen to know someone like this, but like you said, it is mostly a result of being hurt in the past. Do you know any good ways to have a healthy relationship with a manipulator? I don’t want to empower her, but I would like to learn to forgive her, and help her if at all possible. I love her, but like you mentioned, she doesn’t take exhortation very well, even when delivered in a loving manner. I want to be part of her life, but every time I realize that I have been manipulated once again, it sets my blood to boiling. I never see it coming, and I know that isn’t healthy for me spiritually. But it is not a bond I can or should sever. I would like to help her work through her painful, abusive past, and help her realize she is important in the eyes of God. She doesn’t have to go out of her way to make herself important in her own life by controlling everyone around her. Have you ever helped someone work through something like this, or do you know someone who has come out on the other side?

    1. Amy, I hesitate to say it, but I believe it is not possible to have a healthy relationship with someone this confused. I realize though, that sometimes we will have a relationship, wanted or not, healthy or not, simply because it is not possible to avoid it.
      In order to achieve forgiveness in your heart, I recommend forgiving this person in her entire personality. Forgive, in advance, the fact that she will attack, will not (cannot) be whole, just as you would forgive someone if you had to carry them everywhere. It will always be a given, she will always walk in this crooked way. Not if but when: always. Except for a miracle.
      Exhortation only works for the wise; she is not there, yet.
      I strongly recommend fasting, prayer,and witnessing. Keep the Name of Jesus ever on your tongue. She should eventually either succumb to this or else run from it. Of course, we hope for the power of His Name to convict, but if she rejects it, often it is only momentarily, and then only to accept Him later. It is a call for patience and wisdom.
      Never give up hoping in Him and His power. We have no power in such cases as these.
      I will pray that you have a blessed experience in the end.

      1. “Exhortation only works for the wise.”

        No wonder I feel so bound to silence when I’m speaking to a couple of women in my life…

        The last couple of paragraphs in your comment confirm a lot I’ve been praying about lately. I am grateful for your wisdom, and so grateful to God that he can use so many different things and people to minister to me and exhort me.

    2. Hi there amyleebell –
      I just wanted to say that I was uplifted by the surprising grace in your response to this post! I wish that is what i had been thinking when I came to reflect on it. I hope you do find a way to nurture a healthy relationship with this person – but that may not be possible if they will not change. You do not have to put up with being manipulated. If you need to protect yourself by drawing back, do so.

      You have a very grace-filled outlook and I wish you well for sorting out this relationship.

      1. Thank you, sanstorm! I love this person very much, and have known her for a very long time, even before I realized anything about her abusive past or manipulative personality. If she were any other than she were, I most likely would have drawn back long ago. Thanks for your encouragement!

        1. I am in a similar situation, and in the midst of evaluating and re-evaluating things according to Scripture instead of my own fleshly desire to keep people liking me. I’ll pray for you, if you’ll pray for me!

  2. Hi there Katharine – this was an interesting post – I am fortunate never really to have had this problem, but I have seen people struggle with difficult “friends”. Maybe I am not “giving” enough to be taken advantage of!
    Once again, very thought provoking.

    1. Sanstorm, thank you for your kind words, both to Amy and to me! Also for your faithfulness in liking my posts. I have wanted to post this for ages and will post a follow-up, soon, on simple ways to deal with these dear, hurting people, who seem to be just everywhere, these days.

  3. Sometimes the Lord removes these people from our lives. I’ve had two. One has been removed and the other won’t/can’t be removed. Thanks.

    1. Yes, sometimes they can be sent to us for a season, to teach us. Other times, it seems they are with us for the long haul, to bless us or to bless them with new understanding of God’s ways. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting, Leah! Been missing you! 🙂

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