11 Under-The-Radar Behaviors Of A Master Manipulator

Master manipulators seem to excel at influencing and controlling others for their own benefit, often exhibiting under-the-radar behaviors that are essential to recognize to protect yourself. You may not even realize that these things are happening, but once you start paying attention, it becomes all too clear what’s really happening here.

1. They’re natural charmers and find it easy to win people over.

Master manipulators possess an uncanny ability to charm their way into your life, making it hard to suspect their ulterior motives. Master manipulators are incredibly charismatic individuals who have a knack for making a positive first impression. They often come across as friendly, approachable, and genuinely interested in getting to know you. This charm is a key part of their manipulation strategy, as it helps them establish trust and build rapport quickly. They may shower you with compliments, make you feel special, and create a sense of connection that draws you in. This charm offensive makes it challenging to see through their facade and recognize their hidden agendas.

2. They’re experts in getting you to doubt your reality.

Manipulators employ gaslighting techniques to deny facts or reality, leading to self-doubt and confusion. Gaslighting is a particularly insidious form of manipulation used by master manipulators. They engage in behaviors that make you question your perception of reality and doubt your own sanity. For example, they might flatly deny something they said or did, even when evidence proves otherwise. They may also accuse you of being overly sensitive, imagining things, or making a big deal out of nothing. Over time, these tactics erode your self-confidence and make you more reliant on their version of events, furthering their control over you.

3. They Use Guilt Tripping Tactics to Make You Feel Responsible for Their Happiness.

Manipulators play on your empathy, making you feel responsible for their well-being by using phrases like, “If you cared about me, you’d do this for me.” Master manipulators are skilled at using guilt as a weapon to get what they want. They often present themselves as vulnerable or in need, tugging at your heartstrings and appealing to your compassionate nature. When you don’t meet their expectations or fulfill their desires, they employ guilt-tripping tactics to make you feel like you’re letting them down. They may use phrases like, “If you really cared about me, you’d do this for me,” creating a sense of obligation and emotional debt. This manipulation technique can lead you to prioritize their needs and wishes above your own, reinforcing their control over you.

4. Want a partner? Attract love with the power of your mind.

Sweetn is a new research-based startup that shows you how to call love into your life with the power of your mind. Take our quiz, and try our tools—they can transform your energy and your love life in a few weeks. Just click here.

5. They’re well-versed in using emotional manipulation to tug at your heartstrings.

Master manipulators use emotions to their advantage, feigning vulnerability or sadness to elicit specific responses from you. Emotional manipulation is a core strategy employed by master manipulators. They have a deep understanding of human emotions and how to exploit them for their benefit. When they want something from you, they may play on your sympathy by feigning vulnerability, sadness, or distress. They’ll create scenarios or share stories designed to elicit a specific emotional response from you. Whether it’s making you feel guilty, sorry, or worried about them, they use these emotions as leverage to get what they want. This emotional manipulation can be incredibly effective at bending you to their will without you even realizing it.

6. They Isolate You by Cutting Off Your Support System.

Manipulators aim to isolate you from friends and family, making it easier to control your thoughts and actions without interference. Isolation is a hallmark tactic of master manipulators. They strive to cut you off from your support network, which includes friends and family who might offer guidance, perspective, or protection. Manipulators do this by creating a divide between you and your loved ones. They may sow seeds of doubt about the intentions of those close to you or foster conflicts to weaken your relationships. As a result, you become more reliant on the manipulator for emotional support and guidance, making it easier for them to control your thoughts and actions without external interference.

7. They’re accomplished liars and find it easy to feed you with BS.

Lying is second nature to them, as they can lie with a straight face and create elaborate stories to support their deception. Master manipulators are experts at deception. They can lie with ease and confidence, often with a straight face that betrays no signs of falsehood. They are skilled storytellers who can create elaborate narratives to support their lies, making it incredibly difficult to discern the truth from fiction. Whether they’re concealing their true intentions, fabricating events, or providing false alibis, their ability to lie convincingly is a key tool in their manipulation toolkit. These lies can be used to manipulate your perception, gain your trust, or deflect suspicion, all while furthering their hidden agendas.

8. They Expertly Play the Victim Card for sympathy.

Manipulators position themselves as victims, garnering sympathy and protection while portraying others as aggressors. Master manipulators have a remarkable talent for portraying themselves as victims in various situations. They’ll often highlight their own suffering or adversity, painting themselves as innocent and helpless. By positioning themselves as victims, they trigger your empathy and desire to protect or comfort them. This tactic not only garners sympathy but also deflects blame or suspicion away from them. They may even go to great lengths to describe the harm they’ve endured, creating a narrative that reinforces their status as the injured party. This manipulation strategy is a powerful way to gain your support and loyalty.

9. They Provide Affection Conditionally and use love as a reward.

They offer affection, attention, or love conditionally, making you feel you must meet certain expectations to receive their positive regard. Master manipulators often use affection as a tool to control your behavior. They provide love, attention, or approval, but only under specific conditions that they set. You might feel that you must meet their expectations or fulfill certain demands to receive their affection. This conditional love creates a sense of uncertainty and insecurity in the relationship. You may find yourself constantly striving to meet their standards, hoping to earn their love and approval. This dynamic keeps you under their control as you work tirelessly to satisfy their conditions.

10. They use passive-aggressiveness to take digs at you.

Master manipulators express anger or dissatisfaction in passive-aggressive ways, using sarcasm or subtle jabs to criticize. Passive-aggressiveness is a favored tool of master manipulators for expressing their displeasure or frustration indirectly. Instead of addressing issues openly, they resort to subtle, often sarcastic remarks, backhanded compliments, or veiled criticisms. This passive-aggressive behavior allows them to vent their hostility without taking direct responsibility for their actions. It can leave you feeling confused and on edge, as you sense the underlying tension but may struggle to pinpoint its source. This manipulation tactic enables them to maintain control by keeping you off-balance.

11. They project their faults and blame you for their behavior.

Manipulators frequently project their own faults onto you, shifting the focus away from their actions and onto you. Projection is a defense mechanism frequently employed by master manipulators. When they engage in undesirable behaviors or harbor negative traits, they deflect attention away from themselves by attributing those faults to you. They may accuse you of the very actions they are guilty of, creating a diversion and making you the target of blame. This projection not only distracts from their actions but also puts you on the defensive, making it difficult to confront them about their manipulative behavior. It’s a clever way for them to evade accountability while keeping you under their control.

12. They use love bombing to overwhelm you with affection… on their terms.

Love bombing is a manipulation tactic that master manipulators use to create an overwhelming sense of affection and adoration. They bombard you with excessive compliments, attention, and expressions of love, making you feel like the most cherished person in their life. At the beginning of a relationship or friendship, this behavior can be exhilarating and make you feel special. However, the true motive behind love bombing is not genuine affection but rather a strategic move to establish control and influence over you. By showering you with love and attention, manipulators aim to create a powerful emotional bond. As a result, you may feel deeply connected to them and believe that they are your ideal partner or friend. This emotional intensity can be addictive, and you may find yourself wanting to reciprocate their affection.

Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.