The Manipulator Personality: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

I have been doing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The Manipulator personality. Does this sound like anyone you know? 

The Manipulator – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Underneath their charming exterior is a need for control.  Charm is a deceitful ‘mask’ to help them gain this sense of control.  Meet the ‘Manipulator.’  They have seven key identifying traits:

  1. Deceitful – they mislead others in order to get their own way.

  2. Controlling – they need to have control over people and circumstances.

  3. Self-efficient – they are independent and know how to progress in life.

  4. Compelling – they are charismatic and often have a hypnotic hold over others.

  5. Self-conscious – they are often over-concerned with their appearance and how they look to others.

  6. Paranoid – they have a tendency towards anxiety and worry that others are talking about them behind their back.

  7. Emotionally numb – they have difficulty expressing deep emotions such as grief.


Disadvantages The Manipulator:

  • Uses sexual attraction and flirtation to control others.

  • Has unpredictable emotions.

  • Finds it difficult to maintain successful relationships and will often go in and out of relationships looking for the right partner.

  • Enjoys a good fight.

  • Holds grudges to the extent that they can push someone out of their life forever.

  • Needs to control so much that they can become ‘stuck’ in unhealthy situations.

Advantages As with any personality type, the Manipulator does have some positive traits. 

  • They get things done.

  • They are often highly respected by others.

  • They are driven towards success and usually achieve this success.

  • Women with this personality have no trouble competing in a man’s world.

  • They are good at whatever they choose to do.

  • They are never short of energy.

The Aggressive Nature of the Manipulator

Dr George Simon, expert on Manipulators and author of ‘In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People,’ highlights the often hidden aggression inherent within this personality type. He says that:


“When you’re out to ‘win,’ dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labelled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative manoeuvre.”

In other words, it is so easy to become a victim of the Manipulator because their aggressive and underhand tactics are not immediately obvious to us.   Even if we are suspicious of the Manipulator, often we cannot readily pinpoint evidence for this suspicion, which means we can’t validate our feelings and end up ignoring our nagging doubts. In addition, the tactics Manipulators use can create feelings of sympathy towards them.  We might questions whether their actions are due to internal pain as opposed to any underlying personal agenda.  As Dr Simon points out:


“These features make them [the Manipulator] highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable.”

How do I deal with a Manipulator?

In order to get on with a Manipulator it is often essential to at the very least understand their need for control.  When forming any kind of relationship with these people, one has to be assertive and the other receptive; the Manipulator is unlikely to opt for the latter. Compromise is essential.  If you can help add balance to the relationship, this will provide the context for the Manipulator’s better qualities to come through.  For example, you might respond to the Manipulator in a way that gives them the illusion of being in control when, in fact, you also have some control. “A fantastic choice of wallpaper for the bedroom – good job!” you might say, as you follow with, “We still have the lounge to do. What are your thoughts on blue?”  In other words, let them feel that they own the decision – this way everyone is happy. They get a sense of control and you get to maintain some control.  

What if I am the Manipulator?

Try to remind yourself that kindness is not a weakness or a sign of lack of control.  You can have both.  Furthermore, if you are in a relationship with another Manipulator, compromise is even more important. Make sure you are both aware of your similarities and differences, so that you are better equipped to make the relationship work.


Categories: Psychology

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. How long does it take to recover from a manipulator. What are the 3 stages of manipulation?
    . As a recent victim of a Manipulator(psychopath), I am involved in a Recovery program to understand how I managed to let this person destroy my life. Turns out we are both in the same program but do not attend the same meetings.
    . I have had one physical contact with him but came away very disconcerted. He is very popular with his peers and has a lot of friends, many of whom are in the same recovery program.
    . Can’t figure why this person (23 at the time) targeted me (66). Why was I that vulnerable

    • Hi James,

      First of all, well done on recognising the problem and seeking help. People can get trapped in manipulative relationships for years.

      Recovery does vary from person to person and is dependent on a whole host of personal and external factors. The important thing is to not rush the process; it takes as long as it takes.

      It sounds like you are struggling with a great deal of self-blame; is this correct? If so, this is very common and needs to be integrated into your recovery program. Recovery will involve acknowledging that you are not to blame and that you can’t take responsibility for the manipulator.

      Good luck in your recovery James.

  2. I too have been in this type of relationship for 5 yrs. I get blamed for all his bad behaviors, and his assumptions are always wrong he thinks that becuz his mind thinks it happening it really is , when in fact he creates his own manipulation. He is very controlling, immature jealousy impulsive , obsessive, etc, it’s been debilitating me for years.


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