5 Main Reasons People Manipulate

Experts agree that we all manipulate at times. Sometimes we do it for the good of the people or situation, and sometimes we do it for egoic reasons. Nevertheless, manipulation isn’t malignant until it is used with the intention of controlling – or bringing another person down. 

But, why would someone want to do this? In this video, we will discuss 5 main reasons why people manipulate others – and a few examples of exactly how they may do it.


Manipulative people often use coercive control in order to gain power over their partner in a relationship. But, what exactly is coercive control?

An article in MedicalNewsToday explains that “coercive control refers to a pattern of controlling behaviors that create an unequal power dynamic in a relationship. A perpetrator uses coercive control to gain control and power by eroding a person’s autonomy and self-esteem. This can include acts of intimidation, threats, and humiliation.”, says an article in MedicalNewsToday. 

A manipulator may do this by monitoring their partner’s activities. An example of this can be putting cameras in the home, and not letting the partner have free access to their finances. It can also look like isolating the other person from friends and family, insulting them, breaking their confidence, making threats, and intimidation. 

The manipulator may also use sexual coercion, and they may involve pets and children which they either threaten or turn against their partner. 

Coercive control is an emotional and mental type of abusive behavior. It is considered a form of domestic abuse or intimate partner violence. 

If you or anyone else you know is living under similar circumstances depicted here, please get help as soon as possible from a professional.  


Image Credit/ Noelle Otto

When it comes to avoiding blame or consequences,  the manipulator is trying to avoid changing the behavior that has benefitted them in the past and kept them in control, explains Maggie Holland, a licensed counselor, in an article for Psychcentral

According to Harley Therapy Counselling Blog, other reasons manipulators try to avoid blame or consequences are

  • They don’t have to take on the responsibility and work, that taking the blame entails. 
  • They don’t have to be vulnerable or seen as “weak”.
  • They can retain control and opt out of listening or doing things that are out of their control – like the other person’s side of the story.
  •  They unload their self-restricted feelings when they blame others.
  •  It protects their ego by putting them in a “superior seat” and being deemed the “good guy”. 

Low self-esteem 

Low self-esteem can make a person do any number of things from trying to always please others to trying to put themselves above others. The bad perception some people have of themselves makes them feel jealous of others – which can push them into wanting to take control of the situation by putting others down. 

American Psychological Association fellow, Michael Salamon, Ph.D. told the Huffington Post, “People who have a poor self-image and suffer from insecurity get a false sense of power and control in their lives by taking advantage of their friends and family,” 

Their sense of control is restored when they begin manipulating other people with success. But, that success is short-lived… as, eventually, the other people “become tired and leave” according to Nadia Bokody, a journalist and editor who identifies herself as a master manipulator in an article on She Said

Personality Disorder 

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People with a narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder (commonly known as sociopathy and psychopathy) have manipulation ingrained in them.  Many with the disorder may know they are manipulating others and do it anyway because they lack empathy – and others don’t know they are doing it!

Nadia Bokody, who is also a media commentator, explains in her article titled 6 Signs Your Partner Is A Manipulative Person that, “Manipulation is so entrenched in my personality, I’m often unaware I’m even doing it until the dust has settled. It’s unsurprisingly been the undoing of most of my relationships,” 

While some try to correct this manipulation, others don’t. For that reason, if you ever find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist or a person suffering from an antisocial personality disorder, experts recommend that you distance yourself from them because many times it’s not something they can control or want to control. 


Another thing that author Bokody discusses is her fear of abandonment. Fear is often one of the main reasons people manipulate, as manipulation is a way to either placate that fear or keep what they fear at bay. 

They do this because they see what they fear as a threat to their personal well-being and as a threat to their sense of control. 

Good Therapy states that “people may engage in manipulation out of fear, especially fear of abandonment. This often happens during breakups or relationship fights.”

Relationships are the biggest trigger for these fears as total control of another person is not truly achievable and people’s actions can be unexpected. 

If you ever find yourself in a relationship that shows these manipulative signs or others but you’re not sure, seek out help and look to your family and friends for support. Oftentimes, mental and emotional abuse can lead to other types of abuse like financial abuse and physical abuse. We at Psych2Go want you healthy and safe, so we recommend getting help from a mental health professional. 

Was this video helpful? Let us know in the comments below. Subscribe and like this video for more psychology content! Thank you for being with us, until next time.

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Bokody, N. (2019, January 31). 6 Signs Your Partner Is A Manipulative Person. SheSaid. https://shesaid.com/6-signs-partner-manipulative-person/

Jacobson, S. (2022, July 25). Why We Put the Blame On Others – and the Real Cost We Pay. Harley TherapyTM Blog. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/why-we-put-the-blame-on-others.htm

Morales-Brown, L. (2020, June 29). What are the signs of coercive control? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coercive-control

Villines, B. Z. (2019, September 17). Red Flags: Are You Being Emotionally Manipulated? GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/red-flags-are-you-being-emotionally-manipulated-0917197

Vogel, K. (2022, April 15). How to Spot Manipulation Tactics. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/lib/tactics-manipulators-use-to-win-and-confuse-you

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