Ten Types of Emotional Manipulators 1 The Constant Victim – No matter what happens, with many twists and turns, this emotional manipulator becomes the victim

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Ten Types of Emotional Manipulators

1) The Constant Victim – No matter what happens, with many twists and turns, this emotional manipulator becomes the victim.


  • They start relationship–fires and irritate everyone or they pressure people for what they want.

  • At first, people around them feel overwhelmed by their attacks/pressure.

  • Then their victims get angry and respond with anger. Some become verbally aggressive.

  • Then suddenly the Constant Victim feels victimized.

  • They have victimized reactions.

  • They seek sympathy from others and give very one-sided stories.

  • They are advanced triangulators. They are effective in turning people against people.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive a Constant Victim:

  • A very fragile ego.

  • Many have a true gifted talent – with a magical thought, “Since I am gifted, I should receive special considerations.”

  • They have a strange blend. They have a strong need for one-upmanship and victimization at the same time.

  • Some feel guilty that they have not been doing what they are supposed to be doing (such as work). They assume others are angry at them for not doing what they are supposed to do.

  • Tremendous projection.

  • Surround themselves with people who believe them.

  • Constant Victims have a blend of anger and fear. They can rapidly deteriorate.

  • Some, not all, have paranoia.

  • They often pull the ethics card.

2) One-Upmanship Expert – With skillful manipulation, this person needs to gain the high ground with others.

  • They quickly identify the vulnerable spots within people.

  • They desire to be “King of the Hill.”

  • They love to use “put-downs” and manipulate people.

  • They love using fear and intimidation.

  • Not all but some may display obvious arrogance.

  • The most effective one-upmanship experts are not openly arrogant or narcissistic.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive a One-Upmanship Expert:

  • Some are driven by shame.

  • Some are driven by anger.

  • Most are driven by both shame and anger – especially from themselves.

  • Their greatest need is to hide or get rid of their shame.

  • The need for one-upmanship drives their minimizing the value of others.

  • Labeling others, as pawns to feel good about self, allows them to manipulate others.

  • Magical Thoughts:

    • “If I get one-upmanship, I have proven my competency/value.”

    • If I belittle you, I receive status.”

    • “If I am focused on belittling you, I am not focused on my feelings of shame.”

3) Powerful Dependents – Powerful Dependents hide behind the guise of being weak and powerless, but gain considerable power in the lives of those they are dependent upon


  • They love learned-helplessness.

  • They start relationships by acting inadequate and appreciating all of your wonderful assistance.

  • They set people up for servitude by stroking your ego – making you feel very good about helping them.
  • If someone resists their dependency, they quickly transition from nice to nasty to get others to cooperate.

  • Their hidden message is “Don’t let me down.” Below are some of their favorite verbal manipulations:

    • “I didn’t think it would be a huge bother for you to give me a hand with this.”

    • “It seems like such a little thing. I don’t understand why you are getting so upset.”

    • “You have so much help and I have so little.”

  • Or to keep a hook in their victims, they pretend to have a meltdown:

    • “If you don’t help me with this, I’ll be so overwhelmed.”

    • “My entire life sucks.”

  • Or they throw you under the bus:

    • “Oh great! Another person turns on me!”

    • “You are just like the rest. I can’t count on you!”

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive Powerful Dependents:

  • They have strong needs to feel another’s support – that someone is propping them up.

  • Others are angry and retaliatory – “If I can get you to do it, I can conquer the world.”

  • Many really do not have the skills to manage life and they know it.

  • Some exaggerate their dependency symptoms to motivate others.

  • They are very self-centered – “Only my needs matter.”

  • Decided inability to view another’s perspective.

4) Triangulators – “You are so special. I’m so happy you’re on my side. Let me tell you what these terrible people are doing to me! Plus, they are saying very nasty things about you too!”


  • They are experts at tag team wrestling.
  • They create alliances, usually with them in-charge to attack others.

  • They love to turn people against people.

  • They do not want one-upmanship against you.

  • They want to unite with you to get one-upmanship together, but they want to be in-charge.

  • They want to hurt someone, not physically, but emotionally or they want to retaliate against someone, getting revenge and especially one-upmanship.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive Triangulators:

  • Some have a strong desire to be a hero coming to the rescue.

  • Or they have very self-centered motives and feel every need to scorch and burn.

  • Parent Alienation Syndrome is a great example of a scorching and burning triangulator.

  • They can become great leaders with many followers because their followers feel ineffective.

5) The Blasters – It is not uncommon that teenagers are blasters! But most of them grow out of it. A few take blasting into adult life. Blasters have a goal. They want you to not confront them on issues they need to be confronted on. So, they can continue with their dysfunction. So they blast you with anger or a multitude of issues to throw you off the topic that really needs to be addressed.


  • You feel suspicious. You feel they are up to something, but you do not know exactly what it is. The issue may be an affair, embezzlement at work, credit card debt, poor grades, etc.

  • They rant and rave when you try to discuss an issue they want to hide.

  • The blaster works on your doubts, trying to convince you that you have a problem. They especially try to change the topic. Often they say that they are innocent and you are the problem because you have trust issues.
  • When they finally get caught, they change their story and they project blame onto their victims. “I had an affair and it’s all your fault!”

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive The Blaster:

  • They use forced denial, severe pressure. They have an incredible need to deny their problems and they force others to go along with their denial.

  • They derail their victims from the issue.

  • Strong need to resist change.

  • When they were children or teens, parents edited reality and never corrected them.

  • They strongly need to continue with their hidden problem behavior.

6) The Projector – A Projector has a dysfunctional issue, but they believe the other people have this dysfunctional issue – not them.

“She is such a controlling person,” said the controlling person.

“All he ever thinks about is himself!” said the self-centered person.

“She seems to be really nosey. Tell me more about her,” said the gossip.

“He is so greedy because he won’t give me what I want,” said the greedy person.


  • They put templates on others that do not exist.

  • “You’re controlling.”

  • “You’re manipulative.”

  • “You’re a racist.”

  • They have the potential of creating many victims.

  • They get many secondary gains with their accusations.

  • Many people are willing to join them in their accusations.

  • If you ever say no to them, they make accusations because you are not giving them what they want. Usually their accusations reflect their projection. For example – they call you selfish when they are actually the selfish folks.

  • Their demands become more and more intense.
  • If you do not give them what they want, they criticize you and put intense pressure on you.

  • Some become more vocal and dramatic when making their demands.

  • They turn people against because many of them can be convincing.

  • They never give up. They are relentless. They may pull back and wait for a better timing, but they will demand and pressure you repeatedly.

  • If they get what they want, they will consume your life.

  • If they do not get what they want, they will try to destroy your friendships or business.

  • It’s all about them!

  • They continually see you as the source of their problems and they are innocent victims.

  • They also lie. They will lie to your friends, family, and business associates. Then they will call you dishonest because they project.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive The Projector:

  • They truly believe that their bad quality is your bad quality.

  • Some have been extremely pampered, especially as children.

  • Some enjoy creating victims – “I was victimized so I have a right to victimize anyone who does not give me what I want.”

  • Their need for one-upmanship remains supreme.

  • They have a strong need to retaliate.

  • They have blinders to any other ideas other than their own.

  • They feel excessive hate, but they actually hate themselves.

7) The Intentional Mis-Interpreter – These people intentionally mis-interpret information to feed you bad information about others and themselves. Or they feed other people bad information about you.


  • Their intent is to ruin reputations to enhance their position with friends, family, or co-workers.

  • They want to be Number 1.

  • They have telephone trees.

  • They give partial truth but slant information.

  • They are very good at appearing trustworthy and people feel safe with them, which gets them more information about people’s most personal issues.

  • They are usually hard workers and make themselves invaluable to others.

  • They appear friendly and fun.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive The Intentional Mis-Interpreter:

  • Incredible strong needs to be the absolute favorite person.

  • In their mind, they create a justification that it is okay to change/slant a story. Many actually believe their slanted versions.

  • They have a strong need to feel like rescuers because they are informing or coming to the rescue for a friend or relative.

  • When caught they use tears to stop confrontations.

8) The Flirt – “Look at me! Be attracted to me! I have plans for you!”


  • Very superficial people.

  • They believe they are attractive even when they are not.

  • When being raised they were the little prince or princess.

  • With their parents, they were usually the favorite child.

  • Some are very sexually active or sexually tease to get what they want.

  • They want feedback from everyone that they are attractive.

  • They are very manipulative and use flirtation to get what they want.

  • They will do a flirtation and quickly look to see if anyone is watching them.

  • They test people to determine if others will have affairs with them.

  • They seem to love to destroy families.

  • They are very competitive with spouses of people they are interested in.

  • Once they get a new person they still look to connect with others.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive The Flirt:

  • Some were the preferred children within their family and their need to be preferred and admired continues into adult life.

  • Some were sexually abused and have learned to use flirtation to be in-charge of their social interactions.

  • Some just have a strong need to be the center of attention.

  • “It’s all about me” is a very severe quality within them.

  • They feel in-command when a family, they are tampering with, is falling apart.

9) The Iron Fist (Intimidator) – I demand that you give me what I want.


  • They use force and heavy manipulative games to get what they want.

  • Some use their physical presence with a threatening attitude. Physically posturing!

  • Some use their intelligence to enforce extreme pressure and open manipulation on others.

  • Some use their intelligence with hidden pressure and manipulation.

  • They destroy those who will not give them what they want.

  • Scorch and burn – some may become physical.

Symptoms and cognitive distortions that drive The Iron Fist (Intimidator):

  • Their desires are the only priority and they are amazed that anyone might disagree with their priorities.
  • They believe in forcing life to bend to their desires.

  • Some are heavy-handed abusers and simply see force as another tool to get what they want.

  • They are very focused on other’s behavior and if that behavior is consistent with their desires, they feel justified in becoming heavy-handed.

10) The Multiple Offender – Most people who are emotional manipulators are a blend of the previous 9 types of emotional manipulators. They usually have a blend of several types.

Example: An emotional manipulator may be a blend of a constant victim, one

up-manship expert and a triangulator or a blaster who is also an intentional mis-interpreter and an iron fist.

[Cross Country Education: Emotional Manipulation: Understanding Manipulators and Helping Their Victims]

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