If you recognize these 9 signs, you’re dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator

Lucas Graham by Lucas Graham | April 5, 2024, 12:17 pm

Who said that manipulators can’t be intelligent?

In fact, highly intelligent manipulators can be particularly challenging to deal with because they often use their intellect to subtly influence or control others.

They’re crafty, cunning, and know just how to play their cards right to get what they want.

It’s not always easy to spot them, as they can be charming and persuasive.

But there’s good news.

There are clear signs that can give away a highly intelligent manipulator. And if you’re armed with this knowledge, you can protect yourself better.

In this article, I’m going to uncover 9 such signs that indicate you’re dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator.

1) They’re exceptionally charming

I bet you won’t be surprised by the fact that highly intelligent manipulators are often disarmingly charming.

Yes, more often than not, they’re skilled to make you feel special, understood, and valued.

But guess what?

This charm isn’t about genuine connection or admiration. It’s a carefully crafted strategy to draw you in, gain your trust, and ultimately, control the narrative.

You see, they’re like skilled actors, able to switch on their charm at will and use it to maneuver situations to their advantage.

Let’s be honest: the charm of a highly intelligent manipulator is intoxicating but ephemeral.

Once they’ve achieved their goal, you’ll notice the charm fade away as quickly as it appeared.

2) They use the ‘Gaslighting’ technique

Gaslighting. You’ve probably heard of it, but do you really know what it means?

In simple terms, gaslighting is a manipulative technique where someone tries to make you question your own sanity or perception of reality.

Imagine you’re sure of something, but someone keeps insisting that you’re wrong or that you imagined it.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Highly intelligent manipulators are masters of gaslighting. They can subtly spin stories, twist facts, and deny reality to the point where you start doubting your own memory or judgment.

The goal?

To destabilize you and make you more susceptible to their influence.

Now, here’s something crucial to remember:

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. This means it’s not just playing the mind games — the person who uses it tries to gain control and power.

3) They’re experts at playing the victim

Linking back to gaslighting, highly intelligent manipulators don’t just make you question your reality, they often position themselves as the victim.

It’s a bit unusual, isn’t it?

You’d expect manipulators to always want to appear in control. But playing the victim is another smart strategy in their manipulation playbook.

Here’s the thing:

By portraying themselves as victims, they evoke sympathy and divert attention from their manipulative behavior.

As a result, you end up feeling sorry for them, maybe even guilty for accusing them of manipulation.

You see, by playing the victim, they effectively disarm you and regain control of the narrative.

This is not about genuine vulnerability or seeking support. It’s a calculated move to maintain control and keep you off balance.

4) They know your weaknesses

Ever wonder why some people seem to know exactly what buttons to push to get a reaction out of you?

Well, highly intelligent manipulators excel at identifying and exploiting your weaknesses.

Believe it or not, this could be anything from your insecurities, fears, or even your past mistakes.

In either case, they observe and analyze quietly, gathering valuable information about you.

And when the time is right, they use this knowledge to their advantage.

Trust me, it’s not a coincidence when they bring up a sensitive topic at the right moment or say something that triggers an emotional response from you.

It’s all part of their manipulation game.

They use your weaknesses as a tool to control you, make you feel vulnerable, or steer situations in their favor.

That’s why I want you to reflect on this:

If there’s someone in your life who seems to have an uncanny ability to know and exploit your weaknesses, you might be dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator.

5) They engage in ‘Divide and Rule’

Highly intelligent manipulators are adept at creating divisions among people to maintain control.

They employ the age-old strategy of ‘Divide and Rule’.

Here’s how they might do it:

  • Spread gossip or misinformation to create distrust among peers.
  • Pit people against each other to distract from their own manipulative behavior.
  • Create alliances to isolate a particular person or group.

In simple terms, this strategy allows them to maintain power and control. What’s more, that’s how they prevent others unite against them.

It’s a cunning way to keep everyone guessing and off-balance, right?

Therefore, if you observe someone consistently sowing discord or playing power games within a group, it might be a strategic move by a highly intelligent manipulator to assert their control.

6) They never accept blame

Let’s be honest here.

We all make mistakes, and accepting them is a part of being human.

But guess who’s never wrong?

A highly intelligent manipulator.

In my experience, one of the standout traits of a highly intelligent manipulator is their ability to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

They have an excuse for everything, and it’s never their fault.

Simply put, they’re the masters of deflection, able to twist situations and shift blame onto others with ease.

I know it’s disorienting and frustrating.

And the worst part is that you might find yourself feeling guilty for something that wasn’t even your fault.

7) They make you feel special, then withdraw

Picture this:

You’ve met someone who showers you with attention and makes you feel like the most important person in the world.

It feels amazing, right?

But then, without warning, they completely withdraw their attention and affection.

Suddenly you’re left feeling confused and craving that special attention once more.

If this sounds familiar, then you should know one thing:

This is a classic manipulation technique known as ‘love bombing‘ followed by withdrawal.

The truth is that highly intelligent manipulators use this to create an emotional rollercoaster that leaves you constantly seeking their validation.

You find yourself wondering: What did I do wrong? How can I regain their affection?

But here’s the thing: it’s not about you. It’s about them maintaining control.

8) They’re always one step ahead

Want to know what’s the trickiest thing that I’ve noticed about highly intelligent manipulators?

They’re always one step ahead.

Early in my career, I had a colleague who was a master at this. She would anticipate reactions, plan for possible pushback, and always had a countermove ready.

To be honest, it was like playing chess with someone who could see three moves ahead.

The thing is that this ability to predict and plan for others’ actions allows manipulators to control situations and steer them in their desired direction.

Even more, it can make their manipulation tactics seem almost seamless and invisible.

The result?

Their maneuvers can leave you feeling like you’re constantly catching up, always on the back foot.

So, be sure that this foresight doesn’t come from a place of empathy or understanding. Instead, it’s an analytical skill used to maintain control and manipulate situations.

9) They exploit your good nature

Here’s the final, and perhaps the most important, sign to look out for: a highly intelligent manipulator will exploit your good nature.

Kindness, empathy and a desire to help others are wonderful qualities.

But manipulators see these traits not as something to admire, but as opportunities for exploitation.

They’ll take advantage of your willingness to help, your desire to keep the peace or your fear of confrontation.

They manipulate these traits to serve their own agenda, leaving you feeling used and emotionally drained.

Remember this: having a good nature is not a weakness. It’s a strength.

But if someone consistently takes advantage of your kind-heartedness, it could be a sign of a highly intelligent manipulator.

And no, this is not just about being cautious. You need to learn how to protect yourself and your emotional well-being.

Because dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator can be an exhausting and damaging experience.

What can you do when dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator?

Recognizing the signs of a highly intelligent manipulator is the first step.

But what can you do when you find yourself dealing with one?

Here are a few strategies:

  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off, it probably is.
  • Set clear boundaries: Decide what behavior you’ll tolerate and what you won’t.
  • Seek support: Talk to trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize your own emotional well-being.

Dealing with a highly intelligent manipulator can be challenging and emotionally draining. But remember, you have the power to protect yourself and maintain control of your own narrative.