7 Cruel Ways Sociopathic Manipulators Trick You Into Doing Anything They Want

Sociopaths will have you believing what they say, despite all evidence to the contrary.

young man Diogo Brandao / Pexels

If you’ve been involved with a sociopath, you may have found yourself taking actions that were unethical, immoral or perhaps even illegal — behaviors you would never normally engage in. How does this happen? How do sociopaths trick you into doing what they want?

Sociopaths are people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder who lack empathy and have no regard for right or wrong. They are known to lie and manipulate others for their own personal gain. If you get caught in their web, they may convince you to compromise your own morals and principles — or simply go against your own self-interest — to get you to do what they want.


Sociopaths are highly skilled at taking advantage of your beliefs, your natural desire to respond, or your trauma, so you will comply with their demands. If you know how this happens, you can protect yourself.

Here are 7 cruel ways sociopaths trick you into doing what they want (without often realizing it).

1. They exploit the nature of your humanity

There are three basic points about our humanity:

  • Our minds are very powerful, and what we believe is stronger than what we know.
  • Human beings are biologically programmed to be responsive to others.
  • Some people, such as sociopaths, are experts at manipulating our beliefs and responsiveness.



RELATED: 10 Subtle Signs A Master Manipulator Is Trying To Control You


Our realities are strongly influenced by our minds. How we perceive the world, the possibilities we envision, and what we experience can all be created by what we believe.

One of the strongest examples of this is the placebo effect. The standard way to test the effectiveness of new drugs is the blind clinical trial, in which some patients get the new drug and others get a placebo — something that looks like the drug but contains no medicine.

The patients don't know if they are taking the real drug or the placebo. Often, patients who are taking the placebo experience the same benefits of the drug as the patients who receive the actual medication. Research suggests that positive expectations give the placebo its power.

Sociopaths use this knowledge to prey on their victims, exploiting the human need for socialization, as well as the power of belief.


2. They manipulate the power of suggestion

I saw this up close and personal. My sister, unfortunately, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was 42. For years, it was hardly noticeable, but eventually, she began exhibiting the involuntary movement typical of Parkinson’s patients, called dyskinesia.

She enrolled in a clinical trial, took the medication, and her uncontrolled movements stopped. She thought the new medication was a wonder drug. She was thrilled. Everyone was thrilled. Then, at the end of the clinical trial, she learned that she’d been taking the placebo all along. Her uncontrolled movements returned.

Why am I telling this story? Because it shows the power of our beliefs. My sister wanted the drug to work. She believed the pills would help her. Her belief made the dyskinesia stop. And just like my sister, the power of belief and suggestion makes anyone a willing target for a sociopath.

3. They use charisma to their advantage

When people are targeted by sociopaths, one of their primary seduction strategies is telling them what they want to hear. Why? Because they want to believe it. And when sociopaths convince people to believe them, those people are easier to manipulate.




For example, my ex-husband told me he was a successful entrepreneur, a Hollywood scriptwriter, and a decorated war hero. These were all lies and, as I look back, I can see that his claims were preposterous and he was a con man.

But at the time, I wanted to believe that this extraordinary man, this superhero, was in love with me. So I believed him, which was the beginning of the psychological bond that I felt with him.

RELATED: What Life As A Sociopath Is Really Like, According To Sociopaths


4. They play off the strength of psychological bonds

A relationship is a psychological bond that makes us feel connected to another person. The bond is first established through pleasure. Sooner or later, however, the sociopath does something to create fear and anxiety in us. We may catch her lying, or he lashes out at us in rage, or after promising to show up, he blows us off.

We suffer fear and anxiety because we worry that we are losing the relationship. But surprisingly, fear and anxiety actually strengthen the psychological bond that we feel.

We want to go back to the pleasure we felt in the beginning. So we reach out to discuss the issue. We may apologize for something we didn’t do. Eventually, we reconcile with our partner — and this strengthens the psychological bond again.

This becomes a vicious circle — pleasure, fear and anxiety, reconciliation. And with each turn of the wheel, the psychological bond we feel gets stronger and stronger. Eventually, it can become a trauma bond.


5. They utilize the allure of intimacy

Human beings are fundamentally social creatures. Our need for social connections goes very deep because it was our ability to live together in groups that enabled the human race to survive as a species.

One of the ways in which our biology supports our social responsiveness is through a hormone and neurotransmitter called oxytocin. Our bodies release this substance any time we experience intimacy. Any kind of intimacy will do — hugs, conversation, and certainly sex. Oxytocin makes us feel calm, trusting, and content, and it alleviates fear and anxiety.

ways sociopaths trick you into doing what they wantPhoto: Ba Tik / Pexels


What happens when someone triggers a shot of oxytocin in us? We feel trusted, and we also feel the desire to reciprocate the person’s trust. I don’t know how many sociopaths are familiar with oxytocin, but they certainly know how human nature works.

One of the ways sociopaths trick you into doing what they want is to show that they trust you. So they appear to be needy and vulnerable and say that you’re the only person who can help them.

Because of our human compulsion to be responsive, it can be very difficult to say no to them. They figure out how to push our buttons, and we comply with the sociopath’s demands.

RELATED: 12 Signs Someone You Know Has A Conniving, Manipulative Personality


6. They understand the power of the trauma bond

If you are trauma-bonded, it can be even more difficult to resist the sociopath’s demands. A trauma bond, also called a betrayal bond, is a strong connection you feel to a person, even though you know that the person is destructive to you.

Dr. Patrick J. Carnes explains this phenomenon in his book, "The Betrayal Bond." He identifies multiple signs of a trauma bond, including:

  • When everyone around you has a strong negative reaction, you continue covering up, defending or explaining a relationship.
  • When others are horrified by something that has happened to you, you are not.
  • When you feel loyal to someone, even though you harbor secrets that are damaging to others.

Sociopaths use the power of a trauma bond with a few tactics of their own, which can include lovebombing, provoking jealousy, and intermittent reinforcement. And even if the sociopathic person in your life isn't diagnosed, they may still use these tactics for their benefit.




7. They play upon your instinct for self-preservation

You’ve probably heard of the fight-or-flight reaction. It means that when you’re confronted by danger, you either run away or stand your ground and fight. But other reactions are also possible.

You could freeze, feeling paralyzed to do anything. Or you could "friend," trying to appease the abuser so they stop threatening you. Many women in abusive relationships unconsciously take this friend approach in an effort of self-preservation.

Therefore, people who comply with the sociopath's demands aren’t always complicit. They may be doing what they must do to save themselves. Anyone who has experienced a sociopath’s manipulation knows that it isn’t easy to “just say no” to them.


RELATED: The Creepy Speech Pattern That Can Help You Identify A Psychopath

Donna Andersen is a writer and author who offers advice on escape and recovery from sociopaths, psychopaths, or narcissists. She has appeared on TV shows like ABC 20/20 and The Ricki Lake Show, as well as in digital and print media publications like Psychology Today, Marie Claire, Thought Catalog, and Daily Mail.