Are Cancers Manipulative?

Look at that absolute tyrant

“Various daughters and daughters in law came in to cool and clean on a sort of rota. Every flat surface was stuffed with ornaments brought back by far-traveling members of the family. Sons and grandsons kept the logpile stacked, the roof shingled, the chimney swept; the drinks cupboard was always full, the pouch by her rocking chair was always stuffed with tobacco. Above the hearth was a huge pokerwork sign saying “Mother.” No tyrant in the whole history of the world had even achieved a domination so complete.”
-Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters

Cancers have a reputation for being manipulative. In fact, whenever I’ve written a post specifically about Cancer, the conversation in the comments almost immediately tuns to that reputation. So I thought it was time to address it head-on.

Are Cancers manipulative? The answer is yes! But how you feel about that is up to you.

I think many of us have had the experience of feeling like out strings were being pulled by a Cancer in our lives. As someone raised by a Cancer father, I can attest to the heavy sighs and looks of long-suffering disapproval. I can’t count how many times I heard, “I’m not angry, just disappointed.”

And many Cancers, like the character described in the quote above, can run entire empires based on sentiment and familial loyalty, not to mention a solid helping of guilt. The character in question even had family pictures positioned and ranked based on who had pleased or upset her recently.

So why are Cancers like this?

Cancer is cardinal water. Cardinal signs are concerned with control, and water represents emotion. Cancers like to control their emotional world to help protect their vulnerabilities. Cancers are crabs! Hard shells encasing soft, squishy insides. Cancers feel everything deeply and have an innate fear of how powerfully the outside world can affect them. So they build emotional edifices to keep out the harshness of the world.

I don’t mean to endorse this or say that this is the best use of that cardinal water energy. It’s not. It’s far better for a Cancer to learn to control their own internal emotional world rather than their exterior environment. But look at it this way:

The character above is a feeble old woman living alone. She is vulnerable. My father was a sole provider who poured every ounce of his being into supporting his family. He was vulnerable. Is it any wonder they are manipulative? They have so much to protect.

So the next time you feel yourself being subtly pushed by the Cancer in your life, as yourself what they’re afraid of, and what they’re trying to protect.

Do you find Cancers manipulative? Can you see the underlying cause?

33 thoughts on “Are Cancers Manipulative?”

  1. ‘ like to control their emotional world to help protect their vulnerabilities.’

    I have a placement like this.
    I think people who have my Pluto on their moon find that. That I play them like a violin. This is because of the game of active listening and reassurance. I come to people in my support system for active listening, reassurance, helping me interpret things. With my family they often try to criticize or fix the situation or minimize my feelings or change the subject.. and I respond by going on the offensive and poking and prodding until I get the reassurance or understanding or interpretation I crave.. the words and outside perspective

    it was our perpetual dance until I *think* I found people who understood me better. I do know how to active listen and to say ‘that sucks’ instead of fixing it. They don’t think you have to do that.

    I think I often leaned on other people to interpret and metabolize my interpersonal situations and things I found difficult.. but at least I always confess and verbalize my feelings.. rather than bottling them up and eating them.. like some people who are recommending that I keep it to myself ..

    But I have been whining about the same things for years and not solving them.. that’s a problem

  2. I think a trait of people with cancer placements not often discussed is that they’re confessional. Especially if the moon or mercury is there.

    And that they’re vulnerable. And need to trust you with that vulnerability. Like a child.

    And guard your vulnerability if you’re in their flock, like a mother.

    I think when you are someone who wants to be vulnerable, you need to be sure the other oers

  3. *person will safeguard your vulnerability

    I’m not always conscious of being manipulative. I don’t think I am. But I am conscious of frantically pressing buttons when someone doesn’t get me or is harsh with me (or tells me a harsh truth 🙁 ) or I can go on the offensive when criticized. And strike frantically. I’ve seen children try to press buttons like that :/
    I’m not great with criticism and typically retreat from people who are not compatible with me and love to throw sand in my jaw

  4. Avatar
    Hildegarde's Noviciate

    In reading this, I began to wonder how my Mars in Cancer plays out in my 10th house.
    I use it in my job to appeal to people’s sense of humanity to get them to engage in the mission of the non profit I work for.
    Not sure if reminding people we are part of one big family on some level is a bad thing…as long as I respect those who cant or won’t help for whatever reason.
    I also know the power of the greatest 4 words ever assembled.
    But I absolutely abhor any form of manipulation if it puts others in a position of having their trust violated or duped.
    I just simply refuse to be that guy.I mean..woman.
    Having had a manipulative father put the kabosh on me doing any of that crap. I wont do that for personal gain at the expense or the trust of another. Disgusting.

  5. I still think that confessional and emo communication is a thing to discuss about cancer placement people.. we don’t just shut up and pout..

    Like quote Liz phair’s song Fuck and Run
    ‘I want a boyfriend.. I want all that stupid old shit like letters and sodas.. I can feel it in my bones I’m gonna spend another year alone it’s fuck and run’

    Or Mal Blum
    ‘it’s a happy new year I’m making guacamole.. you couldn’t even pick up the fucking phone to call me, I don’t like my t shirt I don’t like my blue jeans I don’t like my attitude it’s gonna be a party..’

    Aaaaand stuff.. I don’t know how many confessional poets have cancer placements but I’m assuming there’s some

    1. Basically not every cancer placement person is a silent pouter where you have to guess their emotion or what you did cause they locked the door to their room and haven’t come out. I’m annoyed by people who can’t label or analyze their emotions and do weird unconscious acting out or eat a heap of food or drown it in alcohol to be ‘manly.’ I think it’s healthier to talk it out with someone you trust. I don’t think we win prizes for being all chipper and not burdening people. There are people who can handle it and when they need it we will also listen. Fuck that boomer mentality of bottling your pain. Or not talking honestly about the challenges of pregnancy or girlhood and things. It’s always freeing to someone to hear your experience and know they’re not alone. I find blogs where people describe their pregnancy and not just show cute photos very refreshing. But sometimes Scorpio people hold back because others can’t always handle how extreme and harrowing their life is. But sometimes they can. Demi Moore’s autobiography is harrowing but cathartic.

      Some will spill and the TMI will make your ears bleed (such as Lena dunham who may have moon and Venus in cancer)

      1. I also like hearing about the secret lives of Hollywood stars from the 40s.. knowing they weren’t all polished glam but had gay sex parties and demons.. I don’t know if people at the time would have been repelled.. and that MGM really needed to take control of their whole image..

        But then again nowadays I get kind of thrown for a loop when John mulaney is natural and not incredibly perfectly funny.. and comedians have to work out for years before you see them on stage and are wowed by their presence..

        A lot of the vulnerability I like .. for instance with snail mail who is another cancer placement singer and is very confessional, it’s crafted..

        ‘Do you dream about the people that wronged you
        Do you see their faces again and again’
        ‘heat wave nothing to do
        Woke up in my clothes having dreamt of you’

        Or still woozy who is a cancer sun with very intimate bedroom pop..

        1. So I think intimacy and vulnerability are characteristic of the sign

          I sometimes try to wheedle my way past someone’s ribs into their chest and have them listen and talk to me.. but I’m also having a venus pluto transit and strongly crave connection.. perhaps to get a replacement family feeling.. or to be around my people.
          But every environment I’m in.. I have the impulse to make it my own.. deliberate clutter and figurines.. warm blankets (I have the habit of sleeping under a down blanket or two year round).. podcasts and music filling the room.. to create my own private place.. I also man coffee shop sofas like it’s my territory

          My roommate also behaves a bit this way and we vye for private access to the kitchen

          1. I think cancerians are also personal and subjective.. along with intimate.. again I haven’t known many of the strong silent ones..

            I’m fascinated by the personal point of view all my life.. and the redemptive quality of someone putting the world into perspective for you by telling a personal story.. it transmutes the pain and causes you to see the world from their lens..

            I’ve been weaning myself off the blankets and subjectivity and stuff for some time.. but when you get a bit of stability, a bedroom without a warm blanket is a trial

            This subject just brings up some of what I’ve observed in myself..

            I don’t think cancer is a boring mom type anymore than Capricorn is a boring corporate shill.. I know a lot of Capricorn people who take their art seriously

  6. As usual I turned the conversation away from what we were talking about.. basically cancerian types are probably manipulative. Because they wanna control their environment and how they feel and how other people make them feel.. like if they make them feel safe. Also maybe want to believe good things about themselves and get all hurt when criticized. The interesting thing is from what I’ve seen on the forums, Scorpio moons and Aquarians often have a sense of when cancer placement types are being manipulative and wheedling.. trying to get some kind of experience or reaction from someone else. I’m not always conscious of when they do that.. cause I’m so subjectively a fish in water with these things. Also I don’t often read people as well as I should. So when I’m being manipulative I’m not aware of it as much. Plus it’s often not subtle with me.. it’s often quite aggressive. Can be something like ‘whats going on?! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!’ or whatever weird shots I have to shoot to make the person ‘Take it back! That’s not true! I’m not like that am I? Am I?’ yes this makes me sound five, but, I just can’t stick the label of manipulative on my behavior because I’m in it. But I know I want certain things and often reach outside of myself to feel safe when I’m very unstable and uncertain in situations. And no self talk or food has worked as well as a reassuring comment. I’m working on not constantly spilling my insecurities and panicked intuitions. But.. it’s hard because it’s somewhat hardwired.
    I’m not sure I metabolize my placements the same as others.

    I’m sure dolce might have a different take.

    1. Maybe difficulty with emotional self regulation is at the root of being manipulative.. trying to get others to regulate their emotions for them and get them back to normal.. by trying to move them like a marionette with invisible strings to take back whatever blunt thing they said or say something reassuring.. when it’s not on the other person to brew the magic potion to make the pain go away.. or they have to sit with the pain.. or say the thing to themselves.. the thing is it makes it very attractive to leave a situation where another person is hurting you with their words

  7. My mom has Cancer sun conjunct Mars, with Aries moon in her 12th. There’s nothing subtle about her pushing – except maybe in her own mind? Growing up, my friends were all scared of her. In my adult years, I started to realize how lucky I am to have a tyrant for a mother – LOL, and that’s it’s usually best for me to yield to her micromanaging.

  8. Avatar
    Hildegarde's Noviciate

    Not sure how my Cancer Mars plays out in my 10th house.
    I think I recognized the appeal of showing my vulnerability in a situation to get what I need in that moment.
    But every kind of emotional manipulation is abhorrant

  9. Very timely article! My progressed moon enters Cancer today. Manipulative fun it is then … For the next two and half years, gulp!

    1. Mermaid – my Pr Moon is in my Cancer-ruled 4H. I have found this transitory house placement for the Pr Moon beneficial during self-quarantining. It’s been a great time for self reflection and deep astrology studies.

  10. At one point in my life it was a cancer friend/co worker who pointed me in the right direction. I needed her push, or her pull. It safed my life, so to speak, because I didn’t know I was stuck. She did, somehow.
    I also remember her telling me she made all kind of decisions after things I had said that struck a nerve. Usually I could not remember having said those things. I’ve got Cancer ascendent.

  11. My Cancer sign is split between my 5H and 6H. I like family (Cancer) celebrations (5H) and I loved doing fun (5H) things with my kids when they were growing up. I was a stay-at-home mother (asteroid Vesta is also placed here) during their childhood years (6H).

    Asteroid “Child” (#4580) is conjunct my natal Virgo (ruler of the 6H) Vertex – my children are significantly influential in my life. Today, Tr asteroid “Child” is Rx and it’s posited at 27* Aquarius. Currently, it is at the apex point forms a fixed T-square with my MC and IC. It’s not a coincidence for me to be reflective (Rx) about the public (10H) and private (4H) impact of my children today!

  12. I really hated considering this. On the upside I have really enjoyed cancer sun male manipulative charm. It was so delightful every time around. Why do they do it, probably because they saw that it worked?

    I would settle for cancer female manipulative ploys. But the only ones I could think of were the vicious ones. My mom was not vicious probably because I was a cub. But the 3 cancer sun females I knew well, yowsa. Mama bear is very protective of her cubs. She will kill for them. Replace cubs with what cancer wants, thinks she owns, or some twisted unresolved issue, and it is not pleasant. Hair raisingly unbelievable. I shudder to think of it as I write this. Why did they behave that way, because they are driven in a most cardinal way?

    1. My POV on it? Every human has an inner child that represents their earliest childhood experiences when we are learning how to navigate the world around us – modeled by our caregivers. I think that each sign is prone to its own specific inner child wounding. As a Libra, my wounding was specific to relationships with others. It took me 44 years to understand that because I experienced relationships with my family that were chaotic and steeped in trauma bonding, I was recreating those dynamics in my adult relationships.

  13. What they are afraid of and trying to protect is none of my business. It’s theirs and it’s their responsibility to deal with their own fears. Being raised by an abusive, manipulative Cancer, and subsequently having to do immense amounts of therapy work to try to undo the damage he did, has instilled in me a profound need for radical autonomy. It is NEVER ok for one person make another person responsible for their emotional state. Ever. I have Capricorn rising, so Cancer on my descendent. There has never been a shortage of Cancers in my life. The ones I do allow in are healthy, but even then there are times when they try to put their emotional shit on me and that is when they get the arms length. Nope. You’re an adult, go figure it out for yourself. I am sorry you have this situation in your life, but it’s not mine to carry for you.

    There is zero tolerance for emotional manipulation, use of guilt/shame, disappointing stares, or anything of the like in my world. If that’s how you operate, then we will not be friends. Hard boundaries on the toxic emotional shit says the Capricorn rising with Saturn in the other half of my 7th house in Leo.

          1. Sounds like it would take time to untangle the familial messages that kept you from feeling free.. also sounds like you have a nose for unfairness and manipulation..

    1. Oh dear, your mention of emotional manipulation, I can still feel that pressure. Not from Cancer suns necessarily. There is something churning in me at your mention of it. That tension in my emotional and cell memory, I can feel it even though I am not being emotionally manipulated at the moment. Yuck. I will get to ‘glad I got over falling into that’ forthwith, but for now so tense the memory I am squirmy. Definite hurdle for my cancer moon.

      1. I feel that personal development techniques that help teach and hone emotional regulation, positive non attachment, and autonomy are very beneficial. The toxic cancers I’ve known all have little to no ability to regulate their emotional responses to the world around them. It’s makes them feel very vulnerable, which tends to make them more controlling as they try to appease their own inner child. I understand this particular dysfunction of the sign very well. “Your trauma is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.” This mindset helps me to see others with compassion but also assign accountability for their adult selves.

        1. What kind of techniques that teach emotional self regulation work specifically?

          I do notice that they can tend to put their emotions on others a lot. Or rather blame what the person did for their reaction to it such as ‘you made me feel bad.’

          I’m having a LOT of trouble with emotional self regulation and tend to distance myself from people who sting me multiple times. I’m having trouble when I’m stinging myself these days.

  14. i go through the spectrum of responses between “you have literally no need to be apologizing all the time” to “i do not have the bandwidth to hold together your fragile ego” to “you’re not the boss of me” depending on which one i’m dealing with, but there’s a thread connecting them all… and it’s sure seems like a need for security. (i have a LOT of heavy cancer folk near and dear to me)
    which i sorta’ get, but all my aries finds looking for security a distraction from taking care of things.

  15. also, most of my trauma is from narcissistic cancer. but i blame my libra pluto aspects for that…
    what notch said about cancer trying to make you responsible for their emotional state? yes. that. exactly. learn some f’n boundaries.

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