Do you ever feel like something was off about that conversation or request, but not quite sure what exactly? Does it seem like your acquaintance’s trying to take advantage of you, while in the guise of looking well-meaning or wise?
Manipulators are naturals at getting you to question your own sanity or perception of reality. And depending on who it is, it can be tough to spot, especially if the aggressor is among your close friends and family.
Here are 7 common phrases manipulators use to trick their victims.
Disclaimer: If you can relate to any of these signs, please do not take this feedback as an attack on your character. This article was meant to be a self-improvement guide for informational purposes. Not everyone is alike, so make your judgments accordingly.
- I’m the one who should be mad at you
Had a time when someone made you extremely mad, then by the end of it, they managed to make you feel guilty and embarrassed about yourself instead?
To any outburst from your end, they’d retort, “Oh, so you are mad? Even if I’m mistakenly accused by you? You do know you’re the one who’s hurting me, right?”
See how this is bad?
This is a common manipulation tactic where they try to rewrite the narrative and get you to empathize with them — even when they’re the ones at fault.
They’re denying the hurt feelings you have for them to get their own way. For empaths and timid people, this manipulative performance can sadly be quite effective.
- I seriously don’t want to argue.
When a manipulator says, “I seriously don’t want to argue.”, it usually just means they want you to stop attacking them to keep their reign of dominance intact. This applies to more serious matters.
It’s true, they don’t want to argue. Why? It’s because they want to cut off any healthy and honest communication lines to keep you from stepping out of line in the dynamic that works so well for them.
What makes matters worse is when you throw them the same phrase. Then they’ll throw in their excuses, saying “It’s not my fault” and “You’re being delusional”, to keep them in power.
Whenever a manipulator says “I seriously don’t want to argue.”, it’s always meant to self-enrich them and keep you at bay. A healthy person would at least try to lend you an opening ear, so it’s a good idea to be aware of the difference!
- Stop exaggerating everything.
Do you know someone who tries to downplay a situation?
It’s exhausting getting mad at manipulators. They’ll almost always attempt to fight back, and they’re too prideful to even brush a thought about empathizing with you.
They try to throw in some underhanded techniques to dismantle your argument. “Stop exaggerating everything” is one of the phrases they say to attempt to diffuse situations. It’s another insidious phrase whose purpose is to control the narrative and keep you from lashing out at them — even if it’s clearly warranted.
In cases like this, recognizing their patterns is always the first step to rising above them. In case it persists, it’s always best to look after yourself no matter what the cost, even if that means removing yourself from the situation entirely.
- They’re crazy. Listen to me.
Maybe you’ve reached out to someone and shared the red flags. “Oh, he’s definitely manipulative.” your friend may say.
So, you bring it up to the “manipulator”. Instead of keeping an open mind, the manipulative person would defend themselves by putting down the other person.
“Oh, she says that? She’s sort of a nutjob — heard she flunked in high school.” he might say off-handedly, then proceeds to present his case of how he’s much better. “False, false, she’s crazy. I’m the right one here. Right?”
The worst part. Some manipulators can be charismatic enough to convince you. This can be severe enough to the point that they force you to stick with them at all times, and alienate you away from other people who might go against him. Not good.
- Look, you clearly don’t understand.
Have they tried undermining your arguments?
Manipulators are great at confusing people and making them hesitant. This way, they evade accountability and blame it on you instead.
No matter how you feel emotionally or how much you try to argue, they’ll never make any sort of attempt to empathize with you. They’ll act like a brick wall, giving you no room to argue, until you wear yourself out of exhaustion.
The worst part? They’ll think they’re right — and find every reason to do it again.
- No, no. You’re being delusional.
“You’re being delusional!”, “You’re crazy!”, or “You’re brain’s busted!”
See a pattern here? Manipulators are like puppet masters — shifting blame away from them and painting you in the bad light. They’re not in the relationship for a healthy two-way dynamic. They’re there because you put up with this poisonous behavior, which makes them feel better about themselves at your expense.
Suffice to say, it’s not healthy. Manipulators love it when you’re nice and kind to them (and, maybe these experiences can be calming for you as well), but they’re ready to discard all of that in case it’s not needed anymore.
It’s a good idea to ask for insights from other people or professionals about this situation or set clear boundaries from here on out.
- Now, why would I do that? You know I love you.
The most deceptive manipulators know how to skirt around romance and get you to fall for their good side.
If you knew they were a manipulator in the first place, chances are you wouldn’t associate with them, right?
But manipulators can time things in their favor. They show their vulnerable and normal side during first impressions, and once they’ve caught your attention, they start showing their dark side.
Perhaps the most frightening part for empaths and people who fall victim to manipulators is that it’s so hard to turn off the switch and remove the manipulator from their lives forever.
After all, the experiences, the good times, the “I love you”s — all those seem incredibly real, right?
But in truth, manipulators know this too. If they really cared and loved you, they would’ve spent time listening to you. They wouldn’t try to dismiss your feelings, but try to uphold them and have an honest conversation about them.
Instead, they’re normalizing inaction, mind games, and dismissive emotional patterns.
And that’s not something a healthy person would resort to.
We hope you’ve learned more about the phrases manipulative people say.
Know that it’s never too late to remove yourself from any toxic environment. You deserve the love the whole world has to offer.
That’s all for now, Psych2Goers!
Avenasa, C. (March 2021) 7 Phrases Gaslighters Often Use. Psych2Go. Retrieved at https://psych2go.net/7-phrases-gaslighters-often-use/
Power of Positivity (Feb, 2 2019). 8 Phrases Manipulators Use Often to Conceal Themselves. Retrieved at https://www.powerofpositivity.com/manipulators-phrases/
Holland, K. (Feb 13, 2018). How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Manipulation and What to Do. Healthline. Retrieved at https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-manipulation