8 Common Phrases People Use To Manipulate You

The word manipulation is heard so often in the media these days and it is fair to say, that it is not a word associated with anything positive. It often used to describe how other people treat each other, for example, ‘they were manipulating you to get what they want.’ Sometimes, manipulation can have people’s best interests at heart, for example, a parent telling their children to eat their vegetables so that can be ‘strong like Superman.’

However, on the flip side of that, sometimes manipulation can be a deceptive way to gaslight and guilt people in situations.

According to Sharie Stines, a California-based therapist who specializes in abuse and toxic relationships, “Manipulation is an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want and need in a direct way. People who are trying to manipulate others are trying to control others” (Shortsleeve, 2018). It is important to note that there are different forms of manipulation ranging from a pushy salesperson to an emotionally abusive partner.

This article is not designed to suggest that somebody is emotionally abusive or manipulative (in a negative sense) by using these phrases. These are just some examples. If you feel that you may be at risk of being in an emotionally abusive relationship, confide in somebody you trust to discuss it with them. 

Here are some common phrases people might use to manipulate you. 


“Look what you made me do!”

This one is probably most common in friendships or romantic relationships and will used a way to blame certain behaviours. If you hear this, just remember, you are not responsible for people’s actions. You could respond by saying “I do not have the power to make you do anything. You chose to respond the way you did. You need to carry the responsibility for your own actions. I can only own mine.”

“But you said…”

A very common commitment tactic often used by sales and marketing companies to make an attempt to trap you into a commitment without having your best interests at heart. Sometimes, in the heat or excitement of a moment, where we are potentially being offered something which sounds appealing, we may agree that this is something, when in reality, the offer involves less attractive hoops for us to jump through. As a result, we we retract our statement we are faced with “But you said…” statements. In this situation, accept your own inconsistency to reduce further conversations where you may be manipulated into doing something you don’t want to do.

“Don’t Be So Sensitive”

Ever been accused of being too emotional or sensitive in an argument or uncomfortable situation? Just by saying this, this person is already demonstrating that they do not care for your feelings for the situation. It is important to remember that you do not have to explain to them why you feel the way you do if you are not comfortable with a situation. You do not have to entertain someone who isn’t going to care whether you help them or not. Remember, your feelings are more than valid; so listen to what your head and heart tell you. If they say not to help this person, then this is a string indicator that you shouldn’t indulge.

“I would never…”

Ever heard somebody say, “I would never do that” or “I would never react in that way…”? It is possible that we have said this at some point ourselves without any negative intentions behind it. This is often used in friendship groups and even if there is no negative intent behind the phrase, it does impose restrictions on what you might do and challenges your decision making. If you feel like it is coming from a place of judgment, a good response could be: “Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. We know that we are different people however, it does not mean that I am better or worse than you. We can make our own minds up.” This may help to reduce the pressure to conform and promotes acceptance of differences rather than being manipulated into believing the decisions you are making are wrong.

“I know you feel strongly about this, but I need you to do it my way. It’s what’s best for us”

Ever felt that you have been made to feel guilty and stayed in a relationship or friendship against your better judgement? When people want to hold onto something, sometimes, this may mean using phrases which are unintentionally manipulative to get what they want. When this happens, it is probably a good idea to address and challenge this person assertively: “What’s best for us is to make decisions as a couple. What’s best for me is to have my input heard and be respected. Is your way truly what’s best for us, or is it what’s best for you?”

“Don’t throw away…” 

This is commonly used by teachers, parents and romantic partners. Humans have a natural fear of loss and have a tendency to try to keep hold of things. We would rather worry about what we have to lose as opposed to what we have to gain in the process. Parents may fear for their children if they decide to take a different route other than the one they would like to see them on. They may say things like “Don’t throw away everything you’ve worked for…” and this is often because they have their best interests at heart. In romantic relationships, “don’t throw away everything we’ve built” can also trigger fears of loss and can make people stay in unhappy relationships. A good response may be something like “I am not focused on throwing this away. That’s not my goal. I’m focused on this new path and I understand that if I choose to go on this path, I might have to give this up as a consequence.”

“Don’t Overreact”

How many times have you been told that you have overreacted in a situation when you don’t feel like you have? Often times a manipulative person will tell you that you are overreacting to get what they want from you. They will try to play it off as if they weren’t asking anything from you at all.Most of the time they will overreact themselves if you continue to deny them whatever it is they are looking for. If you do not feel like you are overreacting, don’t give in. They simply want to see you cave in to their needs.

“Don’t Misunderstand Me”

Often times the manipulator will resort to saying this final sentence of “do not misunderstand my intentions.” Unfortunately, there is no other way to interpret the things that they want from you. They have already misunderstood you when it comes to your wants and needs by harassing you for something for their own personal gain. Often, you will find that you have not misunderstood anything at all. If you are living a life with a person who often manipulates you or others, you may have to address this toxic behaviour.


Thank you reading this article. I hope you have found it useful and you will be able to address these phrases if appropriate. Remember, sometimes these phrases can be used by people who love you and want the best for you but that may not always be the case. If you feel like you are being manipulated, then always talk to somebody you trust. Let us know what you thought about this article in the comments below, along with any other phrases you may have heard yourself which you think may be manipulative red flag phrases. 

J 🙂 


5 Common Phrases People Use To Manipulate You – YouTube. (n.d.). Www.Youtube.Com. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um75Ag2G5nE

‌Shortsleeve, C. (2018). How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You-And What to Do. Retrieved from https://time.com/5411624/how-to-tell-if-being-manipulated/

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.