10 cunning phrases manipulators use to isolate you from your loved ones

Take it from someone who writes for a living: words are magic.

It’s crazy how noises we make with our mouths can implant ideas in the brains of others and even, to some extent, control their behavior. But it’s true. That’s what language is.

Unfortunately, this magic works both ways. Depending on the intentions of the person using them, words can do a lot of harm as well as a lot of good.

Manipulative people know this. Often, they are highly skilled at using their words to get you to do what they want.

And one of the first things they will try to do is isolate you from your loved ones.

Most of us get a lot of strength and emotional support from the people closest to us. And that’s exactly what stops us from being easy to manipulate.

A manipulator will try to break those bonds and make you dependent on them for your validation and self-esteem, because that makes you easier to control.

Manipulative people are also often good at hiding their true intentions. But there are some phrases that can give them away.

If you hear any of these phrases from someone in your life, ask yourself why they are saying them. Because they may be trying to manipulate you.

1) “No one understands you like I do.”

When a manipulative person wants to isolate you, it’s essential for them to make you feel like your relationship is on some deep level that is beyond the understanding of most people.

Why? Because a manipulative person knows that lots of other people in your life may be able to see through them.

They may have you fooled, but the people closest to you might be able to see that you are being manipulated, and they may even try to warn you.

To prevent that from happening, the manipulator has to create a narrative where what the two of you have is something that other people don’t understand.

That way, when they tell you your relationship has problems, you won’t believe them, because you think they just don’t understand your special bond.

In many ways, this is similar to the love bombing technique manipulators often use in the early stages of a relationship. They will tell you that you’re special, unique, beautiful, wonderful, and anything else they think you want to hear to make you like them and depend on them for validation.

Then, once a relationship is established, they will put the relationship on a pedestal and try to get you to agree that nobody else understands the deep love the two of you have.

But it’s all a lie. 

2) “They’re just jealous of us.”

This is another easy way for the manipulative person to dismiss criticism of your relationship from other people.

If the people closest to you see that you are being manipulated, they may try to warn you. Your manipulator needs to find a way to get you to ignore those criticisms – especially if they are true.

That’s why they will often claim that other people are jealous of the two of you. That way, any criticism that all your relationship receives can be put down to simple jealousy.

3) “I’m the only one who really cares about you.”

This is a very insidious thing manipulators say to gain control of your emotional well-being.

Lots of people have issues, particularly with their family. No matter how much you love someone else, there will be times when they let you down, or when you question whether you mean as much to them as you hope you do.

A manipulator will play on these feelings and exaggerate them.

They will constantly draw your attention to times that your family or close friends let you down, and use them to try and prove that nobody really cares about you.

The idea is to make you feel all alone in the world, and as though the manipulator is the only person you can rely on. That way, you’re more likely to do what they say.

4) “You spend too much time with them.”

Another way a manipulator will try to control you is to take control of your time.

“Maybe they complain about how often you talk to your brother on the phone, or say they don’t like your best friend and don’t think you should hang out with her anymore,” writes psychologist Andrea Bonior.

“Their goal is to strip you of your support network, and thus your strength—so that you will be less likely or able to stand up against them whenever they want to “win,”” she adds.

Controlling your time means controlling the opinions you are exposed to. It’s a way for the manipulator to make it harder for you to hear criticism of the relationship the two of you have.

Also, keeping you away from your support network makes you less happy, less sure of yourself, and easier for them to exploit.

5) “They have a bad influence on you.”

phrases narcissists use to keep you dependent on them 10 cunning phrases manipulators use to isolate you from your loved ones

We probably all heard this one from our parents back from when we were kids. And back then, it may have been true.

But as an adult, you have a right to choose who you spend your time with. And as an adult, you are more free to pick and choose the influences you allow and don’t allow into your life.

A manipulative person may say that they don’t like who you are when you spend time with certain people. But often, that just means that they are wary that these people see through their manipulative games.

6) “We don’t need anyone else.”

This is something a manipulator will say when they are trying to separate you from just about everyone in your life.

They will claim that their relationship with you is so important and fulfilling that you don’t need anyone else. But don’t believe it. Even the best relationships in life can’t fulfill every emotional and psychological need we have.

No matter how in love you may be, you still need to maintain relationships with friends, family, and other important people.

7) “They’re trying to break us up.”

This is a favorite claim of a manipulative person.

Like some of the other phrases on this list, it’s a way to turn you against the people closest to you. The idea is to stop you from taking valid criticisms on board, and instead side with the person who’s manipulating you instead of the people who are trying to point out what is happening.

8) “They’re trying to manipulate you.”

This is a particularly cunning phrase a manipulator might use to stop you from breaking free.

In psychology, this is called projection. Blaming others for our own shortcomings is something many people do without realizing it.

However, it’s also something manipulators do to try and isolate you from the people around you.

9) “Everyone agrees with me.”

In contrast to the other phrases in this list that are designed to set up a conflict between the manipulator and the people in your life, this phrase is supposed to get them on the manipulator’s side.

This is a technique known to psychologists as triangulation, and it’s a way for the manipulator to make you doubt your own judgment and trust theirs instead.

“Triangulation is when two people disagree, and a third person gets pulled in to sway which side “wins”,” writes licensed mental health counselor Maggie Holland.

“A manipulator strategically uses triangulation to ensure that their side wins the argument, which can include choosing a third person they know will agree with them, or frontloading the information to be more favorable toward their side.”

It can work in a couple of different ways.

By doing this, the manipulator is trying to use the powerful effect your friends and family can have on your opinions to sway you over to their side.

However, this technique can have another effect manipulators welcome. If you don’t agree, it may cause conflict between you and your family or friends, and this is just something else that a manipulative person can exploit to drive a wedge between you and get you more firmly under their control. 

10) “If you loved me, you’d want to spend time with me.”

This is a form of emotional blackmail.

By saying this, the manipulator wants to make you feel guilty for spending time with other people. That way, they can monopolize your time and keep you from getting the support from your friends and family that you need to break free.

Things manipulators say

We all give ourselves away with the things we say. Even skilled manipulators can often reveal their intentions by using phrases like these.

Keep your ears open for these and other similar phrases. Because if you hear them a lot from someone in your life, there’s a good chance they’re trying to manipulate you.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00