16 fake nice things people say to subtly control you

Is it easy for you to spot a fake-nice person?

I would define “fake nice” as someone who seemingly says nice or innocent things but has motives that are unkind or controlling.

These statements are meant to trick you. They want to assert their authority over you. They want to steer your emotions or your reactions.

It’s not okay, so try not to be on the receiving end of it. Here are some fake-nice things someone might say to control you… 

1) “Don’t worry. Be happy.” 

As the Bobby McFerrin song goes. While it’s innocent enough for people to encourage you not to worry and to be happy, saying it doesn’t mean it’ll happen.

Letting go of your concerns and feeling content happens on its own schedule. It can’t be forced upon you even if someone says it.

When someone says this to you, they are projecting their own discomfort onto you. They want you to be “fine” because they’re not okay. 

2) “No offense, but…”

If someone has to start a sentence with “no offense,” it’s probably because what follows will definitely offend you.

The first part of that statement is a clear admission that they will say something unfavorable. Telling you not to take offense serves them, not you.

Be offended.

3) “Bless your heart.”

This can be tricky as it can sometimes be used to genuinely express affection in some parts of the US.

But depending on the context and the region, this sentence can be a subtle, passive-aggressive way of expressing pity or condescension.

Pretending to be empathetic or sympathetic, but really just being condescending—the person who uses this term is rude AF.

They don’t mean it to be nice. They’re not blessing your heart at all.  They’re pointing out you’re naive, foolish, or stupid.

4) “How are you still single?”

“Ummm, I don’t know. Why am I?” you might ask yourself. 

If someone says this to you, you will inherently start thinking of your flaws. Are you turning people off? Why are you still alone?

The person who says this to you probably wants you to think about what you’re doing wrong. 

But, what do they know?

The thing is, this comment can be interpreted as a backhanded compliment depending on the context and tone in which it is said.

While it may seem like a compliment on the surface, implying that the person is desirable and attractive, it can also carry an underlying assumption that there must be something wrong with the person for them to still be single.

5) “Don’t take this the wrong way…”

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Every time I hear this phrase, I see red.

If someone says this to me, guess what? I will take it the wrong way because they said not to.

If they didn’t think I would be offended, they wouldn’t have included that disclaimer route out the gate. 

6) “Are you okay?”

Here’s a caveat: If someone asks you this question in a negative tone, you should think twice before responding. The person’s intention might be to hurt you, not help you.

It may be a mean-spirited rhetorical question.

If you clearly are NOT okay, this question is unproductive and only exacerbates how “not okay” you are feeling. 

7) “It’s okay. You’ll be fine.”

This is probably one of the most dismissive things someone can say to you when you’re in a period of turmoil.

Instead of supporting you, they want you to move on before you’re ready. 

Remember, you’re on your own schedule. No one can rush you to normalcy. 

The true friend who’s not trying to control you will listen to you during your time of need. They’ll help you navigate the issue, not dismiss you.

8) “I would never say anything to hurt you.” 

The inflection on the word “never” is telling. That means they will and have.

Be careful with the person who says this because they’re likely playing mind games with you

Take note. They will say something hurtful, and then follow up with, “oh, I didn’t mean it that way.” They got the negativity off their chest. But then wouldn’t give you the opportunity to react. 

9) “You clean up nicely.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” you’ll think to yourself when someone tells you this.

They’re pointing out you look nice, sure. But they’re also suggesting that you usually don’t, and this is an anomaly.

Just one question: why are they even commenting on your appearance at all? 

10) “Are you sure you want to do that?”

What is positioned as innocent advice in this statement might actually be shade.

You can sense the doubt in the question. It’ll only make you worry about your choice.

“Should I do this?” you’ll ask yourself. Well, here’s what I’d do – pay no attention to the shade, and keep it moving. 

11) “I’m just looking out for you.”

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But are they, though?

Someone who feels the need to say they’re just trying to help you is just trying to validate their overstepping.

Is this person truly supporting you? Or is this person asserting their authority over you?  

12) “I’d do it for you, so you should do it for me.”

Beware of the conditional relationship. A statement like this should set off some alarm bells – the person is likely a fake-nice one who comes with strings attached.

I come from the camp of, you should do things for people because you want to do them. Not because you expect something in return.

13) “You’re lucky to have me.”

If someone says this to you, get your eye roll ready.

Even if you are lucky to have this person in your life, do they have to remind you?

Are they fishing for compliments? Asserting that you reciprocate? Demanding you show gratitude? Regardless, it can be annoying.

14) “You look great, but …”

Oh, the backhanded compliment.

The person sure softens the blow by kicking things off with something nice to say. But the “but,” is a loaded one. And what comes next is most likely going to be a dig.

This dig aims to make you feel bad about yourself for sure. Ew!

15) “You’re so much better than [insert name of person].”

Even though this statement is meant to compliment you, if the person you’re being compared to is subpar, is it even favorable?

Also, why is someone comparing you to someone else? What is their motive? It seems to me like they want you to be jealous. 

The person who uses this approach might be trying to make you feel a certain way. 

16) “[Insert name of person] must not care enough about you, but I do.”

If they care about you, they wouldn’t hurt your feelings to show it.

The person who says this wants to get on your good side, but they’re throwing someone else under the bus in the process. 

Trust your own instincts and decide if what they’re saying is true

Beware of toxic traps

Recognizing when someone’s being fake nice and controlling can be tricky. If you aren’t quite in tune with yourself, it can be easy to fall for their manipulative tactics.

Harnessing the power of self-reflection and intuition can help you avoid that. 

If this is an area you struggle with, I’d love to recommend this insightful video created by the shaman Rudá Iandé. 

Thanks to Rudá’s guidance, I learned how to navigate toxic traps, like the fake-nice people depicted in this article. He’s had similar experiences in his life and has a lot of tips and tricks on making you stronger.

After I watched his video, I felt empowered and more capable of warding off the mean-spirited people in my life.

Try it out by clicking here to watch the free video.

Then, once you identify that someone is trying to subtly control you, don’t be afraid to establish your boundaries with the fake-nice person in your life. 

Be direct and ask them if they are being sincere if you suspect they’re trying to manipulate you or a situation you’re involved in.

Lastly, remind yourself how strong you are, and seek support from trusted friends.

Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers WomansDay.com, Shape, WhatToExpect, CafeMom, TODAY, CBSNews, HuffingtonPost, TheBump, Health Magazine, and AskMen. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in relationships, spirituality, mental wellness, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.

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