If someone secretly resents you, they’ll usually use these 9 specific phrases

We all know that outright insults are a sign of trouble. 

But what about those passive-aggressive jabs disguised as helpfulness? 

Sometimes, the people who secretly resent you are the ones smiling the widest.  

Let’s ditch the obvious red flags and look at the following 9 weirdly specific phrases that betray hidden negative feelings.

1) “Don’t worry, I’ve got this”

Context is key here. It’s one thing if you’re clearly struggling and someone offers genuine help.  

But, if it’s said when you’re competently handling something, there’s an undercurrent of “I don’t think you can do this right, so I’m going to do it myself so you don’t mess up.” 

It subtly diminishes your abilities, leaves you feeling pretty worthless and incapable, and highlights a complete lack of trust or faith in you.

2) “I’m just being honest…”

This is the preemptive strike before a thinly veiled insult.

It’s meant to disarm you, suggesting they’re just so refreshingly truthful. And even if it hurts, that’s on you! 

Your fault you can’t take a good dose of healthy criticism and improve yourself accordingly… 

It’s best to know that the words that usually follows such a statement are rarely honest, but an rather someone’s biased opinion framed as a cruel fact. 

Think, “I’m just being honest, that outfit isn’t flattering.” 

Even if the outfit isn’t great, there are so many ways you can suggest light improvements whilst also lifting up that person’s confidence. 

As it stands, these words alone roughly translate to: “I want to make you feel insecure,” which is an all round unnecessary and cruel statement.

3) “You seem…tired”

Notice they didn’t say you look tired (which is almost as bad, but not quite!)

This sneaky jab implies general burnout, going above and beyond pointing out the dark circles under your eyes. 

Maybe they’re hinting at the fact that you’re not working hard enough, or are just being overly negative.

 Either way, they’re picking apart your demeanour and raining on your parade – for no good reason, either!

4) “That’s…an interesting choice”

This masterpiece of passive-aggression is delivered with the perfect blend of confusion and pity,

It translates to “I disapprove and your taste sucks, but I’m too polite to say it directly.” 

Whether it’s your outfit, a career move, or your new love interest, this sneered disapproval dresses up and pretends it has your best interests at heart…

When in fact, these words only hide a rude and inconsiderate individual who has no scope for individuality.

5) “Wow, you’re really passionate about that”

Wow youre really passionate about that If someone secretly resents you, they’ll usually use these 9 specific phrases

Tone is everything. 

Because this phrase can be said with genuine admiration, as a form of impressed and flattering praise.

Unfortunately, and all too often, the speaker does take on a mocking edge. 

They don’t say these words as pleasantries, but instead hint that your opinions are a bit much, that you’re weirdly overexcited about something they deem beneath them…

And when said in this manner, it’s a way to dismiss your feelings or make you doubt your own convictions. 

As someone who is passionate about social issues, I’ve been on the receiving end of this phrase on too many occasions as means to paint me as hysterical instead of engaged.

6) “Are you sure that’s wise/a good idea?”

A tinge of doubt, wrapped in a thin veil of concern. 

Just the right amount to make you start doubting yourself, too.

These words lightly imply that your judgment is questionable, planting the seed of worry but providing zero helpful solutions.

Before you know it, they’ve likely dipped and abandoned you – offering no constructive criticism nor advice, but leaving you that little bit more unsure about whether your idea is even as good as you initially thought.

This phrase tends to be an unpleasant way of undermining your decision making and, ultimately, your confidence.

7)  “Bless your heart…”

This faux-sweetness hides a certain sting to it.  

Think of it as the polite version of, “You’re so naive!”

Thinly veiled judgement hidden behind a guise of care implies you’re well-intentioned but ultimately a little clueless. 

So sweet, so young…so stupid!

Be cautious of anyone who tries to belittle you by making you seem small and clueless. 

You are neither of those things. You are likely face-to-face with someone threatened by you, who is desperately trying to make you smaller so that they can appear taller.

8) “Well, at least you tried”

Forget supporting you through failure and at least making you feel a touch better about the things you did well; this one’s a backhanded compliment at its finest. 

On the surface, it sounds supportive…

But read between the lines, and you’ll get a message to the tone of: “You failed, but hey, good effort.” 

It highlights a shortcoming rather than focusing on the positive, and hardly leaves you feeling capable of ever trying again.  

Imagine receiving this killer after a tough presentation… it deflates any sense of accomplishment and leaves you feeling like you want to go flush yourself down the nearest toilet.

9) “Just joking!”

Usually following a rude and insensitive joke, this one acts like a shield for the sarcastic. 

They start off by making a barbed and thorny remark, and when you react (as you should – it was probably mean as hell!), they come back with an eye roll and a dead pan “Can’t you just take a joke?” 

Suddenly, the tables have turned and you’re now the bad guy for not taking their hurtful joke on the chin…

By hiding away and pretending their insult was an attempt at humor, these nasty individuals cam inflict emotional papercuts while denying all responsibility. 

Sometimes, it’s true playfulness that lands wrong, but if it’s a pattern, there’s likely some hidden resentment bubbling under that forced laughter.

Why do people say these things?!

The next time you hear one of these phrases, remember, it’s not always about you. 

Sometimes (and more often than not), it simply reflects the other person’s insecurities. 

Don’t let their passive-aggressive jabs chip away at your confidence. Recognize them for what they are – veiled attempts to dim your shine. 

Notice the patterns, and choose how you react. You can call it out, or simply save your energy for those who genuinely appreciate you.

After all, life’s too short for professional compliment-backhanders!

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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.