14 phrases manipulative people use to blame others for their actions

Manipulators are skilled at turning things around.

They masterfully twist the situation to make themselves out as the innocent victim.

They have a collection of go-to phrases to try to help them wriggle out of any mess they get themselves into.

They purposefully seek to confuse you and play with your emotions to sow the seeds of doubt.

That’s why if someone uses any of the following, it’s best to be on your guard.

1) “If you didn’t X, then I wouldn’t have Y”

There are a few variations to this phrase. But the message stays the same:

I only did X because you did Y.

They may try to suggest their actions were in retaliation, and hence justifiable.

They are trying to dodge all responsibility and put how they behaved onto you.

This phrase makes you the instigator of the problem, not them.

Yet what they fail to acknowledge is that we’re only ever responsible for ourselves and never the things that other people say or do.

Nobody can make you do anything, that’s on you.

2) “There is fault on both sides”

They’ve done wrong, but they don’t want to shoulder the blame. They’d much rather share it.

Phrases like this, and other similar ones like “It takes two to Tango” do have a sense of truth to them.

That’s why they are all the more dangerous in making you fall for it.

Because nobody is perfect and we may unwittingly contribute to a problem. But significantly this is not an excuse to absolve someone else of how they’ve behaved. 

Rather than being sorry, they’re trying to minimize their part in something.

3) “Look what you made me do”

It’s the classic tactic of an abuser.

If someone ever says this to you, get away from them as quickly as possible. They have zero accountability for themselves.

They may delusionally believe what they are saying, or it may just be a manipulative attempt at controlling you.

Either way, it’s a form of gaslighting.

They are trying to strip away at your self-esteem until you genuinely start to believe that you deserve the poor treatment they are showing you.

4) “You always” or “You never”

When someone starts to throw around words like always or never it’s clear they’re feeling defensive.

So they go on the attack.

They start to hurl mud at you in an attempt to paint a picture that you are the one who behaves badly, not them.

5) “It’s not my fault!”

Often the most effective manipulation comes in the form of victimhood.

They try to adopt a stance of weakness to try to make you feel sorry for them.

This helplessness is designed to get you on side and place the blame far away from them.

6) “Why do you always paint me out to be the bad guy?!”

Yet again, this phrase is an attempt at seeming hard done by.

The implication is that no matter what they do, you always find fault with them.

In doing so, they are making out that you are the manipulative one who is trying to paint them in a bad light.

7) “Oh, and you’re so perfect?”

This is the old switcheroo.

You’re supposed to be discussing their actions. But they want to turn it around and make it clear that you’re not so perfect either.

Not only is it completely off-topic, but it’s just a way of side-stepping accountability for how they have behaved.

They may also try to bring up past mistakes you have made in order to put focus back on you and off them.

8) “You’re blowing it all out of proportion”

They’re trying to minimize their actions.

The idea is to get you to start to believe that whatever they’ve done isn’t a big deal.

The only reason it’s a problem is because you are making it into one.

9) “You started this”

This one may sound familiar. Chances are you may have even uttered it yourself as a kid.

It’s the go-to response for sibling squabbles in childhood.

But it goes without saying, that in adulthood, we should have well and truly grown out of such juvenile ways of thinking and behaving. 

10) “You need to learn how to take a joke”

Plenty of manipulation masquerades as humor.

They try to hide behind sarcasm or the pretense that they were “only kidding”.

If someone says or does offensive, cruel, disrespectful, or mean things to you it is not funny.

It’s not fair to make you the butt of the joke.

You are not uptight, they are manipulative.

11) “You’re just too sensitive”

Or as I meme I once saw highlighted:

“Maybe I’m not too sensitive, maybe you’re just a dickhead.”

Manipulators all over the world try to use this phrase as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Rather than hold up their hands and admit fault, they defensively put it all back on you.

They want you to question your emotions in the hope that they can plant enough doubt for you to wonder if maybe they’re right.

12) “Why are you being so awkward about this?”

If you disagree with something they’ve done, it can’t be for good reason.

No, it has to be that you are simply difficult.

This phrase implies you are willfully and unreasonably disagreeable without justification.

It’s another way to dismiss your concerns as excessive and obstructive.

13) Thanks for being so understanding (said with sarcasm)

This is emotional blackmail pure and simple.

They should be saying sorry and trying to make amends. Instead, they are piling on the guilt and shame.

They’re subtly saying to you that you are being unkind or unfeeling.

14) “I’m not a mind reader”

It may sound like a valid point at first. Sometimes it is.

We do have to practice open and clear communication with one another if we are to avoid misunderstandings.

But some things do go without saying, or at least they should.

Basic levels of decency, respect, and consideration shouldn’t need to be explicitly spelled out.

If someone does something deeply offensive or hurtful, and they clearly should have known better, this phrase is no excuse.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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