10 phrases manipulative people use to make you doubt yourself

We all know a few manipulative people. They’re pretty common in this world.

The main thing about a manipulative person is that their manipulative actions are almost always for the benefit and gain of themselves, or to protect their insecurities or fears. 

These insecurities and fears run so deep that they may be afraid of facing them, so they would rather avoid them, deflect blame, or distort someone else’s perception. 

But manipulation can sometimes be so subtle that you don’t notice it. 

So how can you protect yourself from manipulation? 

Read on to learn the 10 phrases manipulative people use to make you doubt yourself:

1) Gaslighting phrases

Gaslighting is one of the more common manipulative techniques where the person makes you doubt your own reality. 

It can be done in four main ways: outright lying, manipulation of reality, scapegoating and coercion. They might say things like:

“You’re overreacting.”

“You’re too sensitive.”

“I never said/did that.”

“You’re imagining things.”

All of these phrases are normally used by manipulative people with the intention of making you question your feelings, perception, reality, and even make you feel guilty for feeling the way you do – even if they caused it. 

Sometimes, especially if they caused it!

So be wary when someone makes you question your reality in this way. 

2) Minimizing your feelings

Minimizing your feelings is similar to, but not exactly like gaslighting. 

While gaslighting makes you straight up wonder if you’re imagining things, minimizing your feelings is a slightly more subtle tactic. 

These can include phrases like:

“You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

“Stop being so dramatic.”

“You shouldn’t feel that way.”

But just like gaslighting, the outcome is the same. 

They get away with treating you poorly while you think that you’re the one who’s receiving things wrong!

3) Phrases that project blame

Phrases that project blame onto others are another common tactic among manipulators.

They may say things like:

“You made me do this.”

“It’s your fault this happened.”

“You always do this to me.”

All of these phrases serve one purpose: to deflect that they had anything to do with the issue at hand. 

When in reality, they might actually be the ones stirring the pot. 

I’ve had this happen to be before in relationships that were toxic. Sometimes, I even started to believe that I was the one to blame – but afterwards I realized that it couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I share that to say that it can be incredibly insidious and hard to tell when someone is good at manipulation. 

However, a normal, emotionally capable person would see and acknowledge their responsibility in a situation.

Remember that!

4) Phrases that place them as the victim

Similar to blame shifting, manipulators might place themselves in a position of suffering, victimhood, or mistreatment – even if they’re actually the opposite!

I know, it’s crazy. 

Some of the most common self-victimizing phrases include:

“You’re so mean to me.”

“Nobody understands what I go through.”

“You’re always picking on me.”

Of course, it’s important to reflect on your own actions as well to make sure that you aren’t actually hurting this person. 

But if you’re pretty sure you’re being reasonable, chances are, they’re making you doubt yourself with their manipulation. 

Set firm boundaries and don’t fall for this crap!

5) Shaming and guilt-tripping phrases 

Alright, I think you’re getting the gist of manipulative phrases by now. 

Next is similar to what we’ve covered, but a little bit more specific. 

Manipulators often will use guilt and shame to manipulate your behavior and decisions:

“If you loved me, you’d do this for me.”

“You’re selfish for thinking of yourself.”

“I sacrificed so much for you.”

If you’ve ever had any of these said to you, you were being manipulated. You probably knew deep down that it didn’t feel right to hear these things, but you couldn’t put your finger on why. 

Well, now you know and can be wary to respond in a way that protects your integrity if it happens again.

6) Withholding informationphrases manipulative use be victim 10 phrases manipulative people use to make you doubt yourself

The next type of phrase manipulative people will use on you are phrases that keep you in the dark, or selectively share information to control the narrative.

You might have heard some of them before:

“You don’t need to know about that.”

“It’s not important.”

“You can’t handle the truth.”

Sneaky, right? 

7) Phrases that divert your attention

When confronted, manipulators often change the subject or divert attention away from their actions. 

Their avoidance of taking accountability can be masked as a carefree personality who just wants to relax while you’re “unnecessarily” creating drama. 

But really, they’ve created the drama and won’t face up to it. 

So they’ll say stuff like:

“Let’s not talk about this right now.”

“Why are you always bringing up the past?”

“Can’t we just enjoy the moment?”

Don’t fall for it. Stay strong in the face of their manipulation!

8) Phrases that fake being caring

Manipulators aren’t dumb, we’ll give them that. 

Many times, they will fake concern to gain your trust and cooperation, so that they can get what they really want out of you. 

These snaky phrases can sound a lot like:

“I just want what’s best for you.”

“I’m only looking out for your well-being.”

“I care about you more than anyone else.”

This is one of the hardest ones to distinguish for me personally. 

Because I find it so hard to fathom how someone could straight up lie about caring for you, just to get something out of you!

So when I’m in this situation, I tend to believe that they have my best interest at heart. 

And don’t get me wrong, sometimes people who manipulate others are actually our partners, families, or even friends. 

Sometimes, they do really care for you or they have cared in the past. 

But it doesn’t mean they’re not manipulating you or showing their true colors. 

My advice is, try to see why they’re saying those things. 

Is there something for them to gain in saying that? I would question that if someone seems fishy. 

It can also take a lot of mishaps to learn when someone is manipulating or not. I learned the hard way. 

So, try to have patience with yourself if you’re dealing with someone like this. 

9) Ultimatums, blackmail, and phrases that make you fearful

It’s important to know that ultimatums, blackmail and other phrases that instill fear or anxiety aim to control your actions and decisions in a way that they want.

Saying things like:

“You’ll regret it if you don’t do what I say.”

“I have information that could ruin your life.”

“You’ll be all alone without me.”

It can be confronting to face the threat of something you don’t want to happen. 

But it’s important to recognize this as manipulation 101!

Plus, blackmail is illegal in many places in the world. That’s how toxic it is. 

So if you ever face these kinds of phrases, I would get an external party or trusted opinion to help you. 

10) Silent treatment

Last but not least, manipulative individuals often use silence as a form of punishment and control. 

Maybe they know that you get anxious, worried, or fearful when they disconnect from you, and they use this as a way to control your feelings and actions. 

So they might say things like:

“Fine, if that’s how you feel, then don’t expect me to talk to you.”

“I’ll just give you some space since you obviously don’t want me around.”

This obviously doesn’t help anyone – it only serves to prolong the issue, as well as instill fear or anxiety in you. 

It’s just not a cool thing to do!

Final thoughts

So there you have it, the 10 types of phrases to look out for that help you figure out if you’re being manipulated. 

Why is it important to know these phrases?

Well, it is a crucial step in protecting your emotional well-being and maintaining healthy relationships. 

Manipulators often employ tactics like gaslighting, minimizing your feelings, projecting blame, playing the victim, shaming, guilt-tripping, withholding information, diverting attention, feigning concern, issuing ultimatums, and even resorting to the silent treatment to exert control and influence. 

Recognizing these manipulative phrases empowers you to set firm boundaries, maintain your self-esteem, and respond in ways that safeguard your integrity. 

Remember, healthy relationships are built on trust, open communication, and mutual respect.

It’s essential to distance yourself from those who employ manipulation tactics for their own gain, even if it hurts to let them go. 

Trust me, this dynamic can never be healthy or worth keeping around. 

It will hurt at first, but you’ll get through it and realize it’s one of the most empowering decisions you’ll ever make. 

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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