12 subtle signs that someone genuinely enjoys playing the victim (and you’re wasting time trying to help them)

Playing the victim is something that many people do. Some occasionally, others as a matter of course.

Their motive for this behavior may be to get attention, inspire pity, or simply because they always get away with it.

When we refer to playing the victim, we’re discussing a mindset where a person always perceives themselves as the injured party, even if the facts suggest otherwise. This habit can become deeply ingrained in people over time.

A person with a victim mentality believes that external factors and not their own actions cause their outcomes in life.

So when someone constantly plays the victim card, they avoid taking any responsibility for their actions and put the blame on other people . 

This can lead to an endless loop of manipulation with no hint of personal accountability. 

People that play the victim do this to gain an unfair advantage over people. For example, if you’re in a relationship, you identify as a  victim to avoid admitting your mistakes.

The problem is that your actions damage your relationships and those you claim to love every time you brandish your victim card.

Here are some signs that someone truly enjoys their fictitious victimhood and doesn’t want to correct their behavior.

1) No accountability 

When someone’s always playing the victim, they’ll refuse to take responsibility for the situation that they find themselves in.

Instead of owning their mistakes, they point the finger of blame at others to make them feel guilty while absolving themselves of any responsibility.

Every negative situation in their lives offers a new opportunity to pass the buck. 

2) They feel powerless

A person with a victim mentality believes that they are powerless and at the mercy of everything around them. 

A victim can use their stance as an excuse to not progress in life because they feel they’re at the mercy of outside forces that stack the deck against them. 

As a result, they are going nowhere, fast.

To correct the problem, the victim needs to understand that even minor attitude adjustments can result in big payoffs. 

But if their self-proclaimed victimhood is working for them, seeing the light is highly unlikely.

3) Negatively compares themselves to others

Most victims struggle with the habit of negatively comparing themselves to other people. 

Since we are all lacking in some way when compared to others, it’s easy to engage in this behavior as a permanent go-to.

4) Self-pity party

People with a victim mentality throw a lot of pity parties for themselves. They feel like a much maligned innocent who cannot defend themselves against the harsh reality of the world. 

Since people generally don’t enjoy attending other’s pity parties, the victim usually doesn’t receive an adequate supply of sympathy, so they have no choice but to provide it for themselves, which makes them come off as obnoxious and a bit pathetic. 

The victim needs to understand that everyone has rough days and experiences setbacks and disappointments, not just them. 

5) They are argumentative 

The self- proclaimed victim has trouble with the common task of choosing one’s battles. They lack nuance so in their eyes every minor battle is treated like a world war. 

They feel that they are under attack all the time and have a hard time realizing that not everything is about them.

The victim needs to realize that they aren’t obliged to attend every argument they’re invited to. They don’t need to view every opposing opinion as a personal threat and that they have the ability to simply walk away. 

6) Trust issues

People with a victim mentality not only have a problem with trusting others. They also believe that they can’t even trust themselves. 

Because of this, the victim assumes that everyone else is just like them: shady and untrustworthy.

If the victim could revise their old and unfair assumptions about other people they could ease their way out of always playing the damsel in distress. 

But the fact is that too many pseudo-victims depend on these mechanisms for survival and have no impetus to change. 

7) They thrive on drama

Untitled design 25 1 12 subtle signs that someone genuinely enjoys playing the victim (and you're wasting time trying to help them)

Another calling card of someone who loves to play the victim is their penchant for all things drama.

Their life resembles a soap opera, with the victim placed firmly at the center of it all. 

It seems like it’s always something with a victim. There’s always a new crisis looming and always something to be upset about. 

And we’re not talking about small stuff, because where’s the sense of theater in that? No, we’re talking about life altering albeit greatly exaggerated crises.

For example, a minor spat with a spouse is never just a simple understanding, it’s a huge betrayal on a massive scale. 

The victim mentality feeds on drama because it keeps the focus firmly on them and reinforces their belief that life itself is out to get them. 

8) Can’t deal with criticism 

For most people, accepting criticism can be a difficult task. Heaven knows it’s not pleasant to hear a litany of our mistakes and character flaws, but it’s vital for personal growth and self-improvement.

But for someone who plays the victim card, any criticism is perceived as a personal attack.

These people view even the most constructive of criticism as an attack on their character and further confirmation that the entire universe is conspiring against them.

9) They have trouble asserting themselves

The self-proclaimed victim doesn’t believe they have any control over their life, so they can’t effectively articulate what they need or want.

Because of this problem, the victim’s life is a merry-go-round of learned helplessness. This toxic pattern negatively impacts their self-confidence and personal development. 

If the victim fails to break this pattern, it’s more likely they’ll eventually suffer from anxiety or depression in the future.

10) The glass is always half empty

When something positive happens for a perpetual victim, they’ll dig and dig until they unearth the most minor details that might not be picture perfect. 

They refuse to take the win, because then people might expect them to step up to the plate and get an attitude adjustment.

So instead of being grateful and counting their blessings, the victim finds fault and downplays their good fortune to secure their victim status indefinitely.

11) They struggle with boundaries

Victims have a difficult time creating appropriate boundaries, both for themselves and as they relate to others.

We know that healthy boundaries are crucial in any relationship. Like everyone else, victims must decide what they are willing to tolerate in a relationship or situation. 

And if you happen to be the friend or loved one of a victim, you also need to be clear about just how much victim behavior you’re willing to tolerate before you throw up your hands and walk.

12) Master manipulators

Some self-appointed victims are more malevolent than others. These highly manipulative victims aren’t just after a little sympathy.

They are out for what they want and will do almost anything to get it, even though they’re experts at presenting themselves as pitiful “woe is me”- style victims.   

These master manipulators are highly skilled at twisting facts and situations to perfectly fit their narrative.

They’re experts at playing with people’s emotions by deliberately causing others to feel either guilty or sympathetic so they can protect their victim status.

If you know someone with a decided knack for garnering sympathy or twisting every situation to their advantage, be very wary. 

In my opinion, running away screaming is a completely proportional response.

Final thoughts

Let’s be honest. When you occasionally play the victim it feels pretty awesome. It’s nice  not to take responsibility because you feel like the situation is out of your control anyway. 

Can’t fight fate, right? And who doesn’t love to be rescued and babied a bit?

That’s all well and good every Blue Moon. But if you get too comfortable in victim mode you can slowly surrender your power and gradually descend into a state of hopelessness.

In the end, playing the victim only provides momentary relief and doesn’t get you anywhere but defeated and depressed. 

The victim will eventually have to face the inevitable and painful consequences of their actions if they don’t modify their behavior by heeding constructive criticism and using it to fuel positive action.

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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