If someone regularly uses these 9 phrases, they’re probably a covert manipulator

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Manipulation can be a tricky thing to identify, especially when the person doing it is a master of disguise.

It’s all about control and getting what they want, often without revealing their true intentions.

Covert manipulators are skilled in using language to subtly influence or control your actions.

They know just the right words to say that can make you start second-guessing yourself.

To help you identify these sly individuals, I’ve compiled a list of phrases they often use.

By recognizing these phrases, you might be able to spot a manipulator before it gets under your skin.

Let’s dive into the “9 phrases regularly used by covert manipulators”.

It’s time to arm ourselves with knowledge against these cunning conversationalists.

1) “You’re too sensitive”

In any relationship, personal or professional, respect for one’s feelings and emotions is crucial.

Covert manipulators, however, have a knack for dismissing your feelings as being overly sensitive or overreacting.

This is a classic gaslighting technique.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the manipulator makes you doubt your feelings, instincts, and sanity.

When someone tells you, “You’re too sensitive,” they’re trying to invalidate your feelings.

Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they deflect it back onto you. It’s an attempt to make you question your reactions and emotions.

By doing this, they shift the blame onto you and take away your ability to respond effectively.

It’s a powerful manipulation tactic because it can make you feel like you’re the problem, not them.

The key to combating this is recognizing it for what it is – manipulation.

Your feelings are valid, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise might be trying to control or influence you in unhealthy ways.

2) “I was only joking”

Covert manipulators have a knack for using humor as a disguise for their hurtful comments.

It’s a tactic I’ve personally experienced.

I remember a friend who had a habit of making derogatory comments about my appearance.

When I confronted him about it, his usual response was, “I was only joking.”

He made it sound as if I was the one overreacting or lacking a sense of humor.

But here’s the catch – these so-called jokes were often at my expense and had an underlying tone of criticism.

These “jokes” were his way of undermining my self-confidence, without having to take responsibility for his words.

The phrase “I was only joking” is a manipulator’s shield, allowing them to say hurtful things while avoiding the blame.

It’s their way of shifting the responsibility onto you for not being able to take a joke.

Recognizing this pattern is the first step to dealing with such covert manipulation.

Humor should make you feel good, not bad about yourself.

3) “I hate drama”

Ironically, those who constantly claim to “hate drama” are often the ones stirring it up.

It’s a classic manipulation tactic that covert manipulators use to portray themselves as innocent and above any conflict or dispute.

In reality, they may be the ones instigating the drama behind the scenes.

They create chaos and then sit back, playing the role of the bewildered bystander who has no idea how things got so out of hand.

By recognizing this phrase for what it is – a deflection technique – you can start to see through the manipulator’s disguise and understand their true intentions.

4) “Trust me”

Trust is something that should be earned over time through actions, not just words.

Covert manipulators, however, often use the phrase “trust me” as a way to gain your confidence quickly and without merit.

This phrase is a red flag, especially when it’s used frequently or in situations where trust hasn’t been established yet.

It’s an attempt to bypass your natural skepticism and get you to lower your guard.

Manipulators use this phrase to make you feel secure, to make you believe they have your best interests at heart.

Real trust is built through consistent, trustworthy behavior, not just words.

Next time someone repeatedly asks you to “trust them”, question why they feel the need to say it so often.

It could be a sign they’re trying to manipulate you into giving them unwarranted trust.

5) “You owe me”

Covert manipulators are experts at making you feel indebted to them.

The phrase “you owe me” is often used to guilt you into doing something you may not want to do.

This tactic manipulates your sense of fairness and obligation.

They might remind you of a favor they did for you in the past, often exaggerating its importance, to make you feel like you’re in their debt.

But relationships aren’t about keeping score.

It’s not about who owes who. It’s about mutual respect and reciprocity.

Nobody has the right to make you feel obliged or indebted without your consent.

6) “If you loved me, you would…”

This is a phrase that hits right in the heart.

Covert manipulators often use love as a tool to get what they want, and it’s one of the most painful forms of manipulation.

“If you loved me, you would…” is a phrase that manipulates your emotions and makes you question your feelings.

It’s a coercive tactic used to guilt you into conforming to their wishes.

Love should never be used as a bargaining chip.

It’s not about doing everything the other person wants; it’s about mutual respect, understanding, and compromise.

When someone uses your love for them as a weapon, it’s a clear sign of manipulation. 

Love is not about control or demands, it’s about caring and understanding.

Don’t let anyone use your feelings as a tool for their gain.

7) “No one else will ever love you as I do”

This phrase is a manipulator’s way of making you feel like you’re lucky to have them, even if they treat you poorly.

It’s a tactic designed to diminish your self-esteem and make you feel dependent on them.

I recall a time when I was in a relationship where this phrase was used often.

It made me feel trapped and scared to leave, as I was manipulated into believing that no one else would ever care for me the same way.

But the truth is, this phrase is just a ploy to keep you tied to the manipulator.

It’s a fear tactic used to control and isolate you.

Love should never make you feel cornered or scared. If someone is making you feel like they’re your only option, it’s not love, but manipulation. 

8) “I never said that”

Covert manipulators are masters at twisting the truth and denying things they’ve said. “I never said that” is a common phrase used by them to make you question your memory and perception.

This tactic, known as gaslighting, makes you doubt your own experiences and recollections.

Over time, this can lead to confusion and make you feel like you’re losing grip on reality.

When faced with undeniable evidence, manipulators might even go as far as to accuse you of misunderstanding or misremembering.

This is designed to shake your confidence in your judgment.

Don’t let someone make you question your reality.

If you notice a pattern of denial and distortion, it’s a clear sign that you’re dealing with a manipulator.

Trust your memory and instincts.

9) “It’s all your fault”

This is the final and perhaps most damaging phrase in a manipulator’s toolbox.

They often use “it’s all your fault” to shift blame and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Manipulators are experts at twisting situations to make you feel responsible, even when you’re not.

This constant blame game can be emotionally draining and can significantly damage your self-esteem.

Everyone makes mistakes, but a pattern of blaming others, particularly for their actions or feelings, is a strong sign of manipulation.

Don’t allow anyone to make you carry the burden of their mistakes.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness or actions except your own.

Final thoughts: It’s about self-awareness

Understanding human interactions, especially when it comes to manipulation, often comes down to self-awareness.

These subtle phrases used by covert manipulators are designed to undermine your confidence and control your actions.

But recognizing them is the first step towards combating such manipulation.

When you hear these phrases, take a moment to reflect.

Question their intent. Trust your instincts.

Your feelings and perceptions are valid, and anyone who tries to make you think otherwise is not acting in your best interest.

The key to dealing with manipulation is not just identifying it, but also responding to it effectively.

This requires emotional intelligence, self-assurance, and, above all, respect for your worth.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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