If someone uses these 8 phrases, they’re a master at manipulating emotions

Manipulation is a tricky beast. It’s a subtle art of twisting words and playing with emotions to get what you want, all while keeping your true intentions hidden.

But, it’s not always easy to spot. People who’ve mastered emotional manipulation know how to use the right phrases at just the right time to pull your strings.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 8 phrases that emotional manipulators often use. Spotting these could be your first step towards freeing yourself from their control.

So, buckle up and let’s dive in!

1) “You’re overreacting”

Emotional manipulation isn’t always about what people say, but how they say it. And one of the most common phrases used by manipulators is “You’re overreacting”.

This phrase is a masterstroke of manipulation. It’s an attempt to invalidate your feelings and make you question your own judgement. The goal? To make you feel guilty and to shift the blame from them to you.

It’s a subtle form of gaslighting, a psychological manipulation tactic where the manipulator tries to make you doubt your own perceptions and sanity.

So, next time someone tells you that you’re overreacting, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Are they using this phrase to avoid responsibility or to control the narrative? If so, you might be dealing with an emotional manipulator.

Remember, your feelings are valid, and you have every right to express them without being made to feel irrational or overly emotional.

2) “I was only joking”

Ah, the classic “I was only joking”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase used as a cover-up for hurtful comments or actions.

Here’s a personal example. A few years back, I had a friend, Mark. He had a habit of making jokes at my expense. At first, I laughed it off, thinking it was all in good fun. But over time, the jokes became more personal and more cutting.

When I finally confronted Mark about it, his immediate response was “I was only joking”. He made it seem like I was the one who was in the wrong for not taking a joke.

But here’s the thing – a joke is only a joke if both parties find it funny. If someone’s laughter comes at the cost of another’s discomfort or hurt, it’s no longer a joke. It’s manipulation.

This phrase is often used as a tool to downplay one’s harmful actions and make the other person feel overly sensitive. So, if you find yourself on the receiving end of the “I was only joking” defense, don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Trust your gut, your feelings are valid.

3) “If you really cared about me, you would…”

This phrase is a classic guilt trip, designed to emotionally coerce you into doing something you might not want to do. It’s a manipulative tactic that’s often used in personal relationships, but it can also appear in professional settings.

The heart of this tactic is the manipulator’s attempt to make you prove your feelings or commitment. Ironically, research shows that those who frequently use guilt as a form of manipulation are often insecure about their own worthiness or the stability of their relationships.

So, if someone is constantly asking you to prove your care or loyalty, it’s less about you and more about their own insecurities. It’s important to remember that love or respect should never be conditional on the actions you perform for someone else. You are not obliged to prove your feelings through actions that make you uncomfortable or unhappy.

4) “It’s always my fault, isn’t it?”

This phrase is a common tool in the emotional manipulator’s arsenal. It’s a form of deflection, used to turn the tables and make you feel like the aggressor.

Manipulators use this phrase to play the victim and shift the blame onto you. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they redirect the conversation to their feelings of persecution.

The aim is to make you feel guilty and to prevent you from bringing up their wrongdoings in the future. It’s a clever tactic that puts you on the defensive and diverts attention from their actions.

So, next time someone tries to play the victim with “It’s always my fault, isn’t it?”, don’t fall for it. Stand your ground and keep the focus on the issue at hand. Remember, it’s okay to hold people accountable for their actions.

5) “I can’t believe you don’t trust me”

Trust is the backbone of any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional. But manipulators often use this phrase to twist that trust and make you feel guilty for questioning their actions.

In a healthy relationship, there should be room for open dialogue and concerns should be addressed respectfully. However, a manipulator uses this phrase to shut down conversation and make you feel bad for having doubts.

I’ve seen this tactic used too many times, tearing apart relationships and leaving one person feeling guilty for simply trying to communicate their feelings.

Remember, trust is earned through consistent actions over time, not granted freely. It’s okay to have questions or doubts, and it’s important to voice them. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting transparency in your relationships.

6) “No one else would put up with you”

This is a phrase that hits close to home for me. It’s a cruel statement designed to make you feel undesirable, unlovable, and alone.

Years ago, I was in a relationship with someone who used this phrase frequently. Each time, it chipped away at my self-esteem, making me feel like I was lucky to be with them, despite the emotional turmoil they caused.

The truth is, this is a tactic used by manipulators to isolate you and make you dependent on them. It’s not about you or your worth, but about their need for control.

So if you ever hear this phrase from someone, know that it’s not a reflection of your worth. You are deserving of respect and love, and there are people out there who will value you for who you are. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

7) “You’re too sensitive”

This phrase is another classic manipulation tactic. It’s a way for manipulators to dismiss your feelings and make you question your reactions.

When someone tells you that you’re too sensitive, they’re trying to invalidate your feelings and make you feel guilty for having them. It’s a way to deflect from their own behavior and make it seem like you’re the problem.

There’s no such thing as being “too sensitive”. Your feelings are valid, and you have a right to express them. If someone is consistently making you feel like your emotions are a problem, it may be time to reevaluate that relationship.

A key element of any healthy relationship is emotional respect!  Don’t let anyone belittle your feelings or make you feel like you’re overreacting. Stand up for yourself and your emotions.

8) “I’m sorry you feel that way”

This phrase might seem innocent at first glance, but it’s one of the most insidious forms of emotional manipulation. It’s a faux apology, a way for the manipulator to appear remorseful without actually taking responsibility for their actions.

When someone says “I’m sorry you feel that way”, they’re essentially shifting the blame onto you. They’re not apologizing for what they did, they’re apologizing for your reaction to it.

This is a tactic to dismiss your feelings and avoid accountability. It’s a red flag and a clear sign that the person is not genuinely remorseful.

It’s important to recognize this phrase for what it is: a manipulation tactic. You deserve genuine apologies and sincere remorse when someone has wronged you. Don’t settle for less.

Final thoughts: Knowledge is power

The world of human behavior is a complex and fascinating landscape. And at the heart of it lies the delicate interplay of emotions and language.

The phrases we’ve examined here are common tactics used by those skilled in emotional manipulation. But remember, they’re not always used with malicious intent. Everyone, at some point or another, might use these phrases unintentionally.

What’s important is understanding the weight behind these words and the potential impact they can have on our emotions and relationships. By recognizing these phrases and the tactics behind them, we can protect ourselves and others from emotional manipulation.

Remember: awareness is the first step towards change. Understanding these manipulation tactics empowers us to stand up for ourselves, to question, to communicate, and ultimately, to build healthier relationships.

So next time you hear these phrases, take a moment to reflect. Look beyond the words and tune into the intentions behind them. Trust your instincts, stay true to your feelings, and remember – your emotional wellbeing is paramount.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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