If someone uses these 9 phrases, they’re trying to deceive you

Descartes once said, “Some years ago I was struck by the large number of falsehoods that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by the highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them.

I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last.”

Well, this article isn’t going to be as dramatic as that, but we will follow in Descartes’ footsteps as far as deconstructing deception goes.

Why?

Because unfortunately, some people’s goal is to deceive you.

They want you to believe that your own perception of reality is faulty and that you should convert to their side lest you live in “falsehood” for eternity.

But we’re better than that. We won’t fall into the trap.

If someone uses these 9 phrases, they’re trying to deceive you.

1) “You remember it wrong”

Ah, the hallmark phrase of gaslighting.

People can deceive you for multiple reasons, but one of the main ones is to change what you believe you experienced in order to come out of the argument the better person.

Let’s say you got into a fight with your partner. In the heat of it all, they told you, “I never liked your friends anyway. They’re horrible.”

But once you bring it up later on, your partner just looks at you quizzically and says, “You remember it wrong. As far as I recall, you said you had your doubts about them, and I just agreed.”

Ugh.

Sometimes, I wish there was a way to replay what actually happened so that no one can play tricks with our memory. Unfortunately, you’ve just got to rely on your gut instinct instead.

2) “It just happened somehow”

Moving on to a much subtler kind of deception, “it just happened somehow” and other similar phrases that rely on passive verbs and expressions of uncertainty have one goal in common: they serve to diminish one’s responsibility over the situation.

I used to do this thing as a child where every time I accidentally broke something, I said, “It broke.”

I was automatically placing the responsibility upon an inanimate object instead of taking accountability of my actions.

Unfortunately, some people keep doing that well into adulthood. If someone cheats on you and says, “It just happened, I’m not sure how,” they’re trying to deceive you into thinking it’s not entirely their fault.

But it 100% is.

3) “I’m sorry you feel that way”

My favorite worst apology ever.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” is yet another form of deception. It relies on wordplay and subtleties in meaning – there’s a “sorry” there, so surely, it’s an apology?

Nope.

If someone says they are sorry you feel a certain way, they are not actually apologizing for what they’ve done. They might be deceiving you into thinking so, but in reality, the only thing they dislike about the situation is your reaction to their action.

A true apology lies in acknowledging what you’ve done, explaining what you’ve learned from it, saying why you now know it’s wrong, and apologizing for hurting the other person.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” is a cop-out.

4) “Do you really think I’d do such a thing?!”

Answering your question with another question is deceiving in and of itself – it’s an avoidance strategy – but throwing the topic of identity and knowledge into the mix is on another level.

When someone tells you, “Do you really think I’d do such a thing?” they’re relying on the kindness of your heart and your trust in who they are to mask their mistakes.

By asking you this, they’re essentially turning the blame in your direction. They’re saying, “Do you even know me at all? I am so offended!”

This strategy makes it much more challenging to get to the bottom of things.

But it’s not impossible. Instead of answering their question, shoot back with another one: “I don’t know, did you do it or not?”

5) “I didn’t! How dare you suggest that!”

When someone’s at their wit’s end and doesn’t know how to cover up their mistakes anymore, they might turn to aggression.

Firing back your own questions doesn’t work anymore, so they just take the stance of being extremely offended and keep repeating they haven’t done what you think they have (even though they have, indeed, done it).

A person with genuinely good intentions would react to doubts differently. They’d ask you why you think this way, reassure you of their authenticity, show proof, or admit their mistakes if they’ve committed any.

6) “You’re one to talk”

A swift change of topic that ends with attacking you is what’s called an ad hominem fallacy.

It means that the person you’re talking to isn’t addressing the argument in question (“I saw you at the park, why did you say you were out of town?”) but rather attacks the person making the statement (“You’re one to talk – you didn’t even pick up the phone yesterday”).

By doing this, they are shining the spotlight down on you, redirecting the focus of the conversation.

7) “So [insert an extreme opinion] is what you think, huh?”

An even more unnerving fallacy is the strawman. It’s a way to misrepresent someone’s argument and make them believe they’ve either expressed themselves wrong or their beliefs are way too extreme.

“I think we should limit our consumption of meat due to climate change.”

“Wow, so you just want the whole meat industry to fall apart overnight? Do you know how many people would lose their jobs? You’re such a radical!”

Huh. While this wasn’t what you meant at all, you’re now deceived into either defending or doubting yourself instead of discussing the real issue at hand.

8) “If you [insert an action], something terrible will happen soon!”

Politicians love this one. It’s called a slippery slope fallacy and it functions on the basis of creating an imaginary chain of events that will “inevitably” follow as a result of one small action.

Let’s look at a simple example: “If you don’t go to school today, you’ll miss on vital information about your upcoming exam, which means you’ll get an F, which means you’ll never go to university and will end up a miserable old man with nothing to do.”

This form of deception rides the waves of fear and anxiety, which is why it’s particularly dangerous.

If someone’s trying to scare you using the slippery slope fallacy, take note of what they’re doing and remind yourself it doesn’t reflect reality by any means.

9) “You can either do X or Y. There’s no other option”

Lastly, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking the world is limited and black-and-white.

A salesperson might make it sound like it’s either a Dyson or their own vacuum (and then proceed to give you the reasons why theirs is better), but they’re forgetting to mention that there are dozens of other brands on the market.

You’re almost never limited to two options. The world is vast and brimming with possibilities. Don’t forget that.

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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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