6 phrases high-level manipulators use to win people over

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High Fidelity has got to be one of my favorite turn of the millennium movies. 

It’s all about this guy, Rob, who owns a record store, and basically, he’s the OG hipster (before they even were a thing!).

When we meet Rob, he is smack bang in the middle of trying to make sense of his messy, chaotic love life. Yep, who hasn’t been there?

The thing is, Rob is kind of a complex character—and by complex, I mean I need you to know that he manipulates people. 

And I think this is something viewers and fans tend to overlook about his character. But for real, when is he not twisting the truth and using women to get precisely what he wants?

Take Laura, his ex girlfriend. Even though he says he adores her and wants her back in his life, his actions tell a vastly different tale.

Rob keeps her hanging on by making her feel guilty and nostalgic for the past, even while he’s busy trying to pick up other women.

He also keeps details as light as humanly possible so he can twist how she feels and keep her around whenever he damn well feels like it.

His manipulative tactics boils down to one thing: Rob’s deep-rooted insecurities. He’s so scared of getting close to people that he plays these games to feel powerful. 

In the end, this leaves him feeling lonely and disconnected, showing how harmful and problematic his behavior really is.

If you think you might know a Rob of your own, here are six phrases they might say to manipulate you and win you over.

1) “Wow, you really know how to spin words, I could listen to you all day.”

In my humble experience, the most calculating, manipulative people are dab hands at making you feel like you are their number one priority. That’s right.

This means that they are able to shower you with compliments and feed your ego to make you feel invincible.

This might sound like: “Wow, you really know how to spin words, I could listen to you all day!” or some variation of that.

Then, before you are able to fully catch onto it, BAM! You have fallen right under their hypnotic, manipulative spell.

But here is something to keep in mind: this person is not genuinely interested in getting to know the real you—weeds and all. 

This might be difficult to take, but what they are doing here is idealizing you.

In other words, they are sculpting their own idea of you that suits them and their priorities. It’s downright selfish, is what it is.

2) “Your thoughts mean the world to me—your insights are like gold.”

If someone says to you “Your thoughts mean the world to me—your insights are like gold”, it might be time to get a tad analytical.

And I mean it, get a good old-fashioned Pukka pad and a quill. Do whatever you need to do to go deeper!

Then, ask yourself: is this charming, sweet person genuinely valuing what I have to say and treating it as a fully-formed perspective?

Or, are they just seeing it as a way to score something for themselves?

It’s also essential to pay attention to the context in which these compliments are given and find out whether the person’s actions truly align with what they are saying. 

It pays to question whether they are actively listening and engaging in meaningful discussions, or whether they are straight up using flattery as a means to an end.

The truth is that often, beneath flattery lies a subtle kind of manipulation, as well as an individual positioning themselves to take advantage.

Remember to pay attention to the consistency of their behavior—genuine appreciation for your insights should be consistent and not hinging upon external factors.

3) “You complete me.”

It’s Saturday night and you are spending time with someone you have been seeing romantically. Maybe for a few weeks, but more likely, it has been a few months.

All is going well, until they say three little words. 

No, I don’t mean that trio, I mean this one: “You complete me.”

Yeah, that old Jerry Maguire banger. Of course, this phrase sounds sugary sweet at first, but what does it all mean? Let’s dive in.

Okay, so at first glance, it implies that without you, the other person is somehow lacking or not whole, like a pod without peas inside it.

But if I am being totally honest (and why wouldn’t I be!) I think we all need to reject this mentality and check in with ourselves.

Let’s be real: are we really incomplete beings desperately in need of someone else to fill our gaps? Because I’m not so sure we are.

You see, I’m of the mindset that we as individuals are perfectly suited to thrive in our own completeness, and each one of us is inherently whole in our own right. Radical, I know.

So, if someone tells you these three words, I would go ahead and take it as a bit of a red flag.

Think about it. If someone 100% thinks they require you in order to be whole, what power does that give them over you? It’s simply not healthy.

Besides, love isn’t about completing each other, it’s about complementing one another. And you are definitely welcome to use that as a reminder/tattoo.

4) “I have a secret for you: I’ve never felt this way about anyone.”

Ah, all the things we all say when we are in love!

“I have a secret for you: I’ve never felt this way about anyone” might have to be one of those classic lines.

In my mind, this is the bold statement of bold statements. It is fully designed and orchestrated to make you feel special and golden—pretty nice, huh?

But when that particular someone plays the “I’ve never felt this way before” card, they are essentially putting you on a huge, high up pedestal.

And here is my two cents on that matter: kicking off a new relationship with this kind of declaration often is not viable, nor is it sustainable.

This chat is simply not about genuinely expressing adoration. More so, what it comes down to is manipulation and influence.

By having you under the impression that you are the single person who has ever made them feel this way, they are setting you up as the ultimate prize.

And when you idealize someone rather than actually value them for who they are, you in a way, dehumanize them.

5) “You make me want to be a better person—that’s the effect you have on me.”

We all want to know that we have changed someone for the better, and in turn, motivated them to take the steps necessary for positive growth.

But if you hear “You make me want to be a better person—that’s the effect you have on me” it might just set off alarm bells in your mind.

In short, it can sort of feel like they’re placing the burden of their self-improvement squarely on your shoulders.

When in reality, we should all be responsible for our own individual growth, without needing to unfairly rely on others or expect them to change us. That’s just not possible.

Sure, while we can certainly inspire each other, lift one another up, and all that lovely stuff, personal development is ultimately up to us and us alone.

So, with this phrase, it’s as if this manipulative person is suggesting you have some kind of magical power or skill set capable of transforming them.

And frankly, you are not this fantastical creature (sorry). Rather, you are a real, fully-formed person with aspirations of your very own.

It is totally unfair for someone to pick you out as their personal life coach without your express consent.

Remember, you are responsible for your journey, and not theirs.

6) “You know, my ex was never like this.”

Okay, so who here likes people unnecessarily dredging up the past?

Not you? Thought so! So, if the person you are seeing turns to you and says: “You know, my ex was never like this.” you might have a wee little problem on your hands.

Of course, looking back on exes—in both a positive and negative light—can be a pretty standard way of getting to know someone new. After all, we all have a past.

But this… well this feels off. It’s as if they are holding up an invisible standard, comparing you to someone who is no longer in the picture.

But here is clincher. This is not about the ex. Nope, not one iota.

By them sprinkling this line into the chat, they are actually subtly trying to twist the situation and manipulate it in their favor.

You see, it’s handy for them to want you to feel like you’re not quite measuring up to the hopes they had.

And that’s where the risk comes in. Manipulators have a sensational ability to make you doubt yourself, because whenever you are feeling shaky or unsure, they are better poised to be the one holding all the cards.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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