10 phrases manipulative people use to blame others for their actions

Ever felt like you’re always the one at fault, no matter the situation? That somehow, every argument ends with you apologizing, even when you’re not sure why? 

Well, you might be dealing with a master of manipulation. 

They have a toolkit of phrases designed to shift blame, making you question your reality. It’s a sneaky way to keep you off balance. 

Recognizing these 10 phrases is the first step in standing your ground. 

Let’s dive into the words that should ring alarm bells, so you can protect yourself from being unfairly blamed again.

1) “If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to respond like I did.”

If you’ve ever dealt with a manipulative person, you’ve surely heard this one!

It’s a slick way someone might try to dodge the spotlight from their own misstep, nudging the blame onto you instead

It sounds like they had no choice, right? Like you’re the one calling the shots on their actions. 

But nobody has that power over someone — everyone has full responsibility over their own behavior. This phrase is just their attempt to wriggle out of owning up to their behavior by trying to make you the bad guy who started everything. 

Remember, you’re not a master puppeteer — no matter what anyone else said or did, they are in full control of how they respond. 

2) “You’re too sensitive.”

Ever opened up about how something made you feel, only to be told you’re too sensitive?

This isn’t just about dismissing your emotions; it’s a sneaky way to shift the focus from their actions to your reaction. 

Think of it this way: if someone steps on your toe and you say “ouch,” blaming your pain on being too sensitive misses the point entirely — they stepped on your toe! 

Your feelings are valid, no matter how much someone tries to paint them as an overreaction. 

It’s their responsibility to understand the effect their words have on other people and make sure they respect other people’s boundaries. 

Your emotions are your compass, guiding you through what treatment you accept and what you don’t — don’t let anyone make you doubt your right to feel upset. 

3) “You shouldn’t push my buttons.”

Have you ever been blamed for someone else’s blow-up with this phrase

Suddenly, it’s like you’re a mastermind sitting in front of a control panel to their mind, making them decide to say or do hurtful things. It’s incredible how much power they’re giving away with this phrase, really!

But let’s be serious for a second. Even if this is a typical way for them to act, and you know the way they are — you’re still not responsible for their behavior. 

It’s on them to manage their reactions, not on you to tiptoe around in fear of setting them off. 

Everyone always has a choice, no matter their “usual” way of being or how often they make a certain mistake. 

Don’t let this manipulation make you second-guess standing up for yourself or expressing your thoughts. Your voice matters, and you shouldn’t have to mute it just to keep the peace.

4) “You’re the only one who has a problem with this.”

When someone tells you this manipulative phrase, it’s like they’re isolating you from everyone else and painting your concerns as overreactions.  

This isn’t just about making you doubt yourself; it’s a way to silence you by suggesting that since no one else is complaining, the issue must be with you, and you’re the outcast.

They’re cleverly using human’s need to belong, and trying to use the power of numbers — but there’s a good chance, it’s not even true.

But even if it’s true that you’re the only one speaking up, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It takes courage to voice dissent, especially when it feels like you’re going against the grain. 

Trust your instincts and stand firm in your perspective. Your viewpoint is valid, even if you’re standing alone in it. Don’t let this tactic wear down your confidence in what you know to be true.

5) “You never listen to me, so I had to take drastic measures.”

Hearing this from someone can be jarring. It’s a declaration that somehow, their extreme actions are your fault for not being open to their words. 

But here’s the crucial factor they are ignoring: communication is a two-way street, and understanding each other requires effort from both sides. 

They’re accusing you of not listening, but how well are they communicating?

What’s more, taking drastic actions instead of at least trying is completely unreasonable and unfair.

It practically sets both people up to lose, which is not what any kind of relationship should be about. 

Remember, healthy relationships thrive on mutual respect and understanding, not blame and ultimatums for being heard.

6) “I only said that because I was upset.”

Ever heard someone justify their hurtful words with this phrase? It’s as if they think their emotional state gives them a free pass to be unkind. 

But common sense tells us emotions are not an excuse for causing harm. We all get upset, but we’re also responsible for how we express those feelings. 

By attributing their harshness to being upset, they’re dodging accountability for what they’ve said or done. 

It’s important to recognize this maneuver for what it is — a way to make you feel responsible for their actions, when in reality, everyone has the power to choose their words, upset or not. 

7) “You’re making me out to be something I’m not.”

When faced with criticism, a manipulator might say, “You’re making me out to be something I’m not”.

Suddenly, it’s not about their actions; it’s about your supposedly flawed perception or purposeful distortion of who they are.

This tactic is a classic deflection, aimed at undermining your confidence in your own judgment.

It shifts the focus from their behavior to your interpretation of it, suggesting you’re the one with the issue, not them.

Remember, acknowledging someone’s actions and their impact on you doesn’t mean you’re misrepresenting them — it means you’re holding up a mirror to their behavior and the effects it has on others.

Nobody can argue with how you feel — and if they dismiss it with this phrase, the real problem lies in their empathy and self-reflection.

8) “You know I didn’t mean it that way; you’re twisting my words.”

Have you ever been told you’re twisting someone’s words? 

It’s a quick sidestep, making it seem like any hurt you felt was just a big misunderstanding on your part.

Suddenly, you’re not the wronged party; you’re the one at fault for not getting their ‘true’ meaning, or worse, purposefully distorting it. 

But communication is about how our words land, not just what we think we’re saying. When someone uses this line, they’re not taking responsibility for the impact of their words. 

As I’ve said already, it’s crucial to remember that your understanding and feelings are valid. 

Misinterpretations can happen, but they shouldn’t be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card every time someone doesn’t want to face the music for what they’ve said.

9) “Stop being so upset, you’re ruining the mood.”

This is another way manipulators deflect attention from their actions by making you the problem. 

It’s powerful because we know our emotions do have an effect on others — and of course you don’t want to bring everybody else down.

It’s as if your feelings are an inconvenience, an unwelcome guest at the party. 

This phrase not only invalidates your emotions but also places undue pressure on you to suppress them for the sake of harmony. 

The truth is, your feelings are a natural response, and expressing them is a part of being human. 

No one has the right to police your emotions or make you feel guilty for how you feel. 

It’s essential to stand firm in your right to feel and express emotions, regardless of the manipulator’s attempts to maintain a facade of joviality at your expense.

10) “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t challenge me on this.”

Ever been hit with this last phrase? It’s a heavy-handed way to say that real love means never questioning or disagreeing. 

Suddenly, your concern or different viewpoint isn’t a sign of engagement; it’s painted as a lack of care.

But as you surely already know, caring deeply for someone doesn’t mean blind agreement to everything they say or do. True care involves honesty, dialogue, and sometimes, tough conversations.

This phrase is designed to make you second-guess standing up for yourself or expressing a differing opinion. But never forget that your voice matters, and real love strengthens through understanding and respect, not through silencing dissent. 

Don’t let guilt silence your perspective. 

Breaking free from the blame game

Recognizing these phrases is your first step towards not falling into manipulative traps. It’s about understanding your worth and knowing when to draw the line. 

Remember, healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, honesty, and understanding — not guilt, blame, or silencing your voice. 

Empower yourself with this knowledge, and you’ll find the strength to stand firm, respond wisely, and nurture relationships that uplift and support you, not those that seek to undermine your confidence.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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