8 phrases manipulative people use to make you feel guilty


We humans are very intelligent.

Sometimes, we just get a gut feeling that something isn’t right about someone we know.

Sometimes, it happens quickly. Other times, it takes a while for us to catch on to what’s happening to us.

But however long it takes, the feeling is the same.

We can just tell when something isn’t quite right.

If you’re here reading this, you’ve probably got this feeling right now about someone you know.

You might be reading into some of their behavior, or just feeling a little uneasy about some of the things they’ve said recently.

If that sounds about right, let’s find out for sure whether your suspicions are correct.

Here are 8 phrases manipulative people use to make you feel guilty – so you can put an end to their control over you once and for all.

1) “You made me do this”

Repeat after me: You are the only person who is responsible for your behavior.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s behavior.

No matter what you say or do, the person who did the doing decided to do it. Not you or anyone else.

When a person tries to blame you for something they’ve done, it’s a manipulation tactic designed to make you feel guilty for their actions.

For example, a manipulative person may say something like:

“You made me cheat on you because you’ve gained weight”.


“I wouldn’t have cheated if you looked after your appearance more”.

But the reality is that it isn’t your fault at all. It’s their fault. They did it and they are the only ones who need to take responsibility for their actions – not you.

2) “If you loved me, you’d do it”

An important thing to remember in life is that you can love someone and still have boundaries.

Just because you care deeply about someone, you don’t have to do things you’re not comfortable doing.

For example, if you care for a friend, you don’t have to give them all of your paycheck every month just because they ask for it.

Or if you love your partner, you don’t have to sleep with them whenever they want if you’re not in the mood.

Why? Because you’re allowed to have your own boundaries in love, friendships, and relationships. And how you love someone isn’t defined by how much you give them.

But a manipulative person won’t like it when you say no to them. And they’ll try to make you feel guilty for having boundaries.

They might say:

“If you loved me, you’d give me all your money instead of being selfish and spending it on yourself”.

Which is downright manipulative!

3) “You don’t want to hurt me, do you?”

Manipulative people play on your emotions to get you to do what they want.

Chances are, they know you’re an empathetic and caring person who doesn’t like hurting people you love.

So, they’ll use your empathy against you to get you to do what they want.

Say you were due to go out with friends and your partner was jealous about it. They might say to you:

“If you go, it’ll hurt me. You don’t want to hurt me, do you?”.

And because you don’t want to hurt them, you might not go out with your friends. But this is toxic behavior from someone who is trying to manipulate you.

Maintaining your own friendships is important for your well-being, physical health, and even your romantic relationships, according to experts.

And if someone tries to stop you from seeing your friends or family because it’ll “hurt them”, this is toxic and controlling behavior.

4) “I’ve already said I’m sorry, what more do you want from me?”

Have you ever been in a situation when someone apologizes to you for doing something, but you don’t feel better?

I know I have.

An ex-boyfriend of mine would consistently do things to hurt me. And each time, he’d just apologize and would expect that to be enough.

He didn’t want to talk about it or didn’t want to know why it hurt. He didn’t even want to explain why he did it – so I could understand his point of view.

It took a while for me to figure out that it was because he had no intention of changing his behavior. Why would he when he could just apologize and get away with it every time?

If someone says this to you, it could be a very bad sign. It could be a way of making you feel guilty for feeling hurt by something they’ve done – and for not getting over it quickly enough.

5) “You’re making a scene”

This one can cut deep. It’s similar in effect to someone telling you that you’re “embarrassing them” when you’re with them.

Telling someone they are making a scene when they’re upset is an awful thing to say to someone anyway, but it’s also very manipulative.

It can be used as a tactic to get you to keep quiet and not show any emotion about something they’ve done to hurt you.

Say a partner tells you something spiteful at a party and you start crying. They tell you:

“You’re making a scene” – and you quickly stop crying and get on with socializing at the party.

Which is exactly what they want. They want you to feel embarrassed about your behavior – when really, they should be the ones embarrassed by theirs.

6) “Why can’t you be more like [other person]?”

Another thing manipulative people do is compare you to others in your lives – and not in a good way.

Say you’ve recently gained weight and your partner says to you:

“Why can’t you be more like [person’s name]? They’re very sporty and always manage to stay on top of their weight”.

This is a manipulative phrase designed to make you feel guilty and ashamed of the person you are. To make you feel like you’re not good enough – and other people are better than you are.

7) “Are you calling me a liar?”

There’s a moral consensus that it’s bad to be a liar. Lying is one of those things that most people dislike.

But everyone lies on occasion. And it’s generally acceptable to tell white lies in certain situations – like to protect someone, avoid hurting them, or keep a secret.

And just because someone tells a few white lies, that doesn’t mean they are a “liar”.

But calling someone a liar is not considered a nice thing to do. It means that you’re questioning their integrity and honesty.

And not even a liar will like that. So, they’ll try to make you feel guilty for calling them something so awful – and will question whether that’s really what you’re doing.

8) “I guess I’m just a bad person in your eyes”

“Just because someone does something bad, that doesn’t make them a bad person”.

This is a narrative we’re often told, but it can be very harmful when used in the wrong context.

It can be used very innocently and appropriately. Like if you made a mistake at work or slipped up and said something to hurt someone that you later regret, that doesn’t make you a bad person.

But it can also be used to explain away someone’s behavior when they are, in fact, being very toxic.

Because someone can still hurt you even though they’re not a “bad person”.

Yet a manipulative person will disregard your hurt and attempt to make you feel guilty for calling them (someone you care about) a “bad person” – instead of addressing the issue.

Final thoughts

Spotting a manipulative person isn’t always easy.

After all, they are manipulative – and their goal is to make you question yourself instead of them.

But what a manipulative person hates most is when you wise up to their behavior.

When you realize someone is manipulating you (at least trying to), you take back your control over the situation.

And you can do whatever it is that needs to be done – whether that’s cutting them out of your life, calling them out, or just being cautious whenever you speak to them.

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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