14 phrases manipulative people use to shift blame onto others

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

If you were ever “lucky” enough to deal with a manipulator, then you know how much they love playing mind games and shifting blame onto others. 

That way, they never have to face the consequences and come on top of every confrontation.

But once you know what to look out for, you realize manipulators love using certain phrases to shift blame onto others.

So, let’s see what they are!

1) “You always do this.”

When someone says, “You always do this,” they’re blowing things out of proportion by saying “always,” making it seem like you’re constantly messing up. 

It’s a sneaky way to avoid talking about the actual problem and makes it tough for you to defend yourself because it’s so vague. 

Their sneaky goal is to paint your behavior as a non-stop issue.

Try politely asking for examples or specific instances where they believe you’ve behaved this way. This shifts the conversation from a general accusation to concrete details.

They’re going to dig their own hole in no time. 

2) “You’re the one who started this.”

When someone tells you that you started something, they’re trying to point the finger at you as the troublemaker. 

It’s a sly way of portraying it like you’re the one who kicked off the whole argument or issue. 

In reality, they’ve done something wrong or hurtful, but by saying this, they’re hoping you’ll forget all about that and focus on defending yourself instead. 

They’re dodging responsibility for their own actions and putting it all on you. So, watch out for this one – it’s a classic move to shift the blame away from them and onto you.

3) “It’s not my fault, it’s yours.”

I mean, it doesn’t get more obvious than this direct statement. The manipulator refuses to acknowledge any misbehavior on their part and instead accuses you or others of being exclusively responsible. 

For example, your partner forgets your anniversary. When you tell them how disappointed you are, they say, “It’s not my fault, it’s yours for not reminding me or making a big deal out of it.” 

Basically, they’re deflecting their forgetfulness onto you. 

4) “I’m the victim here, not you.”

Imagine this scenario: You’re in a disagreement with someone, and they suddenly say, “I’m the one suffering here, not you.” 

They’re flipping the script, implying you’re the one causing all the trouble. In reality, they’re trying to paint themselves as the innocent party, shifting the blame onto you and making it look like you’re the source of all their problems. 

It’s another sly way of avoiding responsibility for their actions and making you feel like the bad guy. 

So, be aware of this tactic and don’t let it cloud your judgment in such situations.

5) “You should have known better.”

When someone says, “You should have known better,” they’re, in fact, pointing a finger and saying, “You should’ve seen this coming and stopped it from happening.” 

They want to portray the problem as it could’ve been avoided if you had just been more clairvoyant or cautious. 

They want to make you feel like it’s your fault for not being able to predict the future or prevent the issue in the first place. 

Again, reality is something completely different because we can’t always foresee every twist and turn in life, and nobody should blame us for not having a crystal ball.

6) “You’re too sensitive.”

“You’re too sensitive” is a backhanded comment that some people use to make you question your own thoughts and emotions.

They’re trying to tell you that your feelings don’t matter, that you’re overreacting, or that you should toughen up.

Rather than owning up to their actions, they’re making you doubt your emotions. So, if you ever hear this phrase, remember that it’s essential to trust your feelings and not let someone manipulate you into thinking you’re wrong for having them. 

Your emotions matter, and you have every right to express them.

7) “You’re making a big deal out of nothing,” and “You’re just overreacting.”

You know those times when you’re really upset about something, and you try to talk to someone about it, but they respond with something like, “You’re making a big deal out of nothing” or “You’re just overreacting”? 

Well, these phrases are dismissive and aim to downplay what you’re going through.

Similar to accusing someone of being too sensitive, this tactic minimizes your emotional responses. 

By suggesting that you’re overreacting, manipulators try to downplay your feelings as unjustified, thereby deflecting blame.

8) “I wouldn’t have acted that way if you hadn’t.”

This is like when someone says, “I wouldn’t have done that if you didn’t do this.” 

They’re blaming their actions on yours, so it seems like they had no control over how they acted. 

It’s a way for them to justify what they did by making it your fault, as if they had no other option but to react that way because of what you did.

Once, a friend and I had a disagreement. It got heated, and, in one moment, he said, “I wouldn’t have yelled at you if you hadn’t criticized me in front of everyone.” 

He was trying to blame my criticism for his overblown reaction. As it was my fault.

But here’s another interesting phrase:

9) “I can’t believe you’re blaming me.”

When someone says, “I can’t believe you’re blaming me,” they’re pulling a classic guilt-trip move

They act all shocked, creating confusion and questioning if you’re being unfair or unreasonable. 

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they’re subtly trying to pass the blame back to you as if they’re the innocent ones in the situation. 

It’s a sneaky way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and make you feel like you’re the one in the wrong. 

So, it’s essential to stay aware of these tactics in relationships and not let them play with your emotions, right?

10) “I couldn’t help it, you made me do it.”

What they’re really saying is that they’re not taking responsibility for their actions. They’re trying to create a situation where their reaction was forced by what you did or said. 

In other words, they’re blaming you for their behavior and not admitting that they had a choice in how they reacted. 

In reality, we all have control over our actions, and this statement is a way for them to avoid admitting their own role in the situation. It’s yet another way to shift the blame onto you.

I mean, this could be the cheater’s last words, couldn’t they?

11) “Why do you keep causing problems?”

This phrase is a way to portray the other person as the instigator of issues. It’s a classic move to make you look like the troublemaker

The manipulator wants to disguise things into appearing like they’re constantly dealing with your mess, conveniently ignoring their own part in any issues: 

They’re innocent, and you’re the one making life difficult. 

Recognizing this tactic can help you preserve your peace of mind and avoid getting caught in a blame game.

And what about this banger?

12) “This wouldn’t be an issue if you were different.”

When someone says, “This wouldn’t be a problem if you were different,” they’re basically telling you to change to fit their expectations.

This puts the blame on you like all the problems are there because you don’t meet their standards. 

But it’s important to remember that it’s okay to be yourself and not feel pressured to change just to avoid issues with someone else. 

We build healthy relationships on understanding and compromise, not on one person demanding the other to be different.

13) “You’re too paranoid.”

Imagine you’re in a situation where you have some doubts or suspicions about someone’s behavior, and instead of addressing your concerns, they hit you with the “you’re too paranoid” line. 

It can make you second-guess yourself and wonder if you’re being too anxious or too sensitive. 

But don’t fall for it – trust your instincts and communicate your concerns openly. Manipulators use this tactic to deflect blame and keep you in the dark.

14) “You’re the one who’s always wrong.”

When someone tells you this, they’re basically saying, “Hey, it’s never my fault; it’s always your fault.” 

They’re blaming you for every little hiccup or problem that comes up. 

It can make you feel like you’re constantly in the hot seat as if you can never do anything right. 

This phrase is all about shifting the blame away from themselves and pointing the finger squarely at you. 

So, next time you hear it, remember that it’s a classic way for manipulators to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

Final thoughts 

Recognizing these manipulative phrases and understanding the tactics behind them is super important in keeping your relationships healthy.

It’s like having a radar for when someone’s trying to mess with your feelings.

Don’t be afraid to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s not cool,” when someone’s trying to put the blame on you unfairly. 

By doing this, you’re looking out for yourself and ensuring you build relationships on honesty and respect.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

If you want to be happy in life, start ignoring these 8 expectations from society

People who lack self-awareness frequently say these 11 phrases without realizing their impact