9 phrases manipulative people use when you finally stand up for yourself

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Standing up for yourself can be a daunting task, especially when you’re dealing with manipulative people.

You know those people who seem to have a knack for twisting words, making you question your own sanity?

Those interactions can leave you feeling drained, confused, and downright frustrated.

But taking that stand, asserting your boundaries is a crucial step towards self-care and mental wellbeing.

But what happens when you finally gather the courage to firmly plant your feet and speak up?

Well, manipulative people have a few tricks up their sleeves and specific phrases they use when they feel their control slipping away.

In this article, we’re going to explore 8 of these common phrases.

1) “You’re overreacting”

In the world of manipulation, this phrase is a classic.

You’ve finally mustered up the courage to voice your concerns, and in response, you hear “You’re overreacting.”

It’s a blatant attempt to discredit your feelings and experiences.

And it’s designed to make you second guess yourself.

The manipulator wants to make it seem as if your reaction is unwarranted or exaggerated.

They want you to believe that the issue isn’t their behavior, but your response to it.

Remember, it’s a common tactic used by manipulative people.

They thrive on making you feel uncertain and off-balance.

If you hear this phrase when you stand up for yourself, remember it for what it is: manipulation.

And be proud of yourself for having the courage to assert your boundaries.

2) “I was just joking”

Yeah, right. Ever heard of gaslighting?

It’s a psychological manipulation technique where the manipulator makes you question your perception of reality.

And “I was just joking” is a textbook example of this.

Here’s how it works:

You gather all your strength to address something that’s been bothering you.

But instead of acknowledging your concerns, they brush it off as a joke.

Suddenly, you’re left wondering if you misunderstood the situation.

Maybe they didn’t mean to hurt you?

But here’s the kicker:

It’s a way for them to deflect responsibility and make you feel like you’re the one with the problem.

After all, who takes a joke so seriously, right?

Don’t fall for it. If their ‘joke’ hurt you, it’s valid to express that and expect an apology, not a dismissal.

3) “I didn’t mean to hurt you”

On the surface, this phrase might seem like an apology.

But when coming from a manipulative person, it’s anything but that.

It’s interesting to see how it subtly ties in with the previous point.

Remember the ‘joke’ that hurt you? Now they’re saying they didn’t mean to cause any harm.

It’s as if they’re trying to repaint the picture, making themselves appear as the innocent party.

While it’s true that people can unintentionally hurt others, manipulative people often use this phrase as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

It’s their way of avoiding responsibility for their actions.

Instead of a sincere apology or effort to change their behavior, they’re essentially saying: “I’ll do what I want, and you don’t get to feel hurt because I didn’t mean it.”

But remember, intent doesn’t negate impact.

And if someone’s actions are causing you pain, it’s essential to address it, regardless of their ‘intentions’.

4) “Don’t you trust me?”

As you probably already know, trust is a crucial element in any relationship.

Manipulative people are well aware of this.

That’s why they often use the phrase “Don’t you trust me?” when you start standing up for yourself.

This question, seemingly innocent, is loaded with guilt-inducing power.

The manipulator uses it as a tool to make you question your judgment and feel guilty for doubting them.

In a healthy relationship, trust is earned and respected.

It’s not wielded as a weapon to silence concerns or objections.

So next time someone responds to your legitimate concerns with “Don’t you trust me?”, remember that it’s not about trust at all. It’s about manipulation. 

Don’t let them use your trust as a tool to undermine your feelings and experiences.

5) “If you really cared about me, you would…”

This is a powerful manipulation phrase, often used to guilt-trip you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with.

It typically follows this pattern:

  • “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t question me.”
  • “If you really loved me, you would do this for me.”
  • “If you were a true friend, you wouldn’t bring this up.”

Each of these phrases is designed to make you feel guilty and question your feelings towards them.

It’s as if your love or care is conditional on doing whatever they want.

But that’s not how genuine relationships work.

Love and respect are not bargaining chips to be used to manipulate someone into submission.

Remember, it’s okay to say no, even to people you care about.

Your feelings and comfort are just as important.

6) “You’re so sensitive”

I remember when I first heard this phrase.

It was from someone I cared about, and it cut deep.

It’s a phrase manipulative people use to belittle your feelings and make you feel small.

The implication is that you’re overreacting or that you’re too weak to handle the ‘real world’.

But let’s get one thing straight:

There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive.

In fact, it’s a strength. It means we’re in tune with our feelings and empathetic towards others.

When we hear “You’re so sensitive”, it’s important to remember that our emotions are valid.

We have every right to express our discomfort or dissatisfaction.

So next time someone uses this phrase, let’s remind ourselves of our worth.

We aren’t ‘too sensitive’. We’re human, and our feelings matter.

7) “Can’t you take a hint?”

Imagine you’re in a discussion with someone, trying to assert your boundaries.

All of a sudden, they say: “Can’t you take a hint?”

It’s a phrase designed to make you feel dense or slow.

As if you’re not intelligent enough to understand their ‘subtle’ signals.

But have you ever stopped to think why they’re using hints instead of clear communication?

Why are they avoiding a direct conversation?

It’s another manipulation tactic.

By making you feel like the ‘dumb’ one, they’re trying to shift focus from their actions.

Always remember, clear communication forms the foundation of any healthy relationship.

You’re not expected to decipher vague hints or read minds. 

If someone uses this phrase, it’s not a reflection on your intelligence, but on their unwillingness to communicate openly and honestly.

8) “I’m the only one who truly cares about you”

Years ago, a close friend of mine was in a manipulative relationship.

She was isolated from her loved ones, and the person she was with used this phrase constantly. 

You see, this is a phrase manipulative people use to isolate you from your support system.

By making you believe that they’re the only one who truly cares, they aim to cut off your connections with others.

The goal is to make you dependent on them for emotional support, making it harder for you to leave or stand up for yourself.

In my friend’s case, it was a long and painful journey, but she eventually realized that this was a manipulation tactic. 

She reached out to her support system, and with their help, she managed to leave the toxic relationship.

Remember, it’s healthy and necessary to have a network of supportive relationships.

No one person should be your only source of care and support. 

If someone tries to convince you otherwise, it’s a red flag.

Be aware, reach out, and know that you are not alone.

9) “You’ll never find someone like me”

The final phrase manipulative people often use is: “You’ll never find someone like me.”

It’s a bold and rather arrogant statement, isn’t it?

But it’s not meant to be a simple pat on their own back. It’s a threat.

A manipulative tool designed to make you fear losing them and being alone.

They want you to believe that they’re unique, irreplaceable.

That no one else could ever ‘put up with you’ or ‘love you’ the way they do.

But here’s the truth:

No one deserves to be manipulated or treated poorly, regardless of how ‘special’ the person doing it claims to be.

And guess what? There are plenty of people out there who will treat you with the respect and kindness you deserve.

You definitely don’t need someone who uses fear and manipulation to keep you around.

That’s the most important thing to remember when dealing with manipulative people: You deserve better.

And standing up for yourself is the first step towards finding that better.

What now?

Now that you’re aware of these phrases, what’s the next step?

  • Recognize: Start by recognizing when these phrases are being used. Awareness is the first step towards change.
  • Reflect: Reflect on how these phrases make you feel. If they belittle, invalidate, or guilt-trip you, it’s a sign that something’s not right.
  • React: Decide on an appropriate reaction. This could be asserting your boundaries, seeking support from trusted individuals, or seeking professional help if necessary.

Remember, standing up for yourself is not just about confronting others.

It’s about honoring your feelings and acknowledging your worth.

You deserve respect. You deserve to be heard. And you definitely deserve relationships free from manipulation.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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