Not only is manipulation often subtle, it can come in all shapes and sizes.
Sometimes someone will use flattery to try to exert power over you. Other times they will try to pull the wool over your eyes and convince you their lies are the truth.
That’s why it’s important to be vigilant.
Here are 18 phrases master manipulators use to both charm and deceive you…
1) “I’ve never felt this way before”
Hearing that someone has never felt this way can be music to your ears.
It makes you feel instantly special.
But for a master manipulator, that can be part of the plan.
Holding you in higher esteem is one way they worm their way into your lives.
But once they’ve secured their place, they can quickly change their tune!
2) “I know it’s not been long, but I’ve totally fallen for you”
Whirlwind romances can sweep us off our feet. But we should be careful when it comes to feelings that progress very quickly.
The reality is that whilst lust and even obsession can, love doesn’t happen overnight.
So when someone torpedos you with sweet nothings too soon, there’s a word for it:
It’s important to try to keep our feet on the ground and remember that sincere feelings need time to develop.
3) “We’re perfect for one another”
If someone says this to you they are setting the scene for a harmonious relationship.
Maybe you also think the same, and it’s just an expression of your mutual compatibility.
But maybe you’re not so sure.
If you’ve been having doubts and someone pulls out this phrase, it sounds like they are trying to convince you.
4) “You know, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you”
Loyalty is something we’re all looking for.
But the truth is that it’s also:
- Earned over time as feelings grow
- Has it’s limits
In fact, healthy boundaries dictate that we won’t do “anything” for someone.
If someone uses a phrase like this, it’s almost as if they are trying to brainwash you.
It creates an ‘us against the world’ vibe. They may well be trying to win you over in order to gain your unwavering loyalty.
But be on the lookout for what exactly they may expect back in return.
5) “This was meant to be”
Implying your relationship is destiny or written in the stars can sound incredibly romantic.
Don’t we all want to believe in fate bringing us to the right person at the right time?
But there’s a danger with believing that your love is meant to be. It can blind you to red flags and warning signs.
You may become so focused on the idea that your love will triumph that you put up with all sorts of bad behavior along the way.
6) “The course of true love never did run smoothly”
I’ve heard this one used time and time again to justify shit in a relationship that nobody should have to put up with.
It’s not a testament to your love that you stick around, even when things are terrible. It is an indicator that you have some serious issues.
Particularly if this phrase comes early on, it may be used to convince you to stay when you should be running for the hills.
7) “I swear, I’ll never do it again”
People make mistakes. We know that nobody is perfect.
But it’s always worth giving pause for thought when someone promises you that it will never happen again.
For starters, how many times have they said that?
Because if it’s more than once you’d be smart to doubt them.
Pinning your hopes on a better future is a classic technique of master manipulators when they are trying to make amends.
8) “I can change, just give me another chance”
Sadly, when we really love someone we want to believe them when they tell us this.
I do think people can change, but even then, it doesn’t happen overnight.
And there are always circumstances when people simply don’t deserve another chance, regardless of whether they intend to change their ways.
For example, I had a friend whose abusive husband was always so apologetic and full of remorse after his violence.
Luckily, she eventually got away from his narcissistic hold over her.
He would beg her for “one more chance” and try to make her feel guilty.
And she clung on to the hope that he wanted to change and be a better man for far too long because of that.
9) “You know I didn’t mean it”
This is another phrase that master manipulators will throw at you to try to wriggle out of taking responsibility.
The hope is that they can convince you that the way they acted wasn’t the real them.
Whether you meant something or not, it doesn’t absolve you of your actions. Don’t let them try to convince you that it does.
10) “I only did it because you…”
The blame lies firmly in their corner.
But wait, all of a sudden they’ve shifted it back onto you.
How on earth did that happen?
By trying to deceive you into believing that it ‘takes two to tango’, so you clearly played a part in what they did.
But we cannot “make” anybody behave in a certain way. You cannot and should not shoulder the blame for their poor behavior.
11) “If you loved me you would do this for me”
Trying to bargain with your affections to put pressure on you is 100% manipulative.
Let’s turn this phrase around, because here’s the real truth:
If they really loved you, they would not ask you to do anything you do not feel comfortable with.
12) “If you loved me, you’d accept me for who I am”
This is a clever one, as on the surface it sounds somewhat reasonable.
We’re always being told that we should accept people for who they truly are.
That means taking the rough with the smooth and accepting we all have flaws.
But trying to change someone is not the same thing as having reasonable expectations of them.
If their behavior falls short of these expectations, don’t let them deceive you into believing you should be tolerating them.
13) “You’ve got it all wrong”
You walk in on them in a compromising position but they protest they’re not cheating, you’ve “got it all wrong”
They’ve been constantly putting you down lately and making snide remarks that undermine you. But when you call them out, they insist you’re misunderstanding their intentions.
Maybe you have “got it all wrong”, but maybe you haven’t.
In fact, maybe you’ve got it completely right, but they are still trying to deny it.
14) “You’re blowing this way out of proportion”
This phrase becomes deceitful when it is used to minimize perfectly valid feelings and reactions you may have.
It’s specifically designed to make you feel like the unreasonable one.
Much like the next phrases we’ll look at, this is the sort of thing a master manipulator says when they want you to question your entire way of seeing things.
15) “That’s not what happened”
It’s called gaslighting.
And it’s a form of psychological abuse where someone causes you to question your sanity, memories, or perception of reality.
Rather than admit something, the manipulator does everything in their power to convince you that you are wrong.
That could be denying things that have happened, or as we’ll see next, things that they said.
16) “I never said that”
You might think that it’s difficult to deny something you’ve said.
After all, they’ve said it, and you were both there to hear it. But it’s not so simple.
When you’re under the spell of a master manipulator you can feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust yourself.
If someone dismisses your recollection often enough, it can make you start to doubt it.
17) “I think you’re imagining things”
One of the cruelest things a master manipulator can do is try to play with your sanity.
Once an ex-boyfriend of mine who had been cheating on me pulled out this phrase.
I had strong feelings that something wasn’t right. Call it intuition but I was clearly picking up on signals and signs.
Yet when I tried to confront him, he opted for deceit and denial.
Rather than tell me the truth, he played it off as paranoia and an overactive imagination.
I eventually found out when a friend of mine spotted him openly cheating. Or maybe that was also just her imagination too?!
18) “You’re acting like a crazy person”
This isn’t just a putdown, it’s a truly damaging manipulative tactic.
Here’s what they are trying to do:
Paint you out as the unreasonable and even unhinged one. Meanwhile, they are rational and fair.
This instantly invalidates all of your feelings and simultaneously bolsters theirs.
Especially for women, labeling them “crazy” has been used for centuries in order to try to diminish their self-esteem and take away their power.
Both sweet and sour words can still be manipulative
It’s one of the reasons we don’t always see it when it happens. But people can try to get their own way by using different methods.
That’s why whether the phrases seem loving or not, if you have suspicions don’t ignore them.
Pay attention to your instincts to flush out master manipulators before they get their hooks into you.