10 phrases manipulative people use to play the victim

Manipulative people are just the worst.

They can’t stand being wrong or not getting their own way.

So, they’ll say certain things to play the victim. To make you feel sorry for them – usually, so they end up getting what they want.

Or to get them off the hook after doing something bad or something that’s hurt you!

Think someone might be trying to manipulate you?

Watch out for these 10 phrases manipulative people use to play the victim – so you can avoid their scheming tactics and look after yourself.

1) “You must hate me”

No matter how mad you are at someone, it’s hard to hate them instantly. Especially when that person is a good friend, a parent, or a partner.

They could cheat on you, steal from you, or say the most horrible things. But because you have a history together, the love you have for them doesn’t immediately disappear.

Manipulators know that hatred is a complex emotion, especially when you loved them once before.

So they’ll say this “You must hate me” phrase to confuse you.

They want you to feel sorry for them, to say that you don’t hate them. They want your reassurance. And they want you to feel bad about being so angry with them.

2) “I thought you were different”

This one cuts deep. I had a guy say this to me once and it was truly awful.

We went on one date and when the spark wasn’t there and I told him that in the nicest way possible, he gave me the classic, “I thought you were different” line.

What he was alluding to was that I was a bad person or “just like everyone else” because I didn’t think a romantic relationship was on the cards for us.

Luckily, I didn’t get offended. But his intention was to offend. It was to manipulate me into feeling bad for rejecting him.

When really, it’s just what happens when dating. Which sucks, I know. Rejection sucks. But you just have to get over it, unfortunately.

Not manipulate the person who’s rejecting you or make them feel bad for you…

3) “I guess it’s my fault, like always”

You’ll usually hear this phrase from a manipulator whenever you’re in an argument. Or if they’ve done something bad and you’re confronting them about it.

And it’s manipulative for one main reason. It makes you feel like you’re the problem, rather than them (when this isn’t true).

This phrase can turn any conversation around to make it seem like you’re being irrational, a serial complainer, in a bad mood, and/or “the person who does no wrong”.

Instead of the conversation being about the issue or the bad thing they’ve done…

4) “It’s OK, I never get what I want anyway”

Relationships take some compromise. My boyfriend and I compromise all the time.

Like when his car was in the shop, we had to take turns using my car. Someone would lose out, but we tried to keep it fair.

Which is what you should always try to do in a healthy relationship.

What you shouldn’t do, however, is make the other person feel guilty every time you sacrifice something.

Say my boyfriend took the car and I said, “It’s OK, I never get what I want anyway”, that would be manipulative.

Why? Because I would be making him feel bad for taking the car. And about everything else he does for himself!

The same rule applies to anything else. And if your partner, parent, or friend says this whenever they have to sacrifice something, it might be manipulative behavior.

5) “If you really cared about me, you’d do it”

Using somebody’s love against them is the lowest of lows. And it’s a low that top-notch manipulators won’t hesitate to use when the situation calls for it!

No matter what your relationship is with this person – partner, parent, or otherwise – you’re allowed to have boundaries.

You’re allowed to say no to things they ask or want you to do if you don’t want to do them.

But a manipulator won’t like you saying no to them. They also won’t like the fact that they aren’t getting their own way.

So they’ll say, “If you really cared about me, you’d do it”.

They do this to make it sound like the fact that you don’t want to have sex, lend them money, cancel your social plans, or anything else means you “don’t love them”.

Which of course, isn’t true. It’s just something they’ll say to try to get you to do what they want.

6) “I’m doing this for your own good”

PSA: When someone tries to tell you they’re doing something for your own good, chances are, they’re lying!

They’re actually doing it for their own good, instead.

How do you know it’s manipulative? Well, unless you’re a child, you usually know what’s best for you and what isn’t.

If someone claims to be doing something, like breaking up with you, firing you, taking your possessions away, making you end a friendship, or getting control of your finances, “for your own good” – it’s probably a lie.

They’re just trying to manipulate you into thinking these things will benefit your life. When in reality, it’ll just benefit them.

7) “I don’t know why you put up with me”

This is another classic phrase used by manipulative people.

I know it sounds like a compliment. Like you’re an angel sent from above and this amazing person who “puts up with them”!

But it certainly isn’t.

Why? Because it’s designed to distract you from the bad they’ve done. To manipulate you into thinking they appreciate you as a person.

When really, they just appreciate that you keep letting things go.

And that you’ve let them get away with how much they’ve hurt you or crossed your boundaries in the past…

8) “I don’t deserve you”

This is another line a manipulative person will use if they’ve wronged you in any way. They might have been a crappy friend, an unfaithful partner, or just a bad partner.

Either way, when you offer your forgiveness or take them back, they’ll use the classic, “I don’t deserve you” line.

They’re right. They don’t deserve you, and even they know it!

They know they’ve done wrong by you and that you deserve better from them.

But because they lack care and just want to do what they want, they say this to get you to feel sorry for them – rather than focus on what they did wrong.

9) “I know I’m a bad person”

This one is also pretty bad. In the wrong situation, it can be very manipulative and said in a way that makes them the victim, rather than the person in the wrong.

Why? I’ll explain.

When you love someone and they hurt you, you don’t think they’re a bad person.

You think they’ve done something bad and you want to talk to them about it.

What you don’t want to do is make them feel bad about themselves. If they do feel bad about themselves, it can make you feel guilty. Which is why them saying this is manipulative.

It gets you to comfort them and reassure them that they aren’t a bad person – which takes the focus off what they’ve done to hurt you!

10) “It’s fine, nobody cares about me anyway”

In certain situations, this phrase definitely comes across as a bit manipulative.

Sure, it could just be said by someone who struggles with their self-esteem.

But it can also be said intentionally to get you to (unjustly) comfort and feel sorry for this person.

You’ll know if it’s manipulative if they say this after you tell them you’re doing something normal (like going out with your friends), meaning they have to stay home alone on a Saturday night.

Or if they say it after you decline plans, refuse to lend them large amounts of money, or set a boundary with them.

In these kinds of situations, you’ll know it’s manipulative.

In other situations, it could just be their lack of self-esteem coming out.

Final thoughts

Playing the victim is a tactic used by manipulative people all the time.

It’s how they gain control over you and get away with bad things they’ve done (like cheat on you or say something cruel).

Sometimes, manipulative people are so used to saying these things, they don’t even realize they’re playing the victim. In fact, sometimes they don’t even realize they’re being manipulative!

But that doesn’t make their behavior any better or more justified.

It’s not your job to “fix” people. But pointing out that they’re being manipulative or playing the victim could be helpful for this person – especially if you’re in a relationship with them or care for them deeply.

Just remember to always look after yourself and put yourself first when it matters.

Otherwise, you could still end up playing into the manipulative person’s trickery without even realizing it!

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