Relationships are never easy. They are often great in the beginning, but sometime down the road you find yourself questioning your partner’s motives and behavior. Manipulators are skilled at their game. They know how to get into your head and control your actions and decisions, without letting you realize what’s really going on. It’s important to recognize manipulative phrases and know how to respond, in order to protect yourself and your own free will.

Here are six common manipulative phrases and how to shut them down:

1. “I know you feel strongly about this, but I need you to do it my way because that’s what’s best for us.”

This phrase is manipulative because it makes you think the other person understands the way you feel, when really, they are completely dismissing your feelings. If your partner says this to you, respond by telling them that the two of you need to make decisions as a couple. What’s best for you is to have your opinion heard and respected. Ask them whether their decision is truly best for the two of you, or simply the best option for them.

2. “Look what you made me do!”

This is a manipulative phrase because the other person is blaming you for their actions. If someone says this to you, let them know you do not have the power to make them do anything. Tell them that they chose to respond to the situation in the way that they need, and they need to take responsibility for their actions. You are only responsible for your own actions.

3. “If you leave, I will hurt myself.”

This phrase can be hurtful, scary and confusing. Most of all, it’s manipulative. If your partner says this to you, they are making sure you feel like you don’t have a choice. You have to stay or you will be responsible for a tragedy. Respond by telling them they need to call 911 or the Suicide Hotline if they are thinking about hurting themselves. Tell them you’ve already made up your mind about leaving and you are not coming back. Call a friend or family member to come stay with your estranged partner if you are worried.

4. “I said I was sorry, what more do you want from me?”

This phrase implies that “sorry” fixes everything. If your partner wronged you and sincerely apologized, that’s a step in the right direction. But if they use this phrase, respond by telling them that an apology doesn’t equal immediate trust, forgiveness and respect. It might take a while for you to work through your pain and you have every right to take all of the time you need.

5. “Don’t be dramatic / Stop overreacting”

These are manipulative phrases because they can make you question the way you feel about a situation. A manipulative person will tell you that you’re overreacting to try to act as if they didn’t do anything wrong and there’s no reason you should be upset. If someone uses these phrases, respond by telling them that you are entitled to your emotions. You have the right to be upset, feel sad, disappointed or any other emotion and they have no right to try to control how you feel.

6. “I’m just protecting you.”

This might sound like a sweet sentiment, but it can also be someone’s way of manipulating you. If they are telling you what to wear, who you can talk to, when you can hang out with your friends or family members, it’s likely their way of controlling you. If your partner uses this phrase often, respond by telling them they can’t protect you from everything, but they can stand by your side and support you. You are going to make your own decisions but you would be thankful to have them by your side through life’s up’s and down’s, in a healthy relationship.

I Heart Intelligence
Brad Hambrick
Higher Perspectives
Suicide Prevention Lifeline