woman holding her palm to her forehead in frustration
Jade Small
Jade Small
January 3, 2024 ·  3 min read

Someone Who Manipulates Feelings Through Guilt Is Not Loving You

Have you ever felt like you were responsible for someone else’s happiness? What you were experiencing was the feeling of guilt. Sometimes people use guilt as a weapon to get what they want- they use this manipulation tactic in numerous sneaky ways. If you have ever had to question your own thoughts and feelings or were made to feel like you had to do something to keep the peace, you may have had guilt used against you.

Manipulation is an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want and need in a direct way. People who are trying to manipulate others are trying to control others.”

Sharie Stines, therapist – Time Magazine

Pay attention to the 5 signs of manipulation below. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

They give you the basic guilt-trip.

When you care about the other person or have close emotional ties to them, you may feel like you are responsible for their happiness. In other words, they express frustration or annoyance indirectly, and you feel like it is up to you to fix the problem. Other examples of a guilt trip include passive-aggressive remarks and the silent treatment.

They show immediate closeness and affection.

One major manipulation tactic is called “love-bombing,” and it is alarmingly subtle. You may have been a victim of this kind of behavior before. Someone will start to show you overwhelming affection and adoration in hopes of creating an immediate bond with you. But, of course, that bond isn’t genuine, and they will later use it to hold control over you. If you don’t do something they ask you to, for example, they may respond with, “but I thought we were friends,” or “I thought you cared about me.”

Read: 6 Phrases Narcissists and Sociopaths Use to Make You Feel Crazy

They distort the facts, or gaslight.

You are probably quite familiar with the term gaslighting. If not, gaslighting is a form of manipulation where someone denies things that they have said or done and instead confuses your version of reality with their own, so much so that you question your own reality. Think of it as ultra-lying. Gaslighting is as painful as it is harmful because we often trust those doing it to us.

They withhold affection.

Also known as the silent treatment, this guilt tactic makes you feel powerless. That is the goal, of course. A person with who you may have a close relationship with becomes unhappy about something. So, instead of discussing things with you, they shut down completely and refuse to talk to you or give you the routine morning kiss before work. It’s toxic behavior that can destroy relationships.

They always have strings attached.

If you do something kind for someone, it should be without expecting something in return. However, with manipulators, there is always an extra line of fine print you should read before agreeing to accept a favor. These kinds of people will do something nice and then hold it over your head. Then, if you don’t return the favor exactly as they would like, they will guilt you into it. Simply by reminding you of all the nice things they did for you in the past. That kind of guilt can make you feel like you really do owe them…but you don’t.

Keep Reading: 7 Signs You Are Someone Who Isn’t Easily Manipulated


  1. “Signs of Emotional Manipulation.” WebMD. November 23, 2020.
  2. Think Guilt-Tripping Isn’t a Big Deal? Think Again.” Healthline. Crystal Raypole. July 22, 2020.
  3. How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You—And What to Do About It.Time. Cassie Shortsleeve. October 16, 2018.