7 Clever Ways To Deal With People Who Constantly Guilt Trip You

It's all about control.

woman guilt tripping VEV / shutterstock

People who guilt trip are world-class blamers, martyrs, and drama queens. They know how to make you feel bad about something by pressing your insecurity buttons.

They use guilt to manipulate so you do what they desire. They like to see you squirm and throw you off your game. This gives them a sense of power and control.

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Oftentimes, people who guilt trip others are hiding in plain sight. They can be your romantic partner, your closest friends, or even your family members.

But in order to identify whether or not you are being manipulated with this behavior, it's important to know what exactly guilt-tripping is, and the signs to look out for. This way, you will understand the best ways to respond.

What is guilt-tripping?

Guilt-tripping is a concept that involves causing another person to feel guilt or a sense of responsibility to change their behavior or take a specific action.

Essentially, guilt-tripping is intentionally manipulating someone by making them feel guilty so they will do what you want.


Guilt-tripping is a natural passive-aggressive technique people use when they can't properly communicate their needs or wants. Guilt can be conveyed with words, tone, or even a glance.

To get their way, these people exploit your desire to please them or be a good person. They often start sentences with, “If it wasn’t for you..." or “Why don’t you ever...” They’ll talk about life being unfair and compare your efforts with others who are doing it better.

They also remind you of how much they always do for you. After you’ve been guilt-tripped, you may feel two inches tall if you believe these people’s crafty ploys.

What are the signs someone is guilt-tripping you?

1. They use statements that elicit a guilty response.

This is an obvious sign of a guilt trip because what they said caused a direct reaction of guilt in the other person.


That is the entire point of a guilt trip. Especially if they said it in a way to get you to do something for them.

2. They use sarcasm.

Unclear statements, sarcasm, and ambiguity are a guilt tripper's best friends. This way, they can say what they want and it can be perceived as positive or negative depending on who they say it to.

3. You avoid them.

If you find yourself actively avoiding coming into contact with this person because they make you feel guilty, they could be manipulating you.

If they always guilt trip you, you may find yourself avoiding communicating with them because you don't want to continue to feel guilty.

4. They use the silent treatment.

Guilt trippers hate it when they don't get what they want — that's why they are manipulating you. But if you see through their BS, they will become offended and give you the silent treatment as punishment.


This is a way to make you feel guilty for assuming they are guilt-tripping you. It's like a guilt trip within a guilt trip.

5. They make leading remarks.

The remarks are meant to trigger your response to do better or to return the favor. The comments will probably have something to do with pointing out how they do stuff for you so that you owe them a favor.

Be on the lookout if they say something like, "Don’t I do things for you all the time?" You may want to think back to see if they have actually done things for you or just made you feel guilty about it.

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How to Deal with Guilt Trippers

1. Surrender the notion that you have to be perfect.

The guilt tripper tends to lose interest if you don’t go for their misguided manipulations.


Everyone makes mistakes. It’s human. You don’t have to be perfect or squeaky clean. If you hurt someone or made a mistake, accept that you can’t change the past.

But you can make amends when appropriate. Apologize for offending a relative, pay back money owed, or simply convey, “I wish I had been there for you more.”

Focusing on solutions instead of wallowing in guilt is a way to surrender to positive forces, rather than succumbing to the pull of negativity.

2. Surrender guilt with tears.

One physical way to release guilt if you’re fixated on a mistake you made, or not meeting someone’s expectations, is to cry. Do this when you’re alone or with a supportive person.


Tears release stress hormones and help you heal. As you cry, your body expels guilt and tension. This helps you let it all go.

Don’t fight the surrender of crying. Let tears cleanse stress from your body.

3. Know your guilt buttons.

No one can make you feel guilty if you don't believe you’ve done something wrong. However, if you doubt yourself, guilt can creep in.

Believing you are doing the best you can in a situation can quell any guilt and bring comfort no matter what anyone says.

4. Set limits.

Start a conversation positively. In a matter-of-fact tone say, “I can see your point of view. But when you say (fill in the blank), my feelings are hurt. I’d be grateful if you didn’t keep repeating it.”


You might make some topics taboo such as money, sex, or personal appearance. Keep the conversation light, don’t go for their bait, and try to gradually heal your insecurities so you don’t buy into their guilt trips.

5. Make them ask you outright.

One way to stop a guilt trip is to come out and confront them, face-to-face. Try to keep it light and not like you're attacking them, but be a matter of fact and assertive.

Tell them to directly ask you for your help without a guilt trip or tugging at your emotions.


6. Don't take it personally.

Another way to stop a guilt trip in place is to depersonalize it. Remember that this person is guilt-tripping you because of their issues, not yours.

This isn't your fault and you shouldn't feel bad about not wanting to do something.

7. Respect your right to say no.

Convey to the guilt tripper that you have a right to say no to anything you feel you cannot or do not want to do.

Not only should they respect your right to say no, but so should you. If your gut is telling you that you should not do a certain task, listen to yourself and say no.

Be aware that there’s a difference between healthy remorse and guilt. Remorse is regretting how a situation turned out or how you behaved. Then you can acknowledge the mistake and make amends. You’ll feel genuinely sorry, but you don’t stay stuck there.


Guilt, however, is when you become attached to remorse and self-blame, a reverse form of ego where you keep focusing on a “lacking” or a mistake.

RELATED: 10 Signs Your Partner Is Constantly Guilt Tripping You

Judith Orloff, MD is the author of 'The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People.' Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist and empath who combines the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting-edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality.