If These 7 Behaviors Sound Familiar, He's Likely Playing Mind Games With You

Are you going crazy, or is someone making you crazy?

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One of the hardest things to deal with at my last job was the number of mind games everyone played. One minute, you were the Starchild that everyone liked. The next minute, you were being picked apart and told you didn't have value.

Eventually, I started questioning everything. Why are they doing this? Why am I being singled out? Why are they firing people who were so capable? Am I even a good writer? What’s going on?


If you’ve ever been in a place that involves being the target of mind games, you already know what it’s like. You may have been known for being level-headed, but you won’t stay that way for long. You can and will end up feeling bonkers.

Are you wondering why things don’t make sense anymore? Do you need to have a friend tell you if you’re being manipulated or played games with?

As someone who’s been there, I know how important it is to have someone tell you that you’re not crazy. Someone’s been playing mind games with you.

Want to know if you’re the victim of mind games, or if it’s something else entirely? These are the signs that I wish someone would have told me to watch out for.


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If these 7 signs sound familiar, he's playing mind games with you:

1. He makes a point of letting you know that he "tests" other people — including you

I had an ex of mine who loved to psychologically mess me up. He’d be very proud of telling me that "everything was a test" and that I had to make sure that I "passed" or the relationship was over.

My workplace was the same way.


"Every day is a test."

"We were just testing you. You failed."

This kind of mind game is there to make you feel like you have to prove yourself to people — even when their acceptance should be a given. It puts you on edge and is designed to make you go into "Pick Me" mode.

We all like to think we can "pass the test," no matter what the test is. This kind of ploy is what gets people trying harder, going on the defensive, and feeling like they have to do more just to get the bare minimum.

Best Defense: When you hear that you’re being tested and are told you need to "prove yourself," announce that they failed your test, and bail. Unless you’re in a probationary period at work, there’s no reason you should have to prove your mettle.


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2. He loves you one minute, then cut you down the next

If you regularly get praise and then suddenly get a whirlwind of criticism, then you might be knocked off your feet for a moment.

While this could be a matter of a serious mistake or a random complaint, there is something to be said about it potentially being a mind game.

Sometimes, it’s just them being mean or making rude comparisons for no reason.

In relationships, this is known as "intermittent reinforcement." It means you get praised once in a while, rather than each time you do something nice. If you get lax, the abuser (player) may blindside you with abuse you didn’t see coming.


If you start to feel like you’re walking on eggshells because you’re terrified of being hurt, humiliated, or criticized and are scrambling to get that little squeak of praise, you’re being played.

Best Defense: Stop doing anything they ask you to do. When they start acting nicer or notice it’s no longer working, explain to them that this behavior is manipulative and that you won’t reward it. Or better, leave.

RELATED: 17 Signs Someone Is Manipulating You

3. You start to doubt things you were totally sure of before — including your self-worth

My last job had me wondering if I was a decent writer or if I would ever earn a real living.


To do this, they made sure that I doubted myself by digging at me constantly. They would literally cut me down the minute I praised myself, or the minute that I called myself a "boss."

When I’d tell them they’re hurtful, they’d coo at me, "We’re just making you better. We’re improving you so you can be better. You can’t praise yourself until we say so. Besides, we’re paying you more than anyone else ever would."

Eventually, feeling like I was worthless took a toll on my writing and I had a mental breakdown in the parking lot. I never went to work sober after that. Shocker, my friends had an intervention for me where they told me to quit or they’ll leave.

The thing is, mind games are never meant to be good for the person playing them. The first way to make sure you don’t walk away is to make you feel like you’re worthless and unwanted anywhere else.


If you remember that you used to be more confident and happy, ask yourself what happened. Did you notice a certain group chipping away at it? Yep, they’re abusing you and using mind games to do it.

Best Defense: Run. Seriously, if this happens, run.

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4. You no longer feel like you can trust anything that you think

This is a key indicator of gaslighting — one of the worst mind games out there.

I had this happen when I was being abused and trafficked a lot. People kept telling me that I was overplaying it, that nothing happened, that it was totally normal, etc.

Every little thing I saw became a question. I didn’t know what was real anymore. Eventually, I developed the habit of asking people around me, "I really saw that, right? Was that what happened?"


I still have that habit.

If you find yourself being broken down, questioning everything you see, then someone is messing with your mind.

Society does this to women on a large scale, but it’s oh, so much more insidious when it happens to you on a solo scale.

Best Defense: Stop interacting with the person who is gaslighting you under any circumstances. Ghost them, and if they try to harass you, call the police. Focus on regaining your sense of reality. Writing things down helps.

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5. You feel crazy, but at the same time, you know that you’re not crazy

Does it seem like people are trying to push you to react violently or make it so you’ll have an outburst? Do you find yourself constantly stuck in Catch-22s that others seem to build?


After a while, you will start to doubt your sanity. This is especially true if people are constantly telling you that you’re crazy when you haven’t really done anything to show a crazy side to you.

Yep. That’s them playing mind games.

Best Defense: Grey rock them and make it seem like you have no emotions. As soon as you can, disengage and ghost them.

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6. The way people treat you doesn’t make sense

"We love you" followed by them telling you that you’re worth nothing. "You have to prove how much you want to be one of us!" followed by them making sure you know you don’t belong there.


Sound familiar? If someone loves you, they wouldn’t berate you or hit you or make you wonder what’s going on. If someone says they’re supportive of your mental illness, they wouldn’t do things that exacerbate it.

When people’s actions show their words are lies, believe their actions.

Best Defense: Reply, "If this is how you treat people you care about and support, I don’t think I need to be around you."

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7. You find yourself being alone a lot more or having people turn against you

I remember people in my office used to be nice to me. One day, every single one of them ghosted me. People started turning against me.

This made me even more desperate for approval than I already was — and I really thought this would be the moment when I got "normal friends!"

This is a manipulation tactic called "triangulation" or "isolation," depending on whether they’re turning you against others or shutting you out completely. Both are designed to make you feel rejected when you once were accepted, leaving you to scramble for approval.

This is a good way to make anyone start to go a little mad. This is why seeing a warning sign of a mind game or triangulation is something that you have to quash right now.


Best Defense: If someone got turned against you, try to confront both of them at the same time. Explain your innocence, then leave. If you were shut out completely by this person or have been made to feel the odd one out, walk away from them as soon as possible. This is not the crowd for you and in time, you may be vindicated.

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The basic endgame of every mind game is to make you feel inferior, destabilize you and make you want to do the "Pick Me" dance.

If you feel like you have to walk a tightrope to get anywhere with a person, chances are they are trying to make you feel like you could lose them. Most of the time, this is done through techniques I mentioned here — a constant "hot then cold" or "ice cold" feeling they give you.


You may have noticed that I said that the best way to handle this is to walk away from these people in each remedy. It’s true. When you’re dealing with someone who’s playing mind games, you’re faced with an abuser. There’s no way around it.

In most relationships, mind games are all about "proving yourself to get the prize." The problem is that people who play these games have the ultimate trump card: they know that nothing you will ever do will make them treat you well.

It’s sad, but it’s true. The only way to get away from these people is to ignore them until you can make your leave. And remember, their behavior is on them. This is not your fault, even if they try to make it feel that way.

RELATED: 3 Mind Games All Narcissistic Men Play In Relationships


Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.