Guilt Tripping in Relationships — Signs You’re Being Guilt Tripped

Guilt Tripping in Relationships — Signs You’re Being Guilt Tripped guilt tripping in relationships — signs you’re being guilt tripped
Photo by Rahul Jain on Unsplash

We’ve all been guilt-tripped in one way or another by our friends, parents, colleagues, partners, and even some of us have unknowingly or knowingly guilt-tripped another person. Guilt-tripping is also quite common in most religious settings that push people to behave or act in a certain manner. Guilt trip is a form of manipulation where one person uses guilt to make others feel bad so that they take a specific action or change their behavior.

Guilt is a powerful motivator of human behavior, and that’s why it can be used as a great tool to influence how others think, feel, and behave. In most cases, someone guilt-trips you using something they already know you feel guilty about. In toxic relationships, a toxic person will use guilt to meet their needs or to escape responsibility by inducing feelings of guilt in the other person. The other party will then be afraid of asking questions because every time they do, it gets used against them. Simply put, you’ve been guilt-tripped if someone has ever made you feel bad about something you have done (or not done), and then you give in to doing what they want.

Types and Examples of Guilt-Tripping Behavior

  1. Moral Guilt — This occurs when someone tries to influence your decision or behavior by stating that it’s immoral and that theirs is superior. This mostly happens in parent-child relationships where a parent will tell you that what you’re doing is not “right” with no apparent reason at all, simply because their opinion is superior and you have to respect it.
  2. Eliciting Sympathy — This is where someone plays the victim so that you can feel sympathetic and do something for them. This mostly happens in narcissistic relationships, where a narcissist will talk about how you’ve harmed them by doing or not doing something (like asking them some genuine questions), which makes you feel bad about what you’ve done.
  3. Conflict Avoidance — This is where a guilt-tripper appears visibly upset but keeps insisting that there’s nothing wrong. The purpose of this is to avoid conflict; you’ll then feel bad about it, and you might even do something you were not planning on doing.
  4. Manipulation — Guilt-tripping can outrightly be a form of manipulation where someone intentionally makes you feel guilty so that you do something for them, even when you don’t want to do it.

Signs of Guilt-Tripping in Relationships

  1. Refusal to say what’s wrong but acting upset so that you’ll feel guilty and think there’s something wrong you’ve done.
  2. Silent treatment as a form of punishment. They go silent on you so that you’ll feel bad about something you’ve done or not done.
  3. Unclear or sarcastic statements disguised as jokes that make you feel bad.
  4. Constantly bringing up or reminding you of something bad you did a while back — They might list all your mistakes even when you’d already made amends about them in the past.
  5. Suggesting that you “owe” them something — This involves keeping track of what they’ve done for you and then pulling that card every time they want you to do something for them. They constantly remind you of their hard work.
  6. Clearly passing a message across that they’re not happy with what you’ve done using body language, tone of voice, or facial expression.
  7. Talking ill about you as a partner or person, e.g., “You’re a bad child/partner for doing that.”
  8. Withholding affection or attention. They will withhold sex or physically distance themselves, making you feel that you’ve done something they don’t like.

Is Guilt-Tripping Toxic?

Guilt-tripping is toxic and is a form of emotional abuse, but not everyone who guilt-trips is toxic — all this depends on intentionality. Guilt-tripping becomes emotional abuse, especially if someone uses it constantly to get what they want or to make you feel bad. Guilt, in itself, is not a bad emotion, and it can be a great compass we can use to change some of our undesirable behaviors. When we feel guilty, it can motivate us to fix our mistakes and avoid repeating the same in the future. Parents, for example, may occasionally use guilt-tripping to teach their children right from wrong.

However, toxic people will constantly use guilt to manipulate other people to do something for them and to meet their needs. A toxic relationship is a place where you’re constantly guilt-tripped, which makes you angry and fearful of expressing your thoughts and opinions.

A toxic person will silence your genuine pleas and concerns by using guilt, and this opens the room for further abuse in the relationship. Guilt-tripping will also distort your sense of reality, and you will find it hard to differentiate between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ things you’re doing. It will greatly affect your mental health and your self-esteem.

How to Deal with Guilt-Tripping Behavior

Guilt-tripping is manipulative because it coerces you to do something that goes against your wishes. Just like all other forms of emotional abuse and manipulation, the best way to deal with a guilt-tripper is to recognize that you’re being guilt-tripped and to stay grounded in your own reality of the situation.

If you genuinely feel you’ve done something wrong (from your own perspective), then correct it. However, if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong, then do not pay attention to what they’re telling you. It’s also good to be aware of your boundaries and what’s within your locus of control because most of the time a manipulative person may make you feel guilty for something that is way beyond what you can humanly do.

However, standing up to someone who constantly guilt-trips you may not be possible if you have people-pleasing tendencies or if you have low self-esteem. That’s why the only sure way to deal with all manipulative people is to work on yourself to the point that you’re deeply secure within yourself.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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