Guilt Trip - A Form of Bullying

Updated on December 15, 2017

What Is a Guilt Trip?

A Guilt trip is a form of psychological abuse. Some psychologists may call it emotional manipulation. I call it bullying.

There are those who are first rate experts at laying guilt trips and know exactly what technique to use to get their own way. And others do it on an unconscious level, due to feelings of hurt or anger. Whatever form you’re using, stop! Take a look in the mirror, and ask yourself this question. ‘ Am I not worthy enough to receive the love and attention I deserve, without emotionally bullying others?’

If you need to lay guilt on your spouse, child, friend or sibling for any reason, think again. Do you really need to abuse and manipulate to get your way? Do you need to drive your spouse into guilt in order for them to love you more? Force your son/daughter to stress or consider suicide, so they can succeed in their school exams? Or do you egotistically want them to follow in your career footsteps, because God forbid you wasted your life on the creation of this child so they can be different to you. And should your best friend feel like a traitor for spending more time with their new love interest than you?

I myself have never been a fan of guilt trippers, will run a mile when I smell one, as they usually come across as needy, especially in relationships. Some of these people have been playing the guilt card all their lives . But beware, the person on the receiving end, could eventually turn their guilt into resentment.

Who Are Guilt Trippers? And What Are Some of Their Traits?

  1. Guilt trippers will make you feel responsible for what they do, feel and have suffered. They dramatize situations and at time have a nagging nature.
  2. The silent treatment or cold shoulder are another form of a silent guilt trip. Often the offending party expecting you to become paranoid to what you’ve done or manipulate you into feelings of shame and guilt.
  3. Some have had parents who have played the guilt game on them their whole lives. For not having been a good son/daughter, or good enough at school and comparing them to their friend’s children. And when they reach adult hood their parents may say things like ‘Why don’t you ever help me? Or ‘You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,’ ‘Why don’t you visit,’ and the most famous of all lines, ‘After all my sacrifices.’
  4. Some guilt trippers may be insecure and needy. They need to feel wanted, loved and appreciated, hence use this form of abuse to gain a sense of worth.
  5. Some play martyr, always reminding you about everything they have done for you. They definitely know how to make you feel bad to get what they want.

Guilt Tripping Your Child

Now the worst thing one can do is lay a guilt trip on a child. Yelling and screaming about how disappointed you feel is darn right selfish and egotistical. What kind of nut are you? A tiger mum? Do you want your child to obey you because of fear? Do you want to be another statistic who has lost their child to suicide, because you had such high expectations? Or maybe you want to sit alone in a nursing home, wondering why your children don’t care.

Guilt Tripping Your Spouse

Constant guilt trips on a spouse are a sure way for a doomed relationship. Have you heard these familiar lines? ‘I don’t feel that you’re making time for me.’ ‘You need to make a commitment and put a ring on it.’ or ‘You never show me affection.’ Statements such as these are darn right naïve, if not completely pointless, as they will only push your partner further away and close off emotionally.

If your spouse isn’t making time for you, then make the time for yourself. If they’re not taking you out, go out with your friends. Take up a new hobby and keep busy. And Before you know it, they will be laying the guilt trip on you for not being available enough. If after five years of dating, they haven’t made a commitment to marry you, they probably never will, maybe your constant nagging for marriage turned them off. Perhaps they don’t believe in a that piece of commitment A4 paper or simply because they’re not that in love with you.

Guil Tripping Your Friends

What about your friends? Are you making them feel guilty because they have other friends? Spend too much time with their boyfriend/girlfriend or simply don’t have the same social appetite as you do? If so then stop. You’re only making this person resent you, spend time with you out of guilt and this friend will eventually pull away. And if you don’t feel like they have been a good friend, then maybe you should find some others who will be at your beck and social calls.

Do I Believe That Some People Deserve a Guilt Trip?

Yes, Of course, these people:

· murderers

· corrupt politicians

· pedophiles

· cheats

· thieves

Yet some on this list may be sociopaths, and will never register this guilt.

Is Someone Constantly Laying a Guilt Trip on You?

If you’re on the receiving end of a guilt trip and truly believe you have done no wrong, stand up to this bully. Their behavior may not seem that aggressive and could be deemed as harmless, but believe me IT’S NOT. The emotional blackmail and manipulation of this person is a way of dominating you on either a conscience or unconscious level.

Finally we all have been victims or aggressors of guilt trips. You must remember that you alone are responsible for your own feelings, no one else. To depend on others to measure your level of happiness could only lead to disappointment. It’s also important to realize that using 'Guilt Trips' is an unhealthy form of psychological abuse, may be self destructive and could eventually lead to a negative results.


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    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I’m grateful for this article, I wasn’t aware that guilt tripping is a form of abuse.

      It is actually my biggest hot spot, I grew up with a lot of guilt tripping and harbored a lot of resentment from it.

      Up until I read and practiced enough on how to set boundaries, I’d become resentful of guilt trippers and even rebellious towards them.

      Now I recognize that they only have power if you allow them too.

      There is a book called “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

      It is good for anyone, but it’s special because I think it can help both guilt trippers and those who allow guilt trippers to rule their life.

      It conveys how to be in a courageous position of choice and personal power as opposed to fear and insecurity.

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      I already said sorry but made the mistake of saying sorry again when she decided to bring it up the next day as this "hugely bad thing" that happened. Honestly I felt so bad afterwards, I don't even want to talk to this landlord anymore. It's like she always want to make me feel bad :(

      What should I say when I apologized a mistake, but she brings it back as if I am forced to "apologize" again...

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Jen. To answer your question, RUUUUUUNNN

    • profile image

      Faye Summers 

      2 years ago

      Your article didn't mention being guilt tripped by your adult child! This is the case with my husband and I. My husband had a child (a son) with a woman he was seeing on the side while he and I were then dating. But THAT's another story. That was almost thirty eight years ago. The man is now married with three kids of his own now. Although I think we have a somewhat cordial relationship, there is still no real closeness. Mainly because manipulation has creeped in. It started about four years ago when my husband and I retired. They asked us if we would keep the oldest child sometimes, and take her to school. I told them okay, and did most of the "taking her to school" , and ALL of the babysitting. Then it began to be more and more. I didn't mind doing this sometimes, but then they started bringing the oldest child for me to babysit without even letting me know anything. I didn't like that at all. It just seemed like my time was of no consequence to them. It was as if we, or more specifically I owed them my time. Once I established some boundaries with them regarding my time, they stopped bringing the grandkids around all together. Honestly, I really could do without seeing those two selfish people, but I wouldn't mind seeing the grandkids, But I know that we are dealing with emotional blackmail and I will live my life like that.

    • profile image

      Bela J 

      2 years ago

      What should I do if my parent has been doing it to me? I'm in my early teen years but I don't like the way they make me feel about my past mistakes. Please help.

    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • profile image

      lone wolfie 

      4 years ago

      I remember one of the last guilt trips I received as a 9yr old kid. I kept thinking that if this is what emotions are for and capable of, then it would be better to not feel anything. I elected to kill off a large portion of my guilt and my empathy seemed to follow. Not that I really care about that or want to gain those emotions back to their original levels, as I'm fairly happy nowadays.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My manipulative neighbour tried to guilt-trip me just once, but when I laughed and said "I don't do guilt trips", she never tried it again.

      It's her problem that she's unhappy in herself, not mine and not my responsibility :-)

    • profile image

      A nerd 

      5 years ago

      Good article. Just one thing, no one yet has mentioned: you are getting the words being and been switched. (I do this with their and there often, and really have to watch it!) Anyway, thus is meant to be helpful, not hurtful.

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      6 years ago from All Over

      Lovedoctor926 Yes parents are a classic example of laying guilt trips and sometimes do it unconsciously, maybe because they fear loss of control or could have had a guilt tripping parents themselves. Thanks for reading and your comment :)

      Savvvydating you make an excellent point about narcissists. I'm sure guilt tripping from them comes naturally and many times it's used to manipulate and control. But I can imagine how horrible it must be to have these types of people as parents, especially while growing up and dealing with their games day in and day out. Not only do narcissists guilt trip but also use brain washing tactics with no conscience.

      Psychological abuse is not okay, especially when done in a calculated and conscious way. Thanks for reading and your insight.

    • savvydating profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a common ploy among narcissists. In fact, you have pretty much described the disorder. Having said that, the difference between the guilt tripper and the narcissist, is that the narcissist has no empathy whatsoever, while the other might have a little, but not much.

      Anyway, you are right, this form of manipulation is emotional abuse, plain and simple.

      Basically, these people are experts at forcing others into a defensive position. If they are your parents, for example, it is hard not to engage because then comes the silent treatment. Thus, the recipients of this abuse are between a rock and a hard place, especially if they are children who are living in the home.

      This kind of abuse makes me angry, particularly when it is inflicted by parents; this makes it particularly underhanded and revolting. With any other bully, one can stand up to them, as you mentioned, but with parents - it's tricky, because they will retaliate in even more dreadful ways.

      An informative hub. Hopefully, some of our less practiced guilt trippers will get the hint, and try to refrain from acting badly!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Many parents do this to their kids. I remember telling mine don't try to lay down the guilt trip. I still did what I wanted. lol. A very good hub up and awesome.

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      6 years ago from All Over

      Hi Chris, I'm sorry that you and your siblings have had to experience this. We also must remember that people are not their behaviour and many times their model of the world is based on their upbringing and experiences. Your mother may also have a lot of deep issues perhaps from her past experiences which she could be manifesting towards her children. Anxiety, insecurity, fear of loss and abandonment play a big part of why a person may guilt trip. My advise to you is to come from a place of empathy and love, and perhaps try to communicate in a non aggressive way about how this has affected you and is affecting your siblings. But the most important thing to remember is, it is how we react to situations in life that matter. Why are you feeling guilty? Is there something to feel guilty about? A person can try and make you feel so many things, but it is your choice how you are going to choose to feel and react that truly matters. I'm sure you care about your mother deeply (I'm not condoning her guilt trips) but you must remember that your mother loves you unconditionally, you are her child after all and perhaps unfortunately this is her only language of love. Hope this helps a little and good luck with it all.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I didn’t know I was being “bullied” until I researched guilt-tripping and now I realize my mom has been doing it to me and my siblings and it affects me so much and I don’t even live with her (I’m married) so it makes me feel horrible for my 2 younger siblings that do live with her and deal with that every day. Is there a specific way that I should deal with this? I don’t want to hurt her feelings bc I do love her and care for her (which is probably why it works out so well for her) but I’d love it if I could get some advice on this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      what happens when that bully is your future in law?

    • profile image

      the engineer 

      7 years ago

      Great Article! I will say, though, it seemed like you were laying a giant guilt trip on guilt trippers.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      Advocating Guilt Trips for "Pedophiles, Cheats,corrupt politicians, murderers, and thieves" would only serve to perpetuate the "bully" method that you stated to be ineffectual. Rather, an appropriate modeling protocol should be implemented with empathy being the centerpiece of the therapy.

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      8 years ago from All Over

      Thanks Frank.

      haha your guilt trip worked very well. I'm sure no one wants to put a trophy in their bedroom that says 'biggest loser' or 'couldn't keep up'

      Thanks for reading

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      8 years ago from Shelton

      Ranzi a very well written Hub.. but guilt tripping is like bullying? wow we've become so soft in this country.. like giving kids trophies even when they lose a sports game.. is it healthy giving praddle.. instead of letting us become strong on our own.. instead of running to a shrinkwhen our feelings get gurt? You see what I'm doing Ranzi.. I'm giving you the guilt trip? LOL did it work.. kidding I agree and you expose it gingerly up and awesome :) Frank

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      9 years ago from All Over

      Thanks poetic fool :) yes so true, guild tripping is a big in the sports world, especially with kids getting slack from coaches and parents. Thanks for sharing that and also thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Poetic Fool 

      9 years ago

      Ranzi, this is a great hub! Thanks for telling it like it is. I'm sure we've all been victims of this to one extent or another but that is no excuse to perpetuate the behavior.

      I've been a coach for youth sports for years and I can't tell you how many times I've seen parents and coaches guilt-tripping kids. Any form of guilt-tripping is bad but using it on children is particularly aggregious. Thanks!

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      9 years ago from All Over

      Wesman Todd Shaw, we are all guilty of guilt trips and have learned it through society. This is how we are conditioned to get our way mostly. Identifying this part of your self is one step closer to maturing past it.

      Thanks for your comment and reading : )

      Thanks dashingscorpio!Yes great points, it does take a strong person to stick to their decisions. And listening to your inner guide is always important. Some people go through life feeling guilty for every step they take. This is very unhealthy both physically and mentally.

      Thanks again for stopping by :)

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      Excellent hub!

      "Guilt tripping" is all about one person trying to "control" the actions of another.

      It takes a strong person to stick to the decisions they've made whether it makes them popular with someone or not.

      The biggest regret one will ever have is NOT listening to their own inner guide. Do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. Feeling "guilty" is a waste of time and energy.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      9 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I couldn't agree more. I'm guilty too, but I had to have learned it somewhere. . . .

      Without being too specific - I'm guilty of using it where I learned it, but hopefully I can mature past that :=p

    • Ranzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Cut The Bullshit 

      9 years ago from All Over

      Thanks sangre, I'm glad you found it useful. Yes there are so many people like this, who are doing this on an unconscious level.

      Thanks road warrior, yes forgiveness is the key in many situations. I used to believe that my fast ability to forgive is a weakness, but someone wise once told me that it's a great strength.

    • profile image

      road warrior 

      9 years ago

      this has nailed it! beautiful! forgiveness could a way out?

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 

      9 years ago from Ireland

      This is a very informative hub you've written. Thankfully I'm not one of those people. But I knew people like this.


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