10 signs your partner is playing mind games, according to psychology

Have you ever felt like your partner is messing with your head?

It’s like they’re always up to something – and it always seems like you’re the one losing at whatever game they play?

Relationships are not a game, and mind games should be left behind when you’re playing Sudoku on a long flight – not someone you’re supposed to love!

If your partner is playing mind games with you, there will be signs.

Start with the following ten:

1) They lie to you (and will never admit it)
Lying is probably one of the most obvious types of mind games your partner will play with you. They will do so for many reasons.

Although they may say they lied to “protect you” or “because they care about you,” this is not true. They lied to get what they wanted.

Suppose they lied about how they cut off their hands. They do this because they want you to think they are “strong” or “powerful.”

Or if they lie about what they did over the weekend. They do this so that you will think highly of them and stay in the relationship.

Or if they lied about what happened at work that day. They do this because they want you to give them compassion, love, and affection.

If you haven’t already gathered, this is manipulative behavior.

2) They tell you that you are imagining things
Also known as gaslighting!

When your partner says to you: “You’re making things up!” Or “You’re just imagining things!” After encountering them, pay attention.

This is classic gaslighting behavior, and is 100% a manipulative mind game.

Gaslighting is especially harmful in relationships because it can erode your self-esteem over time. It can also make you dependent on your partner and question reality without them.

Which is bad all around!

3) They make you feel guilty and push you to do things you don’t want to do
Let’s say your partner asks you to drive you home tonight. You were planning to go out to dinner with an old friend, so you said you couldn’t.

Instead of just accepting it, they try to make you feel guilty about going out with your friends. Although of course they go out with their friends too.

They might say: “I guess I’ll just have to get the bus home at midnight” or “I suppose I’ll have to pay more than I can afford to take a taxi home instead.”

They are hidden guilt trips to try to convince you to change your mind.

Other, more extreme versions might look like this:

“I can’t believe you’re going out with your friends and making me pay for a taxi home.”


4) They act sad to get what they want
This is a bit like feeling guilty. But instead of being cruel, they cry or act like they’re deeply hurt to get what they want.

Let’s say you’re not meeting on Saturday night because you have to get up early the next morning to take your parents to the airport.

They tell you how sad they are about it and how depressed they would feel without you (which is a sign of codependency, by the way).

They may start crying with you on the phone about how bad staying home on a Saturday night alone is for their mental health.

This worries you and you hate seeing them sad. So you end up agreeing to the plans, even though they will double your flight and leave you with less sleep in the morning.

Which of course they don’t care about. Because they only acted sad to get what they wanted from you, and they succeeded!

5) They treat you hot and cold
Another sign that your partner is playing mind games with you is if he or she is hot or cold.

One minute they’re showering you with love and affection – and the next minute they don’t want to know you!

Some people do this intentionally (more on this in the next point). But some people are not so complicit.

Your partner may do this because he has an avoidant attachment style. This means they feel insecure and anxious about getting close to someone. So they withdraw to protect themselves.

To you, this looks like they love you and want to be around you one minute – like they want to be as far away from you as possible the next.

6) They play hard to get

Once you are in a relationship with someone, there should be no reason for you to work hard to get them.

In fact, in my opinion, no one should play hard to get at all! If you love someone, just say so. Otherwise what’s the point?

But anyway, when you’re actually dating, your partner definitely shouldn’t act like he’s not interested in you! If they are, they are playing mind games.

It’s similar to how they treat you hot and cold. They act aloof and distant. They may not text or call you for several days. They may also cancel all your dates all together (or not book any dates at all!).

In my experience, people go out of their way to get them, so you obsess over them and shower them with affection.

It is 100% manipulation.

7) They “gathered” on you
There are two ways your partner can do this.

They will do this by talking to other people and telling you what they said. Or they will do so by engaging others in conversations with you (or should I say, against you).

Let’s say you tell your partner that you don’t want to do something in the bedroom.

They might say, “I’ve talked to my friends about this and they can’t believe you wouldn’t do it for me.” Or they might say: “Everyone agrees with me how bad it is for you not to do this.”

Or if you’re out with their friends, they might bring this up and get them involved in fighting the point against you.

Related : A woman with integrity will never tolerate these 10 things in a relationship

This is not the behavior of a loving, caring, or thoughtful partner. It is the behavior of someone playing mind games with you, trying to manipulate you to get what they want!

8) They accuse you of cheating
This is a very common mind game from the partner. It’s also perversion at its best!

When your partner accuses you of cheating for no apparent reason, it may be because they are the one cheating on you.

Or they may be insecure and have had a bad experience in the past…

But more often than not, they accuse you of doing so to get you off their back. Or just get you off their tail altogether!

9) They leave you wanting more
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it’s nice to leave someone wanting more from you!

But I think this rule only applies when you’re dating or if everyone is happy with a little teasing.

When you are in a relationship, your partner should always be loving, caring and affectionate with you. They should always spend time with you and do nice things with you.

It’s as if they told you: “I’ll take you on a date to [place], but I’ll save that for when we’re together longer.”

Or “I was going to buy you flowers yesterday, but I thought I’d wait until they had nicer flowers in stores.”

I’ve learned the hard way that saying someone “would,” “wanted,” or “would” is not the same as actually doing it.

Actions speak louder than words, unfortunately. So, if all your partner does is talk about nice things he’ll do for you, but never does them, that’s not good news.

They are just playing mind games with you to make you think that they are more invested in your relationship than they really are.

10) They threaten to stop doing things for you
This one is bad, bad, bad!

When your partner threatens you, it’s not a good thing. In fact, I can’t think of a single example when it would be considered acceptable!

Which means your partner threatening you is totally manipulative – there’s no doubt about it.

Take the example we used earlier about giving them a ride home. If you stand still and say no, you can’t do it, they might say:

“If you don’t give me a ride tonight, I’ll never give you a ride again.”

This is threatening and manipulative. And trust me, this is not something a loving partner would ever say!


Loving, caring partners who truly care about you don’t manipulate your emotions. They care enough about you to do this!

Related : 7 signs you’re dealing with a toxic person, according to psychology

I’ve dated a lot of people who played mind games, especially in my teenage years and early 20s. I got to the point where I thought this behavior was normal. As if I simply had to put up with them if I wanted a relationship!

But now, that I’ve met much better people, I know that these things aren’t normal—and you don’t have to put up with them.

If you notice these behaviors in your partner, the relationship may not be as important to him as it is to you. Maybe something needs to change…