8 Signs You Are Being Played


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We have discussed 8 signs of a toxic relationship, where some often-overlooked abusive tendencies came into light for many people. Tendencies that we brush off in modern society as “normal” or “just the way things are.” In reality – we need to help our peers recognize signs of positive and negative relationships so we can improve the health and happiness of those around us.

There is another layer to this problem – a layer that is not as blatantly toxic, but still harmful to our psyche and self-confidence; if our partner is playing us.

If you are being played, it will feel like you are being emotionally toyed with or led on without any real intention of building a relationship with you. Everyone who does this will have their own reasons, but let’s explore what it might look like.



Nothing ever moves forward.

Anyone who wants a long term relationship with someone they love (or, think they love) will want to see some sort of progression at some point. First you become exclusive, eventually the L bomb is dropped, things get more serious, and so on and so forth.

Someone who is playing you will tell you they want these things, but never actually follow through. These people are the employees who only work hard enough so they don’t get fired, and the only time they ever put any real effort in is when they’re afraid they might get canned. Move on.


You never get to decide. Anything.

Relationships are about compromise. They are about two people who want to see each other happy and put in effort to make it happen. If one partner in the relationship is constantly taking control without considering the other’s feelings – it’s a clear sign that you’re just along for the ride and they are simply inserting you into their pre-existing life, not looking to build a new one with you.


They’re always making you feel guilty.

When you do finally decide to do something, whether it involves them or not, they will always have something negative to say about it. Why? Because this is how they get to control you by playing with your emotions, increasing your insecurity and therefore decreasing the likelihood that you branch out away from them.

They are being overly possessive and toying with your emotions, this will not get better, break the chains now.



They take jabs at your insecurities.

Nobody – nobody who really cares about you will ever purposely make you feel bad about yourself, no matter how small or “harmless” their comment might be. Someone who is playing you will continue to manipulate your emotions by learning the things that you are sensitive about, and keeping them in an arsenal of snide remarks to use to keep you under their finger.


Double standards.

Oh, it’s totally cool if they do that thing but it’s a big no-no if you do it? Uh, yeah, peace out.


Their level of closeness is always wavering.

Someone who loves and cares for you will be consistent in the way they act towards you. Consistency is a big part of a healthy relationship, because without it you never know what you are going to get from someone, and how are you supposed to build a solid foundation with a person like that?

If you find that your partner becomes closer to you, especially if they want something from you, but then distances themselves either physically or emotionally when there is no “purpose” for being around you, this is a big problem and you need to address it.


They never make real commitments.

Revert back to point #1 for this one, but add more onto it. Instead of just making a commitment to you and the relationship, this is more so about commitments they make in terms of plans, dates, events, decisions together, whatever.

The lack of willingness to commit to, say, a weekend away is more than just a scheduling conflict. After enough last minute cancellations, it becomes evident that this person is trying to keep their options open – which is not something you do in a committed relationship.



They only do nice things to get what they want.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Any act of kindness for the sake of a reward, is not really an act of kindness.

In a happy, healthy relationship, both partners should give without obligation and receive without expectation. Selfless giving (emotionally, not material items) from both teammates helps to build a great foundation between two people. Doing something for him/her so you can get something back, is playing games and being manipulative.


Life is too short for playing mind games with someone we are pretending to care about, or trying to figure out the games someone we care about is playing with us. Have the dignity and respect for yourself to walk away from anyone who hasn’t grown up enough to treat you as you deserve.

Subscribe to my newsletter “The Next Level” for honest and uncensored advice normally reserved for private clients.

James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.

Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 39 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.

James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.


  1. Little Miss Menopause on July 15, 2014 at 2:45 am

    This is right on target….bu I do have a question. Related to #1. Can you also be played if things are moving forward TOO fast? I have always been suspicious of people who say the L word too soon, propose marriage too soon, etc. I sort of feel as if they have a list of Life goals and they’re just checking ’em off, “yep, got that. Got that. Okaaaay….Time for a family next.” That’s actually the best case scenario for someone giving the rush-act. I can think of a whole lot more malevolent reasons why an individual would want to rush you to the alter….and someone of them are mighty scary.

    • Lisa C Jenkins on August 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

      I agree with you 100%. If things are not flowing naturally and I have no peace about it, I don’t want it.

  2. Pamela Ross on July 15, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Totally on target. I have, unfortunately, been involved in all of these at one point or another. Not all from the same person though, thankfully. I am learning to have enough respect for myself though to walk away from these “little boys.” As usual, I love your newest installment in how to get only what you deserve 🙂 We all deserve the best!

  3. Maureen on July 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

    What about a Situation when the guy goes out with you, your friends, family, and viceversa.
    You go on trips together, you get to choose the spot, the hotel, everything.
    But, when you express you want to have an official tag for your relationship, he says there’s no need because you already have the compromise? 😳

    • Lisa C Jenkins on August 16, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Lord have mercy … I dated a guy who was like that … He wanted me to change my status to “in a relationship” but didn’t want to be tagged on it. And got an attitude when I said no. SMH

  4. Kitty on July 17, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Brilliant article I have a friend who is obviously being played (and is in a toxic relationship) but is beyond blind to it and all the signs you listed, my friend keeps giving their user/enabler/player/”love of their life”/hoover so many chances and each time things get worse faster.
    At this point I can only stand back and wait for them to come to their senses, and move forward in the meantime with my life; the only thing worse than being played is watching a close friend get played and knowing they won’t believe you because the player has them so tightly wound around his/her finger.

  5. Leanne Wildermuth on July 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Players only do enough to keep themselves in your good graces. They lie through their teeth while they say “I’m a terrible liar”. They’re SO SWEET. No insults, really – maybe some jealousy (oh so flattering). When you say you’re going to walk away because they’re waffling on commitment, they scramble to do damage control. It’s hard to maintain that though – eventually it all comes crumbling down in front of them – the problem is, the one on the receiving end is the one truly damaged by it all. It takes months to recover from being played like that.

    • Andrew on July 19, 2014 at 2:58 am

      I find it odd that no men have responded to this article. So many women play men like this it is really quite surprising…

      • Anonymous on November 11, 2022 at 5:09 am

        That’s ironic, I know a guy 41 and girl 29 that haven’t been together but 4 years and have a 2 year old son he is about to be 3 and just had a little girl. I honestly feel she is doing him that way and even tho he is set in his ways he does everything I think to satisfy the relationship and pays all the bills and anything she ask or wants but when he ask her to do something or talk to him about what is wrong a argument ends up taking place now this man is committed to his kids and doesn’t know what to do or feel. He is at a point bottling it all up and keep keeping on for his kids .She never answers his calls or texts or answers any questions he may ask concerning there goals or financial. She always moody She also was in a relationship with someone and wanted to move closer home is how they met but she still stays in touch with the guy regularly and talks to him about a lot what does this mean? She definitely good mom tho

  6. Sc on March 12, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Genuinely the most accurate article I have seen on this, stuff I badly needed to hear, thank you so much

  7. StrongScorpio on April 7, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    This is so true! I just walked away from 4 months awful “being played” experience. My heart was so damaged and after weeks I haven’t recovered yet. The guy played me deeply and pretended so well that I thought there might be something there. Lessons are learnt! Moving on and looking at the future.

  8. Kate Emilie on September 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Reblogged this on KateEmilie….is me .

  9. Melanie13 on November 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks, this was so helpful, it gave me strength to have self respect.

  10. Laura on January 23, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Thank you. It was helpful and I am ashamed to admit that, although I know I am being played, I still can’t completely detach myself from this person. The moment I feel that I’m getting hold of myself and moving on I fall for one of his tactics and frankly getting annoyed with myself almost more so than I am getting annoyed with him

  11. Shorty on April 2, 2020 at 3:18 am

    I’m not sure if the person I was with is playing with my feelings.when we were together she never did and now I feel like she is.i never played games with her.i left cause she said she wanted to be dating someone else and she wanted to be married to someone else and with somethings she said to me she would say yes about me going to the Philippines with my dad to find out she didn’t want me to go the Philippines.it the samething she said I could cancel my plane my tickets to find out that she was at the airport waiting for me five hrs to show up.she assuming that I was interested in someone else and accused me of cheating.i accidentally wrote to her nanny and her uncle writes back saying she happily married and thieving.she won’t talk to me.

  12. David Duke on March 27, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    I feel that I am being played/gaslighted by my wife of 6 years.Sits on her butt all day and does nothing around the house at all.I cannot remember the last time she has picked a broom/vac.We both have medical problems.She has ibs plus others and I have one artery blocked in my heart and back problems.She sleeps all day and plays all night on the computer playing farmtown.Kind of venting in the moment.I now will go back to vacuuming the house.

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