Is Someone You Know Playing the Victim? 7 Quick Ways To Tell

Is Someone You Know Playing the Victim? 7 Ways to TellIs Someone You Know Playing the Victim? 7 Ways to Tell

Is Someone You Know Playing the Victim? – Overview

Do you know someone having difficulty in relationships? Does everyone have a bad attitude? Do they feel like people get mad at them for no reason?

All of a sudden, everyone else is causing them problems, they are always in the wrong, and people seem to be out to get them. As hard as they try, it just never seems to be enough.

We’ve all been there… the Friends theme song said it best, “it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.”

They start feeling like nothing is going their way and everything is going wrong. It is easy to get down and out and fall into a victim mindset.

Playing the victim is a slippery slope that many fail to realize they are sliding down. Sometimes you are justified to have moments where you feel like feeling to have to do that, and that is okay.

As much as people hate to admit it, even when something goes wrong, there is at least some level of responsibility that could have been taken.

What are the Reasons?

There is a multitude of reasons why someone could fall into the victim mindset. The majority of them stem from unmet needs from a childhood or adult relationship.

If a person experienced emotional or physical neglect in any important relationships in their life, they could likely be in a victim mindset as a way of protection.

Many victim players subconsciously choose this role to help meet their own needs and protect themselves from being hurt again.

Someone might find that they get a sense of power and control in their life when they feel like they are always right and others are wrong.

If that person is always right, it means they do not have to do the work to change their behaviors, because the other person is the toxic ones, not them.

Mostly though, victim players are focused on short-term feelings. This is a very common reaction when someone feels like they are being neglected.

It does not matter, at that moment, if they are damaging their relationship or not.

Their body is reverting to how helpless they felt when neglected and will do anything to protect themselves, even if it is wrong.

Victim players tend to…

  • Have high expectations of others but not voice them
  • Be extremely manipulative and spiteful
  • Give a nasty guilt trip
  • Blame others for all their issues
  • Get defensive when told anything not positive
  • Be over-the-top when it comes to accommodating the needs of others
  • Look to others for validation of their self-worth

Here are seven signs you or someone you know could be playing victim without even realizing it.

They are avoiding responsibility

They tend to make others feel sorry for them. They have no problem listing off everything the other person did wrong, but struggle to find any fault of their own in the situation.

This looks like guilt trips, explosive arguments, and being quick to get defensive.

They leave an argument feeling triumphant like justice was served. Getting upset with them seems justified, as you did something to hurt them.

There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.

When a person is not caught up in that situation, it is easier for both parties to talk calmly and understand where they both fall responsible in the situation.

They are assuming the worst will happen to them

When someone feels as though life keeps kicking them when they are down, their mind starts to wander.

All of a sudden, they are building up the worst possible situation they can think of. It starts with a simple annoyance caused by another person and snowballs into treating the other party horribly, never caring, and thinking they have to do everything.

Now that person is worked up and on edge. It is difficult to calm them down once this happens. Leading to feeling sorry for themselves, they start to spiral into thoughts, “why can’t things ever go my way?” “I’m worthless.” “Everyone is always against me.”

Their self-sabotaging and negative self-talk begins

Playing victim leads to plentiful amounts of negative self-talk about their character. They are always putting themselves down, when alone and in front of others.

They deny compliments, compare themselves to people who intimidate them and give up trying before they even begin.

These “stinkin’ thinkin'” thoughts will force them to lose control of their entire life if they let them. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.

The sooner they realize that and are nicer to themselves, the sooner they will be able to overcome those negative thoughts and realize this is all a part of growing and learning in life.

They do not feel like they have to work to get better

There is a comfort zone that comes with playing the victim. When they are putting themselves down and refusing to challenge themselves, how can anyone say anything bad about them?

They know what happens if they do not try, and this is it. If they put themself out there, negative feedback is bound to come at some point.

Victim players are so sensitive to constructive criticism, they would rather derail their entire life plans than have someone say something not positive about them.

For most people with it, it is easier for them to accept bad things happening to them instead of accepting they may have done something wrong.

They make constant excuses

Everyone makes excuses sometimes, but people playing the victim make excuses for everything.

There will always be a reason why someone does not want to put forth the work to get better. Whether it is not the right time or something happened in their past, there is always a reason to not put forth the effort.

They enjoy the attention they get from playing the victim

Even if they do not realize they are playing that role, attention comes along with it. Unfortunately, many people learn from a young age that bad attention is better than no attention at all.

While this may not be a healthy mindset to have, it comes along with emotional or physical neglect. Acting out to get noticed meant that you were not being forgotten about. It is a hard-to-kill habit that often carries into adulthood.

While they may not receive positive attention in return, they are at least receiving some sort of attention.

Many people who are playing it would subconsciously prefer you respond negatively. This leads to a fight, which leads to attention for longer.

Is Someone You Know Playing the Victim? 7 Ways to Tell

7 Ways to Tell


It is difficult when someone you know is playing the victim. How do you handle it? That is a tough question to answer because many victim players refuse to take responsibility. This further escalates the problem at hand.

If you are dealing with a person like this, it can be taxing on your mental health. There are ways to combat their victim-like behaviors:

  • Set your boundaries with them
  • Ignore the attention-seeking behaviors
  • Change the conversation
  • Start distancing yourself from them

It is difficult to set boundaries and put yourself first when victim players can be manipulative by nature.

Understand many issues lie under the surface with these types of people. For the betterment of your mental health, avoid getting sucked into their stories and life situations.

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I obtained my Bachelor's of Psychology in 2017 and Masters of Social Work in 2019. I currently work in private practice as a trauma therapist.