Are you being taken on one guilt trip after another?

There’s a solution, but it requires building some emotional muscle

Most of us like to travel, but I don’t know anyone who enjoys being taken on a guilt trip.

We all know that a guilt trip is designed to induce an unpleasant feeling of guilt in another person, in order to manipulate that person into doing what the guilt tripper wants.

Here’s the thing: Nobody can take you on a guilt trip, if you aren’t willing to pack your bags and take the ride. The reason you might keep being played is because, without knowing it, you have tipped your emotional hat and let the guilt tripper know you are an easy mark.

Think about a dog begging for food from your table. He flashes those hangdog eyes and cons you into believing he’s dying of starvation, and that the scrap he has his eye on is the only cure. Next comes your fatal move: You give in to his manipulation and throw him the scrap. Now you’ve trained that dog to manipulate you till the cows (or the Chuck Wagon) come home. This is operant conditioning in action.

The same conditioning happens in our two-legged relationships. If you have what I call a “guilt allergy,” meaning you can’t stomach the feeling of guilt, you are a prime target for a guilt tripper. In fact, the guilt tripper, like a dog, can sniff out your weakness.

The guilt trip solution

But don’t worry; there is a solution. To stop being taken on guilt trips, you have to build up your emotional muscle. You can do this by training yourself to bear the uncomfortable feeling of guilt. At first, this will be very hard to do. But with practice, you will see that your emotional muscle—and your resistance—gets stronger. Then you will be able to bear the emotional weight and tolerate the guilty feelings that the guilt tripper is trying to induce in you, without giving the tripper what he or she wants.

What is so powerful about this solution is the fact that your refusal to “bite” creates a ripple effect that defangs the guilt tripper. In this way, you are actually re-training the guilt tripper and conditioning him or her to cut it out. By not rewarding the guilt tripper with what he or she wants—not throwing the scrap—the guilt tripper, like the dog, will eventually stop the routine. Remember, no behavior continues without it being fed. When the feeding stops, the behavior stops.

But beware: The guilt tripper, like the dog, will periodically test you. This means you are going to need to keep your guard up and consistently refuse to feed the beast. After about six weeks, your new muscle will be fully developed and the guilt tripper’s game will be broken.

In my new book, 
, I share a list of all the dysfunctional behavioral tactics people use. I divide these tactics into two categories—Open and Secret Warfare–guilt tripping being one of the many forms of Secret Warfare.

All these tactics create relationship friction and fighting, and in order to maintain a healthy, thriving relationship, it’s vital to identify all the Fight Traps that are afoot and eliminate each of them. Sending guilt trips packing is the first leg on your journey toward a lifetime of lasting love.


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© Copyright 2014 Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., All rights Reserved.
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Known to millions as "Dr. Love" through her website, Dr. Turndorf founded the web's first and immensely popular relationship advice column in 1995. She consistently attracts new fans and keeps her existing audience engaged through her compassionate understanding as well as her frank delivery and earthy sense of humor. At the same time, she puts her listeners at ease while digging deeply in their psyches and prescribing her signature cure. Dr. Turndorf's multimedia platform allows her to share relevant and timely advice via radio, online, in print and on television. Her radio show, "Ask Dr. Love," can be heard in Seattle on KKNW and on WebTalkRadio, which broadcasts in 80 countries worldwide. Her column entitled "We Can Work it Out," is published monthly online in Psychology Today. Her critically acclaimed books have been teaching readers the hard and fast facts to healing relationships for years. Dr. Turndorf's methods have been featured on national television networks, including CNN, NBC, CBS, VH1 and Fox, and on websites such as WebMD, iVillage,, She has also been featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Glamour, American Woman, Modern Bride, and Marie Claire. Dr. Turndorf’s latest Hay House book, Kiss Your Fights Good-bye: Dr. Love's 10 Simple Steps to Cooling Conflict and Rekindling Your Relationship, has been endorsed by New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield, Dr. John Gray and John Bradshaw. Since the recent death of Emile Jean Pin, her beloved husband of 27 years, Dr. Turndorf has discovered that relationships do not end in death. His miraculous manifestations, often in front of witnesses, have proven to her that there is life after life and love never dies. As a result of her experiences, Dr. Turndorf has developed a groundbreaking form of grief therapy that diverges from the traditional Western approach (grieve, let go and move on). By contrast, her method guides people to reconnect and, if needed, make peace with their departed loved ones. Her latest Hay House book on this topic is entitled Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased. To understand fully what Old Scars are, how they are formed, how they affect your relationships, and how to heal them, read my book . For Free Gift details or to receive a sneak peek of Love Never DIes, visit the book page:


  1. It’s true that the seeds of guilt lie within us. No one can make us feel guilty unless we allow them to. Setting boundaries can initially bring on guilt, but this guilt passes, and we have less guilt each succeeding time. Just as recognizing that no one can make us feel guilty, because we’re responsible for our feelings, when someone is trying to guilt-trip us, we’re not responsible for their feelings. I don’t think comfort with guilt is the answer, as much as recognizing the manipulation that the other person is trying to shift responsibility for their feelings. Even saying, “I don’t take responsibility for that” places responsibility back where it belongs . . . on them. Understanding this principle takes time – It’s a two-way street.
    Darlene Lancer, LMFT
    Author of “Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You”