Concern Trolling: Which seemingly “nice” behaviour is actually a sign of manipulative/cunning behaviour?

“Ally! How are you doing since the breakup?”

“Oh! That was a while ago. I’m doing great!”

“Are you? I know these things take time to get over. And that’s okay. You don’t want to rush yourself.”

“Not at all. It was for the best.”

“OK. Because you know Danny is seeing someone else now.”

“Yes. He told me.”

“OK, because people are worried about you. I thought you deserved to know.”

“I know and I’m fine with it. I’m seeing someone also!”

“Wow, that was quick. Does he know you just got out of a relationship?”

“Do you want some caramel cheesecake?”

“No, thank you! I’m full and I’m trying to cut back on dessert.”

“Ice cream? Chocolate mousse?”

“Really, I can’t.”

“You can have dessert every now and then!”

“I’ve already eaten dessert this week. I have goals, so no.”

“Well, it looks like you’ve already lost weight.”

“Maybe two or three pounds.”

“You don’t want to get too thin and frail looking. Being underweight is unhealthy too. I’m a little worried about you.”

“I am in no danger of becoming underweight.”

“OK. Just don’t deprive yourself. It’s no fun being thin if you’re miserable.”

“You coming to happy hour?”

“Sorry, I can’t. Big deadline at work.”

“You can’t spend one night out?”

“Not right now. I don’t want to lose momentum.”

“You don’t want to become one of those people who ‘lives to work.’ I’m worried about you. Remember your company doesn’t care about you. If you died, they’d replace you tomorrow!”

“They pay me well, actually, and my name is on this product. So this is important for them and me.”

“OK. Well, you seem really tired. We just don’t want you to work yourself to death…”


People are worried about you. It seems like all you do is work.”

“We just went out last week!”

“OK, just don’t let them take advantage of you.”

Concern trolling. When you’re failing at everything, the idea of your friend succeeding is unbearable. So try to destabilize her and make her second-guess her confidence.

Convince her that her situation is far worse than she believes and she’s the only one who doesn’t see it—and do it under the pretense that you’re protecting her best interests.