Do They Have Hidden Motives? 6 Red Flags to Help You Spot Them

By Tatenda


Last Updated: November 1, 2022

Most of us have come across some people who never do anything for anyone.

Instead, they are always on a chase to see what they can get from everyone around them. 

Their intentions are never pure, although they might seem so at first. When they are being nice, they just want you to get comfortable and let your guard down so that they can strike and manipulate you. 

We can interact with such people in all circles of life. From friends and colleagues to family, there could be people with hidden motives.

In most cases, we fail to realize that that is the case until it is too late. Or, when we notice it once, they convince us that they have changed only for us to later realize that they haven’t. 

I am not saying people don’t change. They do.

But there are some signs we can look out for so we can protect ourselves from people with hidden motives. 



6 Signs Someone Might Have Hidden Motives

1. You can only have access to them on their terms.

When you reach out to them, there is a high chance that they will be unreachable.

They determine when they can be accessible to you. Unless they reach out to you, you will not hear from them. 

This way, they avoid being there for you when you need them or simply want to hang out. They will reach out to you so that they can have a bit of small talk and then ask for a ‘favor’ from you. 


2. Conversations focus on them.

When having a conversation with people who have hidden motives, the conversation is always centered on them.

They might pretend to show interest in you but after a short while, the conversation will take a turn and focus on them. 

They can not be bothered to listen to someone else and what is bothering them. Rather, they talk a lot about themselves and what is happening in their own lives.

If there is something wrong, they focus on that so as to hint to everyone around them that they need something. 


3. Talking to them is exhausting.

After a chat with someone who has hidden motives, you actually feel exhausted.

They drain your energy. Because conversations focus on them and their needs, they are bound to be draining. 


4. They never return a favor.

People with hidden motives have the ability to conveniently forget everything you have done for them.

Returning a favor is something they will never think of. Should you need help with anything, they are the last person you should call, as they will most likely not be of assistance even when they can. 


5. They will guilt-trip you.

Because they always want something from everyone around them, at some point people will catch on and start saying ‘no’ to their requests.

That is something they never want to hear. To try and convince you to say otherwise, they might turn to guilt-tripping you. 

They will tell you about how you refusing to do something for them will negatively impact them and maybe other people too. They will make you feel bad and guilty for saying ‘no’, just so you can change your mind and they can get what they want. 


6. They do not keep their word.

They will agree to something just so that the conversation can move on to what they want.

Once they agree, they barely make an effort to follow up on what they said they will do. They are unreliable, as they never do what they say they will do. 

For instance, they will ask you to watch their dog and promise that the next time you leave town, they will watch yours. When that time comes and you need them to keep their word, they will be nowhere to be found, or they will have a reason why they can’t do it.

They will borrow money and promise to give it back on a certain date but never do so.



How To Deal With People Who Have Hidden Motives

You can not change these people, and they will not change unless they want to.

But, you can change the people you surround yourself with and who you spend time with. Once you notice a pattern in their behavior and realize that the relationship you have with them is one-sided, it might be ideal for you to spend less time with them. 

There will also be a need for you to develop and uphold firm boundaries.

If you don’t or can’t do something, remember ‘no’ is a complete sentence, and you don’t have to justify yourself. This might make you feel like a jerk or a horrible person at first, but the more you use these firm boundaries, the more they get respected by others. 

In some cases, you might need to have a firm conversation with them. Maybe they are unaware of their habits. Clearly communicating how you feel about the relationship might be what you need to change the relationship dynamics. 

Lastly, once you see something about someone, do not try to convince yourself otherwise.

Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy


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