It’s one of those memes that makes something in credibly complex seem so evident, so simple, that few people would question it.
Life is not that clear-cut, is it? People are complex. And the reasons we treat people the way we do are as varied as we are, times 10,000 or so.
People treat you the way they feel about/see you, not the way you want to feel about/see you.
So, if you think they are trading you like an asshole, and you think you’re god’s gift to all humanity, probably a good time to check on your communication skills. Maybe you’ll figure out the disconnect.
People who are not great communicators or who are insecure will treat you how they feel about themselves, or sometimes not treat you at all.
Someone says, “You are cruel and manipulative,” is usually speaking to their desire to hurt you and manipulate you in some way, or their fear that they are being manipulated (regardless of the actual reality of the situation), rather than your actual ability to hurt and manipulate them.
Or perhaps they deeply love you, but as so terrified of being hurt, that they will push you away.
Because they aren’t strong enough to be vulnerable.
So, when someone treats you badly, and you are left wondering, “Which is it?” how do you know?
You simply have to decide whether you are willing to accept that kind of behavior.
In most cases, I’d say a hard “No” is probably the right and healthy (for you) answer, but there are always exceptions.