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30 Alarming Gaslighting Phrases You Need To Watch Out For

30 Alarming Gaslighting Phrases You Need To Watch Out For

Do you suspect that you’re being gaslighted? Or, even worse that you’re someone’s gaslighter?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

After reading this article, you will be perfectly acquainted with the concept of gaslighting as well as the most common gaslighting phrases that will help you determine your situation.

You will also learn about why this type of abuse happens in the first place, and how you can put a stop to it.

So, read on and get your answers!

Contents show

What Does ‘Gaslighting’ Mean?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abused party is manipulated into doubting their own memory and empathizing with their abuser who suffers no real consequences of their actions.

Essentially, the term gaslighting encompasses extreme self-doubt caused by various manipulation tactics that make you feel like you’re the one to blame.

The inner confusion you feel is called cognitive dissonance. It occurs whenever the abuser denies your sense of reality and refuses to offer you validation for your feelings.

What Does Gaslighting Mean In A Relationship?

a man and a woman sit at a table drinking coffee and talking

Simply put, it’s your partner playing the victim while you’re the one who’s hurting.

They cause you to feel guilt and shame because they’re unable to face themselves and take accountability for their actions.

Do not pity them. They don’t deserve the empathy they seek from you. If you’re wondering why, buckle up because we’re about to tell you everything.

How Do You Spot Gaslighting? Common Gaslighting Phrases In Relationships

a woman quarrels with a man

Gaslighting in romantic relationships is all about increasing your self-doubt and making you feel sympathy for your abuser.

How, then, could you possibly know that it’s taking place?

Well, it’s not easy. You first need to educate yourself on the matter as thoroughly as you can.

So, read on to see the red flags you need to watch out for that are clear signs of gaslighting.

1. ‘Why are you so paranoid?’

Imagine this type of situation. Your partner has repeatedly cheated on you and has shown clear signs that they’re unfaithful yet again. But, when you confront them about it, they blame YOU.

This is because they are aware of their own guilt, so instead of admitting it, they prefer to make you doubt your own sanity.

2. ‘Stop exaggerating all the time!’

If your partner has ever said this to you, their goal was to shift the blame onto you all the while knowing perfectly well who’s responsible.

They want to invalidate your feelings and make you feel like you’re making a big deal out of something when that ‘something’ is clearly hurting you.

3. ‘You’re the problem, not me.’

This is a classic manipulation tactic. They outright tell you that you are the one causing problems in the relationship.

Then, you proceed to defend yourself all the while thinking to yourself ”What if they’re right?” Beware of such thoughts because that’s precisely the gaslighter’s goal.

4. ‘You’re so damaged…’

If you happen to have mental health issues, you’re even more prone to being a victim of gaslighting. Since you already have inner struggles, it’s easier for them to add one more.

Then, your feelings of unworthiness get intensified, and you start blaming yourself. When that happens, I hope you remember my words:

You are good enough. You are worthy. And, you deserve the world!

5. ‘Stop blaming me… that wasn’t my intention.’

By pleading that you stop blaming them, they yet again tell you that you are the guilty one for disrupting the peace of the relationship.

Instead of apologizing for hurting your feelings, they focus on their how’s and why’s. Essentially, they start acting like they’re the victim, and not you.

6. ‘If you just listened to me sometimes…’

A narcissist will often infuriate you in ways one can barely imagine. When you reciprocate, they have the skill to make you feel like you started the fight in the first place.

The blame is put onto you for ”lacking respect” for them even when they are clearly the one trying to control every aspect of your life.

7. ‘If anyone is abusive in this relationship, it’s you.’

If there is anything a narcissist is gifted for, it is managing to evoke feelings of guilt in you for their own horrible deeds.

They will often tell you that you are the abusive partner until you finally start questioning that possibility.

8. ‘I can easily get along with others. You’re the one seeking drama!’

By stating that they have a good relationship with everyone but you, they successfully complete their mission of blame-shifting.

Soon enough, self-loathing creeps up, and you start ruminating about why you’re the only one they have issues with. Are you really just dramatic?

No. You are just being gaslighted.

9. ‘Do you think anyone else would love you?’

This is one of the most brutal forms of emotional abuse. Your partner makes you believe that what they feel for you is true love all the while convincing you that you’re not worthy of being loved by anyone.

And, since you desperately yearn for love, and think you’re not going to get it anywhere else, you become dependent on your abusive partner. You feel lost in life, like there is no way out… but there is!

10. ‘Aren’t you supposed to love me no matter what?’

Your gaslighter knows you’re kind and vulnerable, so they appeal to that side of you. They want to awaken your sympathies, which would excuse their bad behavior.

But, no. You aren’t supposed to offer anyone unconditional love. The only person deserving of your forgiveness is the one who takes your feelings into consideration.

Common Gaslighting Phrases In Friendships

a man talking to a woman

Yes, friendship can also constitute a toxic relationship. Friends sometimes deny your point of view and make you feel like you’re exaggerating over something that is so clearly a personal attack on your self-worth.

In order to avoid this, pay attention to the following phrases that gaslighters often use in friendships:

1. ‘You are overthinking this.’

A friend who is aware that they’ve hurt your feelings but refuses to take accountability always tries to convince you that you’re overreacting.

Once again, they make you feel like you stepped into the role of a dramatic persona when, in reality, you’re just hurt, and your hurt goes unacknowledged by the one you really care about.

2. ‘Can you not take a joke?’

Did you know that you can be a humorous person without ever belittling anyone?

But, that’s not how it usually goes… Your friend may prey on your insecurities in order to gain power, and once they destroy your self-confidence, they blame you for taking ‘things seriously…’

I hope you know that someone who actually cares about you will take care of you, not trigger feelings that you fear the most.

3. ‘Just forget about this.’

Another gaslighting tactic is trying to minimize their deeds by dismissing them. Your abuser wants you to move on because, after all, it is only a ‘minor inconvenience.’

Remember – nothing you feel is insignificant. If you suffer through constant emotional abuse, don’t forget it, but rather take action to prevent it from happening ever again.

4. ‘God, you’re so sensitive.’

This is a classic. Your abuser makes it a habit to offend you, but they try to make you think that it’s nothing serious, and that you are blowing things out of proportion.

Well, you aren’t sensitive they are hurtful.

5. ‘That’s not what happened.’

Have you ever confronted a friend about what they did, but they kept denying your version of the story?

If you slowly start questioning what you saw, even despite being fully convinced moments ago, you are being gaslighted.

Remember – when someone truly loves you, their objective won’t be self-defense, but rather helping a friend out.

6. ‘Why don’t you calm down?’

This has always been one of their favorite gaslighting phrases. They emotionally ruin you only to treat you like a lunatic when you figure them out.

In such cases, don’t forget:

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.” – Viktor Frankl

7. ‘Be careful, she might trick you! Not everyone is your friend.’

I’ve heard this one many times from a jealous friend. She didn’t want me to have other friends because she was lonely, so she tried to turn me against them.

But, sometimes, even when you’re aware of someone’s intentions, planting a seed of doubt is very dangerous. Beware that their evil mission doesn’t succeed.

Reject anyone who doesn’t inspire kindness in you, and who doesn’t listen with joy to your stories about how much love you have for the people in your life.

8. ‘Stop being so negative.’

It’s not uncommon for your abuser to provoke extreme reactions from you only to then accuse you of ruining your friendship.

When their actions become transparent, their only option is to fix it by putting the blame on you and using the silent method to make you feel guilty.

Well, you are NOT negative. You are merely being loyal to yourself and trying to lighten your heavy heart.

9. ‘Stop taking things personally.’

Sometimes, a gaslighter will offend you directly only to contradict their actions by saying that this is not about you at all.

They will distance the deed from the injured party, and make you feel guilty for accusing them of something they never actually did (or so they would have you to believe).

10. ‘What did I do that was so wrong?’

Here, your abuser doesn’t use blame-shifting, but they rather refuse to acknowledge their actions. They pretend to be the hurt one by acting clueless.

This type of deliberate self-victimization has only one goal in mind – for you to offer them comfort and empathy when it should be the other way around. Don’t fall for it.

Common Gaslighting Phrases Narcissistic Parents Use

the woman yells at her daughter

It may surprise you, but people are most often gaslighted by those closest to them – their parents.

When a family member is emotionally abusing you, it’s even harder to bear. Them making you question your own reality only becomes easier because you find it hard to believe that they would abuse you in the first place.

But, sadly, it does happen. Take a look at these gaslighting phrases to recognize it in the future:

1. ‘It hurts me that you even think I would do that to you.’

Your sense of reality is yet again questioned by using an indirect declaration of love. They don’t only say that they wouldn’t hurt you, but also that you hurt them by thinking so.

Here’s what I want you to remember:

It doesn’t matter how they feel. Pay attention to your own emotions. If they tell you that something is wrong and that your parents are invalidating you, then that’s exactly what’s happening.

2. ‘You have zero respect for me.’

Respect isn’t magically handed over to you… it has to be earned. Parents often fail to realize this, and demand it just because they made you exist.

Well, abusive parents, by any means, do NOT deserve to be treated nicely. So, don’t ever feel guilty if you gather the strength for a confrontation.

Abusive behavior is abusive behavior, even if the perpetrator is a loved one.

3. ‘I am the best friend you’ll ever have.’

Gaslighting parents will love you in all the wrong ways, and then dare to tell you that nobody loves you more than them.

Don’t let them put ideas in your head. Don’t listen to their words, but rather, pay attention to their actions. They always reveal the most.

4. ‘I did my best to raise you. Where did I go wrong?’

Parents expect you to be docile and obedient just because they gave birth to you. So, even when they are clearly abusing you, they blame you for not fulfilling your role of the perfect child.

Please know that it’s okay to stand up for yourself no matter who the person on the other side is. You are the most important person in your life (and those who actually care about you).

5. ‘Poor me, can’t have a day of peace!’

Playing this card is so common that you will surely recognize it once you see it. Every time you get angry about the abuse, they will accuse you of ruining their day.

I hope you know that’s not the case. They are not the victim, YOU are. But… you don’t need to stay that way…

6. ‘I can’t believe you’re so ungrateful after everything we’ve done for you.’

When you disobey them, parents will make you feel bad most of the time by mentioning every good thing they’ve done for you. That usually encompasses providing you with food and a roof over your head.

When that happens, know this – When someone loves you, they will do things for your sake, NOT so they can mention it later in order to manipulate you.

7. ‘Come on, everyone knows that…’

Here, by using the pronoun ‘everyone,’ your parents basically exclude you from the rest of the world. The objective is to make you feel so alone that you actually start doubting the words you had uttered a few moments ago…

Know that this is nothing but a manipulation tactic designed to keep you from exploring the truth any further.

Trust your own perception, and validate yourself. If it hurts you, nobody else gets to decide that it doesn’t.

8. ‘Who else would put up with you like this?’

The abuser uses gaslighting phrases such as this to avoid confronting both you and themselves. They want to appear as the victim who loves you deeply despite what you’re doing to them.

Moreover, they want you to stay with them by convincing you that you are unlovable. This couldn’t be further from the truth… Please never forget that you deserve the world. So, be gentle with yourself.

9. ‘But, do you remember that time when you…’

This gaslighting tactic is called ‘whataboutism.’ Essentially, the abuser shifts the focus of the conversation to something you did in the past.

Whether you were guilty or not is irrelevant in this case. Just recognize that their intention is for their wrong deed to be neglected while yours gets the spotlight.

10. ‘Maybe I’ll just find a new place to stay.’

The main characteristic of a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder is playing the victim perfectly. Sometimes, they will shift the blame onto you, but very subtly.

When you point out their flaws, they instantly turn the suffering mode on. They want you to feel sorry for them instead of attacking them because consciously or subconsciously, they KNOW they’re the guilty one.

Why Do Narcissists Gaslight?

a man and a woman sit on the couch and quarrel

It depends on whether they’re aware of it or not.

Sometimes, they genuinely believe that they’re always the victim, and that the whole world is against them. Perhaps they aren’t even aware that they’re hurting you, and that’s why they get so defensive when you confront them.

On the other hand, they may be fully aware of their actions and their consequences, but their main agenda is to have all the power in their hands.

Essentially, narcissists either live in denial or they have such low self-esteem that the only way to feel better about themselves is through manipulation.

Note: The level of awareness isn’t important. You don’t have to put up with anyone’s mistreatment no matter who they are. Focus on yourself!

How Do You Stand Up To Gaslighting?

a sad woman leaning against the window

It’s not easy, but not impossible either.

Narcissists and sociopaths use numerous manipulation tactics to make their victim feel like there’s nothing to flee from, but rather, they’re the ones that need to fix the situation.

But, since you’re here reading this, you possess enough awareness to recover from narcissistic abuse. On the other hand, if you know someone who doesn’t, and yet is clearly manipulated, please reach out to them.

In any case, this is how you can deal with it:

1. Knowledge is power

You’ve already educated yourself on the most common gaslighting phrases, which might help you realize what you’re dealing with. However, you’ve only scratched the surface…

Dig deeper into the nature of this psychological abuse. Find out everything you can because that’s the first step in conquering it.

I highly recommend reading Dr. Robin Stern’s book called The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life.

In it, you will find all you need to know about gaslighting in order to pull through the abuse and defend yourself in the future.

2. What’s written down is never forgotten

Your thoughts are easily mixed up when you are being manipulated. The next minute, you may forget something you were so certain about. If you want to prevent this from happening, buy yourself a journal.

Write down every experience you connect to gaslighting, so you can review it all later and make your own conclusions as objectively as you can. Moreover, this will help you gain inner peace.

3. Silence will destroy you

Still, it’s hard to remain objective in this kind of situation. That’s why it’s so crucial to reach out to your loved ones.

​You don’t have to go through this all alone. Find your support system. Burst into tears if you must. Trust me… it will truly help you heal your sad soul.

4. Your well-being comes first

You are aware that you’re not obligated to participate in any conversation if it harms your mental health, aren’t you?

So, whenever someone makes you feel bad, leave and protect your peace. I know you want to defend yourself, but try to remember that blame-shifting is merely a technique to divert you from the abusive situation you’re actually in.

This isn’t about self-defense. It’s about realizing what you’re currently experiencing, and deciding that you deserve much more than that.

5. It’s okay to ask for help

If you’re unable to deal with this on your own or even with the help of your friends, then reach out to a psychotherapist. After all, when you’re undergoing abuse, that’s the best course of action to take.

You don’t have to mention it to anyone if you don’t want to. But, if you do, don’t let them convince you that therapy is shameful.

Its goal is to take care of your mental health and help you lead a happier and easier life. There is absolutely nothing degrading about that.

6. It’s time for a better story

Let’s take a moment. Think about the situation you are in. Have you realized what’s actually happening? Yes, you are in an ABUSIVE relationship with an emotionally unstable man/woman. Are you aware of the gravity of your situation?

Don’t get me wrong. You are aware of it more than anyone. But, what I’m trying to say is that it’s high time to take action and discard your abuser.

Fight for yourself. Don’t let anything make you stay. You are capable of building a life for yourself even if you start from scratch.

You CAN do this. Please, live for yourself.

Final Thoughts

I hope that with the help of these gaslighting phrases, you are now finally able to see your situation more clearly.

I also hope that if you truly are a victim of gaslighting, you will refuse to succumb to the despair it brings, but rather fight to clear your energy from trauma.

I’m not trying to imply that it’s your fault if you struggle with it. But, please know that your main mission in life is to take care of yourself. Trust me… you DESERVE it.