25 Gaslighting Phrases That Could Be Red Flags

These relationship gaslighting phrases can help you spot emotional manipulation

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where a person will make you doubt yourself and question your sense of reality. Knowing how to recognize common gaslighting phrases is the first step in protecting yourself from this type of manipulation. 

Gaslighting can happen in all types of relationships, but it’s most common in romantic ones. Gaslighters will often discredit your memory of events, twist the truth, and invalidate your feelings as a way of maintaining a sense of control. Often, though, spotting gaslighting phrases can be tricky. 

Some of these phrases are often used casually during arguments in relationships and might not be cause for concern — that doesn’t mean they’re an effective way to resolve conflict, though! 

However, if you find that your partner uses these phrases over and over, and you’re constantly second-guessing yourself or apologizing over things you don’t remember happening, it could mean your partner is gaslighting you.

Remember that gaslighting has no place in a healthy relationship, so if you think your partner is gaslighting you, seek support. 

What are some examples of gaslighting?

Denying the truth 

Gaslighters will often tell you something didn’t happen, or that you’re making it up. Distorting reality is their way of controlling the narrative and making you doubt yourself. 

Shifting blame

Another common gaslighting tactic is blame-shifting, which involves placing blame on the victim. A gaslighter refuses to take accountability for their behavior to make the other person feel as though they’re to blame for all of the problems in the relationship. 

Invalidating your feelings

Minimizing or dismissing someone's feelings is also a form of gaslighting in relationships. An abuser will invalidate your feelings by accusing you of overreacting or being “too emotional.” When someone invalidates your feelings, they’re trying to prevent you from standing up for yourself and asserting your boundaries. 

Acting like the victim

Gaslighters might use a tactic called DARVO, which stands for “deny, attack, reverse victim, and offender.” They might try to victimize the person and make it as though you hurt them. Additionally, gaslighters will weaponize love or affection, making you feel bad for calling them out. 

Alienation and isolation

Perpetrators of gaslighting will try to isolate you from your friends or family to make you feel alone, or entirely reliant on them. They might insult or belittle your friends, or pit your family against you. 

Examples of gaslighting phrases

Knowing how to spot gaslighting can be tricky, but it’s the first step to protecting yourself from emotional abuse. 

Gaslighting phrases might seem “normal” and harmless, but they can be part of a pattern of manipulation. Here are 25 examples of gaslighting phrases to watch out for in relationships:

  1. “It’s your own fault/I didn’t do anything wrong.”

  2. “Why are you always bringing this up?”

  3. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

  4. “That’s not what I meant.”

  5. “I was just kidding, you can never take a joke.”

  6. “That never happened.”

  7. “That’s not what happened.”

  8. “That’s not true.”

  9. “You’re making that up.”

  10. “You’re imagining things.”

  11. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

  12. “You’re overreacting.”

  13. “You’re blowing this out of proportion.”

  14. “Why are you always so emotional?”

  15. “Stop being paranoid.”

  16. “I can’t believe you’d accuse me of that.”

  17. “After everything I do for you, this is how you treat me?”

  18. “I guess I’m just a really bad boyfriend/girlfriend then.”

  19. “If you really loved me, you would…”

  20. “You should have known I would react this way.”

  21. “You’re crazy, even your friends/family thinks so.”

  22. “This is why you don’t have any friends.”

  23. “No one else would love you as I do.”

  24. “No wonder nobody likes you.”

  25. “I’m the only one who cares about you.”

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