30+ Gaslighting Examples and Phrases

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where someone tries to make you doubt your perception of reality.

This behavior is common in abusive relationships. In this article, I will provide examples of gaslighting phrases and behaviors to help you identify if someone is gaslighting you.

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What is Gaslighting?

30+ Gaslighting Examples and Phrases

Before getting into examples, it’s important to have a good understanding of what gaslighting means.

Gaslighting is a tactic used to gain more power and control over someone by manipulating them into doubting themselves.

Some key things to know about gaslighting:

  • Gaslighters deny things they said or did, even if you have evidence of it happening. They try to make you doubt your memory and perception.
  • Gaslighters try to convince you that your reactions and perceptions are abnormal or wrong. They make you feel like you’re “crazy” for questioning their words or actions.
  • It’s a way to destabilize someone and erode their self-confidence over time through the constant denial and invalidation of their experiences and reality.
  • Gaslighting is often a symptom of narcissistic abusive tendencies as it puts the gaslighter in a place of power and control over the other person.

Now let’s look at some common phrases gaslighters use to manipulate others.

30+ Common Gaslighting Phrases

Here are some common gaslighter quotes:

1. “That never happened”

One of the most well-known gaslighting phrases is denying something outright even if you have proof.

For example, saying “I never said that” or “You’re making it up” when confronted about a previous interaction or event.

2. “You’re being too sensitive”

Dismissing your negative reactions by accusing you of being overly emotional or sensitive. Telling you that you’re overreacting to the situation.

3. “It was just a joke”

Claiming hurtful or concerning behavior was meant as a joke to downplay their actions and make you question whether you overreacted.

4. “You’re crazy/irrational”

Questioning your judgment and reality by painting you as unstable. Making you doubt your own perception and grasp of what’s going on.

6. “Why do you remember it that way?”

Acting confused about your version or memory of past events undermines your confidence in recounting your experiences.

7. “You’re confused”

Dismissing and invalidating your thoughts, feelings, and experiences as being the result of confusion rather than their behavior.

8. “That’s not what I meant”

twisting the meaning or intent behind their words after the fact if something they said or did is called into question.

9. “You’re too sensitive to discuss this reasonably right now”

Suggesting you are emotionally compromised and cannot have a rational discussion about their concerning behavior at that moment.

10. “You must have misunderstood me”

Denying the meaning or significance of what they said to shift blame onto you for supposedly misinterpreting them.

11. “Why do you always do this?”

Turning the tables by accusing you of being the problem or the one causing issues rather than addressing their concerning behavior.

12. “You’re imagining things”

Dismissing your concerns and perceptions as figments of your imagination without considering their actions.

13. “I don’t want to talk about it”

Refusing to discuss or explain concerning incidents to avoid taking accountability. Shutting down inquiries into their behavior.

14. “You’re being paranoid”

Questioning your self-trust and certainty about issues by painting valid concerns as unwarranted paranoid thinking.

15. “You have a bad memory”

Undermining your recollection of past events and interactions to avoid responsibility or invalidate concerns.

16. “That’s not who I am”

Denying behaviors that are contradictory to the persona or image they try to portray of themselves to others.

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17. “Why are you like this?”

Deflecting responsibility by implying questionably that something is inherently wrong with you rather than addressing valid concerns about their behavior.

18. “No one will ever believe you”

Threatening and intimidating you into silence by suggesting others will doubt or dismiss your reports about the relationship dynamics and abusive incidents.

19. “You’re being negative/unreasonable”

Characterizing your perspective on issues as undesirably negative or unfair rather than considering the merits of valid concerns and viewpoints.

20. “You need help/therapy”

Insisting there is something mentally wrong with you that requires treatment to divert attention from their abusive tendencies.

21. Trivializing/minimizing concerns

Downplaying issues, dismissing concerns as exaggerated or insignificant, or suggesting “it’s no big deal” to avoid genuine accountability and responsibility.


How Do I Know if Someone Is Gaslighting Me?

Some signs that indicate gaslighting include;

  • Constantly questioning your reality and perception of events,
  • Feeling confused after interactions as your confidence gets eroded,
  • Sensing the relationship dynamic feels controlling.

What Should I Do if I Think Someone Is Gaslighting Me?

If gaslighting is occurring, it’s important to recognize the tactics for what they are – manipulation – rather than internalizing them.

Make an effort to trust your judgment and perception by documenting incidents through written records, audio recordings if legal, or sharing concerns with a confidante for an outside perspective.

Also, you can seek help from domestic abuse organizations as gaslighting occurs in emotionally abusive relationships that tend to escalate over time.

Why Do People Gaslight Others?

Gaslighters often have narcissistic or antisocial tendencies where they feel a strong sense of entitlement and need for power and control in relationships.

It’s a means to an end to avoid accountability for concerning behavior while shifting blame onto the victim.

Some gaslight due to low self-esteem and desire to upset others to lift themselves in comparison.

Childhood trauma can also play a role in some cases. Ultimately it’s a self-serving manipulation tactic.

What Can I Do if a Family Member or Partner Gaslights Me?

Set strong personal boundaries by refusing to engage with denials and gaslighting tactics. Make it clear certain behaviors are unacceptable.

Seek counseling or support from others you trust. Consider leaving a toxic relationship as a last resort if boundaries are repeatedly violated and concerns dismissed.

Your physical, mental, and emotional well-being should be the priority.

Read Also: Negging: What it is and How to Respond to it

Final Thought

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse characterized by manipulation tactics meant to undermine someone’s sense of reality and confidence over time.

If a relationship involves gaslighting, seeking help from support systems is crucial as it’s a tactic used to gain control and power rather than care for the other person.

Prioritizing self-care and setting clear personal boundaries are important steps if gaslighting occurs.

With awareness, support, and healthy coping mechanisms, no one has to fall victim to another person’s attempts at control through emotional manipulation.

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