17 Gaslighting Phrases Everyone Should Know And Understand

Gaslighting is a form of abuse that can occur in any relationship. Abusers use manipulative techniques to leave their victims questioning their own judgment and therefore becoming dependent on the gaslighter. Look out for these 17 common manipulative phrases that raise flags.

“You’re Overreacting”

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A common form of gaslighting is dismissing someone’s emotions, and One Love says this can make “you feel like they aren’t warranted or like you can’t keep your emotions in check.” This is often done to undermine your perception of an event or argument and leads to decreased trust in your own feelings.

“I Never Said That”

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This phrase is used to outright deny previous statements that an abuser may have made, causing the victim to question their memory. This technique can manipulate the narrative of past events and create confusion, leading to a decrease in confidence in the victim’s own perceptions.

“You’re Just Too Sensitive”

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Abusers use this phrase to suggest that the victim’s emotional sensitivity is a flaw in order to discourage them from standing up for themselves. By invalidating their feelings and reactions, a manipulative individual can push someone to question themselves and internalize their feelings.

“It Was Just a Joke”

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According to Fatherly, “This is a common gaslighting tactic, in which the gaslighter says something hurtful or offensive, and when their partner calls them on it, they turn it around and claim they were only teasing.” This works to minimize the victim’s feelings and portrays them as someone who lacks a sense of humor.

“You’re Imagining Things”

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Manipulative individuals will often try to make a victim question their own memory or perception, and this phrase directly attacks the victim’s sense of what is real. It is sometimes used to dismiss someone’s experiences or concerns without having to actually address the issues.

“Why Are You Making Things Difficult?”

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Gaslighters often try to shift the blame away from themselves, and this is a classic example of this behavior. It can make the victim feel responsible for a difficult conversation they’re having, leading them to apologize for their perfectly normal reactions. Overall, it allows the manipulator to have better control and stop the victim from addressing issues in the relationship.

“You’re Crazy”

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Attacking someone’s mental stability is another form of gaslighting, and Women’s Health says that when someone calls “someone [they] love ‘crazy’ (or similarly, ‘paranoid,’ ‘dramatic,’ etc.)—consistently and not in an endearing way—[it] is an attempt, subconscious or not, to make you think of yourself that way.” Over a period of time, this can impact the victim’s self-esteem and make them lose trust in their own thoughts.

“No One Else Thinks That Way”

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Isolating a victim can be achieved by suggesting that their thoughts or feelings are abnormal or incorrect. This can cause them to feel unsupported and alone, as they doubt their own perspectives. This phrase is used to reduce someone’s confidence in their own thoughts and align them with the gaslighter’s views.

“You’re Being Unreasonable”

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By calling someone unreasonable, the abuser can teach the victim that they are the judge of what is or isn’t rational. This is another phrase that leaves victims questioning their own thoughts and aims to make them conform to the gaslighter’s expectations.

“You Owe Me”

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Some abusive relationships may include guilt-tripping, and Psych Central says this is “when one person, either purposely or unintentionally, tries to make someone feel guilty, remorseful, or bad about their decisions or choices.” Using a phrase like this is an attempt to exploit someone’s sense of duty or loyalty.

“I’m the Only One Who Understands You”

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Gaslighters will often want you to be dependent on them so that they can manipulate you into the behaviors that they want. This phrase works to isolate the victim from other potential support networks, such as friends and relatives, limiting their perspective and increasing their vulnerability to future manipulation.

“You’ll Never Find Someone Like Me”

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This phrase manipulates victims by preying on their fears of loneliness or abandonment. It can trap them in a cycle of feeling indebted and dependent on the gaslighter, which makes it more and more difficult to leave the relationship as the abuse continues.

“You’re Not Remembering Correctly”

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This is a common tactic to rewrite history when it comes to past events or behaviors. Verywell Mind says it may be used to cover up the abuser’s unacceptable behavior, and as a result, “you may begin to doubt your memory of what happened. Encouraging confusion or second-guessing on your part is exactly the intention.”

“It’s All in Your Head”

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Dismissing someone’s concerns is a classic sign of gaslighting, and it often tries to imply that someone’s worries are purely psychological. This can decrease the victim’s trust in their own perceptions and feelings, resulting in them questioning the reality of their experiences.

“Stop Taking Everything So Seriously”

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Aiming to make the victim feel that their concerns or feelings are trivial, this phrase suggests that they are overreacting to normal situations. This can make them feel that their emotional responses are inappropriate, which over time can lead to them being hesitant to share their feelings with others. 

“That’s Not What Happened”

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Gaslighters often try to create doubt about specific details or the occurrence of a past event, and this phrase is used to tell the victim that their recollection of an event is wrong. Rewriting history in this way can cause victims to lose trust in their own memory and perception.

“You’re Misinterpreting What I Said”

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Manipulative individuals often try to shift the blame from themselves onto their victims in order to allow them to control their behavior. By using this phrase, the gaslighter can suggest that any conflict is down to the victim’s interpretation of the communication, which undermines their ability to understand conversations correctly.

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