Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
December 12, 2023 ·  3 min read

16 Gaslighting Phrases That Are Instant Red Flags

What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of control and abuse where an individual, whether it’s your partner, employer, or close friend, employs tactics such as manipulation and distraction to distort reality—making you doubt your idea of truth. Would you recognize gaslighting phrases if someone addressed you with one? It may be hard to identify, but its impact is deep. Its bad effects show when a person damages your sense of reality. It traps you in a lost space where blaming yourself becomes general, even without clear evidence of fault.

Where does the phrase ‘gaslight‘ come from?

gaslighting phrases conceptual vector illustration word cloud isolated on white background.

The term “gaslighting” stems from a play and ensuing 1944 movie titled Gaslight,” where a husband labors to convince his wife of her insanity. One of his tactics is dimming the gas-powered lights in their home and, when asked, claims that they remain bright. Gaslighting is not limited to specific relationships; it can show in various ways, including employer-employee dynamics, parent-child relationships, and relations among friends and family.

Read: “Gaslighting”: A Mind Game That Abusers Use To Make Their Victims Feel Crazy

However, it is most commonly seen in romantic relationships

Gaslighting concept. Psychological manipulation method, and cognitive dissonance creation. Emotional abuse in relationships. Flat vector illustration

Gaslighting is a mental or emotional abuse that can be just as harmful to the victim as physical violence, such as hitting or punching. Individuals who have experienced gaslighting have said that the emotional toll can feel even more severe than physical abuse. This is because, in the latter, the wounds are visible, and the perpetrator is known to them. Emotional abuse, including the use of gaslighting phrases, is more prevalent than one might realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 43 million women and 38 million men will face mental or emotional abuse from an intimate partner. Gaslighting stands out as one among various forms of emotional abuse. Gaslighting involves making you question your memories and experiences, replacing them with the gaslighter’s fabricated version. Do you recognize any of these gaslighting phrases? For instance:

Denying statements:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

“I never said that. You have a terrible memory.”

Dismissing emotions:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

You’re too sensitive!” – normal reactions are shown as dramatic.

Read: 40 Things To Expect If You Marry A Narcissist

Criticizing appearance:

man arguing with woman at table

“You need to lose weight.” – aiming to make you dependent on them for validation.

Isolating from loved ones:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

“Your friends are idiots.” – gaslighters attempt to cut off your connections.

Blaming your performance:

couple on sofa not talking

“You’re frigid and bad in bed.” – often used as a distraction from their actions.

Denying anger:

woman rolling her eyes

“I’m not angry. What are you talking about?” – using the silent treatment for control.

Using love as a weapon:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

If you really loved me, you would…” – manipulating affection to excuse bad behavior.

Shifting blame:

man shifting blame on woman using gaslighting phrases

“It’s your fault I cheated.” – gaslighters turn conversations to blame the victim.

Read: 8 Signs Someone Might Be Manipulating You

Blaming for emotions:

woman yelling att man

“You make me furious.” – holding you responsible for their feelings.

Undermining self-worth:

woman looking into distance partner shouting in background

“No one else would ever love you.” – playing off fears of being unlovable.

Exploiting beliefs:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

“You’re supposed to love me unconditionally.” – using beliefs against you.

Manipulating memories:

woman holding man from behind

“I remember you agreed to do that.” – replacing your memories with theirs. One of the most common gaslighting phrases.

Demanding forgiveness:

couple on leather sofa

“If you’re lucky, I’ll forgive you.” – making you beg for forgiveness.

Alienating with criticism:

man expressing angr towards woman

“This is why no one likes you.” – manipulating to isolate you.

Controlling choices:

man and woman not speaking on sofa

“You look terrible in red. You should never wear it.” – claiming control over your life.

Read: Emotional Manipulation: 7 Lines That People Use To Control Others You Should Be Aware Of

Accusing of gaslighting:

couple arguing using gaslighting phrases

“You’re gaslighting me!” – ironically, accusing you to deflect attention.

The Bottom Line

Conflict between husband and wife. Domestic violence and abusing. couple arguing using gaslighting phrases. Divorce. Flat vector illustration.

Recognizing gaslighting phrases is crucial. Respond by focusing on your feelings and setting limits. Gaslighters may resist, and walking away might be necessary, needing careful planning to ensure safety, including seeking support from loved ones or therapists.

Keep Reading: Studies Show Anxiety Disorders May Be Caused By Exposure To Narcissistic Abuse

H/t The Healthy