21 Common Gaslighting Phrases In A Relationship

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“I guess you are overreacting, dear.” “You might need help.” “You’re being insecure.” Do you often hear such phrases that make you introspect and get anxious? If yes, then you could be a victim of gaslighting phrases.

Gaslighting is psychological abuse that could make you feel irrational. It hides the reality from you and manipulates you such that you can go ‘crazy.’ One often loses trust in their “gut instinct.” Abusive and narcissistic partners often use the strategy to trap their significant other in a confused zone and do what they want inside and outside the relationship. If you sense that your partner is gaslighting you, then knowing some common gaslighting phrases can help you. Once you are certain of their behavior and feelings, you can take action accordingly.

20+ Gaslighting Phrases In A Relationship

1. ‘You are too emotional.’

One of the characteristics of a gaslighter is apathy. Your responses to their conduct could be right, but they proclaim that you overreact. At times, you might wonder if you are really overthinking, which is how the gaslighter manipulates you. Your emotional response is likely normal while theirs isn’t considered emotion.

2. ‘Stop misunderstanding me.’

When you accuse your partner of something, they might turn the tables on you, saying you always misunderstand them. They use this strategy to divert your attention and emotionally manipulate that you are hurting them.

3. ‘You are ungrateful.’

When you get a slight hint that something is wrong with your partner, they twist the circumstances against you. For example, they may assert they have sacrificed things for you, and you are unappreciative. Eventually, they blame you and escape from the situation.

4. ‘You don’t love me as I do.’

When things start turning sour for them, they play the victim card to gain sympathy from you. They might say, ‘you don’t trust me,’ or ‘you don’t love me.’ Such gaslighting phrases might make you doubt that you are not a good partner.

5. ‘You make me upset.’

A gaslighting partner can take you on a guilt trip by using common gaslighting phrases such as ‘you don’t understand me,’ or ‘you make me look bad.’ Though you are unhappy due to their actions towards you, they snappily make you the culprit for their emotions that they are often trying to not feel or acknowledge.

6. ‘Your friends make fun of me.’

A gaslighter wants you to stay isolated. Hence, they try to turn you against your friends or family. They might tell you that your friends do not behave well or are trying to weaken your bond. This tactic helps them rule over you when you are alone and without support from your loved ones.

7. ‘You imagine things.’

They may try to make you look foolish using white lies. It is common for a gaslighter to show you in a bad light, making you a victim of something untrue. They might tell you are overanalyzing things so that you doubt yourself.

8. ‘Don’t damage my personality.’

No, it’s not you. Their actions damage their personality and your relationship, but they accuse you of doing so. Remember, people are responsible for their character, and nobody else can make or break it. If they have been disrespected for their behavior by their friends or colleagues, they try to make you feel responsible and fall in agony.

9. ‘You have gained weight.’

Narcissists and abusers criticize their partners and try to look superior to them. If your partner has been making you feel bad by saying, ‘You look bad in that outfit,’ ‘You eat too much,’ or ‘You should lose weight to look like my friends,’ they are trying to pull you down.

10. ‘Don’t makeup stories.’

Your partner has done something wrong, and you caught him red-handed. Instead of accepting, they tell you that you are making stories to show them in a bad light. For example, you found them talking to someone outside of the relationship, and when you question them, they say you are cooking up things or list many reasons why they have to “legitimately” talk to the person.

11. ‘You are jealous.’

Whenever your partner says you are insecure and too possessive, know that they are up with something. Instead of consoling you and answering your questions, they transfer the blame to you and your actions.

12. ‘Everything is your fault.’

Arguments and disagreements are common in a relationship. But if your partner condemns you for everything you do and never appreciates you, then they are gaslighting you. A loving partner would not say that you are completely wrong and try to balance the situation. But a gaslighter would shift all the immoral things towards you.

13. ‘You always argue.’

It’s common for couples to fight. But if your partner says that you are always ready to fight and that your family is unhappy because of you, then it is wrong. They are trying to deploy tactics that make you look bad and show them as a generous person.

14. ‘You disrespect me and my family.’

You have always been congenial to your partner and their family. But to bring you down and indict you, your gaslighting partner says you are disrespectful, which is a false statement. They want you to feel guilty and sorry most of the time by saying so. They might also try to prove this idea by saying a family member feels you made someone in the family uncomfortable.

15. ‘You do not make sense to me.’

One of the common gaslighting signs is to make you analyze your experiences to doubt yourself. For instance, if you tell your partner they have done wrong, they may bring up a past incident when you were wrong and puff about it until you feel bad about your behavior.

16. ‘Don’t be so paranoid.’

When you catch your gaslighting partner doing something, they refuse to accept what you say. Even when you state your proofs, they disregard them and shift the attention towards you, saying you are assuming unrealistic things and disrupting their life.

17. ‘You make me do things.’

Does your partner censure you for their behavior or actions? For instance, they start flirting with others, and when you question them, they express that you are no more fun. Someone who doesn’t love you anymore and is gaslighting you will have such harsh allegations put to you.

18. ‘That was just a joke.’

Do you feel your partner mocks you in private and social gatherings? That is not funny, and it means they are punching you down. It is unacceptable if they insult you and tell you it was a joke and move away.

19. ‘You always break my heart.’

Your partner keeps hurting you with gaslighting phrases, and when you confront them, they pass the buck and tell everyone that you keep breaking their heart with your accusations and merciless statements.

20. ‘There are so many problems with you.’

Do you often get to hear statements such as, ‘you create problems,’ ‘it’s difficult to be with you,’ or ‘you are such a problem?’ Instead of resolving the situation, if they keep labeling you for something that is not you, they are playing shrewd.

21. ‘You need some help.’

A loving partner will help you even in complex circumstances but will not tell you to seek help from a professional unless the issue is from both sides. A gaslighter keeps on indicting you until you surrender and get into depression. It’s important to understand your boundary line and stand up for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I outsmart a gaslighter?

When dealing with a person with gaslighting behaviors, remain calm and be confident about your opinions and beliefs. Do not allow them to manipulate you; speak up and try to avoid such people or take some space; you can also take help from others to prove or emphasize your points.

2. How do I gaslight a narcissist?

While gaslighting is not good behavior, if you are facing narcissist abuse, you may choose to gaslight to deal with them. You can counterattack their questions and statements with yours.

3. What are subtle signs of gaslighting?

Subtle gaslighting is often hard to identify because this may feel like general daily conversions. But if they are suggesting that you seek counseling, help, or outside perspective for problems that are happening between the two of you, or for problems that you are bringing up about them, this can be an indication of subtle gaslighting.

4. What mental illnesses cause gaslighting?

People with BPD, narcissism and antisocial personality disorders are more likely to gaslight others around them.

5. What does gaslighting look like?

Gaslighting can leave you in doubt and second-guessing yourself. It might look like a conversation where the person who is gaslighting looks domineering while the other person looks apologetic and less confident.

Gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse where a person or group of people make someone question their memories, perception of reality, and sanity. It can be harmful when a partner questions the validity of another partner using gaslighting phrases in a relationship. Gaslighting can also result in a lack of self-esteem and the ability to trust someone. Never encourage gaslighting in relationships since it could eventually make you feel depressed or anxious. Taking the right step at the right time and being vocal about the emotional difficulties you are going through can help to avoid long-term effects.

Relationships are a partnership. Gaslighting stifles the voice of one partner causing them to not trust their inner voice and lose a sense of self. Finding one’s voice is an important part to reclaiming your sense of self.

Infographic: Why Do People Gaslight In Relationships?

Gaslighting is a behavior one uses to create doubt and confusion in another person by altering their reality. Gaslighting can be intentional or unintentional and is a red flag in a relationship. Check out the infographic below to understand why people gaslight in a relationship.

reason why people gaslight in relationship [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Having done a certification in Relationship Coaching, her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship... more

Michele Waldron

(Psy.D, LADC-I, CSCT)
Dr. Michele Waldron is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified couples counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and sex therapist. She received her Psy.D from Antioch University, New England, and has a group practice that supports adults’ relationships and sexual health. Dr. Waldron is passionate about reducing sexual shame, which causes significant mental health challenges. She helps people of all abilities... more