22 Gaslighting Phrases That Are Major Red Flags

Unfortunately, there are times when romantic relationships become toxic in devastating ways. One of the worst types of toxic behavior is known as gaslighting, which is a form of psychological manipulation that drives people to question their sanity (or even their reality).

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting comes in many different forms, but in the most serious instances, it is a form of mental and emotional abuse. It characterizes romantic relationships in which someone repeatedly manipulates their partner. When someone gaslights their partner, they’re exerting power in the relationship to try and gain control over their partner or inflict some sort of emotional damage.

One thing is incredibly clear: gaslighting is abuse. One of the worst traits of gaslighters is their determination to make you feel worthless, invalidated, or crazy. They are constantly determined to shift the blame onto you, regardless of whether or not it’s warranted.

What Are the Reasons for Gaslighting?

People commonly resort to gaslighting as a way to make themselves feel better in the relationship (often those who have very low self-esteem.) They may believe that controlling their partner is the only way to get them to stay in the relationship.

According to research, the most disturbing reason for gaslighting is that someone might simply enjoy the feeling of control they get from gaslighting another person. Gaslighters use certain words and phrases that can completely wreck your self-esteem, cause confusion, and even impact your sanity.

When gaslighting goes on long enough, you start doubting yourself so much that you become totally dependent on the gaslighter, which allows them to control you. Thankfully, there are certain phrases a gaslighter will use to manipulate you, so it’s important to be on the lookout for them.

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Here are 22 gaslighting phrases that are major red flags:

1. “I never said that, you’re making it up.”

This is one of the most common gaslighting phrases that make you doubt yourself and your memories. The gaslighter essentially replaces them with their own “version” of what happened, and eventually, you start to believe it.

2. “You need to lose weight.”

One of the ultimate goals of a gaslighter is to make you feel bad about yourself to the point you believe no one else would want you. They want you to depend on them for love and validation, and this is one phrase they use to make it happen.

3. “Your friends are idiots.”

Your family and friends will likely spot gaslighting before you do, so this phrase is a way for the gaslighter to try and isolate you from them. They want your relationship with them to be the primary relationship, so they’ll try everything they can to keep you away from others.

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

Gaslighters use what you love against you, including the love you have for them. This is an incredibly manipulative term used to elicit bad behaviors. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you let them get away with anything they want.

5. “It’s your fault I cheated.”

Gaslighting is all about putting blame on the victim, and this quote is a perfect example. They are shifting the blame from themselves and making their infidelity your responsibility.

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6. “You make me furious.”

No one can “make” you feel a certain way. People are responsible for their own emotions, so if they are using this gaslighting quote, they are trying to put that responsibility on you.

7. “No one else would ever love you.”

This is one of the worst (and unfortunately, most common) gaslighting quotes to be used against the victim. They resort to this hurtful phrase to ensure you won’t leave them.

8. “I remember you agreed to do that.”

This is another way a gaslighter will make you question your memory. They may be so convincing that you actually start to believe you did or said something that you didn’t.

9. “If you’re lucky, I’ll forgive you.”

This phrase is how a gaslighter reminds you of how “lucky” you are that they “put up with you.” You may not even realize what you’re apologizing for sometimes. They have a disturbingly easy way of making you apologize for something they did (that you eventually believe you did).

10. “Stop being so insecure.”

If you point out something about a gaslighter that you’re not okay with, they will make you feel bad for even bringing it up. They don’t want to focus on their own behavior, so they resort to calling you insecure. (Which is another way to shift blame.)

11. “You’re way too emotional.”

Gaslighters are notorious for lacking empathy, so it’s easy for them to use this phrase as a way to manipulate you.

12. “Stop exaggerating the situation.”

This is one of the gaslighting quotes that makes you question your rationality. You might start to consider whether you truly are exaggerating, but in reality, the gaslighter is just trying to make you feel like your concerns are trivial and not worth talking about.

13. “You can’t take a joke.”

A gaslighter might say something hurtful under the guise that it’s a “joke.” It’s a way for them to normalize a rude or terrible comment.

14. “You are just misconstruing my intentions.”

This is a more direct phrase that makes you question your ability to rationalize. It’s a way for a gaslighter to deflect responsibility and make you think you’re just “taking them the wrong way.”

15. “The problem isn’t me, it’s you.”

A gaslighter will constantly tear down your self-esteem by using this phrase. They use constant projection, which forces you to defend yourself and shifts the conversation away from their behavior and onto your own — if you haven’t done anything wrong.

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16. “I think you need help.”

While this phrase can be used with good intentions, gaslighters will use it to make you question your mental health. It’s another way to cause you unnecessary self-doubt.

17. “I won’t tolerate lies.”

Basically, if you are saying something that doesn’t align with the gaslighter’s narrative, they will use this phrase to deflect. They are trying to avoid confrontation and, again, shift the blame to you.

18. “You’re bad in bed.”

Much like commenting on your physical appearance, this is a gaslighting phrase aimed to tear down your self-esteem. They want you to feel bad about your sexuality as a whole, and it’s often used as an “excuse” for their infidelity.

19. “This is why no one likes you.”

This is another way gaslighters try to manipulate you into staying with them. They may shame you into avoiding your friends and family, making you believe they are saying bad things about you. They might even go to the extreme of taking your phone, car keys, or anything else that would allow you to communicate with them or get out of the relationship.

20. “I’m not angry. What are you talking about?”

Many times, a gaslighter will use stonewalling as a way to “punish” you. When you call them out on it, they will deny being angry, which is another way to make you question reality. You become confused and start to wonder whether your feelings that they are upset are inaccurate.

21. “You’re gaslighting me!”

This is one of the most classic (and ironic) gaslighting phrases. A gaslighter will say anything to make you focus on your own behavior instead of theirs. You become so emotionally drained from constantly defending yourself that you don’t catch on to their gaslighting behavior.

22. “You’re supposed to love me unconditionally.”

This is a way for the gaslighter to use your beliefs against you. It’s a way for them to excuse their toxic behavior. Worst of all, it makes you question whether you should feel a certain way and whether or not you’re treating them fairly.

If you believe you are being gaslighted in your romantic relationship, the best course of action is to end it. Unfortunately, trying to reason with a gaslighter will only cause them to become more accusatory and abusive.

When you finally decide to end the relationship, it’s important to tread carefully. It’s not uncommon for gaslighting to escalate from mental abuse to physical abuse, especially because they are losing control over you. Talk to your loved ones or a therapist to determine the best way to leave. Once you do, it’s necessary to make a no-contact rule for yourself, since the gaslighter will use their manipulative ways to win you back with gifts and false promises.

At the end of the day, your needs and mental health should take priority. Gaslighting is an attempt to chip away at your self-worth, so ending the relationship, practicing self care, learning to trust your instincts, and reclaiming your identity are the only ways to escape it.

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