50+ Crazy Gaslighting Phrases Narcissists Say – Direct from Survivors

I have made a collection of more than 50 gaslighting phrases that narcissists say directly from people who have been in relationships with narcissists or have a narcissistic parent. This is real life with a narcissist!

I have made a collection of more than 50 gaslighting phrases that narcissists say directly from people who have been in relationships with narcissists or have a narcissistic parent. This is real life with a narcissist!

WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?

Gaslighting is a bit misunderstood and misused. So let’s start with a level set on what it actually is.

Many will lump gaslighting together with all the other manipulation tactics. It is easy to do this because we use a term commonly as “he gaslighted you” implying it was a manipulation tactic in its own right that was employed.

While using the word that way is fine, I do it myself a lot, it is, however, misleading as it confuses what it really is. Gaslighting really is not a manipulation tactic, it is an effect on a person thatis/has been subjected to emotional and psychological manipulation tactics.

Remember that covert manipulation tactics are used to make someone believe, act, or think something they otherwise would not have, without their knowledge it is happening.

The gaslighting effect is when the manipulator denies and therefore invalidates reality. Invalidating distorts or undermines the victim’s perception of the world and can even lead them to question their own sanity. Almost all manipulation tactics will contribute to the gaslighting effect. It is an inevitable effect of being successfully manipulated in some way. You cannot make someone do something against their self-interest without them knowing they are even doing it without distorting their own perceptions of reality in some way to some degree. So yes lying as a manipulation tactic and thusly contributes to the gaslighting effect as they all do.

That said some tactics contribute far more to the gaslighting effect and those are oftentimes called out as the ‘gaslighting tactic’ which is incorrect. They are different tactics in their own right, that happen to contribute more heavily to the gaslighting effect.

Just to make this answer more complete lets hit some of the manipulation tactics that cause higher degrees of the gaslighting effect. Like I said these often are referred to as using the ‘gaslighting tactic’. That really is not correct though. This is not a comprehensive list, as was previously stated all tactics, even lying, contribute to the gaslighting effect.

Stonewalling– the abuser acts confused pretends he doesn’t understand what the victim is telling him and withholds feelings. (Note some definitions use stonewalling as synonymous with the silent treatment. I do not choose to use that definition, I find this one more accurate.)

  • Why are you trying to confuse me?
  • You are not making any sense.
  • I have no idea what you want me to say

Countering – The abuser questions the memory and thoughts of the victim and supports the accusation with previous examples

  • You never remember things correctly
  • You know I never said that
  • You have a very active imagination
  • Get your facts straight

Blocking/Diverting – The abuser refuses to answer or comment, changes the subject, faults the victim accusing or blaming him/her or faults the victim for acting the way he/she did

  • I’m not going to go through this again
  • We already talked about this
  • You are always picking fights
  • You always have to be right

Trivializing – The abuser makes the thoughts and needs of the victim seem unimportant

  • That is hardly important
  • Why would you let something so stupid come between us?
  • You are just too sensitive
  • You always blow things out of proportion
  • Let it go already

Intentional Forgetting/Denial (really just a blatant lie not neurotic denial, as there is not an inability to face some reality of a traumatic experience causing the denial. It is just simply a lie, many times used to just dodge accountability) The abuser denies that things ever happened or denies promises he made to the victim to prevent him/her from getting a resolution

  • I never did/said that
  • That never happened
  • I have never been there before
  • You never told me that
  • You are confusing me with someone else
  • There is nothing wrong with my memory

The gaslighting effect can also be applied to a huge effect in other ways as well. One example is making the mark think they are losing it. This could be done by hiding or misplacing things and then telling them they were never there, or their memory is failing them. This is referred to as abient gaslighting.

Like I said those tactics causing the highest gaslighting effects are also going to be unconscionable which is why we see them the most in disordered pathological manipulators who lack the conscience and empathy to care about hurting others.

Gaslighting is an effect from personal attacks and psychological abuse over a long period of time. The abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions.

Gaslighting is an insidious form of abusive behavior. It makes victims question the very instincts that they have counted on their whole lives, making them unsure of anything.

Gaslighting makes it very likely that victims will believe whatever their abusers tell them regardless as to their own experience of the situation.

Gaslighting often precedes other types of emotional and physical abuse because the victim of gaslighting is more likely to remain in other abusive situations as well.

The psychological term gaslighting comes from the 1938 British play “Gas Light” wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her and own sanity. Gas Light was made into a movie both in 1940 and 1944.

Read more in depth about gaslighting here.

gaslighting phrases

WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is nothing to take lightly. Nor is it a label to lightly put on someone you think is arrogant. Though people who pass for normal have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s a very serious mental illness.

The warped thinking is so ingrained and stubborn that the mental health profession has had little success in dealing with it. It’s called “malignant” narcissism because it is just that, malignant. So, it’s far worse than just being arrogant. A malignant narcissist is a predator.

In other words, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is as serious as sociopathy. In fact, it is increasingly thought to be a form of sociopathy/psychopathy.

NPD isn’t occasional behavior. It is a pervasive pattern of thinking and behaving that corrupts virtually every human interaction.

Gaslighting has become a well-known tactic of abuse in the abuse survivor community, particularly for the survivors of malignant narcissists.

Unlike more vulnerable narcissists who may possess more of a capacity for remorse, malignant narcissists truly believe in their superiority, are grandiose and lie on the higher end of the narcissistic spectrum.

They have antisocial traits, demonstrate paranoia, bear an excessive sense of entitlement, show a callous lack of empathy and display an egregious liking for interpersonal exploitation.

Gaslighting provides malignant narcissists with a portal to erase the reality of their victims without a trace. It is a method that enables them to commit covert psychological murder with clean hands.

WHY DO SURVIVORS BELIEVE IN GASLIGHTERS?

Executed effectively and done chronically, gaslighting causes self doubt and cognitive dissonance – a state of turmoil stirred by inconsistent attitudes and manipulation techniques.

Survivors of emotional predators sense that something is amiss, but when they attempt to address it, they are often blindsided by their abuser’s complete dismissal and invalidation of their reality.

Gaslighting begins insidiously in stages; during the first step, while the seeds of doubt are growing survivors still have a grasp of their own reality even if they might not understand what is happening.

Like a frog in slowly boiling water, they become accustomed to the insidious warping of their reality, until they no longer recognize their reality or even themselves. 

Initially, they may attempt to reiterate their perspective and express disbelief at the gaslighter’s claims.

As gaslighting continues, however, it wears down the victim. Gaslighting is only one common tactic that is used by toxic people to turn the cycle of abuse.

According to Lynn Hasher, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, “Repetition makes things seem more plausible…and the effect is likely more powerful when people are tired or distracted by other information.”

Chronic gaslighting eventually leads to pure exhaustion – victims develop a sense of learned helplessness as they are met with the intense consistency of denial, rage, projection or accusations from the gaslighter.

Exhaustion from abuse and retaliation for asserting oneself creates a mental fog of epic proportions, one in which a survivor can easily drown in even the most ridiculous excuses as long as they carry a grain of truth.

The survivor of a conniving gaslighter becomes submerged in confusion about what actually occurred and whether anything truly occurred at all.

gaslighting phrases

How to know if you are a victim of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting comes in many forms. In many ways, the one who is gaslighting their partner may be intentionally doing it to cover up anything from a guilty conscience, an affair, drug use, etc. So they’ll be quick to lash out at their partners to make them feel a sense of guilt just to cover their own tracks.

Not sure if you’re being gaslighted? Here’s how to know:

  • You often feel confused and even crazy in the relationship.
  • You’re always apologizing left & right. Overdoing it at times.
  • You can’t understand why you aren’t happier, you feel miserable
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
  • You know something is wrong but you just don’t know what.
  • You experience imposter syndrome; feeling imperfect, vulnerable, crying spells and depressed because you feel “less than”. This is your partner messing with your head.
  • You feel oversensitive about everything when in reality you’re sane, your partner isn’t.
  • They’re tactical with it. They will wait till you address something bothering you and then will say you’re overreacting. They know when to push your buttons and will patiently wait for you to snap. Don’t give in.
  • Emotional/Physical shut/down/cut-off is a form of control, but in rare cases it They KNOW this and deep down its driving you nuts. They are restricting any conversation, sharing of ideas/thoughts. This IS intentional. You won’t change their ways.
  • In rare cases, silent treatment isn’t always gaslighting or intentional but ignoring you is common in those with BPD. Those with with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can appear loving or caring and then cut off for no apparent reason. They can react to perceived situations of abandonment. Often they can read into things that are not even there. They can become triggered to feeling unwanted, mistreated or abandoned. It’s out of your control. You may not even know this though which creates unnecessary anxiety upon waking day after day.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, your best option is to exit your friendship, relationship or whatever it is you’re having with this person at all costs. Gaslighting usually won’t present itself until weeks to months later in a relationship.

50+ CRAZY GASLIGHTING PHRASES NARCISSISTS SAY DIRECT FROM SURVIVORS

Gaslighting is usually done in form of questions that sound doubtful in the context at hand. It has the best effect when there are more than two people in conversation: the gaslighter, gaslighter’s ally, who can confirm the lies or at least reinforce the doubt by siding with their mastah and of course the gaslighted person.

I never said that.

That is not how it happened.

You misinterepted things.

I only said that because of you.

You made me do that.

You always are twisting things.

Your divorce has really taken a toll on me.

When I get old and can’t take care of myself, just have someone kill me because I know you won’t want to take care of me.

Stop trying to mother him.

You fail at home so you will fail at school.

I have forgotten more than you will ever be able to learn.

You’re so sensitive.

Why do you always have to argue with me?

You are not making any sense.

You read into things too much.

You are so stupid and immature.

You don’t know anything about this.

You always do this.

Why are you like this?

I never did that to you! In fact, YOU’RE hurting ME for even suggesting that!

Shame on you.

Oh so I guess I can’t say anything anymore.

Show a little respect.

It breaks my heart to hear you actually think we set out to hurt you.

Why do you always bring up the past?

Where did I go wrong in parenting?

Why can’t you be more like your brother and sister?

I’ve done everything for you I’ve given you everything.

I don’t really remember that happening that way.

Are you sure your mom didn’t do that to you?

Calm Down.

You’re taking things the wrong way again!

It’s always something with you isnt it.

You’re putting words in my mouth.

Your making things up.

You’re so ungrateful.

I’ve done everything for you and you treat me like a piece of shit!

You’re being dramatic.

I provided you with a roof over your head, food in your mouth, clothes on your back, and toilet paper to wipe you’re a**! I gave you what you wanted (snacks and such) when you didn’t deserve it!

Don’t put words into my mouth.

You don’t know everything/I used to be arrogant too when I was your age.

I apparently can’t have any negative emotions!

I should have never encouraged you to speak.

I didn’t mean it like that.

You have a selective memory.

If you were paying attention…

If you were listening…

If you knew how to listen…

We talked about this. Don’t you remember?

I guess I’ll have to repeat myself since you can’t remember.

You need to learn to communicate better.

You’re being irrational.

Don’t you think you’re over-reacting?

You’re just over-sensitive.

Stop being so sensitive.

You’re too emotional.

You can’t take a joke.

You’re so thin-skinned.

You always jump to the wrong conclusion.

Stop taking everything I say so seriously.

Can you hear yourself?

I criticize you because I like you.

You’re the only person I have these problems with.

You’re reading too much into this.

I’m not arguing; I’m discussing.

I know what you’re thinking.

You should have known that this was not a good time to talk.

Why are you upset? I was only kidding.

Why would you think that? What does that say about you?

I had it much worse than you.

I only did it because of what you did/you do it.

It was just a joke.

You’re crazy. No-one will believe you over me.

One day, you’ll understand when you get into the real world.

How much control do you want?!

Well, if you would just do what I tell you to do, we wouldn’t have this problem.

You need to learn to lighten up.

You’re so sensitive! How are you going to handle the real world?!

You’re being so emotional.

I don’t remember that/I don’t remember saying that.

Oh come on, it’s not that big a deal, why are you being a big baby about this?

Well how much more [basic need/necessary resource] could you need?

You think you know everything and that you’re never wrong.

You always gotta have the last word.

You only think that because you’re too [young/stupid/female/queer/etc] to know any better.

gaslighting phrases

I never said that! That’s not even something I would say…

I’m not sure why you’re so insecure or whatever your issues are…

I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Maybe because your mom and dad and sister died there’s something broken inside you……

I don’t know why you insist on relating to the person you say I am when clearly I’m not that person…..

If anyone is abusive in this relationship it’s you. You hit me once, did I ever hit you?…

You’re ruining the family by not following my lead….

Maybe you do need to get on some medication after all…

I’m a happy go lucky person, I’m easy to get along with, but you just can’t live without drama……

What’s wrong with you, you just need to fight don’t you? You just can’t be happy………

I don’t know who you think you’re relating to but that guy you describe as me is not me……

You’re leading the family astray just like Solomons pagan wives…..

A woman is commanded to submit to her husband and you know that. I’m not telling you that, God tells you that…..

You have no respect for the Word of God. Don’t talk to me about the Bible….

I don’t understand if it’s a compréhension problem with you or you’re just playing dumb……

Wait, wait, wait… You’re not trying to say that (…), are you?”

“I mean, EVERYONE knows that (…)!”

“Not sure what are you on but take my advice and halve the dose…”

“ (…)? You must’ve been dreaming, haha!”

“Erm… is it me or you just said (…)?”

“Are you shitting me?!”

“Don’t give me that shit…”

Conclusion

We may all find ourselves saying some of those things at times. Those gaslighting phrases do not necessarily imply manipulation though. We may not be trying to deceive the other person with the intent to dodge accountability or distort their reality and confuse them. We maybe are genuinely confused or don’t know.

However, if I know something is true, and even worse I know you also know it to be true, but I play dumb or say those things to confuse you and question yourself, then it puts that person in the twilight zone. It messes with their head. It distorts their sense of reality. It makes them question their sanity. That is creating a gaslighting effect.

Manipulation is a consequence of emotional immaturity and/or power imbalances. This is why we see a lot of manipulation with children. The personality disordered pathological manipulators are emotionally immature as well. In romantic relationships with disordered people, there is also a complete power imbalance with the victim having none.

This can sometimes lead to the victim to resort to manipulation as a form of self-defense. Intentions do matter as well. Bad behavior is bad behavior that cannot be changed but context and intentions will always be a factor in deciding a persons culpability for that bad behavior. In this case, the victim was being exploited, there was a major power struggle

in the relationship and the victim was defending themselves by resorting to manipulation tactics.

How many of these gaslighting phrases have you heard in your relationships?

Comment below what other gaslighting phrases you have been told and they will be added to the list here to help other recognize the signs of gaslighting and emotional abuse.

26 thoughts on “50+ Crazy Gaslighting Phrases Narcissists Say – Direct from Survivors”

    1. When they say most of these things or all of them, they have a real problem. I have lived with a person who is this way over 35 years. If one attempts to leave, they tell you they will kill you and they mean it because they have physically hurt you very bad in the past.

    1. Oh my goodness these are ridiculous. There are a handful of manipulative comments bit mostly they are just comments made in tense arguments.
      Not necessarily narcs.

      Things have to be said on life.
      Why don’t you offer an alternative in context?
      That might help people more.

      1. Did it ever occure to anyone that praying for your loved one who has these traits is more helpful than pointing out faults that each of us has? Start looking within yourselves. None of us are perfect.

        1. Yes, on numerous occasions. Talk with my Priest. It has not helped one bit! When someone is this bad for such a long time, they will not change.

      2. How about “its no big deal” or “youre making things up in your head again” “psycho bitch” “where do you come up with these scenarios” “I did nothing wrong” “why do you always want to fight”? Heres more characteristics I believe. One minute mean and abusive. Five minutes (literally) sweet and acts like nothing happened. A few minutes later mean and abusive again in a cycle. Crazy making shit. Denial invalidation justify dismiss and blame.

      3. My ex broke my glasses so he could be with the side chic three doors down and say it was his hos daughter outside with him he had the nerve enough to have me walk to his parents house and stand in the rd so he could give something and kiss side chic on the lips and slap her ass with curtains wide open then tell me I thought I saw this that it was his daughter the were wrestling around that I was blind and beat me when I said I know what I saw. And that we were done. This was two months ago I moved he is still stalking,threating , trying to lie fighting me then calling cops on me saying it’s me when I try to get the rest of my stuff from what was once my house never his. So if your glasses are missing alot or get broke while missing or end up broke some were you didn’t put them best believe you have been gaslighted and the but honey I didn’t do that you know you can’t see and are blind when you don’t have your glasses on. That was my daughter I can’t believe you think that I would never do that to you I lbrookove you why are you doing this to us I love you you just don’t love me anymore your killing me over something you thought you saw bullshit is exactly what I just called it gaslighting bullshit.

      4. “As usual, Make me look like the bad guy”
        “I’ll tell you what happened, we both know you have a bad memory”
        “When I get to heaven I’m going to punch god in the face”

      5. If people say or do some of the things on the narc list and say “everybody does it” they are wrong. If you find yourself thinking the someone else in your life is “oversensitive” maybe YOU are the narcissist. Specifically if like labeling people that more often than not. I don’t know how many times I have had a nasty comment or had a vicious attitude change attributed to “having to look at you” from my ex only to be told by him “It was only a joke. Don’t be so damn sensitive.” Right. I am so glad he is gone. I am done . But the damage he did goes down to my soul.

      6. When I say “jump”, you say how high on the way up.
        I brought you into this world, and g-dammit, I can take you right out of it.
        Shut your mouth before I put my fist right into it.
        This again? You’re such a broken record.
        You never know when to quit.
        I’ll give you something to cry about.
        It’s my way or the highway.

      7. I’ve had years of “it’s your hormones” every time I didn’t agree with him, as well as many of the others in the list. That should definitely be on the list. When I reached menopause, he blamed that. I avoided bathing to avoid the sexual abuse. Left in September. Trying to protect son in court as he wants contact, son doesn’t. Abuse and gaslighting was so gradual. Still stressful now but hope to be free soon. Protecting son is priority.

      8. Candy C Lancaster

        My mother made hurtful comments throughout my life such as “if you would only apply yourself you could be as smart as your sister” and “I can read you like a book”, ” I know you better than you know yourself!” “You’re gonna have to account for every word that comes out of your mouth!” “YOU have a sharp tongue!” and on and on and on. I really think she projected her insecurities onto me.

      9. My ex I left 10 years ago was a narc. He did all of the above. I wasnt allowed to work, have friends, mingle with family. After all these years it hurts to see the same personality in my son of 17.
        I did say to him that I have done everything for him in his life, but I get nothing in return. I didnt say that because I am the narc. I said that as a scream for helplessnes. Because he does nothing to show any respect towards me, calls me a whore even though I am a happily married woman. I can name a list of things he says, which are so untrue and manipulative. He has no friends at all, because they avoid him when they get to know him better. His girlfriends leave him because he threathens to kill himself if they dont do what he wants. It is with a heavy heart that a month ago he left my house to go live with his dad.
        This article only talks about narc parents or partners. But it starts with children.

      10. I am only 19, and I was emotionally abused for over 6 months. He had no one. No parents, and I was trying to be a good friend but we used to date and when we broke up that’s when the intense emotional abuse happened. Here are some emotionally abusive things( most are gaslighting I think) I have had said to me while I
        was trying to be his close friend:

        – “Bc you were overthinking it” and “No you’re overthinking it”
        – “Yes you are. Keep the peace” -bc he ALWAYS insisted I was the one making things bigger than they were and causing fights
        – “U literally turned urself into a victim”
        – “See you’re doing it again. Playing Victim” and “And so you’re the victim the rest of your life”
        -” Bc I know deep down in your head you think I’m the full on bad guy”
        – ” I liked our friendship….but at the end of the day its gotta be over as usual”- always made me feel like the bad guy, especially when I tried to remove myself from the friendship
        -” You always want to kill it” “You always blame me” “You always [insert behavior]”
        -“Great thanks for ending things off emotion as usual.”
        -“Since we are such a bad friendship cut it off like you always do. No matter the great places we’ve been to and great memories we made. End it”
        -“It’s toxic. It’s toxic. Ig one night is enough to get blocked”
        -“Great now you’re gonna claim r8pe”
        -“Ig I’m just always the villain in these stories”
        – He says he doesn’t remember grabbing my A$$- I have had my memories messed with by him, but I remember as clear as day that he did this action. I don’t remember leading up things to it, just the action and what he said before the action.

        If you liked these please comment. I wanna help people escape toxicity quicker than I did.

      11. You are all about sex and money. I can never do anything right . That message was a year ago to that woman. You don’t know what you are talking about.

      12. after 17 yrs of marriage,and years of depression.finally was told about talking therapies by my gp,had never heard of gaslighting apart from the street lights. i found it really hard to believe that my marriage had been controled all this time but the more i learnt the more it became clear i was being abused. what made it harder still is that i,m a bloke and shit like this just do,sent happen wrong it do,s. glad i found out,got oyt of the marriage and am making a new life.if you suspect your being gaslighted male or female dont question it cause if you think it you probably are.dont be afraid to seek help.

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