Gaslighting is one of the most damaging behaviors in an unhealthy relationship. It occurs when a gaslighter uses manipulation, controlling your mindset, feelings, and well-being. This situation is highly detrimental and can cause long-lasting issues even if you move on from the gaslighter.
A manipulator will minimize your feelings, make you doubt your perceptions and experiences, and manipulate your understanding of events. Their goal is to cause you to lose confidence in yourself and question who you are.
Sometimes gaslighters deny an event happened or accuse you of exaggerating or misunderstanding. They make you question your reality and whether other people in your life mean well to you. If you confront them about their behavior or how they make you feel, it only worsens how they treat you.
These people use similar expressions and tactics for controlling people. Since they behave similarly, there are some phrases you can use to watch for them. They do anything they can to make you second-guess yourself and make you feel like everything is your fault.
17 Phrases a Gaslighter Uses for Controlling Others
1. Why can’t you take a joke?
When a person uses this phrase, it’s a sure sign of gaslighting. They say it so that they can get away with harmful comments. If they hurt your feelings, they minimize your feelings and the situation by making it seem like it was a funny joke. They want to make you second-guess your perceptions of these situations.
2. They know who you are.
This phrase means that the gaslighter got to them before you did. The person fed their lies and stories to those people so they could get them on their side. This phrase also works to alienate you from people you thought cared about you.
When this person says that others think less of you, it makes you feel alone. It also diminishes your self-esteem and causes you to lose trust in others.
3. You’re so sensitive all the time.
A gaslighter will use this phrase when you want to discuss your emotions. If you say how they hurt you, they’ll minimize and invalidate your feelings by telling you that you’re being overly sensitive. In this situation, you should stand your ground and explain that you’re not being sensitive. You’re only trying to express yourself.
4. Why are you being so crazy?
Gaslighters love to call people crazy. It allows them to deflect responsibility and avoid accountability for their actions. This phrase also causes you to experience self-doubt as you question your reality and worry about being judged.
5. Don’t worry about it.
You’re allowed to worry about whatever you want, and no one should tell you otherwise. A manipulator will use this phrase when you’re upset to minimize the situation. They want you to let it go and not mention your feelings.
6. You are always overreacting.
Telling you that you’re overreacting minimizes your feelings and makes you feel like you’re misjudging the situation. They’ll focus on shaming you, making you feel like you’re reacting inappropriately. Using the word “always” furthers the abuse by making it seem like you’re frequently out of hand with your reactions.
Anytime someone uses absolutisms, it’s a sign of manipulation. Absolutisms include the following words:
- no one
7. You have no clue about that.
This phrase could become more specific with them saying you don’t know about something relevant to the discussion. A gaslighter will use this as a way to take attention from themselves and blame you for whatever happened. When they use this phrase, it’s because they did something wrong but want to make it seem like it was you.
8. You know I didn’t mean it like that.
Anytime you get upset when a gaslighter says something harmful, they’ll use a phrase like this. A manipulator doesn’t want to take responsibility for hurting you, so they make it sound like it’s not a big deal. When someone discredits your opinion or personal experience, it’s abuse.
9. Everyone else I know thinks you’re crazy, too.
A gaslighter wants to isolate you, and they’ll do so by making you think people don’t like you. They want you to feel alone and powerless, so they’ll tell you everyone thinks negatively of you. When they say this, it’s how they solidify their point and distance you from others simultaneously.
10. I’m confident they won’t believe you.
Gaslighters want to create an unequal power dynamic. They want you to know that no one will believe you if you try to tell anyone about their abusive behavior. This phrase is common, and they might use it frequently to ensure you understand, even if it’s inaccurate.
11. I don’t know why you get so worked up.
This phrase is similar to telling someone they’re crazy or overreacting. It discredits your feelings and reality and involves the person telling you how you feel. This phrase will make you keep your thoughts to yourself, which is what the abuser wants from you.
12. I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s on you.
This phrase is highly detrimental, and it isn’t a genuine apology. The person uses it to end an argument without admitting they were wrong. If you experience this phrase, it’s sometimes best not to respond because the engagement only fuels their behavior.
A gaslighter wants to dehumanize you for making you think that you have issues that lead to you feeling upset. It’s a way for them to maintain control while also deflecting accountability. This phrase does more harm than good and limits further discussion.
13. You’re misremembering the situation.
A gaslighter will tell you that you’re misremembering a situation and that it didn’t happen that way. It makes you feel confused, and you’ll doubt your perceptions. Anytime you try to talk about what happened, and someone tells you that it didn’t happen, it’s abuse.
This phrase downplays your experience and how it made you feel. It’s even more harmful in a traumatic situation.
14. You would do it if you cared about me.
People should respect it if you say you don’t want to do something. A manipulator will keep pushing and say whatever they can to make you do what they want. They’ll use your love and care against you, making you feel like you must prove it this way.
15. You made me react that way.
If someone says this to you, they deflect their role in the situation. As you can tell, manipulators never want to take responsibility for their actions. Even when the truth is obvious, they’ll do what they can to reaffirm their innocence.
When they hurt you or do something wrong, a manipulator will accuse you of making them do it. They’ll say you provoked them and that if you did what they asked, they wouldn’t have done it. Sometimes you’ll even feel like you should apologize.
16. I’m the only person that truly cares about you.
There are many variations of this phrase, and they’re all intended to do the same thing. The person wants to alienate you, and they do so by making you think they’re the only one who cares. They’ll say that no one else loves you or that you have no friends.
A gaslighter wants you to be dependent on them, and they’ll suggest you stay away from people. They’ll convince you that the people who care about you don’t want what’s best for you or understand you.
17. I’m the only one showing responsibility here.
A manipulator will tell you they’re doing the right thing and that the issues are your fault. If you’re married, they might say the money issues are your fault, even when they spend more than you. They’ll claim they’re trustworthy while you’re the one who can’t be responsible, making you question yourself.
How to Deal with the Gaslighter Bent on Controlling You
If you recognize any signs of gaslighting, don’t hesitate to regain control of your life. It can be hard to stand up for yourself, but you must stick to your truth.
1. Leave the Conversation When Talking With a Gaslighter
If someone tries to deflect or minimize the situation, it’s sometimes best to walk away. Practice self-validation and acknowledge when leaving the conversation is best. You don’t have to put up with a manipulator’s negative behavior, and you can put yourself first.
2. Don’t Let Go of Your Truth, Despite the Controlling Maneuvers of the Gaslighter
A gaslighter wants you to question your reality, but if you’re on to their tactics, you can resist it. Don’t let them convince you to doubt yourself. Your feelings and perceptions are accurate, so hold firm to your beliefs.
3. Write About It Your Experiences With a Gaslighter
To hold firm to your truth, write about your experience. When you write about what happened and how it made you feel, you’ll be less likely to let them change your perception of reality. Keeping a record gives you something to reflect on when they try to make you question your experience.
4. Keep Things Simple With a Gaslighter
If you know you must deal with a gaslighter, plan on keeping the conversation simple. Have a clear purpose for your communication, and understand what you want to accomplish or resolve. Don’t let them lie, shift the narrative, or minimize your feelings. When you enter the conversation with a plan, it helps you remain centered and get through it without effects.
Final Thoughts on Phrases a Gaslighter Will Use to Control People
It’s sometimes hard to recognize gaslighters, but they’ll often use these phrases. They make you feel bad about yourself and cause you to question your reality. If someone in your life uses these phrases or something similar, it’s best to address the situation.
You can limit your time with them or use some of the suggestions above. They won’t always listen to what you say, so it’s sometimes hard to have a discussion. Remember that you deserve better treatment, so don’t let them manipulate you.