Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation meant to leave you feeling insecure and questioning yourself. Here are a few phrases gaslighters often use:
Poor Barbara feels nothing but worn down and emotionally exhausted.
Her relationship has suddenly turned out to be a great source of emotional, physical, and mental stress.
She’s stressed by her partner’s new habits that often leave her feeling like she’s out of touch with reality, always wrong, and even crazy.
Specifically, she’s in a situation where she consistently questions her feelings, opinions, and experiences.
Of course, she has always known she isn’t one of those people with strong and hardly shakable self-confidence and self-esteem.
But she’s sure she has never felt as insecure and doubtful of herself as she’s feeling now.
If she doesn’t often catch herself wondering if something’s wrong with her. Questioning her reality, memories, and beliefs. And worse, feeling worthless, it would have been a different case.
Because any other form of self-doubt might either stem from the way you were raised as a child or from an unexpected crisis later in adulthood. And not because a romantic partner is actively gaslighting and manipulating you into doubting yourself.
And that’s why Barbara is feeling worn down in all ramifications that she’s feeling endlessly disturbed, devastated, and less optimistic about other stresses she’s to deal with in life.
But the truth is, if she had given much thought to most of the not-so-cool phrases her partner often uses that can be best described as gaslighting phrases, she would have a long time ago, saved herself from all the pain and stress the relationship is causing her.
And that’s exactly why I’ve put together this list of seven ugliest gaslighting phrases to be very wary of in a relationship.
This knowledge might save you from being stuck in a painstaking relationship with a manipulative douchebag. Or help you fight against their attempts to mess with your mind and self-esteem.
1. “Stop being so dramatic.”
Having a strong emotional bond and intimacy with a romantic partner can be so much easier said than done. Especially when your partner barely takes into account of where you are emotionally.
But being safe and comfortable enough to be emotionally free with your partner is an important ingredient for a healthy and happy relationship.
The problem is that some manipulative, emotional stressors often make relationships emotional and mental stress sources for their significant others.
They’re so manipulative and emotionally abusive enough to incessantly minimize, shame, or dismiss their partners’ feelings by using this gaslighting phrase.
They’re so inconsiderate that they always treat their partners like all their reactions to whatever will bring up a confrontational situation are exaggerated.
Specifically, when their partners call them out for hurting them emotionally, physically, or any other way, they’ll resort to gaslighting them with the phrase “stop being so dramatic” in a bid to brush off their partners’ feelings.
When you find yourself in such type of a situation, it might be true that your reaction doesn’t match your partner’s bad behaviors. But it isn’t a valid excuse to treat you like you don’t have all the rights on Earth to feel the way you do.
You’re a human being with feelings and emotions just like anyone else.
And it’s only right for a romantic partner to be often empathetic enough to put themselves in your shoes, validate your feelings, and work together with you as a team to resolve whatever issue that’s upsetting you.
When a partner uses this phrase intentionally or otherwise, they’re being nothing but emotionally manipulative in a way that’ll often leave you questioning your feelings and second-guessing yourself.
Especially when they’re putting up such behavior to turn things around and defend even their smallest not-so-cool behaviors.
That’s why a partner that’s caring enough toward your feelings to the point where he or she doesn’t see the need to invalidate them is loudly telling you that you matter enough to them that they consider your feelings as important as you are in their lives.
Also read: 5 Signs Someone Never Really Loved You
2. “But you also did XYZ…”
Instead of facing some kinds of confrontational situations head-on and taking responsibility for their transgressions, a gaslighting partner will constantly frustrate and even drive you insane when they always resort to reminding you of your past mistakes to escape responsibility for theirs.
They’re oblivious to how terribly immature and even manipulative these kinds of behaviors are when it comes to confrontational situations.
Some time ago, I was involved with an ex-partner who used to do this regularly.
Whenever I call her out for any behavior of hers that doesn’t go down well with me, she’ll immediately weaponize against me my past misdeeds towards her that we’ve long resolved — throwing it on my face, asking me why can’t I be as forgiving as she is?
The problem, as I have now learned, is that she was projecting on me her unforgiveness and her terrible habit of holding onto whatever wrong I’ve ever done irrespective of the fact that I’ve long apologized and made amends for them.
Sure, not all gaslighting partners are exactly this manipulative and abusive, but I just wanted to point out that a partner who uses any variation of this gaslighting phrase, will always force you into defensiveness while their bad behaviors get swooped under the rug.
That’s why the best way to deal with this act of gaslighting is to stand firm on resolving the issue at hand while promising to get back to their issue thereafter.
And the shocking truth is, such a partner might not be harboring any resentment about whatever they bring up during such kinds of confrontational situations.
But he or she will only be doing so to escape the responsibility for their wrongdoings. This, I believe, is one of the ugliest acts of manipulation I know.
You might also like: 9 Simple Ways To Stop Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back
3. “It’s your fault.”
Now, if your partner’s hell-bent on evading responsibilities and shying away from making amends after hurting you, then it’s probably because of a few different reasons:
- He or she has no idea that they’re practically getting in the way of resolutions, reaffirmation of shared values, and restorations of positive feelings whenever they do so.
- He or she lacks the emotional intelligence to sincerely and effectively apologize whenever they’ve unintentionally or otherwise hurt you.
- Worse, he or she is nothing but a manipulative douchebag who enjoys gaslighting you into believing you’re responsible for their wrong or hurtful behaviors.
In a relationship with a gaslighting partner, one thing that might be a regular occurrence is having such a partner level the blame for their hurtful actions or inactions on you because they’re emotionally immature to own the responsibility for their mistakes.
Such a partner has this childish and inflated sense of self that makes it just difficult for them to shoulder the responsibilities for their actions and apologize when necessary.
And they’ll instead resort to the emotionally abusive acts of blaming you consistently for everything, even their mistakes.
Before you know it, you’ll end up being manipulated into feeling like you aren’t good enough like you’re always wrong, and worse, you might end up feeling sorry for your existence.
That’s to say, the strong inclination of a romantic partner to use the gaslighting phrase “It’s your fault” is strongly related to their urge to not just manipulate but have strong power and control over you.
When all a romantic partner does in a relationship is make you guilty of whatever wrong or hurtful deeds they’re guilty of, it’s easy to buy into the belief that you’re often hundred percent responsible for whatever they do to you.
But that’s not true.
You can’t hundred percent influence everything a person does. We all consciously or otherwise make the most important decisions to do what we do no matter the situation.
Hence, if you did something that prompted your partner to hurt you, it is in their power to decide to call your attention in regards to whatever you’ve done so you can both resolve the issue. But if they choose to hurt you in return, that person is very far from a genuinely loving partner. Simple.
Also read: 5 Main Pillars Of Successful Relationships
4. “I’m sorry.”
Okay, this might somehow sound contrary or even out of topic because this phrase is conventionally known to be part and parcel of great and healthy relationships. In fact, the previous points above also hint so.
But we all know that a gaslighting partner’s biggest goal isn’t just to make you question your reality but to also control and manipulate you mentally and emotionally — which is sometimes, done to protect themselves from the responsibilities of their wrongdoings while they keep hurting you over, and over again.
Hence, if your partner keeps using the phrase “I’m sorry” while you keep feeling worse each time they do, it’s because their subsequent actions don’t in any way seem like they’re regretful of what they’ve done. Which, in turn, means they’re likely using the phrase to control, manipulate, and yes, gaslight you.
The problem with such a partner is that they’re simply using this phrase because they know it’s what you want to hear and not because they mean it.
If you want to enjoy a healthy, happy, and less stressful relationship, you don’t need a partner who’s using apologies only to appease you so that he can keep hurting you as he so desires.
Sure, a partner who’s emotionally intelligent enough to SINCERELY apologize is a keeper. But you should always bear in mind that there’s a clear-cut difference between a genuine apology and one that’s done with the sole intention of manipulating you.
That’s why you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to a partner that doesn’t mind apologizing but often somehow get you to feel even more unsettled about what made you confront them in the first place.
Because such a partner might eventually manipulate you into normalizing most of their hurtful behaviors while they keep provoking you to see what else they can get away with.
5. “But I was only trying to help.”
We all would really appreciate a partner who cares enough to offer a helping hand even at the times we needed it most or when we least expected it.
But it’s something else when all a partner does is cause us emotional or physical pain all in the name of helping.
If your partner is fond of trying to make their hurtful deeds come across as harmless and well-intentioned acts, they’re directly or indirectly manipulating you into believing you’re wrong to feel hurt by something they did out of care and love.
But a truly loving and caring partner will instead respect and subsequently honor what you truly need at the moment should in case they happen to hurt you while trying to help you.
Besides, such a partner will most likely be fond of asking you about your needs that he’ll be too accustomed to them to less frequently make such mistakes.
While the problem with a partner that behaves the complete opposite. And is often hell-bent on reinforcing that he’s always trying to help you out — only for you to be offended, is that you might eventually be manipulated into thinking you’re so terrible that you can never be pleased.
Which is far different from reality: He doesn’t really care about your needs! He only cares about himself!! And his “reputation” as a loving and caring partner!!! That’s why you deserve better.
6. “You never or always …”
To ruthlessly force you to the defensive side and make every argument an energy-draining battle where problems are never resolved, a gaslighting partner will often employ the words “always” or “never” when communicating during confrontations.
And if that’s a thing in your relationship, then it’s probably impossible to say you aren’t often being manipulated into feeling like you’re inadequate.
That’s the biggest intent behind either or both of the words “always” or “never.”
Because whenever a gaslighting partner uses any of them, they’re pointing out one time you did or didn’t do something as proof of your inadequacies.
In essence, it’s an act of manipulation that forces you to the defense zone, and it’ll be really difficult for you to defend yourself in such a situation.
The worst part of these gaslighting phrases is that “always” or “never” are often used to exaggerate things or events to make the manipulator appear more vulnerable and like the victim.
But the truth is, they’re only using these words to seek and gain an advantage over you while pushing you to the other end of the spectrum.
And at the end of the day, they end up stressing you for no reason because all the problems will end up going unresolved.
You’re better off without an inconsiderate partner who will always use exaggerations that are rarely accurate to make points during confrontational situations.
Because such a partner will always make disagreements black and white especially when they use “always” or “never” even when you’ve done something for the first time.
7. “Why can’t you be more like …”
Your relationship will be everything but happy and satisfying if it doesn’t seem like your partner loves and accepts you for who you are.
And yes, it’s especially true if all your partner does in your relationship is put up behaviors or say things that prove you can’t be loved for who you are. That you aren’t good enough. And that you need to change or worse, behave like certain people to be loved.
You deserve better than a partner that can’t just quit making statements that pit you against others for reasons best known to them.
To stand a better chance of enjoying happier and more satisfying relationships, you’ll need to be with a partner that won’t unfairly make you feel worthless and unappreciated.
That’s why you should always bear in mind that you deserve better than a partner who will selfishly keep disrespecting your awesome and amazing personality as he or she focuses on what you aren’t. Instead of loving and accepting you for everything that you are.
John Emmanuel is a results-obsessed relationship blogger and founder of Top Love Hacks, dedicated to helping you level up your dating and relationship game by motivating you to be in control of your love life.