Gaslighting In My Relationship

Too often, clients come to therapy to find out if they are overreacting to their partner’s behavior. They tell me their partner says things like, “It’s all in your head.” “I never said that.” “It was just a joke.”

When your partner uses harmful phrases or twists words against you to deny your reality or invalidate your emotions, that’s gaslighting.

A gaslighter’s actions may not cause harm initially. Over time, however, this continued abusive behavior can make the victim feel confused, anxious, isolated, and depressed.

Since emotional gaslighting can leave a person questioning their sense of reality, unable to differentiate fact from fiction, it can often become hard to spot.

Here are 10 commonly used phrases used in gaslighting:

1. “Stop being so insecure.

This uses your insecurities because these nagging doubts in your head serve their purpose. If you point this out instead of evaluating their own behavior, they will blame your insecurities for the issue.

2. “You are just being paranoid.

Gaslighters often deny what they have been caught doing and shifts blame onto you by calling you paranoid.

3. “You are way too emotional.

This is a common example reflecting the abusers lack of empathy. The goal is to make you perceive your emotions as a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of.

4. “Please stop being so dramatic.

This is another one of the classic examples of gaslighting in a relationship that is predominantly directed at women.

5. “You are just making this up.

A narcissist thrives on completely invalidating your feelings, and nothing serves their purpose better than using gaslighting phrases in relationships.

6. “Learn to take a joke.

This is when your partner says hurtful things or makes you feel bad through their words and actions, and later passes it off as a joke. They might make an unpleasant comment about your looks, the way you dress, your attitude, or even your professional accomplishments. When it upsets you, they will call it a harmless joke or playful banter.

7. “You are just misconstruing my intentions.

To deflect responsibility from themselves, they will skillfully label any and every problem because of a misunderstanding. “This is not what I meant.” “That’s not how I said it.”

8. “I’m not the problem, you are.

This forces you to question your sanity, actions, and feelings constantly.

9. “I think you need help.

Calling someone crazy is gaslighting, and so is insinuating that a person’s reactions and emotional responses may be an outcome of underlying mental health issues – when that is not the case.

10. “Everyone agrees with me.

This statement works perfectly in invalidating your concerns, thoughts, and opinions, by making you feel isolated.

Here are 6 ways you can respond to gaslighting behavior:

A great starting point is to stop providing your partner the validation they need to keep this cycle of abuse going.

1. Stop engaging with your partner as soon as you the gaslighting behavior begins.
2. Find a friend or therapist you trust to seek their support to validate your version of reality.
3. Start keeping a record of what happened, including diary entries, video and audio recordings, so you can refute gaslighting with evidence.
4. Don’t allow your partner to lead a conversation in a way that might lead you to doubt yourself.
5. When that begins, exit the conversation. It’s crucial to create and uphold boundaries with someone gaslighting you.
6. Respond to gaslighting phrases with dead-end responses, such as “Don’t tell me how I feel”, “I know what I saw”, “My feelings and experiences are real. You are being insensitive in telling me otherwise”, and “I will not continue with this conversation if you continue to invalidate my feelings.”


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