Gaslighters have been using manipulative, underhanded phrases like these for as long as men and women have had relationships. We just didn’t have a term for it before. Now that we do, we know that gaslighting is a form of emotional and mental abuse. It’s a means of manipulation that men (and women!) use to keep control in the relationship and tear the other person down. A gaslighter might only engage in these tactics in private or they may find subtle ways to do it in public. If you’re not sure if you’re being gaslit, listen up for these phrases.
“You’re overanalyzing/overthinking it.” If you tell someone how you feel or that they’ve hurt you and they turn around and use this phrase on you, they’re likely gaslighting you. You can’t overanalyze how someone makes you feel. When you talk to a partner or even a friend about your feelings or how they have hurt you, it should be acknowledged. When someone says you’re overanalyzing, it’s just their way of not being accountable for their actions.
“You’re being too sensitive.” Gaslighters often try to convince someone they’ve hurt that they’re just being too sensitive. They want you to think it’s your own fault for how you feel. You should grow a harder shell and stop taking everything to heart, according to them. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive, by the way.
“That’s not what I said. You’re taking it the wrong way.” Unless you have them on record, in a text, or an audio recording, gaslighters will often deny saying the thing that hurt you. They may even do this if they know that’s what they said. Someone who’s gaslighting you will convince you that you completely took it out of context or you’re putting words in their mouth.
“If you really loved me…” If you really loved me, you wouldn’t want me to change. You wouldn’t expect me to speak to you differently. You’d do that thing I want you to do, even though you really don’t want to do it. Gaslighters often turn things around and try to put the focus on their needs. They think that if you love them, you should be able to overlook anything to make them happy.
“I wouldn’t have done that if you didn’t make me do it.” This is a statement often heard by people who cheat, but it can apply to a variety of things. They might say, “I wouldn’t have stayed so late at the bar if you weren’t nagging at me to come home.” Cheaters often say, “I wouldn’t have slept with her if we were having more sex at home.” They refuse to take responsibility for their actions and they turn it on you to make it your fault.
“Who else would put up with you?” If you doubt yourself, it is harder to leave a gaslighter. If a partner reminds you how difficult you are to be with, they hope you will put up with their gaslighting. It’s a means of keeping you under their control. They will remind you about how many failed relationships you’ve had and make you think that they didn’t work out because of you. Gaslighters might make you feel like you’re asking too much or you don’t do enough in the relationship. Obviously, no one else will deal with you, so you’d better stay with them, a gaslighter will imply.
“I still love you despite your faults – why can’t you love me for who I am?” Gaslighters don’t feel like you have the right to have your own boundaries or expectations in the relationship. If you think you do, they’ll remind you of every single mistake you’ve made and all your faults. They expect unconditional love from you.
“Maybe I can forgive you someday.” They turn even the smallest of mistakes into an occasion to use this line. Gaslighters will hang on to their forgiveness for as long as possible. They will only forgive when it is to their benefit to do so. If they think you really are going to leave them, then they will forgive and expect you do to the same in return.
“You should never wear that.” This is another way that a gaslighter will tear down your confidence. They will make you think your favorite pants look horrible on you. Your favorite sweater is the wrong color. The makeup you put on makes you look like a whore. Compliments are rare. As with forgiveness, they only doled compliments out as a last resort.
“No wonder you have no friends.” A gaslighter might not forbid you from seeing family or friends, but they will make you decide not to on your own. They will convince you that your friends are jealous or don’t have your best interest at heart. Even worse, they’ll try to make you think it’s your own fault. According to the gaslighter, it is your personality, the way you talk, your neediness, or some other quality that pushes people away, so you’re lucky they are still sticking around and you’re fortunate to have their love.