Good To Know

6 Gaslighting Phrases You May Be Guilty of Using

“Gaslighting” is Merriam-Webster’s 2022 word of the year. Here’s how to be sure it’s never used to describe you.

by Fatherly

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that makes someone cast doubt on the validity of their thoughts, memories, and reality. Used intentionally, it’s a means of slowly eroding the trust someone has in their feelings or point of view. Used accidentally, it can aggravate and end conversations. Here are six phrases to recognize.

1. “You take things too personally”/ “You’re so sensitive.”

Such statements can diminish and invalidate a partner’s feelings, while also making them question their motivations. These can stem from the realization that you may have pushed the argument too far and want to stop your partner from being upset.

2. “I’m not upset, you are.”

Saying this phrase, you might think that you’re trying to be rational and bring some calm to the situation. What you’re actually doing is making your partner question the world around them and forcing them to go on the defensive.

3. “I don’t even know what I did wrong.”

Even if you know full well what they did wrong, you may use this phrase as a means of either shifting the blame or trying to minimize your actions, as if to say, “Was it really that bad?” But it’s a classic gaslighting statement because it makes the recipient doubt their reaction.

4. “You can’t take a joke.”

This is a common gaslighting tactic, in which the gaslighter says something hurtful or offensive, and when their partner calls them on it, they turn it around and claim they were only teasing. It’s a classic method of invalidation and blame-shifting.

5. “You need to calm down.”

The intention behind this sentiment might be a good one. You might be trying to get your partner to take a breath and gain some perspective. But phrasing it this way can make it sound like you’re talking down to them and making it seem as though they’re being irrational.

6. “You’re lucky I put up with you.”

Sure, this — and other similar sentiments — might be used as light-hearted jabs, but they can also be harmful. It suggests that the audience is not lovable and that they should be grateful that you’re even deigning to spend your time with them.

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