9 Common Narcissist Gaslighting Examples We Hope You Never Hear

narcissist gaslighting examples

I am so sorry that you have to be here looking at narcissist gaslighting examples. I truly am! I don’t know how to talk about gaslighting without tapping into personal trauma. It is honestly one of the worst things one can ever go through. Think how barbaric it is to make someone question their sanity. 

Imagine how remorseless and ruthless a person is to try and distort another person’s perception, identity and self-worth. They do all this while claiming to love you. Believe me when I say this – that is NOT love.

According to life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups and extramarital affairs, “Gaslighting abusers do not do things consciously. For them, it is the right thing to do and they believe that their opinion is the only correct one and any opinion or emotion that doesn’t tend to their needs or approval isn’t correct and needs to be corrected.”

Gaslighting is an extremely cunning and sneaky way to destroy a person’s sense of reality. Allow me to paint you a picture of a gaslighting victim’s mind. Imagine you are stuck in a room that is full of smoke. It is foggy. It is so gray that you cannot see anything past the grayness of the fog. The room stinks, you can’t breathe, your eyes burn, and you feel suffocated. The exit door is wide open. You can easily walk out the door. But you don’t. Because it is not just your sight that is clouded, your brain is clouded too. 

What Is Gaslighting In Narcissism?

Do narcissists use gaslighting? Most of the time the answer is yes because gaslighting and narcissism go hand in hand;  let’s say they are conjoined twins. Narcissists are typically manipulative and controlling, and completely devoid of empathy. They will show many signs of lack of empathy. Gaslighting in narcissism is a narcissist’s way to gain control over another person. What’s more…they lie! 

Oh, the narcissist gaslighting examples that I can give from my personal life. I was head over heels in love once. Like every other person blind in love, I too was under the notion that this was one of that once-in-a-lifetime kind of love just like in the movies. And then it started. Slowly, very gradually. I was told I am nice one moment and the next I was someone else. I was told that my mood, my personality, my behavior and my emotions changed from one moment to the next. He sounded genuinely concerned for my well-being. 

The way he tried to make me question my own sanity would shock you. He was a different person when he was with others, and a completely different person when we were alone. He succeeded in making me doubt my sanity;  I gave in to my self-doubt and got tested for Bipolar Disorder. I found out I am as sane as the person reading this. My mental health was just fine. And yet I chose to stay in the relationship as my narcissistic gaslighting boyfriend’s flying monkey. I truly, truly regret that. 

9 Common Narcissist Gaslighting Examples

I asked Joie why people tend to stay in such mentally scarring and abusive relationships. She said, “People are not aware of all these categorizations and demarcations and terms. The partner in most cases doesn’t realize they are with a gaslighting narcissist until it’s a little too late. The don’t know the signs of an unhealthy relationship. So it’s not that they chose to stay with a narcissist, they simply chose to stay in a relationship.” 

Most of the gaslighting happens between two people in a relationship, and in a majority of the cases, the abuser is a narcissist. This severe form of mental abuse through controlling another person’s mind is pure toxicity. There are many things a narcissist would say in an argument. If you hear any of them, run as far away from that person as you can. Below are some of the common narcissist gaslighting examples one should be completely aware of. Some could be unconscious gaslighting examples while others are very deliberate.

Related Reading: 13 Tell-Tale Signs Of Manipulation In A Relationship

1. “Maybe that’s what you heard in your head, but that’s not what I said”

Let’s say Sam and Emma are dating. They have planned to meet up for a quick lunch on Saturday. When Sam is at the restaurant waiting for Emma, she calls up and says, “I said Sunday. Not Saturday, silly. I have work on Saturday.” This is where it all begins. That’s Level One of your narcissistic gaslighting girlfriend. They make you question your perception of reality. This could easily be an innocent mistake or a common misunderstanding or it could also be one of the unconscious gaslighting examples.

Maybe their intent behind it isn’t as evil. Maybe it was genuinely your mistake and you heard them wrong. You may not question their intentions at this stage because you are busy falling in love. You are absolutely smitten. If it has happened once or twice, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are being gaslighted. But when it begins to happen over and over again, you need to sit up and take notice, before random occurrences become a pattern of narcissistic gaslighting. Make sure you know all the warning signs of gaslighting before it’s too late.

2. “I never said that”

Sam thinks Emma loves romcoms. He has planned a movie night with popcorn, pizza and beer. And then, when the movie starts, Emma says, “I don’t really like romcoms.” Sam is a bit puzzled at this because he vividly remembers a conversation that took place around movies where Emma expressed her love for romcoms. She trots out one of the classic gaslighting phrases in relationships, “I never said that. Probably one of your exes must have said that.”

“That never happened.” “I never said that.” “Are you sure I was there when you said that?” are all narcissist gaslighting examples. The victim starts questioning his or her reality and begins to rely on their abuser’s version. You start relying on a narcissistic gaslighting boyfriend’s or narcissistic gaslighting girlfriend’s manipulated versions of reality, it increases your dependency on them. 

3. The trump card – “You are oversensitive”

This is where you begin to crumble. This is one of the most toxic gaslighting phrases in relationships. You are not oversensitive. It’s the abuser who is insensitive and cold-hearted. They do not care about your feelings and emotions until it serves them in some way. 

You didn’t see it coming. You don’t recognize it happening. Your self-doubt increases, conviction and confidence drop. Your feelings are constantly invalidated. And you have started believing it all. The damage is complete.

Infographic on narcissist gaslighting examples
Phrases that can damage your emotional well-being

4. “You are the problem here. Not me”

This is one of the most common narcissist gaslighting examples. There is a difference between a regular person lying and a narcissist lying. A regular person normally lies in order to get out of a tough spot. But when a narcissist is gaslighting you lies, they will twist things in a way that will make the victim feel guilty as if they are the one who spoke such a lie. As if the victim is at fault. There are many ways you can learn how to stop lying in a relationship.

“Sometimes people do not know better and think acceptance is the right thing to do rather than break up”, says Joie. I guess that’s why I stayed with a narcissistic gaslighting boyfriend for so long. I might have stayed longer if I hadn’t found out about his affairs.

When a narcissist is caught lying, they will make it look like it is someone else’s mistake. They want to hold someone else accountable for their lies. Their agenda is to twist the situation and hold somebody else responsible for their actions. 

5. ‘Learn to take a joke”

One of the most common narcissist gaslighting examples is when they accuse you of having little or no sense of humor. Your partner cracks a joke at your expense, and when you are offended, they say, “Learn to take a joke”. This is one of the examples of narcissist text messages you’d be used to receiving if you’re being gaslighted in your relationship. It’s one of the warning signs of toxic relationship. It’s never a joke if the purpose behind that was meant to hurt you or offend you. 

When you confront your narcissistic gaslighting boyfriend or girlfriend for hurting you with their crass joke, they will make fun of you for being a bad sport. “I was just teasing you.” “Oh, don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” ‘You are being hysterical.” “It was just a joke. Don’t get so worked up.” These are all the things a narcissist would say, in order to prove themselves right.

Related Reading: 13 Sure-Shot Signs He Pretends To Love You

6. “I am doing this because I love you”

Love bombing is a common abuse tactic used by narcissists and sociopaths, yet it is one of the most overlooked narcissist gaslighting examples. Gaslighters will always use love as a defense to make you believe them. And when you don’t agree with them, they will accuse you of not believing them or not loving them equally. They will push their sinister agenda and constantly try to influence you and your opinions. Before you fall for their tactics, you need to learn how a few tips on how to deal with narcissistic spouse.

“I am saying this because I love you and want to protect you.” “I think I know what’s best for you because I love you.” “Believe me, I know what’s best for you.” “You need to trust my actions.” Ladies and gentlemen, please do not fall for such gaslighting phrases in relationships. They will shower you with fake love, concern, affection and intimacy. They will learn about your insecurities, your innermost desires and secrets. They will learn everything there is to be learned about you and then they will use it to exploit you mentally.

things a narcissist would say in an argument

7. “You must work on that”

Being subjected to constant criticism makes you doubt yourself even if you are good at something. One of the main narcissist gaslighting examples is the abuser trying to get you as off-balance as possible. They will criticize you for being too emotional. They will criticize your life choice, career choices, so much so that they will even criticize your food choices.

You will begin to feel so low that you lose your sense of self-worth. They will constantly hurl insults at you. “You have no control when it comes to burgers.” “You don’t know how to manage money.” “You are not wife material.” “Nobody will love you like I do.” “You will never get anyone better than me.” Trust me, dear readers, I am shaking as I type this. I have heard it all!

Related Reading: Feeling Unwanted In A Relationship – How To Cope?

8. “You are just insecure and jealous”

Another one of the common narcissist gaslighting examples is accusing the victim of paranoia. When an accusation like this takes place, then there is a high chance that your narcissistic gaslighting boyfriend or narcissistic gaslighting girlfriend is cheating on you. They will project their errors and insecurities on you instead of taking responsibility for their actions. This is where responding to gaslighting becomes crucial and a must-have knowledge for everyone in abusive relationships.

Do narcissists use gaslighting? Yes. They don’t just gaslight you but they will also accuse you of gaslighting them. They will accuse you of being a narcissistic gaslighter. “Why do you think I am cheating on you? Is it because you are cheating on me?” “Why are you acting so paranoid?” “Stop accusing me of things you might be secretly doing.” These are, clear and loud, narcissist gaslighting examples. The abuser will often paint you as a jealous and insecure person. 

9. “You are crazy. You need help”

Crazy, mental, psycho, lunatic, irrational, insane and delusional are the words thrown around casually and frequently. It is natural for narcissistic people to find fault in everyone but themselves. Name-calling in relationship damages them. They will, furthermore, engage in a malignant portrayal of their partner. The narcissist believes they are never wrong.

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a fight and you send your partner a long text message conveying the way this falling out has made you feel. They reply saying, “I am not the problem here. You are.” Such examples of narcissist text messages mean they are the problem and they are projecting it onto you. 

No matter how much you bend over backwards for them, you will never be good enough. You will never be deemed worthy of their love. They will bring you to a point where you lose sight of what’s wrong and right. You will have no energy left in you to call them out. They will drain your sanity and rationality. It gets difficult to maintain your sanity when your partner is a narcissist and a compulsive liar.

Joie says, “Gaslighters never realize the harm they are doing on their own. Firstly they will deny it. Only through counseling can they see it and then maybe correlate. Rectification too takes time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t magically change overnight. The rigidity of their thought, beliefs and convictions gets the better of their sense of judgment.”

Malevolent narcissists will attempt to rewrite your reality. Don’t be so blind in love that you start believing their twisted narratives as truth. Exercise vigilance and caution, practice self-care and distance yourself from your abuser. 

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