Examples of Gaslighting in a relationship

Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone feeling confused about your reality? Has someone ever made you doubt your mind? Have you ever been called crazy and accepted it just because you don’t have evidence of something they have said or done? You might have been Gaslit! The term gaslighting has become massively used over the last year in particular. Many people found relief in learning this word as it articulates exactly what they had experienced when they didn't know how to explain it, as gaslighting can be and is meant to be a very confusing experience.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that aims to create self doubt and confusion in someone. Gaslighting causes someone to doubt their sanity, memories and perception of reality. Gaslighting can happen to anyone - whether it's from a romantic partner, a boss, a family member, anyone in a position of power. Abusers gaslight their victims in order to feel powerful and ensure they have control over the other person. Willis Klein a PhD Psychology student at McGill University published a study where he explainsGaslighting is an attempt to convince a survivor that they are not a trustworthy epistemic agent. Once the survivor has accepted their epistemic incompetence as “fact,” the perpetrator is able to use this to their advantage, mainly by avoiding accountability for their own behavior and controlling their survivor's behavior.”

Realizing that you have been or are being Gaslit is very scary yet being able to clearly explain your confusing experiences with one word is very empowering and helpful. I only learned the word Gaslighting a year ago and when I did I felt immediate clarity and shock. In a past relationship I had been continuously gaslit where I had gotten to the point of feeling genuinely crazy! I was terrified and confused a lot, thankfully i got out of that relationship and moved on but i could never explain why the relationship was so toxic to my friends or family as i just didn't know how to articulate it. I gave examples and explained as best I could but I felt at a loss while I was doing this. Even saying it outloud i felt like I was crazy again, so when I learned the term Gaslighting I was so relieved that this is a real thing that happens to a lot of people and I was definitely not crazy!

Why is it called Gaslighting?

The term ‘Gaslighting’ comes from the 1930s British play-turned movie called Gas Light, where the husband continuously changes the intensity of the gaslights in their home and then insists to his wife that nothing has changed, despite the clear noticeable differences she sees. His aim is to mentally and emotionally manipulate his wife into believing that she is crazy.

His deliberate attempts to make his wife question her perceptions and her reality is the essence of Gaslighting, the term has since become a massively used word especially in relationships!

Image of someone stressed and upset

Effects Gaslighting has on Mental Health

Gaslighting is meant to cause feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt, which is extremely harmful to someone's mental health. Gaslighting can lead to a range of emotional and psychological challenges, some of the most common effects are:


Gaslighting creates a constant state of uncertainty and self doubt, causing heightened anxiety.


Gaslighting causes the victims to feel hopelessness and have a lowered self-esteem, which can lead to depression.

Lowered self-esteem

Gaslighting causes victims to have a distorted perception of reality and can make them feel that they deserve to be treated that way, this can hurt a person's confidence and self-esteem.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Gaslighting over a long period of time causes emotional trauma and PTSD can be a result of the trauma. The constant emotional abuse and manipulation can cause severe trauma.


Gaslighting, due to the constant manipulation and psychological abuse, can be so traumatic it causes victims to have flashbacks, nightmares and hypervigilance.

Suicidal thoughts

Gaslighting causes victims to constantly doubt themselves which contributes to anxiety and depression and this can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

If you are a victim of gaslighting who is struggling with any of these symptoms, seek support from your closest health care provider.

Common Signs of Gaslighting to watch out for:

Spotting signs of gaslighting is difficult especially when you are in a relationship, you never want to believe that someone you love is purposefully trying to hurt you. That's why you need to look out for common signs, so that you can be the one in power and set boundaries to protect yourself!

Denying the Truth:

Gaslighters continuously deny saying or doing hurtful things even though you have evidence or heard it yourself. They convince the victim that they are imagining things or remembering events incorrectly.

Minimizing feelings:

Gaslighters dismiss and minimize the victims feelings and concerns as overdramatic and irrelevant. This is to try and diminish the validity of a victim's feelings.


Gaslighters shift the blame onto the victim for their own actions, in order to make the victim feel responsible for their behavior.

Withholding information:

Gaslighters purposefully withhold information from the victim as a form of control, they pretend not to understand or refuse to listen to the victim, this is to cause self-doubt and gain control.


Gaslighters try to isolate victims from their support systems (friends and family) in order to make them more reliant on the manipulator.

How to deal with Gaslighting

Dealing with gaslighting sounds hard but if you follow the help from online articles, your support system and professionals you will be able to get the best guidance to support you protecting yourself from current and future gaslighting!

Trusting your instincts:

If you find yourself questioning your own perception or if something feels off, trust your instincts. Gaslighting often begins subtly and gradually becomes worse, acknowledging these feelings that something isn't right is the first step to creating and communicating your boundaries with the gaslighter.

Maintaining strong support system:

Maintaining a strong support system is important as gaslighters try and isolate their victims from their support systems. Share your feelings and experiences with close friends and family or a mental health professional, this can help validate your feelings and give you guidance on how to deal with the situation.

Keeping a record:

Keep a record of incidents by noting dates, times and descriptions of gaslighting behavior, these records can be useful as a reference if you decide to confront the issue or to seek support.

Setting boundaries:

Clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations going forward to the gaslighter, assertiveness is necessary in setting boundaries on manipulative behavior.

Professional help:

If the gaslighting continues and starts to impact your mental health, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. Professional help can provide guidance on how to heal from emotional manipulation and trauma.

Educating yourself:

Understanding how gaslighting works and the dynamics of a gaslighter can help you to recognize manipulation as it happens. Educate yourself on healthy relationships and unhealthy relationship red flags to watch out for.

Building self confidence:

Focus on building your confidence and self-esteem back up, surround yourself with positive people that affirm your worth and capabilities.

Image of someone confused and stressed while speaking

45 Gaslighting examples in a relationship

When I first read a lot of examples of gaslighting i was shocked at how many i've heard being said to me or my friends and family, it made me re-evaluate a lot and helped me to recognise signs a lot better! I think that a lot of Gaslighting can be swept under the rug due to it being in the middle of conversations and forgotten or belittled in our minds. It's helpful to read examples so you can be aware, protect and inform yourselves and others!

Gaslighting can happen in many different ways, here are some examples:


  • “I never said that”
  • “You’re making things up”
  • “That never happened”

Gaslighters deny saying or doing something, which makes the victim doubt their memory and perception of events.

Shifting blame:

  • “This is your fault”
  • “If you didn't do X, I wouldn't have done Y”
  • “You made me do this”

Gaslighters deflect responsibility for their actions onto the victim, creating guilt, confusion and self-doubt.


“You’re the one who’s always lying”

“You’re paranoid”

“You’re the one always starting arguments”

Gaslighters attribute their own negative traits or actions onto the victim, shifting the blame and creating self-doubt in the victim.

Withholding information:

“You don't need to know that”

“Its none of your business”

“I don't know what you’re talking about”

Gaslighters withhold information from the victim as a form of control, they pretend not to understand or refuse to listen to the victim, this is to cause self-doubt and gain control.


“Your friends don't really like you”

“Your family is against us”

“I'm the only one who cares about you”

Gaslighters attempt to isolate the victim from their support system (friends and family), trying to make the victim more dependent on them and gain control.

Minimizing feelings:

“You’re overreacting”

“It's not a big deal”

“You’re too sensitive”

Gaslighters downplay the significance of a victims experience and minimize their feelings, making them feel their concerns are not important and overdramatic.

Undermining confidence:

“You can’t even do the simplest things right”

“You’re not smart enough to understand”

“You’re not capable of handling this”

Gaslighters erode the victims self-esteem through the consistent criticism and belittling comments they give them.

Emotional manipulation:

“You’re hurting me by questioning me”

“Do you really think id do that”

“If you really cared about me, you’d believe me”

Gaslighters use the victims emotions to manipulate their behavior and feelings using guilt and pity.

Selective positive reinforcement:

“Im so proud of you when you agree with me”

“I love when you do what i want”

“You do so much better when you listen to me”

Gaslighters give positive reinforcement selectively to victims in order to control their behavior, causing confusion about how to do things and what to think.

Creating confusion:

“You’re crazy if you believe that”

“You’re just making stuff up”

“I never said that, you’re imagining things”

Gaslighters deliberately give victims conflicting information to cause confusion and undermine the victims thoughts and understanding.


“You’re too sensitive”

“Look at you, getting all worked up over nothing”

“You’re so dramatic”

Gaslighters ridicule the victims' concerns and feelings, undermining their self-esteem through belitterling and sarcastic remarks.

Twisting facts:

“I never meant it that way”

“You’re taking things out of context”

“You’re imagining things”

Gaslighters distort and manipulate facts to create a false narrative, causing the victim to question their own understanding of events.

Playing the victim:

“You’re always attacking me”

“Why do you cause all these arguments”

“I’m the one suffering in this relationship”

Gaslighters portray themselves as the victim in order to get sympathy from the victim and to deflect attention from their manipulative behavior.


“I'm not going to talk about this”

“You’re not worth my time”

“I have nothing to say”

Gaslighters deliberately ignore the victims needs, concerns and boundaries, creating a sense of isolation and powerlessness.

Withholding Affection:

“I used to want to be affectionate, but your constant nagging has made me not want to”

“Maybe if you were easier to be around, i'd be more affectionate”

“Maybe if you were nicer, be feel like being close to you”

Gaslighters use the absence of affection or emotional support as a way to get control, in order to make the victim feel unloved and have them questioning their worth.

Getting Help

Leaving an abusive relationship is a difficult thing to do, use your support system, therapists and trauma counselors for support and resources.

If you or someone you know is a victim of Gaslighting please seek help from a local therapist or an online therapy collective for help and support.

About the Author

Tegan Confield

Tegan Confield is a Content Coordinator for the Couply app. Couply was created to help couples improve their relationships. Couply has over 300,000 words of relationship quizzes, questions, couples games and date ideas and helps over 400,000 people.

Tegan Confield is also a Psychology Student, and studying at the University of Stirling.

You can connect with Tegan Confield on LinkedIn here and on Instagram here.