3. “No wonder you don’t have many friends… you are really hard to love.”
Master manipulators know how to spin the yarn that completely alters our self-image.
One clear sign of someone who gaslights is the way they project blame and try to shame the victim. By convincing you that you are “hard to love” or “too much,” they are made out to be heroes or saints because they are willing to “deal with you” or “stand by your side” despite these (non-existent) character flaws.
Extremely skilled gaslighters take this a step further and also convince the people in your lives that you really are “crazy” or “difficult.”
4. “Everything that goes wrong is your fault.”
This one can really become all-consuming and develop into a serious problem. Like all the other tactics, it starts with seemingly small things. The dog destroyed a pillow? Well, clearly, it’s your fault for leaving it there when you know it’s the dog’s spot. Passed up for a promotion at work and you feel it was discriminatory? No, you just need to learn how to actually do your job well and get recognition.
This can go into extremes, like having the person blame you for their own struggles, addictions, and self-destructive behaviors. And, speaking from personal experience, once the damage is done here, you’ll find yourself living your life with a constant sense of shame and blaming yourself for literally everything that happens in the world around you.
5. “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
One thing that partners who gaslight love to do are tear you down. But, because everything is a carefully planned strategy like a game, there has to be a way to go back and clean the slate so that it doesn’t seem like they are mistreating you with their words.
So, how can you say horrible things to someone and attack their character then make it seem like it didn’t really happen? Say that it’s a joke, of course! Not only does this remove your thoughts that they were being verbally abusive (which they were!), it also throws the blame back into your court because you are “too sensitive” or you need to learn to “lighten up.”
6. “I never said that!”
Once the environment and relationship are established with a gaslighter, they will find ways to completely pull the wool over your eyes and send your thoughts spinning.
They will claim things didn’t happen the way you perceived them, or maybe claim they didn’t happen at all. Often starting with words and claims that “wasn’t what was said,” this can move into even more elaborate schemes by claiming that entire actions, scenes, and events didn’t occur.
You start to question your own thoughts and feelings, or even wonder what is wrong with you and if you are actually losing your mind (which they want you to think is happening).
Sadly, it has taken me years of working through and reliving some of the trauma that I was told “didn’t happen” to really see the full effects of the damage of this seemingly simple phrase.