“Gaslighting Someone” Meaning, Signs & Examples

Gaslighting Someone Meaning, Signs & Examples blog cover

Let’s start with the basics. What does “gaslighting someone” mean? Gaslighting is a way of manipulating someone by denying facts and making them question their own reality. It can be very subtle and is often used as a way of gaining control. Gaslighting can cause people to doubt their sanity. 

It should be noted that the term “gaslighting someone” is often mistakenly used to describe a range of unhealthy behaviors that aren’t actually gaslighting. For example, gaslighting is sometimes used to describe a situation where someone is disagreeing with certain opinions, but this doesn’t necessarily constitute gaslighting. Healthy debate and disagreement are natural parts of human interaction. Gaslighting involves a pattern of behavior aimed at undermining someone’s confidence in their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, often through tactics like denial, distortion, and deception.

Signs & examples of gaslighting someone

If someone is gaslighting you, they will exhibit some or all of the following behaviors. We have included some examples, too, to help you identify specific phrases that gaslighters use.

1. Making someone doubt their own memories or beliefs.

They may insist that you said something that you didn’t actually say or deny ever having done something when you know they did it. Example: “You must be imagining things. I never said that.”

2. Manipulating facts to suit their own narrative.

This can be done by omitting relevant information, twisting the truth, or outright lying. Example: “It wasn’t like that at all. You are misrepresenting what happened.”

Couple arguing

3. Projecting their own behavior onto you.

This is a way of deflecting blame and often involves accusing someone of the very thing they are guilty of. Example: “You’re the one who is always lying.”

4. Using guilt and shame to control you.

Gaslighting someone often involves making them feel guilty or ashamed for their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Example: “You should be ashamed of yourself for feeling that way.”

5. Isolating you from your friends and family.

Gaslighters often try to keep their victims isolated from other people so that they can maintain control. They often pretend that they are doing you a favor by encouraging you to cut specific friends and family out of your life. Example: “I don’t think you should see your [insert a friend or family member’s name] anymore.”

6. Making you feel like you are paranoid.

Gaslighters often tell their victims that they are too sensitive, imagining things or overreacting. Example: “Why are you so paranoid? You’re overthinking it.”

7. Trivializing your feelings.

This is done by making light of the victim’s feelings or dismissing them as unimportant. Example: “It’s not a big deal. Why can’t you just get over it?”

Effects of gaslighting

Gaslighting someone can have serious effects on their mental health and well-being. Here are some of the potential effects that can result from being gaslighted.

1. You doubt your own sanity.

One of the most insidious effects of gaslighting is that it can make you doubt your own sanity. If you are constantly being told that you are imagining things or that you are overreacting, you can start to believe it. Gaslighting can make you question your memories and perception of events.

2. You become isolated.

Another effect of gaslighting is isolation. Gaslighters often try to isolate their victims from friends and family members who could provide support. They may tell their victim that no one else will believe them or that they are better off without anyone else’s help. This isolation can make gaslighting even more effective, as the victim has no one to use as a sounding board.

3. You lose your confidence.

Gaslighting can also lead to a loss of confidence. When you are constantly being told that you are wrong or that your perspective doesn’t matter, it is easy to start believing that this is true. This loss of confidence can make it difficult for gaslighting victims to stand up for themselves or to assert their own opinions. It can become a downward spiral where the less confident you become, the less you stand up for yourself, and so forth.

4. You become dependent on the gaslighter.

Another effect of gaslighting is dependence on the gaslighter. When someone is constantly telling you what to do and how to think, it is easy to start relying on them for guidance. This dependence can make it difficult for victims of gaslighting to break free from the abuse. It’s essentially a way for them to gain control and power over the victim.

5. You may develop mental health problems.

Gaslighting can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The constant stress of living in a state of uncertainty and fear can take a toll on your mental health. If you are struggling to cope with the effects of gaslighting, it is important to seek help.

Gaslighting can be an extremely damaging form of emotional abuse, but it is possible to recover and move on.

Why people might gaslight someone

Gaslighting someone is a tool used by manipulative people to exercise power and control over another person. Ultimately, the main purpose of gaslighting is to gain the upper hand in a relationship by making their victim feel insecure and powerless.

So this raises an important question. Can gaslighting be unintentional? While gaslighting is often used as a tool for emotional abuse, it’s also possible that it is unintentional. In particular, if someone has grown up with parents or family members who exhibited manipulative behavior, they may be more likely to accidentally gaslight someone.

In the case of unintentional gaslighting, the perpetrator doesn’t mean to cause harm. However, this doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Unintentional gaslighting can be just as damaging as when it is done intentionally.

Friends arguing

What to do when someone is gaslighting you

When someone is gaslighting you, it can be difficult to know how to respond. You might feel like you’re going crazy or that you’re not really sure what’s happening.

So, how should you deal with the situation? Most importantly, remember that it isn’t your fault and you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

If you think someone is gaslighting you, it’s important to trust your instincts and seek an outside perspective. Talking things through with family or friends can help give you clarity and the confidence that you aren’t misreading situations.

Sometimes, you may need to speak to a qualified therapist or support group. Gaslighting can be severely damaging to your mental health, and it can take time to build your confidence back up.

What to do when the person gaslighting you is your partner

If your partner is gaslighting you, it’s often a good idea to end the relationship and cut contact with them. This can be hard when it’s someone you love, but your mental health should always come first. There is absolutely no excuse for gaslighting, and it’s a clear sign that you’re in a toxic relationship.

In some cases, if the gaslighting is mild and unintentional, it can be worth talking to your partner and addressing the behavior. In cases like this, it may be possible for your partner to work through their issues.

If they are willing to listen to your feedback and take responsibility for their actions, it can be possible to rebuild trust. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not your responsibility to fix them, and you should never put your own well-being at risk.

However, if they become defensive or try to deny what you’re saying, it’s best to end the relationship in order to protect yourself.

Tips for having a conversation about gaslighting someone

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but if someone is gaslighting you, it’s important to address the issue. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

1. Stay calm.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, defensive, or angry when dealing with a gaslighter, but try to stay calm and focused. This will help you keep the conversation on track and ensure that you get your message across. Have the conversation at a time and place where you both feel comfortable and take breaks if necessary.

2. Use clear examples.

When trying to explain how the gaslighting has been affecting you, make sure that you use clear examples. Clear examples will help them understand exactly what you’re talking about, how it’s making you feel, and why their behavior isn’t acceptable.


3. Let them know what needs to change.

Explain what they need to do differently in order for the relationship to continue. You should let your partner know what kind of behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. It’s often helpful to establish clear boundaries and let them know what you expect from them.

4. Listen to your partner.

Even though they’ve been having a negative impact on you, the only way you can possibly resolve this is by having a two-way conversation. Try to stay non-judgmental, kind, and supportive. Allow them to express their feelings and thoughts so that you can understand their perspective.

5. Try to speak and act from a place of compassion.

As difficult as it may be, try to speak from a place of understanding and compassion. Remember that this isn’t an easy conversation for either of you, and it’s important to remain respectful throughout. This will maximize your chances of finding a solution. If they are emotionally mature and care about you, they should be sorry for their actions and how they made you feel.

6. Encourage your partner to seek external help.

Depending on the extent of the gaslighting, it may be beneficial for your partner to seek professional help. If you think this could be helpful, encourage them to do so and offer your support.

7. Be honest.

Finally, try to be honest, even though it isn’t easy. The exception to this is if you feel in danger in any way. If you do feel unsafe, do whatever you can to remove yourself safely from the situation, even if that means being dishonest in the moment.

These tips should help you prepare for and manage a conversation about gaslighting. Remember, it’s never too late to end a toxic relationship or a toxic cycle and take back control.

Change should be consistent

It may take some time for your partner’s behavior to change, but most importantly, you should notice consistent momentum toward reaching a healthy relationship dynamic. In addition, your partner should show consistent willingness and be accepting of any feedback.

For example, if you point out something they’re doing that is making you uncomfortable, they should adjust their approach. Even if you do need to point them in the right direction occasionally, the change shouldn’t be coming from you.

If you don’t see any differences in their behavior after having the conversation, or you are having to do the heavy lifting, you should end the relationship.

Final thoughts on “gaslighting someone” meaning & signs

Gaslighting is a dangerous form of psychological manipulation and can have serious consequences for the victim. It’s important to recognize the signs of gaslighting as soon as possible and to take action to protect yourself.

If you liked this post, you may also like 15 red flags and how to spot them.

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