20 Examples Of Gaslighting In Your Relationships, With Parents, Friends, And At Work

Last Update on June 24, 2022 : Published on June 26, 2022

By now, you’re aware of the term, “Gaslighting” right? This term is used to describe a type of manipulation and emotional abuse that can be common in different relationships in your life. Manipulators that use gaslighting as their form of abuse are subtle and do so to control the relationship.

The effects of this manipulative tactic can make the victim question their reality and can make it harder for them to walk out of the abusive relationship. Why?

Gaslighting is a subtle form of manipulation and the victim may not even be aware that they are being emotionally abused. More often than not, gaslighting involves twisting and changing one’s reality to manipulate the victim to think or feel otherwise.

Gaslighting can leave you with self-doubt, confusion, insecurity, and loneliness. This form of emotional abuse is one of the most common in narcissistic relationships, however, it can happen with friends, family, romantic partners, and even co-workers.

Below, I’ve listed 20 examples of gaslighting in your relationships with your partner, parents, friends, and coworkers. You can use these gaslighting phrases as an example to filter the emotional abuse in your different relationships.

1. Examples Of Gaslighting In A Relationship

Gaslighting is one of the most common manipulative tactics used in abusive, narcissistic, and toxic relationships. In such cases, a partner may distort the other’s reality to maintain control in the relationship.

  • Distracting With Feelings

Partners who gaslight often use sweet phrases and kind words to distract their partners from their feelings. This kind of tactic may cause the partner (the victim) to believe that maybe they are overreacting. The abuser may use phrases such as, “You know I love you so why would I intentionally hurt your feelings?”

  • Minimizing Feelings

Abusive partners often regard their partners (the victim) as sensitive or too dramatic. They will be annoyed, make fun of, or minimize their victim’s feelings whenever they would open up emotionally. This often causes the partner (the victim) to feel ashamed of their feelings and will try to suppress their feelings the next time.

  • Questioning Achievements

An abusive partner, more often than not a narcissist, may feel jealous of their partner’s achievements and success and will try to question or disregard their achievements. For example, they may pass comments such as, “Congratulations on your achievement, but it’s still such an underpaid role, isn’t it?”

  • Denying Abuse

If there’s physical abuse in a relationship, a gas lighter will deny it and may even insist that their partner fell or tripped. This will look very convincing, so much so that the victim may begin believing their abuser’s versions instead of the truth.

  • Withholding Information

Some toxic partners love plating mind tricks on their victims such as holding information deliberately. This will make their naive partner guilty for “forgetting” the thing their loved one told them. For example, “I told you this morning that you’ve to run this errand. Were you not listening to me again?”

2. Examples Of Gaslighting From Parents

Gaslighting from parents comes as directions or rules on how their child should behave, feel, or act. Parents may deny abuse or harm and will present themselves as perfectly as they can. Toxic parents often shame, belittle, and ignore their children’s achievements and in some cases, these parents may even use emotional, physical, or verbal abuse.

  • Labeling Feelings

When a parent is a gas lighter, they will often tell or direct their child to disregard what they are feeling. They may use phrases such as, “You’re not upset.” “You’re not hungry”, etc. With time, the child may begin to suppress their feelings as they’ll believe that no one near them truly understands what they’re feeling.

  • Denying The Truth

Toxic parents also often lie to their children about certain things. For example, they may deny saying something saying that the child is making it up. This may cause the child to question themselves and develop a lot of self-doubts.

  • Challenging Their Child’s Memory

Even if the situation were different, a parent (the abuser) will insist that their memory is the right one while disregarding their child’s memory. They’ll say, “You don’t remember clearly. This is what happened…” and move on. This can cause the child to invalidate their experiences.

  • Playing The Blame Game

Often a toxic parent will blame their child for their (the parent’s) mistakes. They will insist that it’s not their fault and that the child provoked them to act this way.

  • Ignoring The Child’s Needs

Parents might, at times, reject some needs of their children but a toxic parent, a gas lighter, may be rude while doing so. They may make comments such as, “You’re so spoiled”. This may leave the child thinking that their needs are a burden and unimportant. Eventually, this may cause them to feel depressed and develop anxiety.

3. Examples Of Gaslighting In Friendship

Toxic friendships are unfair and more often than not, one-sided. In these kinds of friendships, one friend will do everything to make it about them and will disregard the other’s feelings. This kind of friendship is not about being empathetic or respectful but it’s a continuous game of power struggle.

  • Creating Conflicts

A toxic and abusive friend enjoys creating conflicts. This kind of behavior comes from jealousy and may even cause the abusive friend to start a rumor just to see how others will react. Often, these people will want to be “praised” for their truth.

  • Flirting With The Friend’s Partner

In some cases, a gas lighter friend will often want to get close with their friend’s partner. Often, this is to fan the flames of jealousy but in some cases, they might truly be interested in stealing their partner’s S.O.

  • Showing Fake Concern

A gas lighter friend will often show fake concern while at the same time, trying to bring their friend down – mentally and emotionally. The friend (the victim) may even begin to believe their fake concern.

For example, the gas lighter friend may comment, “You’re forgetting things frequently these days, I’m concerned about it.

  • Engaging In Gossip

Toxic people love to (and even thrive) on gossip. This kind of behavior makes them feel validated and in control. Often, they’ll engage in gossip and even spread false rumors and then use that information to their advantage later.

  • Invalidating Emotions

A gas lighter friend often makes comments that state that others are acting inappropriately or simply exaggerating. They may make statements such as, “You don’t feel that way”. These statements are made to make their victim feel ashamed and invalidated.

4. Examples Of Gaslighting At Work

Gaslighting can be quite challenging to identify and deal with at the workplace. Narcissistic superiors and coworkers can use gaslighting as a manipulation tactic to their advantage. Such gaslighting can make you question your skills and expertise. This can also make some employees feel like they’re working in a land mine.

  • Silent Yet Deliberate Damage

A toxic coworker or a superior may engage in silent sabotage to ruin an employee’s reputation. They may seemingly promise to pass over an important document but may not or they may “forget” to invite their coworker to a meeting and then reprimand them for coming late or not coming to the meeting.

  • Hiding Important Information

A gas lighter coworker or boss intentionally omits important information or may give vague information. This kind of behavior often doesn’t work well in the employees’ favor. On one hand, they don’t want to incorrectly guess what their boss is expecting, and on the other hand, they fear that if they ask for clarification, they may be deemed incompetent.

  • Being Defensive

In a workplace, gas lighters do not take responsibility for their actions when they make a mistake and would instead react defensively.

  • Fake Helpfulness

Gaslighting at work can also look like the coworkers “pretending” to help their peers while using subtle manipulation throughout. They may insist that they’re done with a presentation when they haven’t even started the work.

  • Being A Hypocrite

A gas lighter at the workplace may often be strict but at the same time, disregard the same strictness when it comes to themselves. For example, a gas lighter superior may talk about being on time but arriving late to work themselves. If you confront them, they may deny it and even attempt to blame you or someone else instead.

Wrap Up

If you’re being gas lighted then it’s normal to feel confused, hurt, and even guilty but it’s also crucial to remind yourself that your abuser’s actions are not your fault. You can stop gaslighting and move on from the toxic relationship by recognizing the signs of gaslighting and understanding the subtle forms of this emotional abuse.

If you feel you can’t walk away from the relationship or if the gaslighting hasn’t stopped even after you’ve left the relationship, then you should reach out to a professional mental health counselor. Therapy can be your safe space to explore your feelings.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also try to contact your nearest emergency helpline number.

For emergencies, you can also connect with these helpline numbers:

I hope these above-listed examples of gaslighting in relationships, with parents, friends, and at work will help you identify this subtle emotional manipulation. For more, you can write to us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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