78 Ways Narcissists Gaslight You (Narcissist Gaslighting Examples) – If you are in a toxic relationship (or think you are), then you are looking for an example of gaslighting – just to make sure you’re on the right track, right? Or maybe you just need a little inspiration to stick with your no contact plan? If any of this sounds like you – this one’s for you.
These real-life examples of gaslighting in toxic relationships have been collected from real survivors of narcissistic abuse and are printed exactly as they were shared with me. Don’t feel like reading? No problem – just watch the video above.
- He’ll call me names and when it’s brought up in conversation later he doesn’t remember saying it or what the context of our conversation was, as if that matters. He’ll also do things to me that he would never put up with and call me crazy or a “sensitive snowflake” when I react.
- He also says that he knows what people are thinking and that he’s a bit psychic!
- Blaming, rude loud tone of voice, denying everything, negative, then in an instant…. talking sweet to me… tries to kiss on me!!
- “I know I didn’t say that to you because I know that’s something I would never say” “ok so it was wrong to call you that but I was angry and I’m sick of you calling me a liar” “my memory is horrible but I know you can’t be perfect so there’s no way it happened like that” “I swear on my mother and my kids that those pictures deleted themselves”
- Told me that things that were said or done never happened, made me doubt myself and doubt what actually occurred. He was incredibly good at manipulating the truth to retell everything into a completely different version of events that ended up making HIM look like the victim. It was to the point where I had to start documenting things, writing things down exactly as they happened and documenting times, dates and facts, screen shotting things, etc just so that I could be absolutely sure.
- Totally denied things he did/said even minor things that should not seem to need denial. Then would say apologize for how rude you are.
- Totally denying the things he said, when i know for a fact he said it. Trying to make me feel like i was crazy.
- Telling me he already told me something when I know he totally never did tell me. He is trying to get himself out of trouble & make me feel stupid & forgetful.
- My Ex Narc’s favorite way, believe it or not, was after a discard when time had passed and he was coming back around he would say that the reason we split wasn’t the way I remembered it happening. Once he even had his brother ready to back him when I knew different.
- Me: “Is there something wrong?”
Them: “Since you brought it up”….
- I was lucky enough to be involved with a covert. So, there are bound to be worse. After years of small little gaslights, that turn huge. It’s like death by a thousand cuts.
- Mine made a pact with me that we would both deactivate our FB accounts. I did for two months. I went back on to message someone that I didn’t have any other way to contact. The asshole was still on FB and had never deactivated. I called him and he said that it was MY idea and that he never said that he would deactivate his account. Big fat lie. He really pushed me to get off FB. Not the other way around. I knew right then he was a lying piece of shit. I started researching his behavior and that’s how I found you, Angie Atkinson. Without you I am sure I would still be trapped in that cycle of abuse.
- Mine said because he got “hit on sooooooo much.” I told him that I knew that he liked FB and that he shouldn’t have to change just because I was in the picture. I deactivated mine out of respect for him and to make him feel more secure. Later his FB kept showing up in the background on his phone… and he was tagged in posts while he was supposed to have been deactivated! He also texted me once from a messenger app! Which I don’t have on my phone and we had never communicated that way before. When I asked him about it, he said that he didn’t know how that happened… he also got onto me about Instagram, which I don’t really use, while he was still active on there as well.
- When he would become interested with someone at work or otherwise and I would find out and bring it up, he would say “I can’t help it that women find me attractive!”.
- Blaming me for him cheating. Blaming me for calling the police (even though he was attacking me and choking me), telling me his family would never call the police. Telling me that I wasn’t vulnerable enough even though I would tell him pretty much everything. Trying to accuse me of cheating if I was 5 min late from work.
- My narc was famous for gaslighting, not only did he use all my own statements, but he also was a finger pointer. His statements were him justifying his actions because of the way I was. Making me always feel like the one in the wrong and that I never did anything right. Here are statements he would repeat in multiple arguments:
“Did you ever thinking maybe I don’t try because of your mood swings.”
“You’re always so negative – what makes you think I want to be around you when your like that?”
“Just because you’re crying doesn’t mean you’re right”
“What makes you think I want to have sex with you when you act like this?”
“You overthink and listen to others not me”
“You take me granted”
“No! You’re the one with the attitude”
“You don’t respect me”
“You’re just jealous.”
- I was always feeling like I was having to defend myself and how I felt when really, he was watching my wheel turn making me doubt myself. And avoiding his flaws.
- Would send me a nasty slew of messages, blast me on the phone then give me the silent treatment for 2-3 days. THEN say that I was the one giving him the silent treatment (even though I had sent the last message). I’m sorry- I was supposed to keep checking in on you and make you feel better while you were punishing me?!?
- He called me stupid illiterate ignorant blah blah blah then 5 minutes later came out and asked how to spell pizza. My son who was 7 at the time overheard it and came out and said why would you ask her how to spell Pizza she’s stupid a literate and ignorant remember… then he says “allow me to help you it’s p i t z a. Know how to spell cat it’s k a t … can I help you tie your shoes you idiot?” and walked away.
- Things they said they would do or take responsibility for they would later change and deny they ever said it.
Said that I said some horrible things that I would never say.
Said that I dumped her when we had both decided together that a long distance relationship wouldn’t work.
Denied insulting me and changing what they had said. So many ways.
Pretending like nothing happened the day after going in to rage, throwing things, flipping tables, saying they were leaving me.
- It’s always” I’m just teasing,” or “I was just joking,” or “ I’m just messing with him.” Then why isn’t anyone else laughing. Not to mention if anybody gives it back to him, he can’t handle it. He can dish it out but can’t take it. His ego gets hurt!
- Oh, telling him plans or upcoming events (primarily for holidays or family functions that he always ruined) and saying I didn’t tell him when i did like 10 times… it was to a point beyond forgetful and I think it was done to make a reason to fight as he ruined just about every holiday but like 2… I was reminded by family members about me crying in the bathroom as he would on thanksgiving as he kept calling and being abusive because I was not home by like 8pm with the kids…. it was awful and stupid.
- If I would get upset when he would tell me he never said something, then he would say: “listen to yourself, you really have an anger issue and you love to cause conflict “
- Telling how when they were verbally abusive it was because of my actions.
- Telling me when they hurt my feelings I’m too sensitive or cannot handle criticism when what they are saying is just mean, and not true helpful criticism.
- Going through my social media, emails, electronic devices and making a false narrative with cheating (can be other stuff) accusations when what they are looking at is none of those things to prove their delusions
- Forgetting important detail or changing details in their actions.
- He would say: “I never said that,” and “I was just joking.”
- His favorite phrases were:
I NEVER said that
Stop twisting my words (when I would echo them back verbatim)
You’re f*&^ing crazy
I don’t remember that happening
Stop giving me a hard time (when I would casually ask about his day)
- I can literally be sitting quiet and he’ll say” look at ya, why are you getting all worked up?”
- Mine said “Your sensitivity is an issue”
- Mine would call ME the abuser!
- Say they said something or did something they didn’t do. Along with “I forgot”-not occasionally but often & I felt like I was nagging him if I reminded him about things of importance.
- Mine will say” I didn’t know,” right after I tell him.
- Telling me I’m mentally ill when I’m not!!! This got so bad I ended up in a mental health facility and was told that I was 100% ‘sane’ and told point blank by mental health professionals about gaslighting. They will take your pain and mental anguish from dealing with the abuse and turn it around on you…
- Rewriting history where I’m the villain, resulting in me questioning events…21 years’ worth.
- Move stuff that I am using. Just did it yesterday, insisted I moved it. I was fixing a bicycle and there is no way I would put the wrench away until I was done as I was sitting on the floor and it’s hard for me to get up and down. I was freaking out that it has just disappeared. I finally found it in the junk- drawer in the kitchen. The confirmation was she had closed the adjustable wrench. I would never ever do that. Sometimes she will do this with valuable things or at least things that are important to me. She will either just throw it away or dump it on the dirt floor of our outdoor shed. It’s not like she is super organized either and has an massive pile of shoes like 100 pair or something that I would like to throw out but never will. Yet if she comes across something of mine I may never see it again.
- I get a lot of, “I told you _____ bla bla bla”…. I used to think I was losing my mind then one day at her brother’s house I listened closely and Knew what she said and called her on it. She said, “I didn’t say that, I said ___ “. Her whole family stepped up, “No you didn’t, you said ___” CONFIRMING I was correct and heard her right. So a lot of, “You don’t pay attention” “You heard me wrong”.
- Another during unmasking or hoover-mode is she will say, “I will never do ___ bla bla again, I promise”. Then she will do the same exact thing sometimes within a few days.
- I was trying to set healthy boundaries with my older sister and all she could say is “you’re jealous, you’re lonely, you want attention.” I was dumbfounded by her total disregard for my needs and how she refused to acknowledge my adult conversation by telling me I’m just a big cry baby. It was gaslighting. Trying to make me believe I’m self-absorbed, self-centered, lonely, and jealous of her.! I see projection here too. She accused me of the things she was guilty of too.
- Mine doesn’t rip me up personally but treats my younger kids like crap from a former marriage. He is diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, but he has far too many signs of a narcissist. One tactic that he’ll use, is, if we are in a conversation about the way he is treating someone, and I’ll say to him “why are you treating him/her like that? They’ve done absolutely nothing to you? Your acting like a big bully and when you treat my kids bad, your disrespecting me too.” He’ll say, “I know, it’s true, your kids don’t respect me at all, I know this.” WTH? Seriously, we weren’t talking about him getting lack of respect and he will totally dismiss what I just said until I get irate and literally want to either rip my hair out or gouge his eyes out. It takes everything within me to keep cool and calm, because I now know what he’s doing. He wants me to flip out, so I look like the psycho one who’s doing wrong. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been with him 6 years and probably should have left a long time ago. I straight up told him that I don’t want to marry someone who treats my kids (teenagers now) like crap. He is on disability (for the bipolar), which was fine, I knew this when I started dating him, but he doesn’t want to do nothing, but boss my kids around and act like we all owe him something. I ask him if he’s ever been diagnosed with a personality disorder and he said “no, why? Everybody has a personality disorder!”
Then when one of the kids would give it back to him, he’d say, “your son has anger issues, what’s his problem?” I’d say, “it’s you,” and he’d say, “I’m just sitting here, I’m not doing nothing to nobody.” Totally forgetting about the verbal abuse, he showed my son for the past 6 years. My son was 12 and chubby when we started dating, and about a year and a half into the relationship, he shows his true colors and every time my son would get in the fridge or cupboard for something to eat he’d say” what are you doing, coming to feed again?” Well, my son eventually lost weight and lost like 75 lb. and is now 18. He is wearing a size 31/32 and is skinnier than my narc.
- This happened every weekend I was at his house the last six months of hell. He would wait until I left his house and then text to say he wanted to talk. He would then call and make accusations of cheating. It was always that someone messaged him on FB saying they were either sleeping with me or had seen me with different men, mind you I was never introduced to anyone he knew and in return I refused to introduce him to anyone I knew even though he whined about it. He would refuse to show me the messages or give a name and even the go through with my suggestion of having this person accuse me in my presence. Anyway, eventually he would pretend snore and act like he was asleep. Yes, it sounded that fake. The next day he would deny deny deny that he accused me or even talked to me on the phone. They are bat shit crazy!
- I went to the police station and got a 17-year-old report because he made me question what had actually occurred. It’s very sad
- He would talk to me when I wanted to go to sleep and when I call him out on it he would act all surprised saying that he was fast asleep until I woke him.
- Keeping the most required and most often used things In the house like keys, biscuit boxes, etc., in different places every time so that I search frantically.
- Once, he had hidden away my school and college certificates. I had to reapply to my university and after I got the duplicates, my originals reappeared magically. 😏😟
- He withheld sex (not that he was any good at it) and tried to make me think it was my fault.
Narc: Maybe if you wore your hair in a ponytail more often, I’d have sex with you. Maybe you should cut your hair, I like short hair
Me: *cuts my hair*
Narc: Proceeds to withhold sex for a WHOLE MONTH in response to me cutting my hair like he’d asked, instead of it making things better
- Me: You never kiss me, I always am the one who goes to kiss you
Narc: “Maybe if you didn’t wear lipstick I’d kiss you.” I stop wearing lipstick, yet he never once kisses me.
- Narc knows my family was too poor to get me a bike until I was an older kid, but they saved and it meant a lot to me, I’m proud of it.He, on the other hand, is spoiled as a child.
I haven’t been on a bike in years but I relearn quickly and I ride as NORMAL. I relearn JUST for him because I want to make him “happy”. Narc insists we go biking:
Narc: *zooms up ahead of me on his bike, doesn’t even wait for me to sit down on my bike* “I can’t be with someone who rides their bike so slow. I can’t even bike as fast as I want to because you’re so slow. What’s wrong with you … why are you so lazy?”
Narc says I take too long putting on makeup (he makes it into a big issue in our relationship). To show him I care about his needs, I wake up early and DON’T put on makeup, so we can go bike riding. I have body dysmorphic disorder, so this is a BIG deal that I’m doing just for him. I am proud to be outside without makeup. He takes a selfie of us (I assume it’s innocent). We start biking and he says: If you don’t bike faster and do this bike trick I’m telling you to do, I will post this selfie of you without makeup all over the internet. When I refuse because I don’t feel safe doing the bike trick, he zooms up ahead of me and disappears into the distance, leaving me by myself. I sob and cry and break down that he could try to hurt me with the very thing I did JUST for him. Later when we get in the car he claims Narc: You’re so much prettier without makeup, can’t you see that? Trying to convince me that what he was doing was NOT emotional assault, but rather that he was “trying to teach me how pretty I am.” I knew there was something extremely wrong with him after that one
- Little things like telling a story about something that happened in his past relationships, then telling a slightly different version. When I brought it up, he denied the earlier version. Built up to the discard, when he said a month before we broke up that I was a good woman and someday he would marry me. Then when we broke up, he said he never said that, and that I imagined it.
- He always said I was so disorganized and lost everything that’s valuable. And he would hide or throw away stuff and he would say I’ve lost it again. I cried and couldn’t believe how many times I lost things. But it was allll him all this time!
- I come home from pre-natal swim class at like 12pm or something , I’m very pregnant. He’s smashed drunk with his bestie buddy and this drunken train wreck of a lady. I’d specifically asked him to not have a party that day because I was so tired. But he did. He said they’d be gone in an hour. They weren’t so I say, “I’m super tired, can you guys please either go in the other room and maybe think about wrapping this up in the next hour so I can rest.” That starts an argument about how I’m ruining his life, being inconsiderate to his needs and feelings, how I’m making him uncomfortable in his own home. They all force me outside in the pouring rain as the only place to get some peace and so I’m out there on the hard concrete, they are still partying. Then they come out. And right in front of me the narc picks the girl up, puts her on the broken washing machine outside and she wraps her legs around him and starts dry humping him. They see me. And go inside. I go inside and she’s undoing his shirt buttons and still rubbing up against him! I’m like “what are you doing? Get out of my house. I’ve had enough.” Then he starts screaming and shouting, it’s nothing, I’m crazy, she’s not done anything, his buttons aren’t undone, I’m hallucinating and ruining his life with my jealous rages. They all go I think to the pub. Later he returns, and the fighting continues. From that day onwards he denies it happening, says I’m crazy, there’s something wrong with me. Etc etc. but I saw it happen!!
- It was so subtle, that even now I can’t pinpoint the exact ways clearly. But usually when confronted, she would take the conversation on an insane rollercoaster and make my head spin so much that I didn’t even know what we were talking about anymore. I was never able to get any clear answers to my clear questions, only accusations that I was somehow responsible of the situation. For example, I asked her why she had been so distant and didn’t say a word to me while we were spending time together with mutual friends. She would reply something like “me and x thought that you were not that excited about spending time together”. Many times, the gaslighting involved other people with whom she had talked about the current situation.
- Single. ‘Conversation’ was a god damn game of situational word salad where by the end of it I had zero idea what the subject was… all I knew is I hated myself at the end of it and thought I was the problem for everything in our marriage.
- My narcissist: I don’t care what you “think” you saw… It didn’t happen, I never said that, you are so insecure you make up things in your head.
- I caught him sexting and he told me he was cat fishing his friend’s girlfriend, trouble was, he was sexting multiple women. How stupid do I look?
- Mine would say: Stop trying to think you know what people are thinking all the time.
- I suspected he was having an affair with a girl I worked with that I introduced him to. She started being really mean and weird with me at work. He’d say “You’re crazy. You’re looking into things WAY too much and too deeply. You always do this. This is why we fight.” I started to hate myself and think that I was crazy. He was having an affair with her for a year before I walked in on it.
- He would turn everything around to my fault and accuse me of things he was doing. Actual excerpts from an email: ” you put all kinds of negative stuff on me and just expect me to deal with it, and I also have to deal with the knowledge that you should know everything I’m going though and yet you don’t really care about that , because if you did you wouldn’t be doing those things to me. “
- After telling me he hates the Catholic Church and would not meet my parents (no one asked him to) “This is not open for discussion, I just can’t take that emotional hit right now, if you try to go there I will just go away. I just can’t take the emotional taxing anymore right now. I need my space and rest. If you push the issue I will go away.”
- He would always accuse me of things he was doing but if I accused him he would say that I was accusing because I was guilty, but he was accusing because he had a feeling and his feelings were never wrong. He would tell me that I had to have cheated on him because that human nature and everyone cheats. At least he was honest about it, I would hold onto my secrets, so he wouldn’t ever know. He also would cheat and blame me and say that I wanted him to cheat. That by introducing him to my friends I knew he would want to have sex with them. Or that I purposely let him overhear a conversation, so he knew a girl I used to be friends with was a prostitute. I want him to cheat, that I set him up because I wanted to lessen my guilt so I made it so he could sleep with my “friends”. He would also tell me I wanted to control him, and I abused him emotionally. He claimed I kept the kids from him because I was cheating. And that I was a heroin addict when he was using drugs. He was always telling me I did things he was actually doing but he turned it on me.
- I was married for 25 years and have four children with my ex-husband, who was a very hard worker but turned into a drug addict because he had back surgery, then got hooked up with a quack who got him hooked on 3 of the strongest pain meds they make. He refused to get help and I couldn’t subject my children to it any longer. We divorced and unfortunately a couple years later he overdosed and lost his life. But before he passed, I had already started dating my now narc. Was already divorced and he came along and was so attentive, complimenting, charming, good to my kids etc…Talked me into moving to his town and the rest is history. He is not intimidated at all because the children’s father is no longer living and neither is mine. He has everyone snowed that he’s this great guy, and he is always super nice to my younger kids when my older boys ( 29 and 22 yrs ) are in town to visit. It makes me sick. I even spoke to his family about it and they said that they would call authorities to remove him from the home if that’s what I want. He’s never been physically abusive but verbal bigtime!
- He’d say ‘you never appreciate me or anything I do, u see, u see how u treat me’ anytime I questioned any behavior of his. He would stalk my fb page, my likes n fight about emoji’s. He even made a new female friend and told her he might be going to the area soon. When I complained his defense was ‘I said I would be going down there to see my friend’…the worst thing; one time he left the gas on in my place so that I could think it was my child and that I needed him there @ my Home to watch my differently abled son. F dat, I know my kid, it was him. The little bit of Jewelry I had also went missing and he said ‘oh look again it’s there’ he would fight and say I’m cheating to deprive me from hours of sleep. One day I said ‘yup ur right, I’m a cheater so leave me, get out, go’ his response was ‘no u would never do that’
- The most common theme was his lack of engagement and failure to remember things I told him. When I would gently bring up that he wasn’t paying attention to me, he’d flip it back on me every single time. He’d say I was the one who wasn’t engaged. That I was the one sending short texts. That I never told him something I’d told him (usually more than once). I always knew this meant he was seeing another woman or three and couldn’t keep things straight, but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I KNEW he was gaslighting me but I so wanted to believe that he was just hurting and needed my understanding that I denied my intuition over and over. His stories never quite matched the actual timeline and my Spidey senses just went haywire. The last straw was when I followed him to a hotel to meet NS (actually old S) and he told me they met in her room (at 6am, no less) for coffee. “We’re just friends!” OMG, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that…she was a friend of mine who lived blocks from me. She was complicit because she knew about me. They can HAVE each other!
- “You’ve been looking for an excuse to end the relationship for months!” – after months of me making special plans for us, doing special things for him, and trying to get to the bottom of why he was so distant only to catch him meeting up with the same damn woman he said he was no longer in contact with. By asking him if he wanted to see other people (because he’d been so distant and disengaged and I wanted to give him a legitimate out), he says I planted the idea in his brain and that’s why he cheated. So it was totally my fault. Uh huh. Yep. This is probably my favorite gaslight moment.
- You said you didn’t want to come ‘ when I’m al prepared and waiting for him to pick me up. Isolating me was obviously pretty important to him
- Back when we were first dating his ex was a HUGE problem; calling all the time when she knew I was there; saying he would be with her during the week when I was at my place (which now I realize was probably true). She even called my cell phone (hmmm wonder how she got my number). Of course, she was lying and crazy. We were in the honeymoon phase, so I believed him. One night we were out and he left me to go chase her around the bar. Of course, when I got upset, I was imagining things. He was also good at twisting arguments to make me look like an idiot. He would constantly ask me stuff and then go ask his friends as if I didn’t know what I was talking about. When I would get pissed he would tell his friends ONLY about the isolated incident so that I looked petty. He didn’t tell them that he had done it at least 1,000 times before. Then there was the involving friends in our problems – well his version anyway – (outside of my presence of course) only to come back and tell me how everyone thinks I’m drama, crazy, a bitch, etc… This only made the isolation worse because I had already stopped seeing my friends and family and now his “people” aren’t supporting me either. Essentially, I had no one except for his fan club who thinks he’s great and I’m left questioning my own sanity.
- He would get paid every Friday, and hand me $200 (because out of his 800 or so paycheck that was fair, right?), but then by Monday he would be broke, asking for money for gas and smokes. By Wednesday he would be telling me how lousy I am at managing money, why do I always have so much trouble paying bills when gives me money to help out every week? My paycheck paid all the bills, no money left.
- “Deflect and distract!” Mine even told me early on, in those words, that he used this tactic at work! I should have known he’d use it on me. It was so gratifying to call him out for it when he did! He got so frustrated when it didn’t work and I labeled it!
- After seeing the 250 texts exchanged in one month in the bill he said “we’re just friends and I like talking to her” …and when I asked why he called a hotel 10 times in 3 months he said “I didn’t do that. Maybe someone else used my phone”. Are you kidding me? I’m too smart for that BS. It’s just hilarious
- He would gradually hurt me with insults, grounding me at home, or taking away money and food, little by little, over a period of time. Since each thing he did was a smaller offense, they added up and one day I would just explode in a reaction trying to defend myself. He would say my reaction was ME abusing HIM. He would also say that I overreacted to the very last smaller offense he made when really it was a reaction to many small offenses daily over time.
- When I found him sexting the local community whore, he told me “…I was trying my best to get over you.” I asked him “why were you trying to get over me when we are still together?” He said, “Why are you doing this to me?”
- When I caught him downloading pics of a married ex… he said…great …you have now ruined the relationship.
- She would tell me I’m beautiful after spitting on me and saying I’m a whore that I only have my job because I screw my boss … she would always degrade me then compliment me it was like limbo all the time
- He used to say I’m a miserable person, and I have a mental disorder. I did show signs of distress and depression and trauma. He said I’d be miserable living alone and wouldn’t be able to make it on my own and would go into debt, so I might as well stay with him because at least he could provide for me.
- Even if I just would say something like, “man, the traffic is freaking crazy today.” He says, “you’re miserable, aren’t you?” Umm, really? I don’t think that comment calls for signs of being miserable.
- “I don’t have any problems communicating with anyone else, only you,” she would say.
- Mine ignores things I am him to do or not do. If he does do something around the house he will do part of it and leave the rest, leave tools and mess there, and tell me I am ungrateful and abusive if I say anything. He ‘forgets’ things then denies they were his responsibility. He makes comments about ‘people needing to take mental drugs’ and such to other people. He refuses to honor my boundaries physically then blames me ‘because I’m so cute he can’t help it’