10 clever comebacks to put a gaslighter in their place

Some people in this world lift us up and make us feel our best. Sadly others seem to drag us down and cause destruction.

Gaslighters firmly fall into the second category.

They seek to make you question your memories, perception of reality, and even your very sanity, to try to get the upper hand.

This psychological abuse is controlling and bullying. It is also so annoying when someone is so clearly trying to twist things.

That’s why it can be handy to have some clever comebacks that put them back in their place.

1) “Maybe I’m not too sensitive, maybe you’re just insensitive.”

Or, if you prefer the more risqué version of this statement that I once saw in a meme, try saying:

“Maybe I’m not too sensitive, maybe you’re just a dickhead”.

Arguably it’s not the most mature way of dealing with things, but hey, it gets your point across in no uncertain terms.

Either way, the point is to put a different spin on things.

A common gaslighting tactic is to make out that others are simply being hyper-sensitive.

So they may say something along the lines of “Why are you so sensitive?”.

They excuse their words and behavior with the implication that you are the one with the emotional issue.

This comeback flips the script so that you make it clear that their emotions and approach to the situation are out of balance, not yours.

2) “It seems your memory is very selective.”

If you’ve ever had to handle a gaslighter, you’ll probably know that they hate to own up to anything.

It can be so infuriating when you’re trying to address problem behavior, yet they refuse to acknowledge it even happened.

They often claim that certain things were never said and done, as if you made it all up in your head.

They’ll use phrases like “I never said that” or “That never happened” to try and get themselves off the hook at a later date.

To make it clear that you’re not falling for it, this is a clever comeback to highlight that they’re the ones with the memory problem, not you.

They only “remember” what suits them, rather than the truth.

You can also reply in a less provocative way by saying something like:

“We remember that differently”

“I remember what happened perfectly well”

“I know the truth about what I experienced”

3) “What’s most worrying is that I think you might actually believe that.”

A gaslighter is bound to feed you plenty of bullsh*t.

They’ll try to pass off their lies and manipulation as the truth.

The whole end game is to distort reality so much, that you start to question what’s real or not in your own head.

When they bring lies and distortion to you, arguing often feels futile. They drain your energy as they continue to swear that up is down.

Rather than get drawn in, saying something like this puts a stop to it all.

You are showing the gaslighter that not only do you not believe them, but you’re concerned for them.

The suggestion is that they’re so messed up, that maybe they even believe their own web of deceit.

4) “Let’s stick to the facts.”

It’s not unusual for a gaslighter to go completely off-topic as they try to twist things.

Rather than let them take you on a journey around the truth, it’s better to stick to the cold hard facts.

If they have cheated on you — that’s the fact.

So if they try to swerve responsibility by saying they felt neglected by you or claiming you drove them to it somehow, this will bring you back to reality.

There are always reasons for behavior, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for excuses.

Sticking to the facts helps you to remember the truth.

5) “I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.”

As tempting as it can be to get into things and fight your corner, often it’s not worth it.

Gaslighters are unlikely to suddenly see the error of their ways and agree with you.

Rather than waste your breath reasoning, sometimes it is better to let things be.

That means letting them know that you don’t want to discuss it further.

You have your truth and they have theirs.

6) “Yeah, I can take a joke…when it’s funny.”

 A lot of inappropriate behavior flies under the radar by masquerading as humor.

“Just kidding” can be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card for hurling insensitive or downright rude comments around.

If you’re ever asked, “Can’t you take a joke?!”, then this comeback makes it clear that what they’ve said isn’t amusing to you.

You could also try saying something like:

“Oh, that was supposed to be funny?”

“Your jokes sound a lot like insults”

“Comedy clearly isn’t your skillset”

7) “I’m not making a big deal out of it, I’m telling you how I feel…do you understand the difference?”

phrases narcissists use to gaslight and confuse their victims 10 clever comebacks to put a gaslighter in their place

 Another accusation often leveled at people by gaslighters is that they are overreacting.

So you may be told that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, you’re being paranoid, or that you’re simply reading too much into things and need to “chill out”.

Especially when you’re dealing with an emotional reaction to something they said or did, it’s an attempt to invalidate your feelings.

This comeback reaffirms to the gaslighter that you are trying to communicate your feelings to them.

You are not necessarily even trying to say that your feelings are facts. But they are still your feelings.

Turning this into a question puts the spotlight back on them to acknowledge the legitimacy of how you feel.

8) “If you loved me, you wouldn’t…”

Use their own gaslighting phrase against them and throw it right back at them.

“If you loved me you would…” or “If you really cared about me you would…” are sentences used to emotionally blackmail.

They are trying to tug on your heart strings to coerce you.

Give them a taste of their own medicine and show them that the same applies to them too.

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask me to do things I am uncomfortable with”

“If you really cared about me you wouldn’t do things that make it hard for me to trust you”

9) “Name-calling isn’t going to change the way I feel.”

Have you ever been called “crazy” by a gaslighter?

One of their favorite tools to instantly dismiss what you’re saying is to suggest:

“You’re nuts”

“You need to get some help”

You’re not right in the head”

“You’re such a drama queen”

“You’re acting like a crazy person”

Essentially, they’ll hurl insults your way that call into question whether you are thinking clearly.

The best way to shut this down is by highlighting how insensitive and unhelpful this is. It resolves nothing and isn’t going to get you to back down.

10) “The way I feel isn’t debatable.”

End. Of. Story.

They can try to argue with you that you’re wrong. They can talk until they are blue in the face about why you’re getting it all mixed up.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to this:

Your feelings are your feelings.

They’re nobody else’s.

So how you feel simply is how you feel. It’s not something someone else gets any say in — least of all a gaslighter.

Think twice before escalating the drama

This article has hopefully provided you with an array of clever comebacks to use on a gaslighter, depending on the situation you may find yourself in.

But a word of warning:

I know it’s super tempting to say something witty or cutting to put a gaslighter in their place.

Especially when they have hurt you, it’s normal to want to bite back.

But that’s not always the best tactic. In the long run, it usually pays to be the bigger person rather than get dragged down to their level.

That may mean taking a very deep breath and remembering the person you want to be so you can walk away with your head held high.

The most dignified response is an emotionally mature one.

Sometimes that means seeing what others are trying to do, but refusing to get pulled into it.

Here are some tips to handle gaslighting:

  • Make sure it is gaslighting and not just miscommunication.
  • Step back and give yourself some space, that way you’re less likely to say something you may later regret. You don’t have to engage when they try to provoke you.
  • Try not to fight fire with fire. So use sarcastic or clever comebacks sparingly and consciously.
  • Instead, be honest and clear with them about how you feel. It’s important to speak up, but you can do it in a more respectful way than they do.
  • Create strong boundaries that protect you against a gaslighter. They cannot hurt you if they cannot get to you.
Picture of Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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