Recently, I saw an article headline about how your “mean friend” is only mean because they want what’s best for you. To some extent, having a blunt friend who tells you how it is is fine, but it’s not okay when they leave you feeling drained or always have something negative to say about you.
What’s even worse is gathering the courage to tell your friend that they did hurt your feelings, and they respond with something like “I was only joking, why are you so sensitive?”
You may not be aware of it, your friend may not even be aware of it, but this is a way of gaslighting. And (most likely) they’re going to keep doing it again and again.
Here are a few common gaslighting phrases that could come from a toxic friend:
“I was only kidding!”
It may not have felt like they were just kidding, but it’s fine now, right? They only said they were kidding so it’s not, like, a big deal….. Yeah. Sure.
“You said we were going to see a movie Saturday, did you forget again?”
This is something I’ve noticed gaslighters do in friendships when they’re losing a hold of you. You never said you wanted to go to the movies, and they know that too, but they want to come up with something to make you feel bad for them. So now you owe them your time, when it was never even promised in the first place. You don’t owe them time; if someone were to make you feel so shitty, you most likely wouldn’t have planned to spend time with them in the first place.
“I only criticize you because I like you.”
I’ve heard this phrase often, and it’s a very, very sneaky gaslighting phrase. If you have one of those “mean friends” who criticize everything you do, it’s not a friendly as they think it is. It’s not playful at all if it hurts you emotionally and lowers your self esteem. This phrase is sneaky, because they add in the fact that they’re close to you and that they are only putting you down because “that’s what’s best for you.”
“Is there something wrong with you?”
Over time, this toxic friendship will probably get on your nerves, being the reason why you get angry and irritable after countless times of them being manipulative. Maybe there is something wrong with you, you probably didn’t sleep well, right? There is nothing wrong with you. Being a victim of this kind of manipulation is frustrating, and breaking free from it can be even more frustrating as the gaslighter can pull more manipulative phrases to convince you that they’re not the problem, you are.
“I’m like this with everyone, don’t take it personally”
And maybe they are, but if something they said you feel that something they said is going too far, it’s not okay. If your friend keeps up this behavior, no matter how much you have confronted them, it’s time to cut them off.
A friend who leaves you feeling drained and makes you frequently question your sanity isn’t worth keeping around. If you have a friend like this, remember to trust your gut over what they say, and get the hell out of there.