The term “gaslighting” has become a huge buzzword in the last few years as people are opening up more about mental health. You may hear people throw this word around a lot, but it is important to understand what this actually means so you can tell if it’s happening to you. Continue reading to find out the warning signs of gaslighting.
First, What is Gaslighting?
The term itself comes from the 1944 film “Gaslight” where a man manipulates his wife so much that she starts to lose her sense of reality and believes she is going crazy. There is a scene where he turns on some lights upstairs, which causes the gas lights to dim on the floor below. When the wife asks him about this, he tells her it was all in her head.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and psychological manipulation that essentially makes the victim feel crazy. Over time, a victim of gaslighting can lose their sense of identity and self-confidence and can become emotionally dependent on the abuser. Gaslighting works by getting the victim to question their own beliefs and sense of the truth.
This form of manipulation doesn’t always come from a romantic partner – it can come from friends, family members, and even people you work with.
What Are Things Gaslighters Say?
There are all kinds of gaslighting tactics that someone could use against you. Some of the common phrases a manipulator might use include:
- “You’re being too sensitive”
- “You can’t take a joke”
- “You have a terrible memory”
- “It is your fault”
- “You are overreacting”
- “I never said that”
- “You agreed to this”
- “You are imagining things”
- “You made me do that”
- “You don’t feel that way”
- “If you loved me, you would…”
- “I only did it because I love you”
Essentially, they will say anything that gets you to question the truth of a situation and put you on defense.
Why Do People Gaslight?
It’s hard for most people to understand why someone would gaslight someone else. Gaslighters likely have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and their end goal is to gain power and have complete control over the person they are manipulating. They want the victim to be completely dependent on them and never question their behavior.
Sometimes gaslighters are completely aware of what they are doing, and other times they are oblivious. If someone’s parents had gaslighting behaviors, they can grow up to do the same because they were never taught healthy communication skills.
Remember that no matter what the reason is, there is no excuse for someone to be gaslighting you.
8 Subtle Signs Of Gaslighting In Relationships
It can be hard to really know if you are being gaslit. If you suspect that your partner is gaslighting you, pay attention to these red flags.
Claiming A False Narrative
Gaslighters will constantly make you believe that the way you experienced a situation didn’t happen. They can claim that you said or did things that you never said or did. On the flip side, they will also claim that they never said something that you know for certain they did.
Over time, the victim will start to believe they are just remembering things wrong even when their memory is completely accurate. Even if you show them evidence of the truth, they will continue to lie and deny it.
Jokes That Aren’t Funny
Your partner may make “jokes” that are really just criticisms and attacks on your identity in disguise. If you express to them that their joke hurt your feelings, they will not take responsibility. Instead, they will tell you that you are being too sensitive.
Extreme Ups And Downs
A common manipulation tactic that gaslighters use is to first criticize you and make you feel bad about yourself in some way. They will tear down your self-esteem, only to lovebomb you with extra attention and affection later. The victim will get trapped in a cycle of trying to please the abuser in order to get their affection.
A gaslighter will never take responsibility for their own behavior. If you try to confront them about the way they treated you, they will twist the story and say that you are actually the one to blame for the way they acted. They may claim that they would never hurt you on purpose or that they only behave that way out of love.
Another gaslighting technique is to exaggerate and use “always” or “never” statements. They can claim that you never remember things or that you always are doing something that they don’t like. They can also flip this around and tell you that you always exaggerate even when you don’t.
Walking On Eggshells
If you constantly feel like you have to tiptoe around your partner so you don’t upset them, this is a huge red flag. You may feel like you can’t speak your mind around your partner because they will criticize you.
Paranoia & Lack Of Trust
Gaslighters can often be extremely paranoid that you will cheat on them, even when you have given them no reason to suspect this. Even if they tell you that they trust you, their actions don’t match this. They can make you feel guilty for spending time with other people without them.
At the same time, they will also demand that you trust them completely and without question.
They Wear You Down
The key to knowing if you are being gaslit is by noticing repeated behavior over time. Gaslighters will slowly chip away at your sense of self. The more you have to defend yourself against them, the more distracted you will be from their abusive behavior.
How Do You Tell If Someone Is Gaslighting You?
If you have noticed these behaviors in your partner, it is important to check in with yourself and see if any of these symptoms resonate with you:
- Feelings of loneliness
- You feel confused
- You are experiencing anxiety and depression
- You find yourself over-apologizing
- You don’t feel like you are good enough
- You question your own memory
- You feel like you let other people down
- You struggle to make decisions on your own
- You feel constantly on edge
- You make excuses for their behavior
- You are afraid to express opinions and emotions
- You think you are too sensitive
- You think that something is wrong with you
- You don’t feel like yourself anymore
What To Do If Your Significant Other Is Gaslighting You
Gaslighting in a relationship will take a serious toll on your mental health. If this is happening to you, open up to trusted friends and family members about what is going on. Setting boundaries in relationships is important. However, if you have experienced gaslighting from your partner, it may be time to end things.