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Gaslighting in relationships: 10 signs

Gaslighting in relationships

Gaslighting in relationships

Love is something that everyone wishes for. Everyone wishes to love and be loved. Fall in love with someone who respects and trusts them and lead a happy life. However, if the relationship is toxic, it becomes very hard to sustain and grow. Relationships mostly turn toxic because of either one or both the partners not understanding the needs of the other person or gaslighting. In this article, I will be discussing the signs that you are being gaslighted by your partner and what should you do.

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What is the definition of gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a very common method of manipulation that is a part of abusive and toxic relationships. It is a type of covert emotional abuse in which the abuser or bully deceives the target by fabricating false narratives and making their partner believe that they have gone insane. Constant criticism and incorrect narratives makes the partner question his or her own reality. Eventually, the abused or victim starts to feel that they cannot trust their own mind and impressions of the world. They may also start to question their own sanity.

What does gaslighting mean in a relationship?

Most commonly, gaslighting is observed in romantic relationships. However, it is not uncommon to see gaslighting in parent child relationships, amongst friends and family members as well. People who tend to gaslight others most often suffer from illnesses like borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder or are psychopaths. The reason they utilize such forms of emotional abuse is to gain control over the other person and to make the other person believe that they cannot do anything by themselves.

How does gaslighting work?

In one word, gaslighting is a deceptive and manipulative technique that is employed by your partner to gain control over your mind. Your partner will try to skew your view of reality and make you believe that what you saw , your perceptions and your thought processes are all incorrect. You will start to doubt yourselves, your recollections, your experiences and your perceptions as well when you are being gaslighted by your partner. You may feel terrified and start to question if what you saw and thought was even real.

Gaslighting is a very complicated technique that makes the victim doubt their own judgment, self worth, memory and finally mental health status. If your partner is constantly telling you that you are in the wrong and what you see and believe it is not what is real, your partner might be gaslighting you. Under such circumstances, it is beneficial if you learn about the strategies that are used by people who have a tendency to gaslight others.

One point I would like to emphasize on here is that gaslighting is not only observed in romantic relationships. As mentioned before, you can experience gaslighting from your family members, from your friend, from your parents at the drop. He has lighting at work place is also fairly common. It can be difficult to understand gaslighting from a simple blog post. Therefore I will try to cite examples so that you understand better if your partner is gaslighting you or not.

Signs that your partner is gaslighting you.

Lying to you

People who have a tendency to gaslight others are pathological liars. They also have narcissistic and psychopathic characters. So even if you present them with proof of their lying attitude, they will manipulate you and try to make you feel as if you are in the wrong. They will not back down and will continue to refuse the truth. Such people are so adept at lying that even with a physical proof of lie, they will easily be able to manipulate a third party into thinking that they are correct and you are wrong. Some common phrases used by people when they are gaslighting you:

  • You are making this stuff up.
  • This never happened
  • You’re insane
  • What you saw or what you thought you saw is wrong.

Distortion of the truth and lying are two of the cornerstones in gaslighting. Even though you know that your partner is lying to you, they will act in an extremely convincing manner and may even convince you that they are right. Therefore, in the end you will begin to doubt yourself.

For example

Your partner tells you that he will be back home early by 4:30 and will take you shopping. You got dressed up and you waited. Your partner comes back at 8:30. When you question the behavior, your partner tells you that he never said that he would be back by 4:30. He always said that he would be back by 8:30 and he does not have time to go shopping today. A common sentence that you may hear your partner tell you under such circumstance is:

“You hear what you want to hear. You never bother to listen carefully to what I tell you. Keep your ears open when I’m talking to you.”

Under such circumstance, you will start to question yourself and what you heard in the first place.

One more thing that you have to understand about gaslighting is that your partner is not making you question your reality to cover up for his or her lies. They are pathological liars. They will lie every time and purposefully. They will not ask you to question your reality to cover up their lies. They will lie so that they can gaslight you.

Putting you down

If you have noticed your partner talk about you in a negative manner to their friends and family members, there is a chance your partner is gaslighting you. Your partner may even indicate to others that you are going through a phase where you are emotionally unstable and you don’t remember things in the right order.

For example:
“She’s just going through a bad phase right now. I have noticed that she is slightly emotionally unstable. She tends to forget her own commitments. But, it’s OK. It’s a dark phase and we will get through it. I am here to support her. She needs help but I hope that this problem resolves itself soon.”
In this manner, your partner is implying to others that you are mentally unstable and crazy. However, your partner is putting up such a supportive act in front of others that others would be made to believe that your partner is absolutely right and is so supportive towards your problems. Many people will also sympathize with your partner or abuser under such circumstance because they have been blown away by the caring attitude.

Use others as a weapon

Another sign that your partner is gaslighting you is that they will tell you that others are also feeling the same way about you. The said people may never have said anything negative about you but the person would make you believe that they did.

For example:“The party that you planned for me and my friends was so horrible. I understand that you are busy and you already have a lot on your plate. Maybe you shouldn’t have planned the party at all. You could have just asked an event planner to do it for you. My friends were saying that it did not seem that you’ve put your heart and soul into the planning process. You just put together something at the last minute for the sake of doing it. They were so disappointed with your preparation and planning.”

In other words, your bully or abuser would do anything and everything to make you feel that you did the worst job possible and everyone feels the same way as him. This way, you will be convinced that you did a horrible job . This is a huge blow to your self confidence.

You’re constantly distracted

If you try to question your partner about his or her behavior and attitude, they may turn the question around to you. You have to understand that people who gaslight already have a psychological issue. They will never feel that they did a mistake. If they are questioned, they will not only become defensive, but they will also feel the need to show you your place and where you stand. Thus, they may question you about your negative points and your problems. Their purpose is that by the end of the discussion, you start questioning your own sanity and behavior. You will also wonder how did the topic changed from them to you.

Signs of gaslighting in relationships

Your thoughts and feelings have no importance

One primary part of gaslighting in a relationship is to make the victim feel that their feelings, thoughts and opinions don’t matter. Even if you catch your abuser lying to you, and decide to question them, they will make you feel like you are making a huge deal out of nothing. They will use phrases like, “calm down, it’s not a big deal, you are overreacting, why are you so sensitive to everything?” etc to make you feel that you are the one who is always making a hype of things when there is nothing do be worried about.

You will also feel that you are constantly questioning your partner about things that don’t matter. Thus proving that you are wrong in every way.
If you are in love with a person who never bothers to acknowledge how you feel, your thoughts and views about things, you will start to doubt yourself. If you are already struggling with self confidence, it will be very easy for your abuser to destroy the little bit of confidence that you do have in yourself. On the other hand, if you are someone who has a high self esteem and a good level of self confidence, the constant questioning of your opinions, views and disregard for your feelings will start to make you question yourself as to whether you are wrong.

When you are relationship with a person who is gaslighting, you will start to feel that you are never acknowledged, understood or cared for. This will start to make you feel alienated and isolated. You will  feel like you are in a gilded cage, your mind is trapped and cannot escape.

Shifting the blame

Psychopaths and people who gaslight have one thing in common. They are experts at shifting blames. If you try to have a conversation with a person who loves to gaslight and enquire about their wrongdoings, they will turn and blame you for everything that happened. Even if you are trying to make your abuser realize that they made you feel bad, they will turn the blame on you and make you feel that whatever happened was your fault.

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Denying their own mistakes

People who engage in emotional abuse and bullying are known for denying their own wrongdoings. This is a method that is employed to avoid accepting blames for their own mistakes. If you are a victim of gaslighting, you may feel unheard, invisible and disregarded. This strategy employed by the abuser makes the victim feel that they can never get out of the cycle of abuse or bullying. Even if you leave the perpetrator, it is a huge challenge to gain back your self confidence that you have lost. This is because you were constantly made to believe that you were in the wrong.

Use compassion as a weapon.

If you question or confront a person who is gaslighting you, they will either shift the blame on you or they will act extremely compassionate and use kind remarks to diffuse the issue. This would especially be done if you already have proof of the gaslighting behavior.

For example
Suppose you recorded a conversation you were having with your abuser and you show it to him. He may respond by saying, “Don’t you know how much I love you? You should understand that it was never my intention to hurt you in the first place. I was simply angry and maybe a few words came out of my mouth. However I never intended to say them or even mean them. I cannot believe that you would twist the situation in such a manner and present it back to me. You should know how much I value you. I love you. I should not even have to tell you this”

These comments may be the ones that your ears want to hear, but in your heart and mind, you will know that these are not true. Especially if the action the perpetrator engaged in gets repeated. However, for the time being, these comments may be enough to persuade you to forgive the abuser, allowing them to avoid complete responsibility of what they have done and not face any of the repercussion for their disgraceful behavior.

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Rewriting the past

As I mentioned before, even if you catch your abuser doing something wrong, they will twist it and present it in a way that would make you question your decision.

For example:
Suppose your abuser slammed you into the wall. However, when you tried to talk to your abuser about it later, they will twist the whole scenario and present it in a different manner. They will say something along the lines of, “you were falling I was just trying to stabilize you.”
 Such a behavior will twist your recollection of what happened in the first place. You may start to question yourself once this has happened in a number of times. This is what your perpetrator wants. They want you to start second guessing yourself and stop believing in what you see and believe to be true.COMMITMENT ISSUES: 13 SIGNS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT

Signs that you are being gaslighted in your relationship

So far I have discussed what happens when a person gaslights in relationship and how they conduct this gaslighting behavior. However, in the following section I will be discussing the symptoms of gaslighting that you may be feeling. Gaslighting has been observed to lead to:
Various other mental health issues including suicidal thoughts and addiction.
Therefore, it is crucial that you understand if you are being gaslighted or not.

Do not judge a person on the basis of what they have done with you one time.

Gaslighting is a behavior that would occur repeatedly. It may be possible that your partner lied to you or blamed you for something that you did not do once or twice in your relationship. This does not amount to gaslighting. If your partner is engaging in gaslighting, he or she will repeatedly blame you, lie to you, not accept their own mistakes and make you believe that you are in the wrong. Check the following symptoms to know if you are being gaslighted by your partner.

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Signs you are being gaslighted

You start to question your own reality and feelings.

You start to persuade yourself that the behavior that you are receiving from your partner is not wrong. Your partner is absolutely right. It is you who has a problem. You are the one who is being overly sensitive and overreacting to situations.

You question your own judgment.

You have stopped expressing your own feelings and are afraid to speak up. You have realized that whenever you speak up for yourself, you only end up feeling worse about the whole situation. Thus you have decided to remain silent.

You are constantly feeling vulnerable and insecure.

Most often, you have to walk on egg shells around your partner. One wrong word or phrase can land you into trouble.
For example:You and your partner were watching a TV series. In the show, the male is the villain. You make a casual remark that the female looks like you or has a similar hairstyle to yours etc. You never implicated towards the male in the TV show. However, what your partner understands is that if you are the female then he is the male who is the villain in the show. This means that you are saying that he is a villain in your life as well.Thus, you have to be very careful about what comes out of your mouth in front of your partner.

You feel alone and powerless

You have started to believe that everyone around you thinks that you are either crazy, unstable or weird. This is what the person who has been gaslighting you has been claiming all this time and now you are starting to believe it as well. You will feel alone, unable to connect to others and completely stuck in a cage because of this.

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You are not sure of yourself

Your partner who is responsible for gaslighting you says things that make you feel that you are worthless and stupid. Eventually, you start to repeat these sentences to yourself.
For example 
Suppose your partner has a tendency to call you selfish. Anything and everything that you do for yourself is labeled as selfish. Eventually you learn that you should never do anything for your own self because then you will be tagged as being selfish again. You also start to look in the mirror and feeling that you are a person who is selfish and only thinks about herself.

You are unhappy with the version that you’ve become.

You may feel weak and passive despite the fact that you were a very self confident, assertive and strong person.

You feel perplexed

The behavior of your abuser constantly perplexes you. You cannot figure out if your partner is Mr Hyde or doctor Jekyll.

You are worried about being too sensitive all the time

Since you are always hearing sentences like, you’re overreacting, you are making a big deal out of everything, you get angry so easily etc, you start to believe that there is something definitely wrong with you.

You feel that you are on the wait list of an impending doom

When you are around your partner, you have a constant feeling that something bad will happen. This could involve feeling frightened or worried about the next comment for no apparent reason.HOW TO LEAVE A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP IN 13 STEPS AND BE FREE

Constant apology

Most of the time, you are apologizing. You feel the need to apologize for each and everything that you do, almost all the time. Nothing you do can ever be good enough so it is better to apologize.

You start to feel that you are insufficient

You have started to tell yourself that you are not good enough. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to excel in anything. You constantly make an effort to meet the requests and expectations of others even if they have no base or meaning and are completely unjustified. All you want are a few words of appreciation from your partner which you never received.

You question yourself

You regularly doubt your ability to recall things from your past. Since you are afraid of being wrong all the time, you stop sharing your own feelings with your partner.

Everyone is disappointed

You feel that everyone is disappointed in you. Since your partner has constantly told you that everyone around you expected more from you and you could not deliver, you start to feel that everyone around you is unhappy with you and does not like you.

You worry for your mental health.

Since you constantly hear that you cannot remember things properly, you are lying, you are blaming your partner for nothing, you are overreacting etc, you start to wonder if you have something seriously wrong with your own self. What if your partner is right and you are suffering from a psychological disorder?

Constantly undecisive

You cannot decide anything yourself. You have stopped trusting yourself and your decisions. Your partner’s behavior of constantly putting you in a box labeled guilty and liar has made it difficult for you to take any major or minor decision.

If you feel that your behavior resonates with the above indicators of gaslighting, you should opt for professional help as soon as possible. Gaslighting has been observed to have a tremendous impact on a person’s self esteem, confidence and overall mental health in general. If you do not know a mental health professional, you can go to your regular doctor and ask for his or her help. They can direct you to a mental health professional.

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Some examples of gaslighting

With family members

You live with your mother. You both get along fairly well but she interrogates you if you are even 5 minutes late. One day, she insists, “you said you will come back home after work. However, you have been loitering around with your friends. I needed my medicines but now you have come home so late, all shops will be closed and I won’t have medicine for tonight. I will be suffering because of you.” When you tell her that she never informed you that she needed her prescription filled, she tells, “Why would you remember that your mom said anything to you? You either ways don’t care for me enough. If you did, you would have remembered that I asked you to get my medicines while you were standing right over there. You even promised me that you will be back home early for the same.”

You also remind her that she was sleeping when you left home and you remind her the same, but she refuses to believe you.

Later on, you hear her conversing on the phone with her friends and saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. Maybe she is going through some mental health issue. I am just unaware of what goes on in her mind.”

Situations like this continue happening on an almost everyday basis and you start to question your sanity.

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In romantic relationships

You have proof that your partner cheated on you. However, when you confront your partner, your partner says, “What? How did this even enter your mind? How can you accuse me of cheating? I work so hard for you, get you everything you want and this is what I receive when I come home, tired after a full days work? I am not home the entire day. How can I be so sure that you are not cheating on me? I think you are accusing me because you are the one who is cheating on me and you do not want to admit it.”

The first response is a lie. The second response is meant to make you feel guilty for even asking him if he cheated. Next time, you will try to be a better partner and not question even if you have proof.

Gaslighting at workplace

You get a well deserved promotion at your office. However, your now assistant also wanted the same promotion. An engineer, you notice that important files are missing from your desk and you do not get crucial phone calls from the client. When you question your assistant about the same, she says, “Are you accusing me of removing things from your desk? Why would I be stealing? I am supposed to be helping you not be in your way. It seems that you are not able to handle your responsibility properly. Maybe you are just not right for the job.”

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Are you being gaslighted?

Why does gaslighting work?

Gaslighting most often works because you trust and believe in that person who is gaslighting you. You want to believe what your parents, partner or colleagues at workplace. This is totally understandable. However, if you even have minor insecurities about yourself, a person who wants to gaslight you can do so very easily. They will not only destroy your self confidence, they will destroy your belief in yourself and your mental state.

One crucial aspect of gaslighting is that it can not always be visible and on the surface. Sometimes, it can be very subtle and camouflaged.

For example: 
Suppose your mother comes and tells you, “I do not like this friend of yours. She only maintains her friendship with you because You give her treats. But she’s not in it for the friendship.”You keep thinking about what your mother has said. Since she is your mother, she has much more experience than you, she might be right. However, how do you inquire about such a thing with your friend? You cannot question your friend if she is with you because of the money that you spend on treats. If you are wrong, your relationship with your friend will be broken. However, the seed of doubt has been placed in your mind and now you constantly check the behavior of your friend.

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What should you do if you are being gaslighted?

If you recognize signs of gaslighting, you need to confront the abuser and hold your ground. Your abuser will try to manipulate you, make you feel that it was all your fault, but you need to bring the discussion back to them and question it.

However, if you are unsure about how to approach the discussion with your abuser, you can always ask your loved ones or other people who are close to you for help.

Discuss with others [make sure that these are people you can trust with your deepest secrets]. Your family members, trusted friends or work colleagues can help you when you share your point of view. You can tell them instances when you felt that you were being gaslighted. They can judge it from a third person POV, assist you in gaining some clarity, offer you emotional assistance and finally check your partner’s behavior for the signs that you have already experienced.

If you are being gaslighted by your partner, never lose touch with your friends and family. If you lose touch with others who are close to you, this will only give the person who is gaslighting you more power and control over you.

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Conclusion

People gaslight because they have inferiority complex, low self confidence and mental health issues. They want to feel powerful. The only way they know how to do so is to make their partner or other person feel inferior, worthless and make them question their reality. Thus, if you feel that you are apologizing too much, scared to talk to your partner, scared to confront him or her about anything, you don’t understand your own reality anymore etc, you might be experiencing gaslighting from your partner.

Confrontation is not always an option. However, the first path that you must big is to consult a mental health professional. They will assist and guide you further in how to deal with your partner, parent or anyone else who is gaslighting you. Do not lose your self confidence, do not let your self esteem go. If you lose these two crucial factors of your personality, it will become very easy for the other person to gain control over you.

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Gaslighting most often results in loss of one’s personal identity. Overtime, you may start feeling that you have changed irreversibly or you have gone completely hollow or numb from inside. Do not let someone else define your reality. You deserve love, respect and all the happiness in the world. If you are feeling that you are being gaslighted, discuss the symptoms with a mental health professional.

If you have any queries or questions about this blog post or any others in the blog, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. You can also email me. I will be happy to help. Remember, you are not alone in this fight. Most people do not even realize that they are facing such a problem in their relationship. The realization that you are being gaslighted is the first step in winning the war.

See you in my next blog post
Shruti
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