I didn’t even know what gaslighting in relationships meant until recently. Gaslighting is something that I’ve experienced many times in romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships and in business.
I’ve touched on aspects of gaslighting before, but was unfamiliar with the terminology until a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep and starting watching the classic film, Gaslight on tv (I’m a classic movie junkie).
The film is based off of the play Gas Light, which centers around a husband who attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (the lights were powered by gas at the time), in their home. When the wife notices and points out the dimmed lights, her husband denies that the lights have changed. In the film adaption, Ingrid Bergman’s character, Paula, meets the charming and handsome Gregory (played by Charles Boyer), while in Italy. They fall in love and when they return to London, the same crazy making ensues. Paula and Gregory’s union is now in total relationsh*t territory – exclusively defined by a fight to retain control/sanity as opposed to lovers in London.
When it comes to defining what gaslighting in relationships is, gaslighting is something that is so.much.more subtle, effective and ultimately destructive than you could ever imagine.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting in relationships is ALL about gaining power. It’s a form of manipulation in which the perpetrator – very slowly, methodically and passively – breaks down the victim to the point that the victim starts to question their reality and sanity.
Gaslighting can happen to ANYONE – It doesn’t discriminate against age, wisdom, orientation or gender. It’s obviously more prevalent and easier to detect in cults and dictatorships, but it occurs in relationships everyday… and is nearly undetectable.
Gaslighting in relationships is very gradual and s l o w.
It can’t survive in any environment other than slow, steady & subtle.
And because it’s so gradual, the person being gaslight not only doesn’t realize what’s going on, but they also can’t fully detect the extent to which they’ve been brainwashed.
It’s finding yourself all alone in an empty room on top of the cold, hard marble floor. You’re so cold and uncomfortable, but no one ever notices. Then one day, someone comes along and seems to understand and empathize with your situation on a potential Happily-Ever-After level; a level that no one has ever before.
And, as if this person could sense with crystal-ball-ability, exactly what you needed at that exact moment… they place the most PERFECT, warm and fluffy rug right underneath you.
You didn’t realize just how cold and uncomfortable you were until you had the warmth, comfort and SECURITY that this rug provides.
You’re so grateful for the warmth however, that you don’t realize everyday, inch by inch, the rug is being pulled out from under you until one day – a gaslighting example…
You’re all alone, shivering on the cold floor.
You ask your partner, “Where’s the rug that was here? I’m freezing!”
& you’re answered with…
“What rug? You’re crazy!… Are you sure?… You don’t have the best memory. There was never a rug! You’re siting on MARBLE and marble is obviously COLD…. YOU don’t know what your talking about. If you’re cold, you should go find a rug instead of being crazy and accusing ME of stealing one that was NEVER there! This is all in your head.”
You start to question whether there even was a rug (but you KNOW that there was; you’re sure of it). You feel awful for upsetting your partner, so you defeatedly return to apologize for something that your gut knows isn’t so.
Why do we do this?
We prefer the “known” of the self-imposed-jail-cell-hellish-nightmare MISERY to the “unknown” of HAPPINESS & UNFILTERED JOY.
Every time we believed in happiness, the other shoe always dropped.
Our hearts just cant handle the unpredictable anymore.
As humans, we will sacrifice our values, morals, sanity, sense of reality, happiness and health just to feel the security that predictability provides – EVEN IF it’s the predictability of our own heartbreak, pain, suffering and affirmation of our perceived lack of value.
Here are the 7 signs of gaslighting in relationships + how to deal with gaslighting:
Before I go into the 7 signs of gaslighting in relationships, I want to first touch on how to know if you’re a victim of gaslighting abuse.
If you think you’re being gaslighted, here are some signs to look for:
- You’re always wondering if you’re “good enough” for your partner because you never know.
- You think (& are told) that you’re too sensitive.
- It’s hard to pinpoint why you’re so unhappy, but you just know that you are.
- You always feel like you or your relationsh*t is “in trouble.”
- You have manifested a codependent relationship with your fears.
- You’ve lost the ability to trust yourself and need others to affirm what your gut already knows.
- You feel confused and crazy, which brings up a great deal of shame. The shame puts your in a state of fear based, “must-apologize-for-having-a-human-reaction/observation,” PARALYSIS. Before you know it, you’re apologizing to your partner for identifying something that your eyes, ears and gut have consistently seen, heard and identified in REAL TIME.
- You’re always making excuses for your partner’s decisions, actions, inactions and words to your friends and family.
- You find yourself apologizing to your partner more than ever being heard and empathized with.
- Decision making becomes increasingly difficult for you.
- Avoidance has now become a way of life.
- You mourn the death of the person you “used to be,” the one who possessed a backbone. The person who was confident, resilient, strong and able to speak up. You feel like a walking corpse; a shell of your former self.
- You have an inability to implement boundaries because your self esteem is nonexistent.
- You feel hopeless. Dependency is at an all-time high.
The 7 signs of gaslighting in relationships:
No matter what – even if you have proof (!) – your partner lies & denies.
When a gaslighter lies, the lies are OBVIOUS and BLATANT.
Your partner is bankrupt when it comes to character. They can’t match their words with their actions. EVER.
And because of this, it’s imperative that you judge them SOLEY on what they DO. Always look at the actions. It’s their words that they rely so heavily on to manipulate and wear you down over time.
Gastlighters project everything onto you. Everything that they accuse you (& others) of, they embody. The level of hypocrisy and contradiction is through the roof.
They do this because they know that you’ll get so defensive and involved in “proving them wrong,” they’ll have a much easier time propelling their agenda. They want you to distracted and preoccupied with “trying to be better.”
Gaslighters live for “us against them,” and that mentality is like candy to people with low self esteem. They’ll convince you that they’re all you need and that you don’t need your friends or loved ones. They’ll also align people against you that can come in at any time and act as “expert/key witnesses,” to your insanity/incorrectness if need be. They LOVE having a “credible yes people,” in their back pocket.
This is done to isolate you so that no one who isn’t emotionally bias/invested can tell you what their seeing and if for some reason they do, you’ll be defensive, recoil even more and the shame will break you down every further.
You’re told that you are crazy and a liar (& everyone else that you’re close with/agrees with you is a crazy liar as well).
Everyone else has to be crazy. The gaslighter is the ambassador of sanity along with anyone else she/he “appoints.” Gaslighters will study what and who matter most to you and then use the love that you have for these things/people to attack your integrity, sanity and make you question your value in their environment/lives.
You are constantly accused of lying and “talking out of your ass.” You may have even been told to “go get checked,” or “get on pills.”
This is nothing more than projection. Replace “you” with “I” and you have the truth.
They’ll selectively connect, praise & “empathize,” just to f*ck with you.
One day out of the blue, they’ll start (pretend) to connect with you, praise you and empathize with you for the very things that they condemned, broke you down for and accused you of. This is done to give you just enough hope to remain invested.
Gaslighting is a dynamic that seems impossible to ever exit because you get to the point where you’re so unsure of everything, you can’t make a move.
It’s the ultimate form of emotional paralysis by means of cumulative, Chinese water torture emotional manipulation.
How to Deal with Gaslighting in a Relationship for GOOD:
The first thing you need to know is that if someone has the ability to gaslight, there’s a 110% chance that they’re an emotionally unavailable narcissist.
Narcissism and gaslighting in relationships go hand in hand.
Having the kind of relationship that YOU KNOW you deserve is impossible with a narcissist. Narcissists have an all-about-me agenda with the emotional span of a shoe. Gaslighters take the manipulation to a level that attacks the very foundation of your being.
Gaslighting in relationships can seem like an impossible flame to extinguish because as the manipulation deepens, the sole source of your happiness and identity becomes the relationsh*t.
You become so used to the predictability of your misery that you convince yourself you “need” your partner to feel happy and whole. Because of this, you avoid exiting the relationsh*t for fear of having no more happiness and identity.
The key to extinguishing gaslighting abuse once and for all lies in the realization, that at the root of your fleeting happiness and pseudo identity, lies abusive and painful MANIPULATION that you will be saying goodbye to (not what you’ve convinced yourself is your happiness and identity).
How do you stop gaslighting and say goodbye?
By doing the ONE THING that a gaslighter will NEVER be able to do – speaking with your actions and riding off into the sunset on your own white horse.
You are so much more than a f*cktard’s agenda. You have YOUR OWN.
If you’re experiencing gaslighting in a relationship and psychological abuse: Make the decision to get out NOW.
Take back the pen to write your OWN story before someone else waste’s all of your emotional ink.
Love to each and every one of you, always.