Here’s What Gaslighting Looks Like
If you feel like you can no longer trust your memory and like something has been off in your relationship for a while, it might be a reaction to being gaslighted.
What is Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that inflicts emotional damage, exerts power over a person, and makes them doubt their sanity. It’s most commonly used in romantic relationships by those with narcissistic and antisocial personality traits.
How Gaslighting Makes You Feel and Why Gaslighting is Bad
At first, gaslighting leads to confusion but gradually causes emotional damage. A lot of people who have been subjected to gaslighting in a long-term relationship admit that they felt like they were going crazy. As gaslighting is a form of manipulation, it might make you start wondering what’s true and what isn’t and eventually question your sanity; did you really hear them say it? Did you really forget to lock the door? Not having the confidence in your point of view can generate a feeling of insecurity and emptiness. When you believe that you can’t trust your judgement anymore, it might even cause identity loss over time.
Signs That You’re Being Gaslighted
A gaslighter might:
- Deny your recollection of events by insisting it didn’t happen or providing their own version of what happened
- Call you crazy or sensitive when you raise concerns or talk about your emotions and distract you when you ask difficult questions
- Insist that you’re wrong
- Refuse to listen to your perspective
- Lie often
As a result, you might notice an increase in anxiety, wonder if you’re too sensitive, worry about your state of mind, blame yourself, feel hopeless and have an urge to apologise often.
Can Gaslighting Be Unintentional?
While gaslighting is often a deliberate practice that aims to undermine a partner’s confidence, it can also be unintentional and happen in all types of relationships.
For example, a person might not be able to take responsibility for their actions so they choose to gaslight their partner as a defense mechanism (“It never happened”), they might lack empathy to validate other’s feelings (“You’re too sensitive”) or believe they’re always right and tell people they’re wrong without listening to their point of view. But whether it’s intentional or not, gaslighting is gaslighting and can have a negative impact on your mental health.
What to Do if You’re Being Gaslighted?
First, recognise that gaslighting is manipulative, even if done unintentionally. If you believe that the person does it subconsciously, you can try to have an honest conversation and see if they realise how their actions affect you or ask your friends for their opinion. If you believe that the person uses it as a way to control you, it’s best to cut them off. This will be difficult to do if it’s someone you care about but staying in this kind of relationship is harmful in the long run.
Recognise that someone who repetitively gaslights you doesn’t care about your well-being, and give yourself permission to grieve the good parts of the relationship.
Whether you’re experiencing problems in your relationships or just need someone to talk to, we’re here to help. Contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat.
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