Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse and manipulation in which a person presents you with false information thus distorting your understanding of reality and turning your own mind against you.
When it comes to relationships, gaslighting means that your partner withholds actual information from you and makes you believe things that are not true. By using this insidious manipulative tactic, your partner will over time make you blame yourself for any problem in your relationship and doubt your memory, logic, perception, and even sanity.
The real question is: Why do some people use gaslighting to manipulate their loved one?
Well, oftentimes, this serious form of manipulation is a perfect way for them to cover up any kind of bad behavior – be it a love affair, financial shenanigans, or you name it. They usually gaslight you through denying facts, events, or what they or you did or did not say or do.
This is how they make you feel like you are “overly sensitive” and always blowing things out of proportion. To avoid admitting to their wrongdoings and shift the blame onto you, they make you think you are always making things up and that you don’t trust them. They make you feel like you are the bad person, not them.
The harsh truth is that everyone can be a victim of gaslighting – even highly intelligent and emotionally stable people. And this is no wonder since it’s natural for us to trust our loved ones. Instead of questioning their words and actions, we tend to make excuses for them, even if the words or behavior that we’re consciously ignoring hurt us.
Another ugly truth related to gaslighting is that it’s difficult to spot. It’s a subtle and insidious process as it tends to begin with plausible excuses and small lies, such as: “I am so sorry I am late, sweetheart. I got stuck in a really boring, long meeting at work.”
Of course, a loving partner would barely doubt that statement. And as the lies get bigger and more elaborate, you might still not be able to notice that your significant other is gaslighting you because everything will be happening gradually.
So, how can you tell if your partner is gaslighting you?
If you are worried that this insidious form of manipulation exists in your relationship, there are three questions you should ask yourself, given below. If you answer them positively, then, we’re sorry, but your partner is most likely gaslighting you.
1. When you ask your significant other about his/her whereabouts and what they were doing, do they flip the script so as to make it appear like it’s your problem, not theirs?
If this looks familiar, then you’ve most probably heard them say things like:
“I already told you, I got stuck in traffic. Why don’t you pay more attention to what I tell you?
Frankly, it seems to me that you don’t care about hurting my feelings at all. You always get mad over nothing.”
“Why do you always have to ask me such questions? I really hate when you do that – it’s so irritating.”
“I was up to my neck in work at the office and I didn’t hear the phone ringing. I can’t believe you’re mad about that. I mean it’s not like it’s the end of the world or something.”
2. Does your significant other make you feel as if you’re mentally and emotionally weak, and that’s the reason why you don’t completely trust them?
If you answered positively, then you’ve probably heard things like:
“She/he is just a colleague of mine. When she/he calls me, it’s always about things related to our work. I can’t understand why you’re always so jealous of her/him.”
“What?! Of course, that I wasn’t in the restaurant with another woman/man. I was in my office all day. I was up to my neck in work – I already told you this. You’re insane if you really think you saw me in that restaurant.”
“It has never occurred to me to look at other women/men. You’re making a drama out of nothing, and it really worries me that you don’t trust me.”
3. Do you often deny your own perception of reality, instincts, and judgments since that is the only way you can believe what your significant other tells you?
If your answer is yes, then you’ve most probably forced yourself to believe excuses that you know are not true, such as:
“I told you last Monday, over lunch, that I’m going out of town for work next weekend. It’s obvious that you weren’t listening to me, otherwise, you wouldn’t be making all these jealous scenes now.”
“I wasn’t looking at her/him. I was just looking at that direction and my mind wandered off somewhere. It just appeared to you that I was looking at her/him.”
If you answered the questions with a yes, then there’s most likely a problem in your relationship, and irrespective of what your partner would like you to believe, you are not the cause.
This is a hard pill to swallow, we know that. But, it’s a serious problem and you should not ignore it. If you don’t know how to deal with it or have already tried to do that and failed, then you might want to ask your family or friends, or even a psychotherapist for their help.
Riley Cooper is a professional writer who writes informative and creative articles on topics related to various fields of study. Written with love and enthusiasm, her articles inspire readers to broaden their knowledge of the world, think and get ready to act.