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No, you’re not going crazy. You could be being gaslighted. Whether you’re dating or married, or have more of a business relationship, these are the telltale signs your partner is gaslighting you.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a term that refers to a type of manipulation where the manipulator attempts to force you to question your reality, perceptions, or memory. Typically, the manipulator does this in an attempt to gain power, and it works much better on just about anyone than you’d think possible. It’s a serious and dangerous problem, according to psychologists.
The term became widely used after the 1944 movie called Gaslight. In this psychological thriller originally based on a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton, a husband gaslights his wife, and she questions her sanity more and more. When she notices the gaslights in their home are dimmed, the husband lies and instead tells her she imagines things. Eventually, the husband convinces his wife she’s not herself.
This technique is commonly used by:
Psychological abuse happens slowly over time. So slowly, in fact, that many victims don’t even realize they have been brainwashed. Instead, victims believe they’re going crazy and place the blame on themselves. The manipulator does all of this to turn around all the wrong they’ve done on you, making you feel like you’re the one who should feel bad for singling them out.
When you’re being gaslighted, you may lose your ability to think or remember situations accurately. It becomes harder to rationalize or find the truth, and you feel like you’re going out of your mind. Victims often lose their sense of identity and self-worth along with their perception of reality.
Although not all gaslighters are malicious in nature or intentionally aim for control, their conduct is harmful to everyone around them. Some gaslighters, however, are perfectly aware of their coercive tactics and they seek to control the lives of the people around them.
It happens in dating and personal relationships but is an abusive tactic no matter what type of relationship you have with this person. The impact is destructive.
There are a few key signs you can look out for to know if your partner is gaslighting you before it’s too late. While one of the following signs may just be a personality flaw, pathological gaslighters will subject their victims to several of these signs and experiences often completely unaware or uncaring of how these tactics affect other people.
21 Signs To Look Out For
While these are not all the signs that show whether you’re being gaslighted or not, these are the most common and easy to spot signs.
They Deny Things You’ve Said Or Done
Everyone is forgetful sometimes, but gaslighters will straight up deny things you have said or done, claiming they never happened. The reverse may also be true, where they will make up statements about things you’ve said or done that you know never happened to you. Temporarily, you may wonder if they’re right and your memory is off. Pay attention to how you feel if something seems off.
It’s often used to hide wrongdoings and is all about twisting the reality of the gaslightee to the point where they don’t know what the truth is. They may correct your memory or retelling of events or cause you to question your memory in other ways.
Gaslighters will deny facts to your face, even if you know they are blatantly lying. They’ll tell you they never did or said something whether you were there or not, and they seem to hope you might just imagine something happened.
They Use Manipulative Vocabulary
Because this tactic is commonly found in people with narcissistic-personality disorder, the abuse takes on a form of emotional manipulation. They may become persuasive to get you to do something you don’t want to do, saying things like “If you really love me, you would do this.”
They Project Their Guilt Onto You
If your gaslighter is guilty of wrongdoing, they often project their guilt onto their partner. This pops up in cases where a partner is cheating or stealing. They may accuse you of being unfaithful yourself or continually make comments that show they don’t trust you.
They Constantly Need To Be Right
No one likes being wrong, but gaslighters cannot lose an argument or discussion. They feel an overwhelming need to be right, and they will go to great lengths to make sure you’re the one in the wrong.
They Prey On Your Insecurities
They will find your insecurities and find the perfect way to use them against you, usually toward their own benefit. Gaslighters need to feel powerful, and by making their victims feel more insecure, they can make you feel invalidated and wrong. They prey on low self-esteem and will target your insecurities.
They Bring Up Your Flaws A Lot
A clear sign of abuse, your partner will point out your weaknesses and flaws often to make you feel like you’re never quite good enough. They’re not trying to do so for your betterment though. They want you to feel vulnerable, giving them power in the relationship.
They Don’t Admit Their Own Flaws
Sure, they’re totally comfortable bringing up your flaws all the time, but they will rarely own up to their own shortcomings. Gaslighters are often in attack mode, and they are quick to blame others and make excuses for their actions. They don’t admit defeat and think they’re never wrong.
They Become Aggressive If They Feel Criticized
If you bring up something your partner may see as a criticism, they will revert to playing the victim. Then, to take the attention off their own actions or denials, they’ll try to place the blame on you instead. Untrue claims and accusations on the world around them help them disguise inadequacies.
They Place All the Blame On You
Everything that goes wrong is your fault, no matter what it is. If you ever do receive praise, it’s probably for something that benefited them.
They Question Your Mental Health
A concerned partner is one thing, but a gaslighter will show an extreme level of concern for your mental health even if you feel fine. Perhaps they tell you they’re worried about how strange your behavior has been or that you don’t seem to have an accurate memory lately. They might suggest you find help or question your sanity constantly.
They’re Hot Then Cold Unexpectedly
When you met, they probably hooked you with grandiose displays of affection and good times. Then once the relationship is in full swing and they have your full attention, they stop and coldly withdraw their affection.
They Won’t Let You Leave
Master manipulators, they know how to trick you into sticking around longer than you know you should. Most victims know they deserve better and find it tough to end the relationship. They will say you can’t live without them or that no one else would want to be with you to make you feel so bad that you stay.
You Begin Making Self-Disparaging Remarks
Gaslighters try to distort your perception and identity, and after a long period under constant ridicule, you can start to think they’re right. You may begin to wonder if they’re right and make negative comments about yourself or reject your own values and qualities.
You Feel Alone
For so many various reasons, this treatment leads to victims who feel stuck or alone. They isolate themselves from social contacts and loved ones. Even though they know they deserve better treatment, they often feel pessimistic that anything will change for the better.
You Notice Everything Must Be Their Way
They must have things their way, even in the strangest situations, and they can make you feel dumb for having a different opinion. A gaslighter thinks they’re always right, so you should do things their way, or it seems to become personal.
You Begin To Cover Up Their Behavior
You make excuses for the way they act, despite being treated poorly, and work to always reach acceptance from your gaslighter in an attempt to reduce some tension or get better treatment. Perhaps you tell other people it’s your fault or that you’re too sensitive.
You Feel Like You’re Walking On Eggshells
People who are gaslighted usually feel like they’re walking on eggshells. They can’t speak freely in front of their partner for fear of criticism, and they feel tense or anxious because they know their partner will soon ridicule or contradict something they said. If you feel more confident when your partner is away, you might be gaslighted.
You’re Suddenly Indecisive
When you’re gaslighted frequently, you will begin to feel nervous and worry over making simple decisions. Because of their hot-cold temperament and the inadequacy they make their victims feel, you may think they’ll hurt you more for making the wrong choice.
You Question Your Worth And Feel Insecure
If you started making negative comments about yourself during the time you’ve been with your partner, they could be twisting your perceptions. After a significant amount of time, you can actually begin to believe what your gaslighter says about you, even if it’s not true.
You Say “I’m Sorry” Too Much
Saying “I’m Sorry” when you have nothing to be sorry for is a huge sign of abuse and one of the most common signs you’re the victim of gaslighting. If your immediate response to anything is to apologize, this is a huge red flag that you don’t feel safe enough to speak your mind.