Gaslighting is possibly one of the worst things that could happen to you. Look out for these warning signs of gaslighting and deal with it before it gets worse.
Have you ever been in a situation where your feelings have been dismissed by your partner and labelled as “trivial” or “petty”? If this has happened to you more than once, chances are you have been subject to the phenomena of gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting? – How Is Gaslighting Defined?
Gaslighting is the modern equivalent of psychological manipulation in which you, your thoughts and your feelings are controlled and manipulated to suit the needs of the gaslighter. It has become so common in relationships that in 2018, Oxford declared it as the word of the year.
Most people are unaware that they are victims of gaslighting because this form of minute manipulation goes undetected until the relationship starts becoming toxic. According to the Oxford English dictionary, “Gaslighting is to manipulate (a person) by psychological means into questioning his or her own sanity.”
Imagine this: You and your partner have constant arguments about their behavioural traits. Instead of understanding and listening to your point, they constantly remind you of how you make ‘a big deal of things’ or how you are overreacting (again!) and my favourite ‘it’s all in your head’. Sounds familiar? If you or someone around you has heard this before it’s likely that you have been a victim of gaslighting.
The important thing to understand is that the gaslighter may not even realise that he or she is indulging in such behaviour. They have probably grown up around relationships which thrived on a power struggle between the couple. It is this unsettled power dynamic that results in one person manipulating the other because they feel that they can.
It is easy to grant someone the power to control you especially if there is extreme emotional and psychological dependence on the other person for feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Moreover, the signs of gaslighting are often disguised as love, care and need. Needless to say, this is the pathway to give access to a gaslighter.
Related Reading: Emotional abuse- 9 signs and 5 coping tips
What Are Examples Of Gaslighting?
Here are a few common examples of gasligting phrases:
- “You are always making a big deal out of things. It’s not even that big a problem.”
- “You are a psycho. You are always imagining things.”
- “Your problems are not real. Stop being so dramatic.”
- “You don’t give enough in this relationship. I’m the only one who cares.”
- “I’m not dealing with your drama again. You are neurotic.”
While in a broader sense, being gaslighted by a figure of authority in a work environment or political setting is common. The most common gaslighters are the people with whom we share a more intimate relationship and it makes recognising the signs of gaslighting even more difficult. These are the people who might manipulate you over an extended period of time resulting in deteriorating mental health and happiness and you are not really aware of the reasons why is it happening.
Related Reading: How does the abuser operate in an abusive relationship?
12 Warning Signs Of Gaslighting You Should Be Aware Of
All said and done, gaslighting is so common that it is extremely important to look out for warning signs of gaslighting to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Here are 12 warning signs of gaslighting.
1. Denial – the most common sign of gaslighting
The most common trick used by a gaslighter is denial. In order to get their way, a gaslighter avoids confrontation and goes back on their word or promise.
Observe your partner’s behaviour to recognize if they constantly deny having said or done something when you confront them. Did they promise to not bad mouth your friends but did it anyway? And then denied having made any such promise? Beware, it’s a sign.
2. Repetitive behaviour
You will notice that you are being constantly nagged to change certain things about yourself but when it comes to your partner, the behaviour remains unchanged.
Despite the fact that a certain behaviour causes you discomfort or is unsettling, if your partner refuses to change their behaviour, they are leaning towards
the gaslighting side of the spectrum.
3. Emotional projection – the gaslighters tool
Most gaslighters project their own shortcomings on their partner in order to deflect from being accused. If they constantly lie and accuse you of doing so instead, they are projecting. You’ll be so busy defending yourself that the focus will shift from the real problem and you’ll be too distracted to realize that you just got gaslighted.
Related Reading: My husband complains about me to others
4. Constant negativity in a relationship is a sign of gaslighting
On most days, a relationship is supposed to be a happy and safe place for the two people involved. However, if there is constant negativity in a relationship, it’s a warning sign. Is your partner unsupportive of your goals? Do they constantly make you question yourself or your feelings? If every conversation with them turns into a full blown argument where they emerge as the winning party, you might be in a relationship with a gaslighter.
5. Lying – the classic gaslighting sign
“I told you, I was busy at the office.” But hey, you saw them out drinking with their buddies. Constant lying is another warning sign that your partner is gaslighting. They refuse to accept their fault and apologise. Instead they always have a lie up their sleeve to make you believe that it is, in fact you, who is at fault.
Gaslighters make smooth liars and what’s worse is that you don’t realise when you get trapped in their intricately woven trap of blatant lies.
6. Gaslighters constantly manipulate you
A gaslighter’s main motto is to manipulate you into believing or doing what they ultimately want. And to this extent, they won’t leave any stone unturned. A gaslighter is not above using your loved items or people against you to get you to do what they want. So if your partner comes with your favourite mint chocolate ice cream every time they want you to agree to something, know that it’s not just love, it’s gaslighting.
Related Reading: Want to leave my manipulative husband who doesn’t love me
7. Gaslighers make you reel in constant self-doubt
Of all the toxic traits that a gaslighter brings to the table, the worst is the crippling sense of self doubt that they put you in. Do you look in the mirror 10 times before leaving the house because of what your partner might say? Or do you become hesitant around crowds because your partner doesn’t like the way you laugh?
If you constantly question or doubt your self-worth because of your partner’s behaviour towards you, it’s definitely a sign of gaslighting.
8. They use your friends against you
A gaslighter will create a situation in which your friends end up calling you a liar or mental and sympathise with your partner to make you believe that you are in fact a liar. They will use near and dear ones to reinforce their idea of your personality in order to manipulate you.
If you constantly notice your partner using your friends against you, run, its DANGER!
9. Gaslighters dismiss your feelings rightaway
Every time you’ll share your problem with a gaslighter, they will dismiss it and worse, make you feel bad for feeling that way. Their own emotions and feelings take precedence over yours and to maintain the focus on themselves, they’ll always dismiss your feelings as unimportant or worthless.
10. Gaslighting -Confusing actions
The words of a gaslighter will never match their actions. Do they claim to be romantic and loving in front of people but are actually distant and unromantic in person? A gaslighter will have you confused with their intentions and actions as the two will never be parallel. You’ll be in a constant state of confusion as to what does your partner really want.
11. Constant feeling of guilt
If the simple task of wanting to watch your favourite movie over that of your partner’s gives you a feeling of guilt, it’s definitely a sign. When you are unable to be expressive about your needs because of your partner’s reaction and their habit of making you feel guilty, it’s time to become cautious.
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12. They constantly make you question your memory
The sequence of events according to your partner and you is always different and somehow it’s always, always you who ends up being wrong. A gaslighter will make you question your memory and convince you that you are wrong.
5 Ways To Deal With A Gaslighter
Recognizing a gaslighter is extremely important. And now that you have recognized that your partner might be a gaslighter, how do you protect yourself from becoming a victim? Here are 5 ways to deal with it.
1. Trust your instinct
If you feel that your partner is constantly lying to you, trust your instinct and confront them. Our senses have a way of recognizing a problem or threat and when you feel it, take concrete action
Related Reading: 12 Signs of a Lying Spouse
2. Know your worth
A gaslighter will definitely make you doubt yourself. In such a scenario it is important to reach out to people and remind yourself of hour actual worth. Meditating can also help you calm your mind from the toxicity that your partner is drowning you in.
3. Have the courage to leave
Often when we are invested in a relationship, leaving is difficult. But once your recognize that your partner is a gaslighter, have enough faith in yourself to know that this is not what you deserve and put an end to a toxic relationship.
4. Call out on their behaviour
Let your partner know what they have been putting your through. It is important to call out on their behaviour as it might help in putting a stop to it. It’s possible that a gaslighter has no idea of the behaviour and once you confront them, there is scope for improvement.
5. Recognize the root problem
Your partner’s gaslighting might stem from their need to control or be in power. Understand that it’s not about you but related more to their own issues and seek help accordingly.
We all wish to be in satisfying relationships. Few arguments and disagreements are part of a relation and should not be a matter of worry. However, adjustment and understanding are the two types that make a relationship move towards a positive direction. If you are constantly unhappy and always feel manipulated, it’s important to recognize and realise that your partner might be a gaslighter. In such a case, make yourself and your mental health a priority because nothing matters more than a happy and healthy mind.