What Gaslighting in Relationships Mean and How to Deal with It

By Dominica

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Last Updated: June 16, 2021

 

Gaslighting is a major red flag in a relationship, yet not-always-obvious. It is a form of emotional abuse in which one partner manipulates or demoralizes the other partner’s reality by forcing them to question their feelings, memories, thoughts, and experiences.

A victim of gaslighting can be pushed to the point where they began to question their own sanity/identity, as well as what is real within the world. Ultimately, gaslighting can have negative – even destructive – effects on a person’s self-esteem, emotions, and sense of perception. 

Gaslighting usually occurs when a couple is struggling with the power dynamic and often becomes a ‘normalized’ part of the relationship. Often, it is difficult for the victim to realize they are being gaslighted, despite how apparent it may be to on-lookers. The saying, “love is blind” can ring true, leading you to overlook and/or deny the abuse.

Nobody wants to admit that their relationship is not perfect, so one can habitually choose to ignore the harmful aspects. Nonetheless, you must step back and view your relationship in the same way an outsider would and truthfully analyze your relationship to see if you are a victim of gaslight. 

The steps below can help you identify gaslighting:

  • Your partner makes you think you are crazy when you confront them about the things that are bothering you.
  •  When you stick up for yourself and do not fall victim to the “imagining things” game, they try to damage your self-esteem by throwing your insecurities and flaws into your face.
  • Guilt-tripping is used by your partner in an attempt to invalidate your feelings and concerns.
  • You begin to doubt yourself.
  • Despite knowing what is real, you succumb to your partner’s abuse and believe their words.

Now that you are able to better spot gaslighting, it is crucial you are familiar with the ways to stop it. Below are four ways to get the gaslighting to cease within your relationship:

 

  1. Write Everything Down

By writing down all of the thoughts, feelings, concerns, etc., you are experiencing, you are validating and making them evident. This is beneficial because it allows you to explain, in a calm and reasonable manner, exactly when you started feeling that way and why. You can also look back and see how things have progressed over time. Writing everything down will permit you to address the situation with as little emotion as possible. Emotions open the door for manipulation.

 

  1. Tell Others Your Reality

Conversing with others is known to be a stress-relieving and freeing activity. While it is beneficial to talk to your family and friends about your worries, it may be more helpful to discuss your apprehensions with an unbiased party. They will serve as a fresh pair of ears and as somebody who can give you impartial advice. Seeking professional help from a therapist may prove to be a solid investment as well. They’re likely familiar with gaslighting techniques and can help you address it.

 

  1. Spend Some Alone Time with Yourself

Leaving your situation for a while and getting some fresh air can often times bring you back with a new perspective. In any relationship, taking time to reconnect and find yourself can be therapeutic and much needed, but especially in negative ones. Space may be just what you need to see that you are a victim of emotional abuse and manipulation.

 

  1. Trust Yourself

If you take home one thing from this article, let it be this. Believe in and trust in yourself. If you’re thinking, “They make me feel crazy”, trust your gut feeling.  Gaslighting is a type of manipulation that feeds off of thoughts and emotions and is aimed at transferring power from you to them. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that you are strong and confident and you will not allow yourself to be controlled by another individual. Stand in your power and address any attempts at gaslighting. Keep your convictions strong and remember your worth.

While the unfortunate truth is that gaslighting has become a common place in today’s relationships, the good news is the signs are spot-able. If you identify with the above steps, take action to prevent it, yet are still the victim of gaslighting, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for professional help. It is important to recognize and tackle this abuse as early as possible so you save yourself from the detrimental effects it will eventually bring. 

So long as you stay true to and value yourself, you will not fall ill to manipulation. Never forget that you matter. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. And this is your life. Never let anybody try to tell you otherwise. If they do, I hope you have the strength to stick up for yourself and walk away. Taking this newfound knowledge with you to your next relationship. You are not responsible nor to blame for your partner’s gaslighting behaviors and it is most important that you know that.

 

Photo by Budgeron Bach from Pexels

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2 comments on “What Gaslighting in Relationships Mean and How to Deal with It”

  1. This is so true and for me I had no idea people purposely communicate in such an evil selfish manner. It never occurs to me to have a need for control or power over anyone. How do they learn to do this? I'm 55 years old and just realized I've been gaslight by my Mother all of my life. I believed she would never lie. Anything to keep her from being at fault or my sister, and that always meant it was me. Attorney's and the whole judicial system are based on this technique.

  2. This article was great in confirming what I have always felt. However; this comment touched me deeply. Unfortunately, I share a similar situation with mainly my mother. This has also carried over into other relationships but today it ends.

    Ironically, I have been processing me and my mother's relationship since the eclipse in Sag two weeks ago and every day I'm feeling more and more pressed to walk away; to leave the life as I have known it in the past and move on to greater things. Better relationships. To be seen for me and loved for who I am; not what others need me to be for them.

    It's crazy how we can spend our entire adult life on a hope only to realize in the end it's just you. Everyone is being their unique self and you should to.

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