Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where a person manipulates and distorts their partner’s perceptions and experiences to make them doubt their sanity. Gaslighters use tactics such as denying the reality of what their partner is experiencing, using their partner’s emotions against them, and making them question their own judgment.
Gaslighting can occur in any type of relationship, and it’s often difficult to realize that it’s happening until it’s too late. In this article, we will discuss 15 signs of gaslighting in a relationship to help you identify the red flags and take necessary steps to protect yourself.
Tell You That You’re Too Sensitive
Gaslighters often trivialize their partner’s emotions and make them feel like they’re overreacting to situations. Being a highly sensitive person is not a disorder and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s simply a unique trait, just like being tall or light-haired; there is no such thing as being too sensitive. But gaslighters will find a way to make you feel bad for being so sensitive.
Deny Things that They Said or Did
They often deny their behavior to make you feel like you’re imagining things. This person will deny anything, despite proof or strong evidence that it is real, true, or valid, and refuse to admit or acknowledge a situation or statement. No matter how strong your argument is against them, or even if you know you’re right, it doesn’t matter. They will deny, deny, deny.
Use What You Tell Them Against You
A person who is gaslighting you will use your vulnerability to manipulate and control you. This is also a narcissistic trait: to keep you in service of their needs and to affirm their power. The narcissist or gaslighter uses devaluation as a way of making you feel weak and powerless. Because they need to feed off of your strengths and can’t bear losing you, they find your vulnerability and use it against you so that you will be too insecure to leave them.
Twist Your Words
A gaslighter turns what you say around to suit their purposes. They twist words due to a desire for control, a need to protect themselves, or an urge to gain an advantage. It’s because they are manipulators and purposely twist any conversation to maintain control over the other person and deprive them of a voice. This will eventually lead you to believe that you are the crazy one, and you’ll end up doubting everything you say and do.
This person will try to create confusion, to make you doubt your own sense of reality. By making you look bad, they feel a sense of psychological superiority. The manipulation happens when you confront the abuse or lies, and the manipulator tells you it never happened.
Tell You That Everyone Else Is Lying
Gaslighters will tell you that everyone else is wrong and only they are right. They will try to make it look as if the whole world is conspiring against them and they are misunderstood beings. Such action further blurs the victim’s sense of reality and increases their dependence on the gaslighter.
Question Your Memory
They will often undermine your memory and suggest that you’re forgetting things. Frequently, they will make you doubt your own memories and experiences to the point that you replace them with the version fabricated by the gaslighter. If you’re experiencing long-term gaslighting, you may come to believe your own memories and thoughts aren’t reliable.
Blame You For Their Actions
If you have a partner who is gaslighting you, they will most likely blame you for things they’ve done, making you feel responsible for their behavior. They may try to accuse you of harmful actions even if there’s clear evidence that they’re engaging in similar behaviors. This is because they will never take responsibility for their own actions.
A person who is gaslighting will often isolate their partners, making them feel like they’re the only person they can trust. Partners who behave abusively often intentionally separate their significant other from the people who care about them because it offers them greater power and control over the relationship.
Make You Doubt Yourself
A gaslighter will make you doubt your decisions, your judgment, and your own reality. Gaslighting alters an individual’s perception of reality and creates damaging self-doubt. It can reduce your self-esteem and destroy your self-confidence. If you’ve been continuously gaslit, you might notice you have less confidence in your own instincts.
Make You Question Your Sanity
Gaslighters will go to great lengths to make you think you’re going crazy. The gaslighter misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality. Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to feel unsure about their perceptions of the world and even wonder if they are losing their sanity.
Use Guilt to Control You
They will use guilt to manipulate and control you. The narcissist will play on your emotions and your sensitivity by guilting you into believing their lies, staying with them, or that you’re the cause of all the problems. They know that they have the power to use guilt to control every aspect of your life.
Withhold Information from You
These people often withhold important information from you to keep you in the dark. It makes them feel powerful. A person who withholds information is consciously and intentionally holding back information by being vague, unclear, or avoidant as a means of establishing power over others. By withholding from you, they feel they are keeping more for themselves. More power, more authority, more control.
Project Their Flaws onto You
A person who is a gaslighter will often blame you for their flaws and make you feel like it’s your fault. Projecting personal faults is a classic form of gaslighting/narcissism designed to prevent people from being able to call them out for their shortcomings. An example of narcissistic projection is accusing you of being narcissistic or self-centered or saying you care more about others than you do them.
Apologize, but Don’t Change
They may apologize, but they never change their behavior. A gaslight apology is an apology given that often appears sincere, but the person is actually not taking any responsibility for what they have caused. They will try to blame you for your feelings against their actions and say something like, “I’m sorry that you felt that way.” They only apologize to give you false hope that they care or that they may change.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health. It’s important to be aware of the signs of gaslighting in a relationship and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If you’re experiencing gaslighting in a relationship, seek help from a trusted friend, family member, or professional. Remember, you have the right to a healthy and respectful relationship. Don’t let anyone make you doubt your own reality.
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