Gaslighting is defined as an action to manipulate someone to question their reality or sanity. We’ve often heard this term being used to describe an interaction between an abuser towards the person who is being abused. Yes, gaslighting someone is an abusive behavior. Let’s take this scenario below as an example:
Two weeks ago:
Fred: Sophia! I’m so tired of all our fights and I am leaving you!
Sophia cries and moves out.
Two weeks later, the two of them meet at a marriage counselor’s office to discuss their separation. Sophia tells the counselor that Fred verbalized that he was leaving her two weeks ago, to which Fred answers by saying, “What are you talking about? I never said that! I really can’t remember saying that to her. You’re just making it up. I never said that. Show me your proof!”
To which of course, Sophia won’t have proof because it was from her own memory and there wasn’t any witness to their verbal exchange. Now as Fred determinedly stands his ground, Sophia begins to doubt herself and her memory. Did Fred really say that? She is sure that Fred said that but as she looks at Fred now and how he is sticking to his point with conviction. Maybe she heard him wrong?
The example above is just a scenario so you can get a grip on what is happening when someone is being gaslight. There are also long term signs of gaslighting that you need to look out for in yourself or in someone you know, maybe a friend who is stuck in an abusive relationship. Please note that gaslighting can also happen unintentionally, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a form of manipulation. It also isn’t limited to only romantic relationships but relationships between families, friends, and even those at work should be evaluated for any signs of gaslighting.
- If someone close to you constantly mentions that you’ve somehow changed or if you notice that a friend of yours is starting to change after knowing her for a while. You don’t feel like they are the same person they used to be and it isn’t the same with growing up. It’s a different kind of change. For example, a friend who used to be talkative, enjoys going out, and hosting parties, suddenly she’s meek and quiet even around close friends, becomes awkward talking to people, and prefers to just blend in the background, could be someone who you need to pay more attention to.
- Since you are confused about your reality when you are being gaslit, it is normal that a person that is being gaslit would be feeling anxious, worried, and less confident about his or her self.
- You’ll also often hear them apologize for things that they didn’t even do or have no control over. Their partners would probably put the blame on them if something goes wrong, so they would be feeling like everything is their fault or they had a hand in anything bad that happens. Advice: If it isn’t your fault, don’t apologize.
- If you find yourself or you realize that your friend constantly making excuses for their partners behavior.
- If you feel isolated from your friends and family.
- Inability to make a decision or becomes increasingly indecisive
There is a high possibility that those who enjoy or constantly gaslight people might have a psychological disorder called Narcisstic Personality Disorder (NPD). Have you heard of this before? Those who have this personality disorder are too focused on themselves. They believe that they are cut out better than the rest of use. They are too important and that the world revolves around them. They don’t find themselves interested in other people and they don’t have the ability to put themselves in the shoes of other people or be empathetic. These types of people enjoy basking in praises, attention, and are a little bit demanding.
Since they care so much about themselves, in turn they care so little to other people around them.
A person MAY have NPD if he or she:
– Tend to exaggerate their achievements
– Can’t receive criticism calmly. Anger is their first response.
– Expect special treatment and consideration from other people (without doing anything to be deserving of it)
– Too critical of other people
– Uses others to achieve their own personal goals
If you are realizing that you may be stuck in a relationship that’s abusive, don’t hesitate to seek help. It is never too late. You can still change your reality today and have a better tomorrow. It may be tempting to just stay and endure the situation you are currently in because it is comfortable, because it is how it has always been and you can always anticipate what’s coming next, but know this: you can change it and it is possible to be in a place that is better. You don’t have to stay. You can leave.
Have a great day! And stay safe!