Gaslighting in a Relationship – How To Recognize and Avoid It?
The term gaslighting has gained popularity in recent years, but the phenomenon behind it reaches way further back in time. In fact, the term originates from a 1940s film called Gaslight. In this psycho-thriller, a man leads a woman to believe she is losing her sanity by plotting a super-detailed pattern of deception.
What we get is a brand-new concept in the field of psychological manipulation – the so-called gaslighting.
Fortunately, people nowadays are paying increasing attention to recognizing and avoiding toxicity in their relationships, and emotional manipulation is a subject that’s worth all the discussion it takes.
So, let’s discuss.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a type of manipulative and emotionally abusive behavior where the abuser minimizes their victim’s feelings and shifts the blame in order to acquire dominance. While the process may look different, the results are often the same – emotional neglect, devalued feelings, and overall damaged well-being.
More often than not, gaslighting includes a conscious and well-planned effort toward building a sense of uncertainty, insecurity, and emotional instability. While the victim falls deeper into that state of self-doubt, the abuser gains more and more power over their inner world.
Although it is most closely associated with romantic relationships, gaslighting is common enough in all other types of interpersonal interaction. You can see it between friends, co-workers, and even business partners. One of the worst types of gaslighting happens between family members, including between parents and children.
What Is an Example of Gaslighting?
The most straightforward gaslighting example to come up with is something you’ve probably heard at least once in your life. “It’s no big deal”, remember? Unless it is.
Complied briefly, some other examples of what gaslighting is looking as follows:
- Claiming you’re paranoid, overreacting, or making things up in order to dramatize – when you, in fact, have the absolute right to be upset.
- Putting the blame on you whenever something goes wrong or things get tough – even when none of it is actually your fault.
- Lying and clinging on to made-up scenarios, including when it comes to easily checkable facts.
- Never taking responsibility for the things they did wrong or the ways they’ve let you down.
- Blaming you for being overdramatic, imagining things, or having skyrocketing expectations – when you’re actually settling for something below the bare minimum.
Or else said – “You’re just paranoid,” and “You are making that up” will be among your most powerful red flags for dealing with a gaslighter.
Gaslighting in Relationships: Definition and Signs
Recognizing gaslighting in a relationship might be a challenging thing to do, especially if you’re insecure. The reason is simple – gaslighters will lead you to actually believe it’s your fault instead of theirs.
That’s why spotting the early signs of gaslighting will be your most effective strategy for leaving this toxic relationship unharmed. And the easiest way to spot it is to stay cautious about your own feelings.
Some of the most evident emotional reactions to being gaslighted are:
- You feel confused and question yourself. Did that really happen? Are you a horrible person for making a scene? Are you even sane? You are most probably okay, so you better trust yourself or ask for an unbiased opinion because gaslighting is all about making you question your judgment.
- You spend a lot of your time apologizing. It seems like whatever you do, you do it wrong. You never feel like you’re good enough and your input is continually undervalued. Looks like you have something to think about, right?
- You feel lonely and cannot share your genuine thoughts. Whatever you say in your head sounds wrong, and you’re too afraid of being a disappointment. So you watch your tongue, filter what you share, and get too self-conscious when you speak about your feelings.
- You’re growing apart from your friends, family, and relatives. You keep your struggles secret and probably feel embarrassed by how you feel and what you go through. If you try to seek reassurance and support, the other person reminds you of how insignificant your feelings are and how irrational your behavior is.
This list can be modified and filled up with multiple different emotional reactions to being gaslighted. But however different, they revolve around a single feeling – that something’s just not right, and it worsens with time.
Am I Being Gaslighted?
If you spot just one of the signs listed above, it’s already time to think about it and react. The higher the red flag count, the more pressing the need to step up for yourself and regain your right to be who you are with no remorse.
Seeking support from family and friends will always give you another perspective. So – don’t hesitate to share what you go through and hear what the people who love you have to say about it.
Then, their honest feedback might surprise you and drive you to make the best possible decision – leaving toxicity behind and regaining your self-esteem.