7 Ways You're Being Gaslighted — And You Don't Even Realize It

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How to know You're Being Gaslighted In Your Life Without Even Realizing It
Heartbreak, Self

Have you been called crazy?

Being gaslighted in a relationship is an experience that you WANT to miss.

Problem is, gaslighting can be so subtle that you miss the signs.

Any relationship can make you feel self-doubt, but there's a difference between being gaslighted and having a compatibility issue.  

So, what is gaslighting? Gaslighting is emotional abuse and a destroyer of relationships. It's a dysfunctional tactic rooted in manipulation, where one person, intentionally or not, makes another feel completely insane.

This dysfunctional relationship dynamic is rooted in co-dependency, and although it can happen in any kind of relationship, it does happen between couples where one person is perceived to have more authority than another.

The imbalance of power and authority draws out an unhealthy power dynamic — almost like a parent-child relationship — and at first, can feel a bit romantic. The gaslighter is thought to be charismatic, sexy, and in control, but the problem is they want more control, and often it's over their victim. 

Gaslighting begins after a major threshhold in the relationship is crossed where people start to get comfortable and let their guards down. Moving in together, having a baby, if the situation emphases the authority and subordinate dynamic, the person likely to gaslight may show their true stripes because they need to maintain authority and power in the relationship.

Since the victim isn't consciously aware their relationship is set up for gaslighting, they are blindsided, and easily fooled into thinking they are to blame, even though all evidence says otherwise. 

As the relationship dynamically deepens, and the perpetrator feels their authority is at stake or they have a need to hide something (a character flaw, affair, or need for control) that person will start gaslighting for self-preservation. It's a tactic used to keep their partner in the dark and even accept the lie that no one ever turned off the lights.  

These relationship scenarios contribute most to gaslighting:

  • Unresolved emotional or undiagnosed or treated mental health disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic traits desperately depend on being right. If the veil is pulled, get ready for some serious gaslighting!
  • Addict and enabler-based relationships where the active addict doesn't want their partner to know they are using, or the person enabling wants to manipulate their loved one to quit.
  • Infidelity.

Typically, the person being gaslighted senses something is wrong within the relationship. They might even try to improve the situation by requesting counseling or talking things over.

But, when gaslighting is full-blown, it's not that simple. The more you insist there's a problem, the greater the risk that the manipulator feels in losing control. This makes the situation escalate and can put each party in a unique sense of danger. 

The term "gaslighting" was first introduced by an old black and white film called Gaslight where a charismatic husband manipulates his wife into doubting herself. 

The couple's dynamic goes from one awkwardly tense from the outside everything appears to be normal to super sickening drama one moment to the next.

You feel sorry for her as she continues to try to bring the relationship back to normal only to be forced into believing that she's batsh*t crazy. 

And that's how gaslighting plays itself out. The same lie is deliberately delivered — "there is something inherently wrong with you that can't be fixed" told over and over again, by someone who is trusted and loved. 

Planned or unplanned — their objective is always the same, to control and manipulate the relationship in their favor. 

Gaslighting attacks destroy a person's intuition and mental credibility.

The dangerous and disastrous power play that compares to the story of the frog who is put into a pot of cool water on a stove. As the heat slowly increases, the frog can't tell because, with each increase in temperature, his tolerance of a situation grows along with the heat. Without realizing, it's that precise tolerance that not only keeps him in grave danger but ultimately leads him to sure death. 

So, don't be fooled. When your instincts tell you one thing and the person you love, but deep down inside, do not trust, tells you that your problem is rooted in your mind. 

 

If you're uncertain about how to know if you're being gaslighted in your relationship, here are 7 to look out for:

1. You are told your feelings and concerns are unimportant.

In a healthy relationship, open communication takes place, and that includes holding each other accountable when needed. But in an unhealthy relationship where gaslighting is in the mix, the gaslighter may resort to verbal abuse and slowly erode their partner's sense of mental well-being.

By invalidating feelings and concerns, they prey on the goodness and benefit of the doubt that is naturally given to someone you love. By doing so, they are able to hide whatever truth they want to conceal. Overtime, the victim starts to accept what's unwanted, and enter denial, although deep down they know what they feel is real.  
 

2. You are called a liar even when you tell the truth. 

Discrediting your beliefs is a gaslighting tactic that is used throughout the entire dynamic. From little inconsequential matters like feeling that a room is too cold, and being told that it's all in your head, rather than offering you a sweater, to bigger matters, like feeling sick and being denied that your symptoms are real.

When you are gaslighted in a relationship, your feelings are the first thing that need to go. So, if they are under attack, there's a good chance you are being gaslighted
 

3. Your mental health is always under attack. 

Everyone picks on the ones they love from time to time, but when statements are made to wound your self-esteem, that's when you know the situation is set up for failure. 

An exchange of ideas and beliefs in a safe and healthy relationship are welcomed, except if you are being gaslighted. If your partner insists that the reason you think the way you do, or that your thoughts are a product of flawed thinking due to a childhood wound that you've shared, there's a problem.

People who gaslight will take their knowledge of your weaknesses and use them against you. Oftentimes, that's when they will (typically, begrudgingly, because why not add a little guilt in the mix) and offer their help (one more time) to keep you dependent on them. But the truth is that is their way of keeping control of the situation. 
 

4. You are constantly told you're paranoid, even when you know your suspicions are right. 

This happens more often in relationships where one partner is cheating and you have evidence to prove the infidelity.

When a person is confronted with receipts for flowers or dinner dates, or phone call lists made to someone that you know they are having an affair with, but told you're wrong, there's a good chance that gaslighting is happening. A person gaslighting you could even have undeniable facts right before their eyes and still deny them.
 

5. When you bring up your hurts but told "you're overly sensitive" instead.

Sensitivity is nature's way of alerting your mind and emotion that something needs to be paid attention to, but that's the last thing a gaslighting predator needs or wants. Rather than trying to find a way to help fix the problem or find a way to change the way they handle whatever situation is hurting your relationship, the problem is turned back on you and your inability to handle stress.

If your sensitive nature is under attack and your emotions are starting to dull and numb, be mindful that you might have a relationship where you are being demeaned
 

6. You know, you're being lied to but your partner refuses to admit they are being dishonest.

Since the core ingredient to a gaslighting situation is the authority — subordinate power play, it's that same dynamic that keeps the game going. The person getting gaslighted doubts their own instincts. So rather than trust their intuition, they ask their partner, the gaslighter to help them figure out what's going on.

But the person who is doing the gaslighting doesn't want you to know what's going on because that's the whole point of the gaslighting. So, instead of admitting their wrong, or helping to clarify matters, they use this opportunity to increase the crazy.

 

7. When you're ready to leave, you are suddenly met with a violent reaction then showered with romance with promises, but things never change.

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To regain control of their mental well-being, victims of gaslighting sense that the only way back to sanity is to get out of the relationship. However, that's when things can get dangerous. 

The bottom line: If you find yourself in a relationship where each question you ask seems to be met with an answer that's completely off-base, and the more you probe the more your partner puts the blame back on you, you might be in a relationship where you are getting gaslighted.  

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