Subtle and sneaky, gaslighting is common in unhealthy relationships. Learn to recognize it and act.
"Avoid gaslighting in your relationship," is simple relationship advice. But do you know what gaslighting even is?
It is all about lying. It is about convincing one partner they are wrong or crazy. It happens all the time in controlling relationships, relationships where someone is having an affair, and in addiction/alcoholism. It is a type of mental control/abuse. The gaslighter plays with stories, distorts memories, lies and creates an environment where their partner doubts his/her perceptions, beliefs, and sanity.
In the 1944 mystery-thriller, "Gaslight" Ingrid Berman played a woman being gaslit by her new husband. The man used the gas lights in the attic to search for treasure thus dimming the rest of the house lights; when his wife comments on the dimming he insists she is imagining things. That's where the name comes from.
There are three main places Gaslighting will occur, but it can occur elsewhere:
- Gaslighting often happens when a person is having an affair. The cheating partner will deny and belittle any facts or proof you find. They say, "you are just making this stuff up" or claim it is circumstantial evidence. The cheater will say, "it means nothing." They will have plausable seeming reasons for what you see and will make you doubt yourself.
- Someone who is struggling with addiction/alcoholism does similar things. If they steal something to support their addiction they tell you it was misplaced or coinvince you that you gave it away. If they are out on a bender they will insist they were in their room sleeping, you just didn't see them. The lies and deceptions mount.
- Someone who is controlling is most likely to gaslight. By keeping you off balance and unsure they can keep the control they crave. They also isolate you in order to keep you from a reality check. When you are isolated (from friends and family) you will easily doubt yourself and start to believe your controling partner.
The problem with gaslighting is the lying is subtle and the explanations given are often plausible. Even when it becomes less subtle, you have bought in so far you won't want to challenge what is going on. Keep Reading...
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