11 Warning Signs He’s A Gaslighting Sociopath

Photo: getty
11 Warning Signs He’s A Gaslighting Sociopath
Heartbreak

What is gaslighting and how can you tell if a guy you're dating and falling in love with is gaslighting you? Men with sociopathic personality traits throw out plenty of red flags and warning signs ... if you know what to look for when getting to know your potential boyfriend or husband.

Gaslighting is defined as "a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief."

Sociopaths — men and women (although statistically speaking, the vast majority of sociopaths are male) who are incapable of true empathy — are masters of manipulation who use this skill to control others and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

This behavior is a form of emotional abuse.

If you’ve started to doubt yourself in the time since you started seeing this man, thinking you’re suddenly not good enough or even questioning your sanity, those are signs you might be in a relationship with a gaslighting sociopath.

RELATED: If He Does These 11 Things, You're Not Crazy — He's Gaslighting You

I know, those are strong words, and you might not want to label your man like this. Maybe you feel the whole situation is at least partly your fault. But honestly, that’s another sign.

People with antisocial personality disorder have a sixth sense that alerts them when they are about to get caught in a lie, and they will do anything to deflect responsibility and avoid owning up to their nasty little games.

If you've been involved with a man like this for a while, you may be experiencing some symptoms of your own.

It starts with you making excuses for his abusive behaviors.

“He works so hard."

"He hasn’t been feeling well."

"He’s just really stressed right now.”

You want to believe he’s a really good guy who just has these “moments” when all hell breaks loose. Then things quiet down and go back to normal … for a while.

RELATED: 12 Subtle (But Scary) Signs You're A Victim Of Gaslighting

Ultimately, the gaslighting guy pushes you to a point where you start defending and doubting yourself. As he bashes your self-esteem, you lose faith in your sense of judgment, lose touch with your sense of self, and wonder if you’re simply sensitive.

You know. Like he says you are.

Let’s say you are uber attracted to this great new guy you're dating. He seems absolutely brilliant, successful, and confident, and the two of you have a great time together. There is something you can’t quite put your finger on that troubles you, but you sweep that under the rug and try to enjoy the relationship.

Then your new man realizes you're about to catch him in a lie — and the game is on. He might try any or several of the tactics below to get the negative attention off of himself and turned back onto you.

This is why people with sociopathic personality traits are masterful manipulators — they see it as imperative to their survival to deflect responsibility, and there is no end to the means they will try.

Just to be fair, not all men and women who behave this way on occasion are people who should be clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder, which is a form of mental illness. The guy you’re with might just be a selfish jerk who doesn't like you enough to treat you well.

Taken one at a time, these deeds do not absolutely indicate that he’s a sociopath.

However, if a man does start treating you like this, it will not somehow go away. And if he really is a sociopath or narcissist, the evidence will continue piling up.

Here are 11 warning signs that the guy you're dating has sociopathic personality traits and is using manipulative techniques like gaslighting to control and abuse you.

1. He's always picking fights

You might notice that whenever you feel something is off, he'll quickly pick a fight with you before you can ask too many questions about the issue that had you concerned. This puts you off kilter, leaving you less likely to confront him further about whatever it is you think he's up to.

2. He apologizes too quickly

Normally, getting an apology quickly would seem like a good thing. And in this case, he may even promise never to do it again.

But once you’ve been through this routine a few times, you learn these apologies comes so quickly because they are empty words meant to nip any further conversation in the bud and get you back off his scent.

3. He shifts blame

In this scenario, your partner says whatever has happened is your fault, not his. And he’ll be very convincing, because he wants to avoid responsibility at all costs. Right and wrong are not at all his concern, only deflection and self-preservation.

4. He creates endless drama

If a crisis erupts right after you've asked about something your guy has done, that’s another big red flag. Drama is another way of distracting you from the topic at hand, so don't allow yourself to be side-tracked.

5. He never accepts responsibility

Points the finger at others for his misdeeds is another way people with sociopathic traits try to weasel their way out of trouble.

As I mentioned earlier, don't be surprised if he winds up suggesting that you are the cause of whatever it is he's done wrong.

RELATED: 4 Signs Your Boyfriend Is A Gaslighting Narcissist

6. He frequently accuses you of being up to something

What better way is there to avoid being questioned then to shift focus by suggesting you are up to no good? If he accuses you of something out of nowhere, be very suspicious about what else may be going on.

7. He denies entire conversations

Your sociopathic boyfriend might conveniently "forget" having said something to you or someone else. He may even fail to recall entire conversations. He'll flatly deny anything even remotely incriminating, acting like it never happened, which makes things really difficult to argue about.

This is a common form of gaslighting behavior, and one that effectively makes victims of emotional abuse believe they must be crazy for thinking something ever happened to begin with.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

8. He changes the subject — a lot

Another popular way men like this avoid responsibility is by changing the subject.

He's hoping that, once he gets you off track, the argument will lose steam, or you’ll forget about it for a while. So if there's a particular discussion you never seem able to finish with him, this could be why.

9. He belittles your feelings

You're justifiably upset about something your man has said or done, but he won’t hear it. Instead, he tell you that you’re being too sensitive or that you're overreacting. He discounts your feelings and doesn't seem to care about your happiness.

Don't forget, it’s all about him.

10. He expects your pity

This trick might come as a shocker. He'll suddenly become emotional while telling you how hard things are for him ... and how he needs you to lay off since he has his enough stress in his life right now. Can’t you have any pity on him for what he’s dealing with?

This is a skillful avoidance mechanism. Don’t fall for it.

11. He claims to be your victim

When all else fails, he'll turn everything he's done back on you, insisting he’s the only victim of abuse in your relationship. He will insist that you have no claim or right to an apology or anything else, because he’s the one who has been wronged by you — again.

Again, using one of these manipulative tactics does not necessarily mean the person in question is a sociopath or a narcissist. If you encounter one or two of these behaviors from someone over time, you might not need to freak about it.

However, if you notice several of these tactics popping up often in your interactions with someone, it’s time to wake up and recognize what you're dealing with, and that it will get worse, not better, over time.

If you've been in a long-term relationship with a man showing sociopathic personality traits and tendencies, don’t hesitate to leave and get help to recover faster. You may feel shell-shocked for a while after the breakup and need support.

And if you just started seeing a guy who exhibits erratic behavior and uses these psychological tricks on you, walk away now.

Don't make excuses for his sociopathic traits or give him the benefit of the doubt. It's far better to be alone than with a man who manipulates your and has serious problems that will leave you feeling wounded and unsure of yourself.

Remember who you are and how you deserve to be treated, no matter what his story is. Don't settle for anything less than a healthy, lasting love that brings more joy into your world.

RELATED: If He Has These 7 Traits, Chances Are He's A Sociopath

For over sixteen years, Ronnie Ann Ryan has been working as a dating coach to help successful single women find lasting love and build strong relationships. You can get her free audio program and discover 12 first date mistakes that ruin your chances for love.