11 Warning Signs He’s A Gaslighting Sociopath

Emotional abuse can be tough to recognize.

Woman realizing she is in a relationship with a sociopathic partner RODNAE Productions, Viktor Gladkov, Laura Mogollon | Canva

What is gaslighting, and how can you tell if a person you're dating and falling in love with is gaslighting you? People with sociopathic personality traits throw out red flags and warning signs.

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


Gaslighters 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 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 gaslighter. These are strong words, and you don't want to label another person this way. Maybe you feel the whole situation is at least partly your fault. But honestly, that’s another sign.

People with antisocial personality disorder can know 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 someone like this for a while, you may be experiencing some symptoms.

RELATED: 6 Life-Saving Strategies For Surviving An Abusive Gaslighter

It starts with making excuses for their 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 good guy having “moments” when all hell breaks loose. Then things quiet down and go back to normal … for a while.

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 brilliant, successful, and confident, and 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 turn 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.

Not all men and women who behave this way should be clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder. The guy you’re with might be a selfish jerk who doesn't like you enough to treat you well.

Taken one at a time, these deeds do not 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 is a sociopath or narcissist, the evidence will continue piling up.

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


Here are 11 warning signs he’s a gaslighting sociopath.

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 and leaves you less likely to confront him about whatever you think he's up to.

2. He apologizes too quickly

Usually, getting an apology would seem like a good thing. He may even promise never to do it again.

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

3. He shifts the 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 concerns, 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.

Don't be surprised if he winds up and suggests you are the cause of whatever he's done wrong.

RELATED: 4 Less Obvious Signs Of Gaslighting That Most People Miss

6. He frequently accuses you of being up to something

What better way to avoid being questioned than to shift focus by suggesting you are up to no good? Accusations from out of nowhere should make you suspicious about what else he might be doing.


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 conversations. He'll flatly deny anything even remotely incriminating, acting like it never happened, which makes things difficult to argue about.

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

8. He changes the subject — a lot

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

Once he distracts you, he hopes the argument will lose steam, and you’ll forget about it for a while. So if there's a 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 tells 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.

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

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 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, so 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 out 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.

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 you 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 your story. Don't settle for anything less than a healthy, lasting love that brings more joy into your world.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety from ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are, or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto thehotline.org.

RELATED: 3 In 100 Men Are Sociopaths — 7 Personality Traits That Give Them Away


Ronnie Ann Ryan is an Intuitive Coach, Past Life Reader, and author of six books. She’s the creator of the free audio course How to Ask the Universe for a Sign and Get an Answer Within 24 Hours. She's been published on ABC, BBC, and NPR.