This post was updated on Nov 28, 2022
Psychological manipulation comes in many shapes and forms. Gaslighting is one of them. This term is used to describe a manipulation tactic that shifts the power dynamic in a relationship with the aim of exerting complete control over another person. Gaslighting typically makes the victim question their own sanity and reality, which causes great confusion, hurt, and vulnerability.
If you believe that you are in an abusive relationship, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your thoughts with a professional behavioral health coach. Not only would they be able to help you protect yourself from gaslighting, but they would also give expert insight into the dynamics of power and control in relationships, help you recognize love bombing while dating, as well as give you tips on overcoming symptoms of love obsession.
In this article, you will learn how gaslighting works, how you can spot it, as well as find out how to stop gaslighting in a relationship. Read on.
What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship?
At its core, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It is a toxic relationship dynamic that forces the victim to doubt their own judgement, memories, and sanity. The purpose of gaslighting is essentially to exercise control over another person and inflict psychological damage on them.
It is an exceptionally malicious emotional manipulation tactic that often goes unnoticed because it makes you question your own thoughts and experiences. Anyone can become the victim of gaslighting. In fact, it can be a part of a romantic relationship, marriage, parent-child relationship, and even occurs in professional relationships. It is a widely used technique among narcissistic individuals and abusers.
Gaslighting rarely has immediate results. Its effects are typically gradual, slow, and extremely subtle, which makes it difficult for the victim to spot the manipulation, which precisely is the entire point of gaslighting. The victim would be likely to dismiss this isolated example of manipulation as a random occurrence if it happened over a long period of time, if they noticed it in the first place, whereas they would be more likely to spot the gaslighting if it was done in a shorter time frame.
Control and power are the main two reasons why people gaslight. Their need for exerting power and domination over another person tends to stem from a wide range of underlying issues, including antisocial personality, narcissism, and many other issues.
What Is An Example Of Gaslighting?
Gaslighting can come in a variety of disguises. At times, it may even involve the manipulation of the victim’s physical surroundings, although it is often exclusively verbal and psychological. Here are some common gaslighting techniques that you should look out for:
- Countering: this tactic is used to question the victim’s memories. The abuser tries to convince the target that the certain past event occurred differently than they remember, often even inventing specific details about the event.
- Denial: the abuser pretends that they forgot about specific events in order to cast further doubt on the target’s memory. They might pretend that they have no idea what the victim is talking about or deny making any promises to the victim.
- Withholding: if your partner often refuses to listen to what you have to say or pretends that they don’t understand your concerns, saying things like: “I can’t sit here listening to your nonsense all day”, they are gaslighting you.
- Diversion: the gaslighter will often try to divert the victim’s attention from the topic at hand in order to confuse them and avoid responsibility. They may turn the conversation into a fight over a completely different matter.
- Trivialization: have you ever been told that you are far too sensitive by your partner? Did they say that after hurting you in some way? This is another common gaslighting technique that is used to invalidate the emotions of the victim.
How Do You Tell If Someone Is Gaslighting You?
Gaslighting is a sneaky and subtle manipulation tactic. It may undermine your perception of events and reality itself, leaving you feeling dazed and confused, questioning your own sanity. Here are some typical gaslighting techniques you may be able to spot:
- They lie to you without batting an eye, never backing down even if you have concrete proof of their deception.
- They gossip about you and make you seem unstable in front of other people, which may make other people side with the gaslighter.
- They invalidate your feelings and thoughts, claiming that you are overreacting or overly sensitive, or anything along these lines.
- They always shift the blame to you, making you feel guilty and convincing you that you are solely responsible for the argument at hand.
How Do You Handle A Gaslighter?
If you suspect that your partner may be gaslighting you and want to protect yourself from the manipulation, try the following tips:
- Understand the driving force behind the manipulation. Learn as much as you can about gaslighting. This will make you more alert and less vulnerable to their manipulative patterns.
- Remember that you are not to blame for the gaslighting. The need for power and control is the only reason why your partner gaslights you. It has nothing to do with you, it comes from their own deeply rooted insecurities.
- Keep in mind that you can’t change your partner. It is highly unlikely that you’d succeed in changing your partner’s manipulative ways. They need self-awareness and professional help.
- Find support from other people. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can be of immense help if you are in an abusive relationship.
- Work on your own self-esteem. Remember that the opinions of your gaslighter don’t define you. You are your own person, capable and worthy of love.
- Consider breaking up. If the relationship is eating away at your confidence and happiness, it may be time to let go.
- Seek professional help. An expert relationship coach can help you gain a new perspective and recover from the gaslighting.
Contact A PIVOT Relationship Coach & Regain Confidence
Do you feel stuck, hopeless, and deeply wounded because of your intimate relationship? You are not alone. Thousands of individuals across the world are victims of gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse.
If you need help dealing with a gaslighter or want to know how to cope with your partner’s mental health issues, then contact PIVOT. Our coaching sessions are carefully designed to help individuals and couples overcome their emotional struggles, and we also offer a vast array of intensive relationship workshops that may give you the tools you need to heal your wounds and start building healthier relationships. Call us today!