Health & Wellness

What Is Gaslighting And How To Recognize It?

Have you witnessed or experienced the kind of relationship that initiates with flowers, fragrances, sweet words, cuddles and laughter and after a while things start turning around with one of the partners feeling left-out, invisible, frazzled, going on guilt trips for nothing, shouldering all the blame and burden of every little thing and losing their ‘self’? These are merely a few signs of what is gaslighting, what it does to the victim and how it affects them.

While such cases are rampant in the contemporary world, most often than not, people tend to invalidate such experiences because of lack of empathy and comprehension. Why do you think one of the partners, have to go through these ugly things after a romantic, cheerful start?

The answer is simple; the other half in the relationship is the manipulator, the wheeler-dealer. So, this quixotic, dream-like start of the relationship is actually the groundwork for the predator to trap the prey and when it completely gets enmeshed in that seemingly utopian relationship, they start breaking the mould and show their true reality and identity i.e. being a narcissist that is dexterous at gaslighting.

What Are The Signs Of Gaslighting?

While there are several ways one can recognize being gaslighted in a relationship, here are a few signs and red flags that evidently unfold how gaslighting can feel like in such a connection:

“You Are Always Making Up Things…”

Regrettably in your bond with a narcissist, no matter how bitter it may sound, you would always be told that whatever your concerns are regarding the relationship or life, they are all ‘made up’ by you. The narcissistic culprit who tries to keep the reigns in their hands would never validate your reservations or objections and would simply tell you, “You are being thankless about the perfect life I have created for you.” Or that, “Stop making stories about my disloyalty in your mind.” Or that, “It’s all in your head, we have an ideal life.” Or maybe something more ensnaring and intimidating just to quash you.

Aggravating Self-Doubt And Confusion

With unswerving censure from the other half, your apprehensions about your ‘self’ start taking a toll on your mental health and you start falling into the ditch of self-doubt and confusion. You are urged to feel that you are ‘good for nothing’ and that your ideas are useless and impractical. This will mostly be done by laughing at your suggestions and by telling you afterwards, “Ah, I was just kidding around. You lack insight and thus your idea can’t be used.” This way, the narcissistic partner makes sure they have hurt you fully without ‘sounding’ rude which; in fact, is a very common maneuver with such people.

Nothing Is Ever ‘His/Her’ Fault

Now, this is a very common sign of gaslighting in a relationship. For anything that goes wrong, it is ‘you’ who proves to be the bone of contention, according to the narcissistic partner. Thus nothing is ever ‘his/her’ fault, so every time there crops up an issue, you already know that, “I must have done something wrong to have got into such a trouble” and thus the manipulator repeatedly puts the blame on you (since you are the easy target!)

You Feel The Urge To Apologize…Unnecessarily

Connected with the sign above, you gradually plunge deep into the valley of gaslighting and always feel the need to apologize to you partner because every problem occurred because of you. That’s what they made you believe over the time. You overdo your apologetic demeanor and find yourself explaining needlessly and he/she, the manipulator, savors it every single time.

“I can explain that I am not responsible for this havoc!” is what you tend to utter but the reprobate disowns and disregards you, making you feel ever more remorseful and downtrodden.

Incessant Misunderstanding & Personal Attacks

Look, when you try to confront a narcissistic partner who is a pro at gaslighting you, what he/she does is to deny it, twist the facts and blatantly negate saying the words you quote. For example, “I never said this…what I actually said was…” This leads to further arguments and you think that the ‘misunderstandings’ between the two of you are worsening but the ground reality is that you had only been gaslighted by the manipulator.

You would hear him/her say words that would be nothing but severe personal attacks which he/she does to make sure you are fully bruised and broken so that your defense mechanism is never used by you. The favorite statements by such a narcissist are “You are too emotional…”, “You do realize that you are going nuts day by day…” or that “Everyone knows how paranoid you are becoming…” and unfortunately you, being in the ruthless claws of gaslighting, start believing this for real and thus become dysfunctional, confused, desperate, anxious, weary, depressed and fretful. The perpetrator relishes it big time since he/she makes sure you have been brought down to your knees.

Loss Of ‘Self’, Confidence And Logical Reasoning

What happens when such things become a pattern of life? Do sanity and mental equilibrium remain intact? They might ‘seem’ to be unbroken to some but there remains a huge vacuum and a drastic change is observed by the family, friends and acquaintances in what this specific person was and what he/she has become after a few years of this particular relationship. Sounds relatable? These are exactly the things we notice and talk about when we see one of our friends after years; broken, devastated and yet devoid of any energy to admit that the other half is toxic and parasitic.

The victim is the host for the narcissistic parasite and thus this bloodsucker keeps living off of his/her predator which eventually leads to emotional demise. Until and unless the victim takes the reigns of his/her life in their own hands and sets healthy boundaries, this toxicity remains the part of their life. Setting up boundaries, removing the noxious elements, prioritizing self-care and nurturing one’s mental health are some of the vouchsafed ways to cope with the issue of gaslighting.

Thus, there is light at the end of the tunnel and gaslighting, like any other psychological disorder, can be treated and the victim too can save themself from leading a miserable life by learning the coping skills from a professional.

Prioritize Your Self

Some people aren’t aware that they are gaslighting. That is why self-reflection of you and your partner, most especially your mental health is very important. This is no way saying that there is no hope in the relationship, on the contrary this is a way to improve a relationship, by improving and developing, by being the best you can be to one another and prioritizing your mental health.

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