Do your friends tell you that you are in a relationship with someone who is gaslighting you but are you not sure if it’s true?
Are you not entirely clear on what gaslighting is and how to spot it?
Let me help.
The definition of gaslighting is ‘manipulating someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.’ In other words, a gaslighter will do what they need to do so that you can no longer tell what is true or not, what is right or wrong.
People gaslight for a variety of reasons. They might be narcissistic and refuse to take responsibility for anything. They might have a need to control you. They might want to get something from you and destroying your self esteem, or even your sanity, is the best way to get it. Either way, gaslighting is incredibly destructive.
And many people who are in relationships with someone who is gaslighting them just don’t see it, primarily because they have been manipulated into believing they they are too stupid to recognize anything.
Fortunately, there are a few things that gaslighters almost universally say to their targets. Let me share with you 5 of those things right now so that you can see if you are being gaslit, being convinced that you are out of touch with reality and questioning every choice you make.
#1 – You are always wrong.
Does your person always tell you that you are wrong? If you walked outside and observed that the sky was blue, would your person tell you that you were wrong and that it was red? If you share a memory about your relationship at a dinner party, will your person later tell you that it never happened, that you had made the memory up your head?
This is a classic thing that someone who is gaslighting you will say. Their intention is to make you doubt yourself. To make you question every thing you say and everything you do. By doing so, your person can dominate you, can make you feel that you need them to function in the world.
#2 – You have no friends.
It is a horrible thing to tell someone but this is exactly what someone who is gaslighting you will say. They will tell you over and over that you have no friends.
They will tell you that no one likes you. That you are unlikeable. That people are talking behind your back. That they are your only friend and they only are because they feel sorry for you.
Even if you have friends who show up for you, who you see regularly, a person who is gaslighting you will tell you that those people are pretending to like you, that they are using you for their own purposes, that you shouldn’t trust them.
Why do they do this? They do it because they want to separate you from the people who love you and support you. They want to be the only person in the world who you rely on and trust. By doing so, they can control you, the ultimately goal of gaslighters, really.
#3 – You are worthless.
This a key thing that someone who is trying to gaslight you will say to you. They will tell you over and over that you are worthless.
One of the goals of a gaslighter is to destroy your self-esteem. To do so, they tell you that you are worthless. That you are a bad friend/parent/child/partner. That you aren’t capable of career success. That you aren’t capable of anything.
If you believe yourself worthless, you will start to believe it. And you will need to rely on your person and they will control you. And if you are under their control, you will lose yourself completely, believing every day that you are more and more worthless.
#4 – You can’t see the truth.
I have a client who has a boyfriend who always tells her that she can’t see the truth.
He has been trying to win her back, again, and she is being, finally, very cautious. He reappeared at her door after 6 months, announcing that he loved her, that he wanted to move in with her and get married. He expected her to jump back in his arms. And she didn’t.
Since then, he has vaccillated back and forth between telling her he loves her and blaming her for the fact that they aren’t back together. ‘I jumped back in,’ he says. ‘If you really loved me, you would have done the same.’
I have to reassure her regularly that the truth of the matter is is that she is being careful. His declaration of love is something that he does to pull her back in and then he walks away again. She has let him do that before, because she does love him, but she is not going to do it again.
Even so, because he is a gaslighter, she is constantly struggling to see the truth in the situation.
#5 – Everything is your fault.
Does your person always tell you that you are at fault?
If he comes home drunk, does he blame you for driving him to drink? If she run up the credit card, does she say it’s because you are never home? Is a dinner that was burnt because you had to do something for them your fault?
Someone who is gaslighting you is someone who will take no responsibility for the dynamic between the two of you. Everything will be your fault. Not only does that obsolve them from any responsibility it will also continue to undermine your belief that you are worthless and unloveable.
Knowing what someone who is gaslighting you will say is the key to preventing, or stopping it, from happening.
If you are with someone who tells you are always wrong, who tells you are friendless and worthless, who makes you doubt yourself in every way, then, most likely you are with someone who is gaslighting you.
You may or may not recognize why this is happening to you but it is important that you not trust what this person is saying and doing and that you get away from them as soon as possible. Reach out to people who love you to help you escape from this person so that you can keep your sanity and have a happy life.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.