Gaslighting in a Relationship

Gaslighting in a Relationship

Do you feel like you are being manipulated by your romantic partner?

Gaslighting in a relationship refers to an extreme case of manipulation where the person that is gaslighted questions their sanity and reality. If you find yourself in such predicament it’s worth check in with your doctor and look for guidance. A doctor may refer you to a specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist.

In this article, we are considering gaslighting as a form of intentional manipulation. We will explore some of the reasons for it and the impact that can have in one’s life. If you are considering getting professional help, look for a professional in your area rather than online services. Once you’ve done that and are able to manage yourself and your situation better. You could consider online coaching to help you discover how you got to be in such situation and what you can do going forward.

This however, it’s only suitable once you are in a safe environment and are emotionally stable.


What Is Gaslighting?

Let’s have a look at what gaslighting means. Here’s the definition of gaslighting according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

“Psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator”

Gaslighting is essentially an intentional manipulation. Manipulation can be intentional where a person who is manipulating others has a specific agenda to influence other’s behaviours. This is the manipulation that is refer as gaslighting and it is the one we will be discussing in this article.

What Is Gaslighting in a Relationship?

Gaslighting can happen in any type of relationship, not only in a romantic one. So, gaslighting can be experienced with friends, family or in work relationships.

Gaslighting is a mind game with the intention of changing the perception of the other person and creating confusion on what they believe or remember. The gaslighter has the power to impose a reality that benefits them somehow.

The way a gaslighter achieves the manipulation is through lies with the intention to control and gain power over their partner.

Gaslighting is usually not an isolated event, but a pattern of behaviour.


What Causes Gaslighting in a Relationship?

Gaslighting has a strong need for control. This need is achieved by doing all they can So, a person who uses this technique to obtain what they want will do everything they can to exert control. Their need for control in turn can come from insecurities.

Insecurities can lead to a person feeling unsafe, hence the need for control to provide them with safety. A gaslighting behaviour can be propagated by not establishing and respecting clear boundaries.

If one partner doesn’t know or has the confidence to establish boundaries. They are making it more likely for the person who has the need for control to take advantage of that. So, people pleasing and submissive behaviour are a couple of examples of a person who can become susceptible to be gaslighted.


How Gaslighting Affects a Relationship?

Gaslighting can have a strong negative effect on your life and well-being. In fact, gaslighting is unhealthy for both partners. For the gaslighter is even more important to be given boundaries. Otherwise the absence of these boundaries is going to encourage the gaslighting behaviour. Even if the person who is gaslighting doesn’t feel good about it. In this case, it’s less of a gaslighting and more of an unconscious manipulations.

How Gaslighting Affects You?

As gaslighting is a manipulative behaviour which you don’t recognise as such at the time it’s happening. Chances are gaslighting will have many effects on your physical and mental health by the time you actually become aware of it.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Isolation of friends and family

Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship

Be on the look out of these signs that may suggest that your partner is gaslighting you. Keep in mind that they are merely signs and avoid making your decisions only based on them. Don’t ignore them, but don’t jump to conclusions either. If something is worrying you all they are signs for you to let you know that you need to investigate the dynamic of your relationship further.

  • Not feeling understood
  • Not feeling validated
  • You feel unheard and unseen
  • You feel insecure
  • You doubt your memories
  • You feel alone and powerless
  • You doubt about your thoughts and feelings
  • You struggle to make decisions
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You feel inadequate
  • You are afraid
  • You are constantly questioning yourself
  • You are extremely apologetic
  • You feel isolated from friends and family
  • You feel confused and anxious
  • You think that there is something wrong with you

How do you know if your partner is gaslighting you?

  • Your partner minimises your feelings, emotions or thoughts
  • You are constantly blamed by your partner
  • Your partner never accepts any wrongdoing
  • Your partner tends to intimidate you
  • Your partner constantly tells you how dissatisfied they are in the relationship
  • Your partner plays the victim or turns defensive when you confront them
  • Your partner talks over you

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

If your partner is indeed intentionally manipulating you to the extend of gaslighting you. The first thing you should do, it to seek professional help and create some distance. Ideally with the help of your friends and family.

Normally with relationship problems we would suggest to talk to your partner and talk things out together. However, in the case of gaslighting you cannot trust your partner’s intentions, which is the whole problem of gaslighting to begin with.

After having some personal space for some time and being surrounded by other people who’s intentions you can trust. You can find emotional balance, feel save and stable to explore the dynamic which lead to your predicament in the first place.

How to Fix Gaslighting in a Relationship

Gaslighting is not something you can fix with your partner because you cannot trust their intentions and that they mean you well with their intentions. The best thing you can do before anything else is to take some time apart from your partner to gain some perspective on your situation.


Ending a Gaslighting Relationship

Once you become aware that your partner is gaslighting you, the first thing for you to do is to create some distance and seek some help.

When you are in a better place emotionally and physically and build up the strength you can face your partner.

Once you feel strong and assure you can face your partner to talk about your view in this relationship and how their behaviour influenced you. When you approach your partner from a position of strength and a sense of clear boundaries, you may find one of two things:

  1. Your partner recognises their behaviour and becomes mindful of how they influenced you. In this case they may support you to have some time apart to reflect on your relationship and the role they play in it. If your partner is willing to change their behaviour and work with you towards a healthy relationship, you may consider giving it a chance.

    In this case, you would start from the very beginning and build trust. Only this time, both of you are going to be very mindful on the dynamic of your relationship and aware of the concept of gaslighting.
  2. You may decide you cannot longer trust your partner no matter what they do. In which case you wood want to end your relationship altogether and move on.

Conclusion

Gaslighting is defined as a manipulative behaviour by one partner to the point the gaslighted partner is questioning their sanity, reality and beliefs.

Questioning your life and reevaluating your beliefs as well as separating your perception from facts are quite healthy. These reflections need to come from yourself rather than your partner. This would be something you would be doing as part of your self-development, which is recommended for everyone anyway.

Questioning your sense of reality can be a phylosophical exercise as long as it comes from you and as long as it’s guided by you. In this case you are in charge defining what is real and what it isn’t.

In case of gaslighting, someone else is defining your reality which is not great to say the least.

Here are some pointers of the best things you can do if you find yourself in a gaslighting relationship:

  1. Take some time apart so you can recognise your own thoughts and feelings
  2. Surround yourself with the support of friends and family
  3. Be objective of what happened or what has been said. You can keep a journal or save any physical evidence that can help you have a better perspective of what has been going on
  4. Identify the problem
  5. Talk to a professional who can help you gain an objective perspective on your situation and help you make a decision on whether your relationship is worth saving.

When it comes to gaslighting is not something you want to throw around lightly just because you don’t like your partner’s behaviour. If you are have problems with your partner’s behaviours try to approach them objectively. If your partner doesn’t want to cooperate, then you need to have a more serious approach this issue.


Help and Advice with Gaslighting in Your Relationship

Tips to Deal with Gaslighting in Your Relationship

  • Establish healthy boundaries
  • Maintain a circle of close friends and family
  • Keep a journal about the events when you think gaslighting occurred

If you don’t know how to deal with gaslighting and you need professional help and advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!


Frequently Asked Questions

How to deal with a gaslighting partner?

First of all, ask yourself how you got to be in a relationship where the other person has so much influence over your behaviour.

What causes a person to gaslight?

A gaslighting partner has a strong need for control and doesn’t know a healthy way to deal with this need. An unhealthy way is achieving this control by diminishing someone else.

How do I stop being a gaslighter?

If you recognise a gaslighting behaviour in yourself, you already made an important step towards reconciliation with yourself and your partner. The next step is to reflect on your behaviour. With the help of your partner identify and objective scenarios where it would suggest you are gaslighting. Make sure that this reflection comes from you and is not your partner who is giving you the diagnosis and telling you what to do. Provided you can identify unhealthy behaviours or doubting about having it, get professional help where an outside person can give you a fresh perspective on your behaviour.

Can someone gaslight without knowing it?

A person can greatly influence the behaviour of another person to an extend where both people are equally responsible for the dynamic in their relationship. The person who is gaslighting may do so as a desperate attempt to fulfil their needs for control and self assurance without knowing any other healthier way to achieve that. At the same time, the person who’s being gaslighted is responsible for setting clear boundaries and being aware when these boundaries are crossed.

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