If you are in a relationship where you constantly second-guess yourself or your partner lies to you, you be in a relationship marked by gaslighting. Gaslighting in a relationship is a form of emotional abuse. The term comes from a 1938 play (and movie) called Gas Light, where a husband dims the gas-powered lights and when his wife notices, he says it’s all in her head. His goal is to drive her crazy. Abusers use gaslighting to assert control over their partner and wear them down, so they don’t feel confident in themselves. How do you know if your partner is gaslighting you? Here are signs:
#1. Your partner tells obvious lies
When most people lie, they try to be subtle about it. Gaslighting in a relationship, however, involves lots of obvious lies right to your face. It doesn’t matter what the lie is about. It’s more disturbing that your partner is lying like this and you start to doubt everything they say, because they are willing to lie even when you know. They are establishing their own reality and over time, they hope you will join them.
#2. Your partner denies things they’ve said or done
You refer to something your partner has said or done, and they’ll reply with, “I never said that.” You are surprised, because you are sure they did. Even if you have proof of some kind, they will continue to deny. They question your memory (and therefore your sanity) time and time again, to the point where you really start thinking, “Maybe I am wrong.” Gaslighters use denial to get out of promises or to cover up other abuse.
#3. Your partner tells other people that you are crazy
“Crazy” is a big word for gaslighters. Are you familiar with the “crazy ex” trope? That’s gaslighting. When an abuser paints their partner as a “crazy” person, it dismisses everything that partner says or does. Other people doubt your side of the story, which makes getting help or advice very difficult. Everything you say is filtered through the lens of whatever your partner said about you. Your partner controls the reality of your relationship.
#4. You always ask yourself if you’re too sensitive
A partner saying “You’re too sensitive!” is a common phrase for gaslighting in a relationship. The gaslighters doesn’t want to be held accountable for their behavior or change, so they dismiss their partner’s feelings. For the person getting told they’re too sensitive, they start to accept behaviors that make them uncomfortable or unhappy. This can spread to other relationships, so it’s not uncommon for someone being gaslit to have other toxic friends and family.
#5. You’re always apologizing to your partner
According to a gaslighting partner, it’s always your fault. You are the one causing problems because you’re too sensitive, or you have a bad memory, and so on. Anytime you have an opinion or a need, you’re apologizing for it, because your partner has bruised and broke your self-confidence to the max. You basically feel sorry for being a human person. You struggle with feeling loved and worthy, which an abusive partner wants, because it means you’ll never leave them. They can do whatever they want and treat you badly, believing you’re too insecure to leave.
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