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What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship?

    * I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

    Most of us have been gaslighted in relationships at some point or another, but if we were the subject of it, we probably didn’t realize it was happening at the time.

    What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship?

    What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship

    It’s one of those situations that takes a great deal of perspective to understand what’s going on.

    If you’re wondering if you’ve been gaslighted in the past, or if you suspect that somebody is gaslighting you right now, then keep reading this article to find out what exactly this form of abuse involves.

    What Is Gaslighting?

    To put it in the simplest of terms, gaslighting in a relationship is a form of emotional abuse.

    It’s a devious tactic whereby one person in the relationship tries to make the other feel as though they are powerless, through using manipulative tactics leading them to question their version of reality.

    Because gaslighting is a highly covert form of abuse, it can be difficult to witness it happening.

    There are many different types of gaslighting tactics, and so if you’ve experienced this, then you will probably relate to a lot of the points that we talk about below.

    Where Does The Name Gaslighting Come From?

    If you’re wondering why gaslighting has such a peculiar name, it actually comes from a movie from the 1930’s starring Ingrid Bergman.

    In the film, the husband very slowly over time turns the gaslight in the house down more and more over an extended period of time.

    Whenever the woman comments that it’s becoming darker, he denies that this is true, saying that the light has been the same throughout the entirety of the move.

    By doing this, he gradually convinces her that she is going insane, and she eventually becomes completely dependent on him because she doesn’t trust herself anymore.

    It’s easy to see why this form of abuse has its name, as it’s particularly befitting for such covert and manipulative behavior.

    Signs That You May Be A Victim Of Gaslighting

    Now that we’ve taken a look at the origins of gaslighting, now let’s move on to discuss some signs that this may be happening to you.

    You don’t need to have experienced all to have been the subject of gaslighting, not all abusers use the same techniques.

    Keep reading below to find out some common forms of gaslighting.

    What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship

    You Begin To Doubt Reality

    If may be the subject of gaslighting then at some point in time, you’ve probably begun to question your reality.

    Perhaps not to the degree that Ingrid Bergman does in the movie, but you’re likely second guessing yourself all the time.

    When we are being abused using this tactic, our partners will often tell us that we’re making things up, or when we call them out on something, that it didn’t really happen.

    Perhaps they shouted at you aggressively yesterday, but when you bring it up today, they insist that they spoke to you in a calm and collected manner.

    It eventually becomes difficult to trust yourself, as you begin to question your own feelings.

    They Don’t Let You Speak

    If you’ve been in a situation where there is conflict arising in the relationship, then a sign that your partner may be gaslighting you is if they don’t allow you to speak.

    When there is any kind of conflict in a relationship, both parties should be allowed to voice their opinions.

    If you are not being allowed to speak, however, this could be a sign of gaslighting, as your partner wants their narrative to be heard exclusively.

    They Wear You Down

    One of the tactics used by the abuser is trying to wear the victim down, so that they become more and more exhausted without any energy to fight back.

    One of the ways in which they do this is by preying on your biggest insecurities.

    So if you were feeling insecure that you’ve gained a bit of weight, they may begin to comment on how you’re looking bigger, making you feel worse about yourself.

    This is often done in a very subtle way, and if you were to call them out on it, they may just say that you’re overreacting.

    They Don’t Apologize

    One of the key behaviors of a gaslighting abuser is that they’ll never say sorry or admit to doing anything wrong.

    Instead, they’ll simply deny everything that you’ve said, and try to put the blame on you.

    If you express any sense of hurt or sadness brought on by something that they’ve said or done, and they’re not willing to apologize for it, then this is a very clear sign that they’re lacking in empathy.

    Accusing You Of Being Paranoid

    Abusers have a very good way of making you feel as though you’re overreacting to a situation, even if what you’re saying is perfectly logical.

    Most of the time they do this as an excuse for bad behavior.

    For example, if you were to suspect that your partner was cheating on you, and were to express these thoughts to them, they would blatantly deny it.

    After denying everything that you said, they would then turn the situation around and say that you are being paranoid and that there’s nothing going on.

    They may try to displace your feelings, and say that your suspicions are due to your own insecurities, completely diverging from the situation at hand.

    They Try To Make You Feel Alone

    Another common tactic by gaslighters is trying to make you feel completely alone, and alienating you from friends and family.

    Perhaps they are incredibly possessive of you, and don’t like you spending time with other people because it makes them feel insecure.

    Most of the time when abusers are trying to separate you from your loved ones, it’s to stop you from sharing what’s going on in your relationship.

    They feel afraid that if others knew what they were doing, they would tell you to end the relationship, and they would lose control over you.

    What Can I Do To Stop Gaslighting?

    If you suspect that your partner may be gaslighting you, then you need to finish the cycle of abuse by ending the relationship.

    Although this may seem difficult, there are lots of resources out there, including therapy, that can help you through this hard time.

    Trust your gut, and if you feel that something is wrong, take the responsibility and prevent it from happening again.

    Take some time after the relationship has ended to rediscover yourself.

    Final Thoughts

    Gaslighting is a highly covert and manipulative form of emotional abuse. Many of us don’t even realize that it’s happened to us until after the relationship ends.

    Abusers will use a whole host of different tactics to make the victim feel as if they’re losing it, including making them feel paranoid, separating them from friends and family, and not accepting blame.

    If you feel that you may be a victim of gaslighting, seek help today because your experience is valid.

    If You Need A Crisis Hotline Or Want To Learn More About Therapy, Please See Below:

    • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – 1-800-656-4673
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
    • NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – 1-800-950-6264

    For More Information On Mental Health, Please See:

    • SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) SAMHSA Facebook, SAMHSA Twitter, SAMHSA LinkedIn, SAMHSA Youtube
    • Mental Health America, MHA Twitter, MHA Facebook, MHA Instagram, MHA Pinterest, MHA Youtube
    • WebMD, WebMD Facebook, WebMD Twitter, WebMD Instagram, WebMD Pinterest
    • NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), NIMH Instagram, NIMH Facebook, NIMH Twitter, NIMH YouTube
    • APA (American Psychiatric Association), APA Twitter, APA Facebook, APA LinkedIN, APA Instagram

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